Bands and songwriters seeking a portable way to record music without lugging around cumbersome gear or investing in a pricey high-tech setup can inexpensively plug in and rock, courtesy of Apogee Electronics’ Jam. Billed as a studio-quality guitar adapter for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Mac, the accessory lets you connect an axe nearly anytime, anywhere and tape tunes straight to an iOS device for $99.
Compatible with bass and electric guitars from manufacturers such as Gibson and Fender, it’s meant for pairing with apps including Apple’s own GarageBand, which recently debuted on mobile handsets and portable media players. Attach the adapter, which connects to guitars via a ¼-inch input at one end and smartphones, tablet PCs or computers (via USB cable) at the other, and it translates analog audio to digital. Featuring a gain control adjuster and multicolored lighting that registers as blue (connected but unready), green (ready and working) and red (input level too high) to reflect status level, built-in extras are few, but functional.
Straightforward and simple to use, other solutions such as IK Multimedia’s iRig and Peavey’s AmpKit LiNK offer better pricing and custom companion software utilities for smartphone virtuosos. But Mac connectivity and enhanced audio for use with high-end solutions such as Logic Studio and MainStage may make it a more immediate fit for professional performers looking to cut loose on commercial-quality work. Paired with effects and vocals recorded on sister gadget the Mic portable USB microphone, the Jam offers a ready way to lay down funky grooves or blistering solos to-go then add accompanying lyrics and choruses.
Neither the first device of its kind nor arguably the most robust, it nonetheless offers audiophiles hoping to quickly toss together tunes or fire off polished demos pleasingly smooth on-demand recording capabilities. Whether it’s the right solution for you or your band depends entirely on software preference, the need for PC compatibility and how important glossy portable sound is, though. Beginners may be better served with other, more affordable solutions. But acts looking to record workable mixtapes on tour or simply hoping to capture a crisper and cleaner sound while shuttling between club dates could find it a welcome traveling companion.