It’s small, but I think it’ll be pretty huge. We’ve seen plenty of guitar audio interface adapters out there. Here’s the dirty little secret: they’re pretty awful. Because they connect to the audio jack of the iPhone or iPad, there are issues with impedance matching and noise / signal-to-noise. (Read: they don’t sound great. I’ve tried them, and since they all use the same in/out jack, they all sound more or less the same.)

The Mobile In from Line 6 has three things going for it. First, it works with Line 6′s POD effects and guitar amp modeling, which is already popular with guitarists. Second, the app that it works with the audio interface is free. No paid app, no add-on fee for presets – you buy the hardware and get all of the software for free.

Third, and most importantly, the Mobile In connects to the proprietary Apple 30-pin connector, so you get digital audio I/O rather than relying on the jack. That means the quality of the Mobile In is, well, the quality of the Mobile In. Without a test unit, it’s impossible to say for sure, but Line 6 at least claims a 110 dB dynamic range on the guitar input and a 98 dB range on the stereo line input. There’s up to 24-bit/48 kHz support, but I’m happy just to get a portable device with line and guitar ins. They’ve even tossed in a 6-foot guitar cable. Total price: US$79.

The Mobile POD app, while free, is no slouch, either: you get 10,000 presets, a built-in tuner, 64 amps and effects and more, even with a neat iTunes play-along mode. And it’s free for everyone, whether or not you have the hardware. And if you want to use a different mobile app, of course, you can do that, too, if you do use the hardware.

With specs like that, this looks like a must-have for the iPhone and iPad, even if you use them exclusively for practicing guitar. Now, I just wish the beautiful New Signal Process accessories, which turn iOS gadgets into stompboxes, had a MIDI-only version. Maybe there’s a MIDI-compatible controller that could eventually be compatible with these. (Line 6, you listening?)

There’s only one catch. Stereo line in. Guitar in. There’s something missing here – output. That means that the Camera Connection Kit with a USB audio interface could be a better option if you have an iPad. You’re still limited by the headphone output jack here – no other output is available. That makes this fine for practice, but people wanting more flexible ins and outs (well, outs period, beyond the headphone connection) will want to consider a USB audio interface. (Of course, the free app is still cool.)

My other wish? It’d be nice to see the Android platform compete with, well, any of this. Theoretically, there may be a way to do digital audio I/O on that platform, too; sounds like a research question. We’ll see if, Android or otherwise, another tablet/mobile platform starts to evolve these sort of features.

Any mobile guitarists who want to test this out for CDM, and share your music in the process? Let us know.

http://line6.com/mobilein/

  • Derek D

    Would this work with the Moog Filtatron app or would Moog need to support this interface? I've been confused on how these hardware devices work with iOS apps, seems that's holding all this stuff back from really making this a must have thing.

  • Peter Kirn

    @Derek: they should work like any other iOS mic, so with any app. Certainly with a well-behaved audio app like the Moog Filtatron.

  • http://v8media.com Ian Page-Echols

    Looks like the app is "coming soon"? Maybe waiting for approval from the app store police? Looks promising, I'll definitely check it out.

    I've mostly been using the Filtatron app for this type of thing. I like not having to enable any effects, but instead just turning up an effect if I want it active.

  • Devin

    Can someone help clarify for a noob…

    Everything about this seems to be focused on guitar recording and amp modeling, but I have no use for that. I have just been waiting for a good stereo recording input for my iPhone 4. Is this suitable for simple, quality stereo audio recordings? Would it be anywhere near CD quality if recording directly from, say, a stereo output on a mixer?

  • Mike K Smith

    Anyone know how this might compare to the Apogee Jam? It's also using the iPod / iPhone / iPad 30 pin connector.

  • poopoo

    Interesting stuff but the lack of an output is a bit of a bummer.

    Unfortunately I'm using Android. I knew about the audio latency problems when I bought in but I figured it would be fixed pretty quickly given the open source heritage. Boy was I wrong.

    Anyone know of a way to hassle Google about the sorry state of Android audio?

  • http://burialape.com Peter

    id def be interested in checking it out.. making the app free as a loss leader for their hardware products is brilliant.

