Gear Review: Peavey/Agile Ampkit Link

I recently picked up a refurbished iPad from Apple mainly to use it to play my guitar through and use GarageBand to just record simple things and new riffs and song ideas at home or on the go.
I also owned an iPhone and have previously tried using the Amplitube iRig. The iRig went in through the headphone jack on the iPhone and all I would get was major feedback and major noise. It seemed to be a cheaply made plastic device but I was hoping the AmpKit Link from Peavey and Agile Partners would take from that technology and be improved upon. I watched a few YouTube videos of the AmpKit and was pretty impressed from what I heard so I decided to give it a shot. At $29.99, the price was right so why not.

The AmpKit Link is a device that you plug into the headphone jack on your iPad or iPhone. You then plug your 1/4″ guitar cable into one input on the link. Finally there’s also an input for either headphones or other monitoring system like stereo speakers or computer speakers (or even a PA). The difference between the iRig and Ampkit was supposed to be the fact that Peavey/Agile has batteries in this unit which is supposed to help cut down on noise and feedback. This wasn’t the case at all in my testing. Now, granted I used the free application version of the software and I didn’t pay for any extra amps,effects or any other kind of speaker cabinets but I didn’t think you really would have to pay extra to try to attain some sort of decent tone. Why would a company put out a free app that most people, probably 80% of the people who try it, would try the free version to see if they liked it enough to purchase more add-ons? That was my thinking. The amount of noise and feedback that I received was incredible. I tested it with two different guitars, a custom Fender Strat that has very low noise pick ups (Dimarzios) and also an Epiphone Les Paul copy that has the standard Epiphone Les Paul pickups.

I didn’t stop there. I tested the Link with GarageBand, Amplitube’s app for the iRig and another app called iShred. The apps don’t seem to be the problem. I contacted Agile’s tech support with the issues I was having. The support I received was excellent. I can’t say enough good things about the service. Unfortunately, we were unable to come up with a solution. My take on this type of setup is that the problem lies in where these devices are being plugged into….the headphone jack. This, in my opinion, is what causes the hissing and noise. Trying to use any kind of high gain amp setup in the apps was unbearable. Using the built-in noise gates helped with noise but it also completely killed any sustain you had while also leaving an artificial feedback on top of the sound. To be fair, Agile’s tech support informed me that in the next couple of months, their app is over going a major upgrade. I didn’t want to wait around that long so I returned the Link.

I’m very interested in testing out a couple of new products: the Apogee Jam and the Alesis IO Dock. Neither of these products seem to be in stock anywhere. I’ve tried contacting both companies about possibly testing these units with no luck so far. There is no plugging in through the headphone jack on these. They both plug in through the dock, which is where I believe better results will come from. If I am able to obtain either of these pieces of gear, I will post a review at some point.

In closing, my advice would be to stay away from the AmpKit Link and iRig…especially if you play a lot of high gain amps. For those that play lighter styles of music and acoustic style, it may work better for you and at the price, it may be worth it to try it out.

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