IK Multimedia iRig HD X’s new control layout looks very familiar… So how will it stack up next to the other one-knob wonders of the guitar interface market?

IK Multimedia iRig HD X
(Image credit: IK Multimedia)

IK Multimedia’s iRig was one of the first do-it-all devices when it came to guitar audio interfaces that were as happy to play with smartphones and tablets as they were with the traditional PC/DAW setup.

The iRig has been through multiple iterations, most recently the iRig HD 2, and in the meantime other competitors have entered the market. Now IK Multimedia has given its flagship guitar interface another overhaul, announcing its reincarnation as the HD X. 

The big addition to the new model is a revamped control layout, which dumps the fiddly side-mounted scroll wheels and switches of the HD 2 in favor of a new single-knob layout.

The knob has push-button selection function that allows you to switch between headphone, loopback, monitoring and new tuner controls (the mode is indicated by the blue LED above the knob). A ring of LEDs around the dial act as level indicators.

The layout doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel – indeed, it appears to heavily borrow the wheel – notably from rivals like the Apogee Jam X and Positive Grid’s RIFF interface.

However, the one-knob design is proliferating for good reason, and here it goes some way to both streamline the market-leading device and offer a new level of tactile control, so we’re not going to hold that against it. 

In addition to the overhauled enclosure and controls, IK Multimedia has seen fit to include a few other upgrades, including a new low-noise input (with a dynamic range of 115dB), an “ultra fast” onboard tuner and the inclusion of IK’s latest Loopback+ virtual FX loop tech – a first for the iRig range.

The latter is a bigger deal than it might first appear, allowing mobile users to loop audio to apps like AmpliTube or GarageBand and then send it to video recording or streaming apps.

IK Multimedia iRig HD X guitar interface

(Image credit: IK Multimedia)

Otherwise, the remaining essential specs are much the same as the HD 2, with the HD X offering the same 96kHz audio and 24-bit A/D conversion, alongside a USB Type-C connection, plus a 1/4" amp output and 1/8" headphone output.

Even with these updates, though, the iRig HD X looks a little bit like it’s simply been brought up to date, rather than gaining new ground. So how will it stack up next to other one-knob wonders of the interface world? 

Well, the proof is always in the playing (or recording, in this case) but, on paper, the iRig HD X comes in at $129. In comparison, Apogee’s Jam X is $199, but adds in a built-in analog compressor and a reputation for audio quality that is second to none.

A more serious competitor might be Positive Grid’s RIFF, though. That device offers pretty much the same audio quality, alongside an input with a comparable 114dB range, plus a display screen and a more rugged metal enclosure, all for $99. (You don’t get that Loopback+ functionality if you’re keen on streaming, though.)

We don’t think the iRig is going anywhere for the time being, but it will be interesting to see how this tech-y tug of war plays out.

In the meantime, for more information on the iRig HD X, head to IK Multimedia.

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Matt Parker

Matt is a staff writer for GuitarWorld.com. Before that he spent 10 years as a freelance music journalist, interviewing artists for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.