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  • IK Multimedia iLoud: Pro Review Xpress (Applications)

    Welcome to a new Pro Review Xpress! This time around, the concept is to write about a particular application for IK Multimedia’s iLoud every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday during July to spotlight why this little box has a lot of potential applications.

    If you’re not familiar with iLoud, there’s an Expert Review here on Harmony Central. However since owning it, I keep coming up for new uses for it and that’s the reason for this thread. It’s not really a Pro Review in the usual sense of the word; since there’s already a review, it’s more like a series of application notes. But like a Pro Review, you’re welcome to comment, ask questions, or give your own observations if you’re an iLoud owner.

    So let’s start off with the most obvious application…

    #1 Mixing on the Road

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    I take my Windows laptop on trips, along with a set of KRK KNS-8400 headphones so I can mix on the road. But sometimes you really want to move air with speakers instead of wear headphones, or play back something for several people in the room. Although iLoud is a Bluetooth speaker, you can also connect wires to it, thus eliminating any latency inherent in the A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile) protocol as well as any data compression. Given that the iLoud voices its speakers like studio monitors—not the usual consumer Bluetooth speakers that often hype the sound—you’ll find that mixing over an iLoud translates very well in the real world. Despite the small size, you even get decent stereo imaging.

    In terms of dimensions iLoud is like an iPad that’s 2.5 inches deep, so it fits well in a carry-on bag (also allocate some space for the AC adapter, which is compact). Hook up iLoud in your hotel room, and you’ll get infinitely better sound than the speakers in your laptop.
    Last edited by Anderton; 07-05-2016, 09:47 AM.
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  • #2
    #2 Boudoir Guitar

    If you’re like many people, you keep your iPhone or iPad on the night table next to your bed. And if you’re like me, you always have a guitar within reach. So…add iLoud, and now you have a handy bedroom guitar setup.

    Although iLoud isn’t a guitar amp per se, it does have a built-in iRig guitar interface so you can have “guitar amp tones” thanks to your iOS device (we'll cover how to do this later). However, with this approach you’re feeding analog signals back and forth. A more upscale solution, iRig HD, converts your guitar from analog to digital with 24-bit, 96 kHz resolution, then sends the digital signal into your iPhone via Lightning or 30-pin connector (both are included, as well as a USB cable so you can use iRig HD with a laptop or desktop). With this setup you patch the guitar to the iRig HD input, the iRig HD digital output to the iPhone, and the iPhone headphone out to the iLoud. Avoiding the iPhone’s internal input preamp by going digital definitely raises the sound quality up a notch, and iRig HD includes a preamp gain control to match your guitar level. (The only downside of going digital is you can’t charge your iPhone while you’re playing, because iRig HD’s digital interface is using the Lightning or 30-pin connector.)

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    Here's the setup, clockwise from upper left: Gibson 1961 Les Paul Tribute guitar, iLoud amplifier, iPhone running AmpliTube free, and the iRig HD interface.

    Although so far I’ve only mentioned iOS devices, IK’s introduction of their HD-A interface, which works with some Android devices, would presumably work as well as the iRig HD (I currently don’t have an Android device to test the system as a whole, but I did test the HD-A with a recent Samsung Android phone and it worked just fine).

    And why would you want a boudoir guitar setup? Well, just ask Keith Richards. One night in 1965 he woke up in a hotel room with the melodic idea for “Satisfaction,” had a guitar next to his bed, found a cassette recorder…and the rest is history. Maybe there’s a “Satisfaction” in you just waiting to pop out of your head in the middle of the night…

    Note: B&H offers a bundle of the iLoud and iRig HD for $259.99, which is considerably less than the two products bought individually.
    Last edited by Anderton; 07-16-2016, 04:11 PM.
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    • #3
      #3 A High-Fidelity Satellite for your Mobile Mothership

      Mobile devices may be mobile, but they don’t sound very good. I use my iPad to listen to internet radio (mostly tunein.com and di.fm, in case you wondered) but when iLoud came along, I just let the iPad stay in one place, and turned the iLoud into the “mobile” device. Its battery life is such that I don’t necessarily need to plug it in, but when it’s going to sit in one place for an extended period of time—like when making breakfast in the morning, as in the picture below—I do use the adapter.

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      Music goes well with coffee and a smoothie...but it goes better if it sounds good.

      One iLoud feature I like is that if the iPad is on, I can just turn on the iLoud and it connects automatically. With some other devices, I have to connect them at the iPad before they’ll pick up on the Bluetooth signal.

