GuitarJack: Responses from Sonoma

Since I first posted on Guitar Jack from Sonoma Wire Works there’s been a lot of debate on the price tag for this piece of hardware.

I decided to take some time to talk to Sonoma and ask them some questions about the GuitarJack and the issues that many of you have raised. Here’s what they said:

PS: What made Sonoma decide to produce an audio interface for the iPhone?

Sonoma: Our FourTrack multitrack recorder app was a huge success, but many of our users wanted to connect their instruments and microphones to their iPhones/iPod Touches. We investigated existing solutions, but felt they did not have the key features our users needed. We wanted a very small pocket sized device. We wanted it to have a 1/4″ input for guitar, and we wanted to be able to record stereo battery-powered condenser microphones or line inputs. Devices that connect via the headset mic connector are less expensive to manufacture, and don’t require going through the Apple Made for iPod program, but they are limited to mono and cannot be controlled by software. Creating our own hardware device seemed like the best solution for FourTrack users.

PS: Can you explain the software hardware integration features of GuitarJack and how other audio apps / developers can take advantage of it?

Sonoma: Most of GuitarJack’s features are controlled by software. The GuitarJack song tool that will be included in FourTrack and in the free Taylor EQ app is used to set the input level, which inputs are being used, and the impedance. GuitarJack will work with other apps, but these settings must be set within FourTrack, the free Taylor EQ app, or other apps that become compatible with the GuitarJack in the future.

PS: What do you think differentiates GuitarJack from other audio interfaces that are appearing on the market?

Sonoma: GuitarJack features both a 1/4″ mono jack and an 1/8″ stereo jack that can be used simultaneously within FourTrack. Adjusting the analog input level before it is digitized and clipped was one of the most requested features, and with GuitarJack, this is possible with 60dB of input gain and a selectable pad for a total of 72dB of input level control. Additionally, the GuitarJack has selectable hi-z and lo-z impedance on the 1/4″ input allowing for instruments, line level and microphones. Lastly, the GuitarJack is made of hard-anodized aluminum and made in the USA. The quality of craftsmanship and the range of features really make GuitarJack stand out from other interfaces.

PS: People have been surprised by the price tag for GuitarJack, can you explain how you got to that price and why it is so much higher than other seemingly similar interfaces?

Sonoma: Similar products have a 1/4″ input for guitar, but that’s where the similarity ends. GuitarJack is built with premium quality components and construction methods which are costly. We understand that we sit at the high end of the price spectrum, but we believe the quality and feature set of the hardware will warrant the investment. Without compromising quality this is the lowest price that we can offer it for at this time.

PS: Another issue that people have raised is that GuitarJack isn’t compatible with the iPad or iPhone 4. Is this something that will be addressed in software / drivers or will there be a GuitarJack 2?

Sonoma: Apple changed the 30 pin connector on the iPhone 4 and the iPad. Further details require an NDA with the Apple Made for iPod Program. Other devices are simply line in connectors and do not have to deal with the challenges and certifications of being a dock connector device like the GuitarJack. We are working on a version for the iPad and iPhone 4 but I can’t give a timeframe at the moment.


What’s my take on this then?


I’m glad that Sonoma Wire Works have been able to fill in some of the missing pieces of information on the GuitarJack.
Whilst there’s no getting away from the price tag it is quite obvious that it is a different animal to some of the other interfaces emerging in the market, and let’s not through out the baby with the bath water. Sonoma Wire Works have not only brought us some great apps like FourTrack and StudioTrack and also audiocopy / paste which I’m sure lots of people use regularly.
The fact they’re introducing GuitarJack now just says to me that they’re trying to push the software and hardware integration and innovate in the iPhone market.
Interfaces for All
GuitarJack may not suit everyone’s needs or pocket, but there’s plenty of choice coming. At one end of the scale you have the PRS Guitarbud which is very cheap. Then the coming interfaces like iRig and AmpKit. At the complete end of the scale we have the iAudioInterface which will retail at $249. Within that spectrum there’ll be an interface to suit everyone I’m sure.
It is after all a rapidly developing and changing market and nothing stays the same for long.
What I’d like to do is give them all a go and see how the perform against each other. I’ll let you know how I get on with that.
In the meantime, I’m sure that this post will spark more debate on the interface question.

5 comments

  1. Hi,

    I've got to say your blog is a really interesting resource for mobile music, and not just an “advertisting window” for the software developers. Your recent reviews and interviews really are a step in the right direction.

    Like

  2. Not too worried normally about plugging my dock connector mic in, but with a bigger device the potential for applying too much force by mistake is higher. Mind you i worry about plugging in and removing the 3.5mm headset too often too!

    Wireless FTW :). If it's latency is tiny of course!

    Like

  3. Thanks for that interview. In the end, Mr. Market decides.

    You gotta ask yourself: 1) what features do I need (e.g., do I really need mic and guitar inputs at the same time), 2) do I really need premium audio quality, for my audio projects, or is “acceptable” good enough (headphone/mic jack versus dock), 3) do I want to invest in hardware that locks out most other software, and 4) can I afford to spend $200 for an iPhone audio interface, especially one that won't work on an iPad.

    Like

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