Positive Grid Jamup Plug and
Jamup Pro App
JamUp Plug is compatible with:
• iPhone 4S, 4, 3GS, and 3
• iPod Touch 4th gen.
• iPad and iPad2
JamUp Pro works on iOS 4.3 or later
The amp and effects models on offer in
JamUp Pro’s smartly laid-out interface are
well voiced, with surprisingly full dynamic
ranges, consistent output levels across a
range of gain levels, and a playability that
you have to experience to appreciate.
Even just dialing through the presets—
“Awesome Clean,” “UK 30 Sparkle,” “800
Lead,” and others—I found plenty of useful,
musical tones. And the smart-gate settings
mean these sounds are much quieter
than virtually any other amp app. Kudos
are also due for the excellent reverb sounds,
from digital ’verbs to a very convincing vintage
spring—it’s hard enough to find great
spring reverbs on a full-blown rig, but a
tiny iPhone? That’s remarkable.
To edit presets, you touch back to the
Amp/FX menu, and the controls for each
given amp and effect appear across the
bottom of the screen. JamUp Pro displays
horizontally, so you tilt the phone sideways,
which I’d argue means a broader, easier page
for edit adjustments, though some may prefer
the vertical layout. A quick double-tap
on anything in your signal chain—amps,
effects, etc.—produces a menu of options
for each. There are six amps and quite a few
pedals in the app when you first download
it, but I’d recommend stocking up on the
many effects and amps Positive Grid offers
as in-app purchases. From lively, spongy
takes on Bogner, Orange, Hiwatt, Fender,
Boogie, and Vox, there’s a surplus of amp
riches here. Effects? You get rich, thick
modulations, believable tape-echo with
adjustable heads, spacious digital reverbs—
and they’re all very easy to edit. The Noise
Gate pedal really cleans things up beautifully
when you’ve gone a little crazy on the
Another couple of big pluses: JamUp
Pro makes it easy to alter your signal path.
So you can, say, place effects before or after
the amp, try out delays before distortions,
and experiment with any unusual path you
can dream up. Also, the app’s Jam feature
allows you play along with any song in
your iTunes library. You can even use the
onboard controls to slow down the tempo
without altering the pitch, or modulate the
pitch and/or key—and you don’t need to
buy another app to do it!
Just as cool, JamUp Pro’s Sampler
makes it easy to create, load, and store
guitar loops—it’s like having a JamMan or
Boomerang on your iPhone. One caveat: It
would be nice to be able to trigger the metronome
after you start recording your loop
rather than only beforehand. In all, though,
JamUp Pro is an absolute essential for the
traveling guitarist—and you will almost certainly
find yourself using it at home, too.
Given the app’s strengths, I wish I could
be as effusive about the JamUp Plug itself.
Although it’s certainly a reasonably priced
interface, it’s a bit too flimsy to do justice
to the JamUp Pro app, and that’s too bad.
Because it connects to your iOS device’s
headphone jack instead of the 30-pin connector,
it just can’t squeeze through as many
dynamics. And despite its line-level output,
the sounds clearly suffer from crosstalk and
bad conversion. You’re far better off trying
JamUp Pro through an interface with better
input capabilities and third-party app compatibility.
Such a combination will make
JamUp Pro—possibly the deepest and finest
amp/effects app on the market—sound as
good as it’s capable of sounding.
Apogee Jam and Apple
Apogee Jam is compatible with:
• iPhone 4S and 4
• iPad and iPad2
Apple GarageBand works on iOS 4.3 or later
The Apogee name carries a lot of weight
in pro-engineering circles, so when Apogee
jumped into the consumer game with the
ultra-lightweight Jam, it definitely got
some attention. Still, given the success of
the Apogee Duet2 interface—an acclaimed
project-studio-oriented, 2-channel I/O optimized
for Macs—perhaps it wasn’t a great
stretch to address the growing portable
music market, too.
Apogee’s US-made Jam certainly makes
the company’s entry into the smartphone
field a competent one. The lightweight
plastic housing is highly portable, but it’s
not rugged, and I would hesitate before
tossing this into my gig bag, frankly.
(Perhaps a small, sturdy case would help?)
The Jam connects to your iPhone or iPad
via an included 30-pin cable, which is
good for sonic fidelity, though it actually
makes it harder to keep things in place.
Without grips or a direct connection
to your device, it’s hard
to keep the Jam in a stable position,
because the weight of your
guitar cable alone can pull your
iPhone and Jam off the table and
onto the floor. Some kind of grip or clip
system would be nice, and presumably the
included Velcro is meant to remedy this,
but how—by attaching the Jam to your
iOS device? Not going to happen!
To its credit, the Jam sounds very clean,
and there’s really no configuration required.
It doesn’t have its own headphone jack,
however, so you’ll have to use your device’s
instead. To use the Jam as a 1-channel input
device to a Mac, you use the included USB
cable and choose “Jam” as your input device
in GarageBand, Logic, or another DAW,
just as you would any other audio I/O. As
previously mentioned, the Jam’s sonic qualities
suggest quality converters—Apogee calls
it PUREDigital. We just call it low-noise,
with 40 dB of variable gain. And the inclusion
of a physical input gain control on the
Jam’s side flank is a nice touch, too.
While the Jam is a nice interface—if
slightly overpriced, given the materials—the
app that Apogee recommends you use with
it, Apple’s GarageBand, is a minor miracle.
Perhaps it’s Apple’s sheer economic might
that lets it get away with only charging five
bucks for what is, essentially, a complete
8-track audio and intelligent MIDI recording
system, with myriad modeled vintage
keyboards, basses, guitar amps and effects
pedals, drums and drum machines, an
onboard sampler(!), as well as loop-based
features (including some 250 drum loops),
Smart and Touch instruments, and mixdown
tools. Did I say five bucks?
The guitar section alone includes nine
amp models (tweeds, silverfaces, Vox-style,
vintage Marshall-style, Rectifier-style, and
more) and 10 stompbox effects, from the
super-mod Treble Boost to the quirky
Auto-Funk. All of them provide more-than-reasonable facsimiles, and
the good-looking graphics are backed
up by control views that beef up the size
of knobs and sliders for easy editing.
GarageBand does offer an input level control
that’s smartly partnered with a noise
gate to keep your sounds clean and mean.
There’s also a reliable onboard tuner. The
bottom line is that it’s a fun, highly creative
tool that may even help you capture
keeper tracks for an album.