      There’s really not much else to say, except that iLoud has definitely improved my quality of life when I’m moving around the house doing various things, and want to have music that follows me around. (For what it’s worth, I have a 2,100 square foot house spread over two floors, and the Bluetooth signal is able to reach the iLoud no matter where I am—despite there often being multiple walls in the way.)
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      • #4
        #4 iLoud For DJing

        This application was submitted by Daniel Bockrath, who does B&H’s Web Content and Marketing for Pro Audio.

        One of the reasons I bought the iLoud was because according to IK Multimedia’s comparison tests it can reach a maximum SPL of 111 dB, and with studio monitor-like accuracy. This meant I’d be able to DJ small house parties and picnics for my friends using my iPhone. For this purpose there are two apps that I’m currently exploring: IK Multimedia’s DJ Rig and Algoriddims’s DJAY 2. Both Apps have the features needed to provide the functionality that any DJ would need.

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        iLoud hanging out on a New York rooftop...and ready for DJing activity.

        What I especially like about IK’s DJ Rig is the integration with the company’s 2-channel hardware mixer called iRig MIX. It’s small and light enough to fit in my bag, can be powered via USB Micro cable so the power brick I carry to recharge my phone is sufficient, and includes an X-sync button for synching to an external source such as an iPod, CD player, etc.

        For DJAY 2, I’m looking at Reloop’s Mixtour Controller. What’s really cool about DJAY 2 is that you can pull songs directly from a Spotify Premium account. The Mixtour includes some advanced controls, such as for looping, Filter/FX, and jumping to cue points in songs. It also provides the option of loading songs from your library directly from the controller. The Mixtour is about 4” longer than the iRig MIX and powered by a 12V 1.5A supply, so it’s not quite as mobile as the USB-powered iRig Mix. I did however find a portable a power brick with a 120V AC output to make the unit mobile.

        I think both mixer/controllers are great options, and will make for a very fun summer. I wonder just how hi-fi the sound will become if I convert the signal with an AudioQuest Dragonfly Red DAC with the new Apple USB3 Camera Connection Kit...
        Last edited by Anderton; 07-08-2016, 01:58 PM.
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        • #5
          Time and time again I have been glad I got my iLoud 2 years ago. My wife and I moved across the country, and there was an issue with the place we were going to rent, so we used AirBnB to stay at a place for the 2 months while the new home was being renovated. All of our stuff was in storage, including my studio, but I still wanted to make music and DJ my internet radio shows. That's what convinced me to buy the iLoud, and as a portable studio it excels. What I didn't expect, was all of the other uses for it.

          I use it as my DJ monitor when playing bars and mobile gigs. One time at a bar, the power went out, so I DJed using Djay on my phone through the iLoud to keep the music going until the power came back on. People loved it.

          My wife and I volunteered for a 100 mile trail relay running race called The Loco. To motivate the runners out in the middle of the forrest, in the dark, I set up a makeshift Disco with the iLoud as my sound system. The runners loved it and were very appreciative.

          When my wife goes on long runs, and needs extra motivation, I put the iLoud in the back of my bike basket, use the iKlip to secure my phone to the handlebars, and ride in front of her DJing her favorite songs.

          I also use it when camping or going to the beach to hear music with great sound quality. Best investment I ever made!
          Last edited by Anderton; 07-12-2016, 09:56 AM. Reason: Added link

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          • #6
            Originally posted by ClaytonTheChemist View Post
            What I didn't expect, was all of the other uses for it.
            Well you certainly seem to be pushing the envelope in that respect...thanks much for contributing to the thread and including the photos...very, very cool!

            Anyway, "all the other uses" was actually the motivation for starting this thread and there's an interesting backstory. B&H was interested in doing banner ads on the site, but it turned out the people we were talking to at B&H are big iLoud fans. Long story short, the timing was good - I was about to write a series of articles on using the iLoud, and said we could place banners next to the articles, They suggested instead of doing banners, that they offer exclusive discount links in this thread to iLoud and accessories for the Harmony Central community, and give us a commission if any are sold at the discount price. Seemed like a no-brainer, and more fun than banner ads - people who discover iLoud through this thread can get a good deal on the price, anyone who buys one helps support HC, and I since I was going to write the articles anyway I didn't have to do any research...makes my life easy!

            If enough people come out of the woodwork with unusual applications, I think maybe we need to give some kind of freebie as a reward...although it will take some effort to top DJing during a power outage, or putting an iLoud in a bike basket to motivate your wife on long runs
            Last edited by Anderton; 07-12-2016, 09:54 AM.
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            • #7
              #5 iLoud for Synthesizers

              Although iLoud has an iRig for guitar players, it's of course useful for other instruments as well. Electronic keyboards generate enough output to drive iLoud to full volume (which as you're probably aware is quite loud!) by going into the stereo input jack. In this setup, iLoud is providing the audio muscle for Casio's XW-P1 keyboard. It has a useful little space for putting an iPad, but the iLoud seems comfortable there as well.