  • Arrgrr

    You may have forgotten the apogee jam. It also sends a digital signal thru the 30pin connection, has a great apogee converter and has the added bonus of also being a class compliant usb audio interface for the mac…

  • http://noisepages.com/members/gunboatdiplomacy/ justin johnson

    i just dont see the usefulness of this.  i suppose it's fine as a practice amp, but i'd prefer to use a little cigarette case amp or one of those chintzy mini-marshalls.  for real recording, this won't work unless you want to run a few more cables and adapters and maybe some box to match the impedance and…well you get the picture. just how many people were clamoring for this kind of product?? As the first generation of this kind of product (Digital IO), there are far too many compromises to be useful).

    Meh, ignore my old-man rant: the price is nice and i salute major manufacturers for making niche products.

  • http://actuel.fm actuel

    no output! such a huge misstep. 

  • http://timbabwe.com Tim

    No output = no buy. Otherwise this would've been perfect to replace my XT. The quest continues…

  • http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pairshare/id424429744?mt=8 Brian Tuley

    My guess is that the next generations of Iphone and Ipad devices are going to have DSP powers galore.  Quality Android Audio / Instrument apps are not going to happen anytime soon.  Android may beef up their internal DSP capabilities but much of the designer market has already been alienated from that platform.  It's probably not a huge concern for them anyway.  Doesn't seem to be.  

  • http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pairshare/id424429744?mt=8 Brian Tuley

    And yes I know, many manufactures design for the android platform.

  • https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jon-Johnson/370507974189 Jon Johnson

    No output is definitely a minus but having the iOS device as a POD makes it appealing but then like allnthese other guita effect apps and hardware they're crippeled by the fact that you cannot hook a MIDI foot controller up and tweak/control like you can with the PC/MAC or even real hardware. The only one who's at that party right now is Digitech and their price for admission is the cost of buying a real piece of hardware thatbis much more satisfying than shelling out an additional amount of money close to an iPad.

  • Jonah

    This thing can record, right? Makes the lack of digital output less painful. Now we just need to get on Apple to allow instant transfers without us doing anything. Still, it woulda been a nice way to process audio. Probably be in version 2?

  • http://www.chaps-pa.co.uk Thomas@pa hire surre

    Time will come that the iPhone or much more like the Apple products will dominate all the gadgets we use in the household and in the office. But I am pretty surprised about the usability of the iPhone. This is a superb innovation.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/revo_11 revo11

    Still looks pretty good. To be honest, I think a good A/D is much more critical than a good D/A. 

  • http://www.theabletoncookbook.com Anthony

    Wow, I was so into this until I read the part about no output. I definitely thing that this is a great step, though, and when they (or another company) adds an output, it'll be R.A.D.

  • jeffrey

    I bought one today and did a bit of testing allready and, well, i can say this : If you love the real line6 pod sound, you will love this! I am very happy with the quality of sound, using headphones and even going trough my hifi amplifier. I need to find out how it sounds in a real jam yet though. Software gives litteraly thousands of presets, nicely organised by type, songname, guitarist or band, and searchable. (ipad 3G and you have all your samles with you ;) ) Oh, it allso works with garage band, yay! And missing output? yeah, but it sounded quite good allready using the jack-output. No much interference, hissing … My only fear? The cable from guitar to the Mobile In unit feels like it's weighing down on the port of the ipad, It won't break right away, but be gentle with it…

    FINAL RESULT : Money well spent!

  • http://Myspace.com/fatalinnocencemusic Uli

    I also bought one today and am going to use it for practice purposes in my appartment. 

    I was also i bit disappointed about the missing output jack. BUT: this means that can use the ipad's speakers for practicing. 

    If connecting speakers is crucial: apogee jam or alesis i/o dock. There was another iDevice interface that connects directly to the ipad's 30 pin, but i can't find it right now. But mobile pod won't accept those interfaces as far as i know. 

    Anyway.. Sounds are decent, but i prefer the garage band ampsims.

    Still, i think, i would buy it again.

    Cheers,

    Uli

  • Vjwunderkind

    What this thing doesn't have – and I believe none has – is a microphone in. In the App. Store, it says that the hardware is required for the App.  Has anyone tried using this with a different guitar in?

  • Immanuel Sundar

    Quote : “My other wish? It’d be nice to see the Android platform compete with,
    well, any of this. Theoretically, there may be a way to do digital audio
    I/O on that platform, too; sounds like a research question.”

    Read something interesting about Android for Music Production – Dont know that’ll affect interface issues but still.. here it is:

    http://www.geardiary.com/2012/02/21/the-dismal-state-of-android-as-a-music-production-solution/