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REVIEW: IK Multimedia iRig Nano Amp

REVIEW: IK Multimedia iRig Nano Amp

Micro amps have been around for a good number of years now, with the usual suspects such as Marshall, Fender and Vox all making pint-sized versions of their popular bigger brother products.

Billed as ‘practice anywhere’ portable amps, the appeal to guitarists of being able to plug in and go certainly strike a chord at retail where they’ve always been a staple sale, especially across the busy Christmas buying period. And most importantly, they sound pretty good, too, especially if you’re looking to drive the gain hard.

Not a lot of people know this, but the thunderous riff on Blur’s Song 2 record isn’t actually guitar, it’s the sound of Alex James playing his bass through a micro amp, captured and produced by Stephen Street for the band’s 1997 fifth studio album, ‘Blur’ (one for all you Blur/Street fans out there).

To add to that ever-growing list, Italian music technology company IK Multimedia released the iRig Nano Amp just before Christmas. However, this new micro amp has a few tricks up its sleeve that keeps it ahead of the micro pack, with the main addition being a built-in iOS interface allowing you access to the company’s AmpliTube array of amp tone and effects, offering amazing versatility.
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iRig Nano is battery powered and can be used in two ways, in Amp or Device setting. In Amp, the unit is a standalone guitar amp featuring British tone stack circuitry and 3-watts of power, more than enough to rock-out too while practicing in front of the TV.

Device mode allows the user to hook the unit up to an iPhone or iPad via the included TRRS cable and access the companies Amplitude software. If you’re not familiar with the amazing AmpliTube, read our review of it here.

Device mode bypasses the internal tone stack circuit, which allows the processed amp tones and effects to come through, which really makes this little unit stand out amongst the micro amp crowd.

The tones are brilliant and effects are staggering, wonderful delays, reverbs and modulations, with the ability to chop, change or add sounds to your heart’s content. The other neat trick here is that the 1/8” headphone jack is also active, which means you can play in total privacy, or record ideas via AmpliTube’s four track looper. There’s also a normal/bright switch to adjust the tone in Amp mode, along with volume/gain controls.

But that’s not all – iRig Nano has another trick, and it’s a biggie, too.

By connecting a 1/4 jack to the speaker out of the unit the user has the ability of driving an external cabinet of up to 4x12”. This sounded too good to be true, so with Nano in hand I plugged the unit into my Marshall 4x12’” cab, and the tone (and the volume!) absolutely blew me away. Now, being battery powered I wouldn’t want to go out gigging with just the iRig Nano and external speaker as I’m not sure how long the batteries would last powering a 4x12” (worth noting I’ve thrashed it through the amp for 30/40 mins so far with no audible signs of volume loss just yet). However, where this neat addition really comes into its own is for recording purposes and using AmpliTube to access numerous amp settings and effects, captured via an external mic placed up in front of one of the cabinets speakers.

By thinking big, the iRig Nano Amp has set a benchmark for all other micro amps to follow and proves that good things really do come in small packages.

iRig Nano Amp is available now from IK Multimedia with an RRP of £49.99.

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Tags: ik multimedia , Reviews , iRig Nano Amp , micro amp

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