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              For most synths you'll require an adapter with a stereo 1/8" plug to plug into the iLoud, which connects to two male 1/4" plugs that plug into your synth's stereo output. The following shows an adapter cable with all 1/4" plugs, so I had to use a 1/4" stereo to 1/8" stereo adapter for the plug that goes into the iLoud.

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              And that's all there is to it. What makes iLoud so useful in this application is the sound quality - you really get to hear what your synth sounds like.
              Last edited by Anderton; 07-12-2016, 09:55 AM.
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              • #8
                #6 Create a Sonic Environment

                This is an unusual application, but bear with me...

                Most of us find some kinds of environmental sounds pleasing. Ocean waves, rain on the roof, crickets chirping at night, a rainforest...you get the idea. Although there are many sound effects recordings and files, playing them back over a stereo system always sounds a bit fake because real environmental sounds aren't generated in your living room, but at a distance.

                There are several sites you can call up on your Bluetooth-friendly device, which you can then stream to iLoud - see the screen shot below. There are also several environments included with Cakewalk SONAR. However, there's an important aspect to consider.

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                To avoid that "fake" environmental sound, I found that parking the iLoud in a separate room, or an upstairs hallway, or by a window in a second floor while you're on the first floor, greatly increased the realism of the environmental sound. For example, I have a stereo system in my bedroom for listening to music, and one night when I wanted to relax I put on some rain sounds. However, placing iLoud in a second bathroom down the hall - which added some ambience of its own - and turning up the level to where the sound could be heard in the bedroom made it really sound like there was rain outside.

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                In this situation, the AC adapter is a good idea in case you fall asleep and it just keeps on "raining" in the background. In any event, experiment - for example, I found that jungle and forest sounds seemed best when the iLoud lived in a remote corner of the upstairs floor.

                We'll get back to a more "musical" application for the Friday installment, but meanwhile, don't necessarily laugh at this idea...you might be surprised how a sonic background can help create, and shape, your environment.
                Last edited by Anderton; 07-14-2016, 04:31 PM. Reason: Added links
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                • #9
                  #7 Guitar Setup Without iRig HD

                  Sorry I missed doing my Friday post, but the weather precluded taking the photo I wanted. In any event, although application #2 described using iRig HD with an iOS device running an app like AmpliTube along with iLoud to get a portable setup with guitar tone, iLoud offers another option.

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                  Hanging out by the pool with iLoud, accompanied by an iPad sitting on an iKlip Studio (the guitar is a Gibson 2014 Melody Maker). One limitation of outdoor iOS applications is “washout”—you’d never know the iPad is showing AmpliTube with a delay FX, nor can you see the cool red ring around the iLoud volume control.

                  iLoud incorporates one of the old-school, non-digital iLoud circuits. The way it works is you plug your guitar into the ¼” jack labeled “Guitar” on the back of the iLoud, then patch a TRRS cable between the 1/8” iLoud jack and iPhone or iPad audio jack. Open the AmpliTube app (or an equivalent guitar processor app), allow it to access your mic, if necessary specify headphones as the output device, and then dial up a preset on AmpliTube. The iPhone app provides the tone, and the iLoud makes it…well, loud.

                  This works, but there are limitations compared to using iRig HD. The first is the possibility of feedback; the original iRig was at its best when used with an iOS device and circumaural headphones. The AmpliTube app offers settings with an anti-feedback option of on, off, or auto but IMHO optimum sound quality requires turning it off. You can get away with this (even at fairly loud iLoud levels) if you don’t use high-gain amp settings. Otherwise then you really do need the anti-feedback setting, which thins out the tone because (I presume) it’s defeating the feedback by using out of phase techniques.

                  Although as mentioned you can use other iOS apps with iLoud and iRig HD, without an anti-feedback setting you’re kind of stuck with low-gain amp sounds or low volume settings. So while the internal iRig option has its uses and does work, if you want to reach the iLoud’s full potential as a guitar amp and can afford the extra $$, the iRig HD is a much better option. (Note: B&H is offering a limited-time offer to the Harmony Central community that bundles an iLoud and iRig HD for $259.99.)
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                  • #10
                    #8 Car Sound System Upgrade

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                    I have a 2000 VW Beetle whose idea of a sound system is a six-CD changer, and not exactly top-of-the-line speakers. With the temperature hitting 100 today I wanted to have some cool music. I wondered if iLoud could provide an upgrade, so...

