iPad Guitar Connectors and Garageband - A Preliminary Look

Posted on by Rob Stenzinger

I love using my iPad as a portable workstation. As more great apps and accessories get released - it's getting closer and closer to becoming a laptop replacement.

In the area of capturing and composing music, it's been a fun device but not close to being a serious audio workstation. As to what I mean by "serious": for my needs, I find the desktop version of Garageband very functional and serious enough.

I've played with capturing guitar riffs and ideas through the built in microphone. I've tried out multi track recorders such as FourTrack and GigBaby, each built for the iOS. Recently Apple released an iPad version of Garageband. After briefly exploring some of the built in instruments I knew I had to finally pick up a guitar connector... first I picked up the iRig, then later the Peavey Ampkit Link.  

My first impression of both is a bit unsure. I immediately launched Garageband to try each of them and they both sound good playing through the built-in clean guitar effects. However they both have significant noise issues when playing through one of the distortion effects settings. As to what I mean by "noise issues"... if I was muting the strings, not playing anything, distorted static and garble would come through the audio. Once I started playing fretted notes and chords - that static would go away.
The iRig:

The Peavey Ampkit Link:

I'm wondering if I can improve that by instead playing through an external Metal pedal and/or trying a guitar that doesn't have active pickups. I'll be sure to share what I find out! Let me know if you've tried these and if you ran into the same issues: what did you do to resolve the noise problem?