                    I grabbed my iPhone, called up a playlist, and Bluetoothed (hey! I just invented a verb!) the audio into iLoud. Not only was the sound quality a lot better, but the volume was more than enough to blast over the road noise. After taking the picture above, I discovered that placing iLoud on the floor in front of the passenger seat really boosted the bass, although I lost some of the stereo imaging that resulted from having it on the passenger seat.

                    The iLoud has enough battery life to last through really long to-and-from commutes, and I have to say, it makes for a really good car stereo if you don't have something sufficiently modern Score another application for iLoud.




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                    • #11
                      #9 May You Never Hear Laptop Speakers Again

                      In the song “Third Stone from the Sun” on the first Jimi Hendrix Experience album, Hendrix utters the immortal line “may you never hear surf music again.” Well that’s a little harsh, but I don’t think saying the same thing about laptop speakers is harsh at all. Here’s a typical response curve, with the name of the manufacturer deleted because I didn’t want to pick on them—most laptop speakers are pretty dismal.

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                      Image reprinted from PageMac.com under the following license: CC Attribution 3.0 Unported


                      But you don’t have to put up with that if you have an iLoud—yes, iTunes for you Mac fans or Groove Music for Windows enthusiasts will spring to life in glorious fidelity.

                      The difference between this application and #1 Mixing on the Road is application #1 uses a wired connection to eliminate latency. In this example involving Windows, we’ll use Bluetooth because if you’re just playing back music on the iLoud latency doesn’t matter. As a bonus, it makes for a neater setup and the internal speakers can still be used as the separate Default Communications Device.

                      To start, pair iLoud with the computer. Choose Start > Settings, then click on Devices. Click on Bluetooth, and you’ll see a screen for managing your Bluetooth devices. Pair iLoud, and when it’s on and paired, it will show as connected.

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                      Now you can make the laptop’s internal speakers the Default Communications Device and iLoud the default sound device for listening to music, YouTube, etc.

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                      So now when listening to music on your computer...may you never hear laptop speakers again!

                      I’m sure Jimi would be proud.
                      Last edited by Anderton; 07-20-2016, 04:08 PM.
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                      • #12
                        #10 A Much Better Skype Experience

                        This kind of piggy-backs on the last application. I use Skype a fair amount, and people often complain about Skype’s sound quality. But generally, my experience is they’re really complaining about the sound quality of the computer that’s connected to Skype.

                        My first big upgrade was using a Neat Microphones Beecaster USB mic to handle the input aspect. I immediately started getting reactions like “wow, it sounds like you’re in the next room!” Okay, but the people at the other end still didn’t sound that great. Using the Beecaster’s headphone output solved that problem, but not for conference calls with multiple people in the room.

                        So for kicks, I tried connecting iLoud using Bluetooth and set it as the preferred audio output.

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                        I expected that the latency would be problematic, but frankly, most phone and VOIP communication these days exhibit latency, and what iLoud added wasn’t enough to bother me. In fact I didn’t really notice it at the time; only afterward, when I started writing this up, did it cross my mind that “Hmmm, I didn’t notice the extra latency.” I’m sure it was there, it just didn’t seem to matter.

                        What did matter was that the sound quality was waaaay better, and psychologically, it felt much more like a somewhat intimate meeting than a “conference call.”

                        Well that’s enough computer stuff for now, let’s get back to music in the next application.
                        Last edited by Anderton; 07-25-2016, 10:57 PM.
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                        • #13
                          #11 The Acoustic Guitar Booster

                          Sometimes your acoustic guitar isn’t quite loud enough for the situation—particularly if you’re playing outside, or jamming with percussionists and other musicians. So let’s press the iLoud into service.

                          However, note that this application also requires an iOS device (I used an iPhone to check it out) and IK’s iRig Acoustic transducer. I won’t get into the iRig Acoustic too deeply; Phil O’Keefe already did an accurate and thorough expert review. Basically, iRig patches between your guitar and iOS device. One end is a transducer (mic) that clips to the acoustic guitar’s sound hole, with a thin cable that runs to a small “junction box.” A TRRS cable plugs into this into the iPhone, and there’s also a 1/8” stereo jack for plugging in headphones.

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                          The free iPhone app optimizes the transducer for acoustic guitar, and includes an AmpliTube acoustic amp sim; there’s also a feedback suppressor and upon registering, you can unlock a parametric EQ module. Other processors are available via in-app purchases, but the free stuff is all you’ll need for many applications.
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                          In this application, instead of plugging a set of headphones into iRig Acoustic, patch a standard 1/8” stereo cable between the headphone jack and the iLoud stereo input jack. The transducer cable is about 6’ 10” long, from transducer to TRRS plug tip (the cable looks fragile, but that’s offset somewhat by the small, sturdy carry case included for it). Here's a shot of the gear used in the setup.

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                          I was able to get the volume louder than expected because of the “Feed Kill” feedback suppressor. Each time you get feedback you trigger a button in the app, and it inserts a filter. There can be up to four filters to tame additional feedback-prone frequencies.

                          Combined with the iLoud, the guitar sound ends up being louder and clean…which was the goal in the first place. If this sounds interesting to you, B&K is offering a discount on an iRig Acoustic/iLoud bundle to Harmony Central community members who order through this link.

                          Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                          • #14
                            #12 A New Gig for Old Toys

                            With all the hoopla about the vinyl revival, another retro trend is flying under the radar: the resurrection of the iPod. Check around, and you’ll see some restored models being sold for hundreds of dollars. Why? Well, having songs in your smart phone is cool, but there’s just not enough memory for a substantial music library. A phone can have your “greatest hits,” but not everything you'd want to hear.

                            Besides, you may want your phone to be…a phone. How’s that for a radical concept? You might not want to have it ring, or ding you about an instant message, if you’re about to have a romantic weekend picnic.

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                            An iPod and iLoud make a great pair. They’re both battery-powered, and you won’t run down your phone battery as you listen to music. All you need is an 1/8” stereo cable to run from the iLoud to the iPod…done. The end result is a convenient, and highly portable, way to play your entire music library anywhere.

                            [Remember, if you want to buy an iLoud you'll get a discount for being part of the Harmony Central community if you click on the iLoud links in this thread]

                            Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                            • #15
                              #13 Raise Your Voice!

                              As July comes to an end, it’s time for the last application of this series. I hope you’ve enjoyed it…I’ve certainly enjoyed finding out about new things to do with iLoud, and of course, setting up funky photo shoots in various places. And if you want to your voice, you have three main options.

                              The simplest one is to get a mic app like Microphone by VonBruno or Microphone+ by Mino. They’re free (but like most apps, paying unlocks more features and gets rid of ads).

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                              This is the Microphone app by VonBruno. Dead simple, but it works.

                              You plug a stereo 1/8” cable from the iOS device to iLoud (start with the app volume down!), and now you have a mini PA system. Just note that using iLoud doesn’t make you immune to feedback, so you’ll want a fairly long 1/8” stereo cable if you want to turn up the iLoud.

                              Taking things to the next level involves replacing the iOS device’s internal mic with something better—like IK’s iRig Mic HD. It connects to your iThingy via Lightning (sorry, no 30-pin) but can also work as a USB mic with your Windows or Mac computer. With the Microphone app, disabling and re-enabling the mic caused it to select the iRig Mic HD—which gave an immediate improvement in bass response and level compared to using an iPhone’s internal mic. Although I could still adjust levels from Microphone, iRig Mic HD also has a level control for USB applications or apps that don’t have an input level option. Again, you’ll want to keep the iLoud and mic reasonably well-separated to avoid feedback.

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                              The various elements of the basic iLoud+iRig Mic HD PA, in repose on a Summer afternoon. Yes, the volume is turned down on the iLoud to prevent feedback.

                              If you want to go for additional coolness, download the free VocaLive app for your iThingy from the app store. It models a Shure 58 and includes a reverb processor, but you can register to unlock three extra mic models and a doubler processor.

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                              One of the free "unlock" mic models is on the left; the Reverb comes with the basic version.

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                              You get Double when you register to unlock the extra goodies.

                              Interestingly, I found that AmpliTube Acoustic Free (see post #13) is also a really useful companion to iRig Mic HD, particularly because you can use it to reduce feedback. More choices = good.

                              In all my tests the latency was definitely reasonable, so whether you need to boost your voice for a party, do some karaoke, or get a little extra vocal level when practicing or collaborating on songwriting with other musicians, iLoud can give a welcome boost to your voice that sounds a lot better than just using the iOS device’s internal mic.

                              And so, this concludes the “one application every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday during July” but the thread remains open for questions, comments, contributions of ways you use iLoud, etc. Finally, remember that through a special arrangement with B&H, the product links in this forum take you to exclusive pages for the Harmony Central community that offer substantial discounts…so if you want an iLoud, or some of the accessories that are mentioned in the various posts, this thread is the place to start.
                              Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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