Pod Farm on your iPad

We’ve done a few of these reviews lately, looking at gear which promises to open up the wonderful world of recording on your tablet. From Alesis IO Dock II through to our recent round up of cool iOS gear, there’s plenty of options open to anyone looking to enter the world of portable recording.

For this review, we’re looking at the newest such product designed specifically with guitarists in mind. The Sonic Port VX, from Line 6, is the successor to the original Sonic Port, which moved tablet recording away from using the headphone jack and onto using the device’s USB connectivity. You see, as a proof of concept – i.e. showing that it could be done – the old headphone jack input served its purpose well. But musicians craved something a bit higher-tech, a bit more advanced. Something with higher quality. Anything resembling a high-gain tone simply didn’t work through items like the iRig because the feedback and crosstalk which occurred as a result ruled out anything usable being recorded.

Thankfully, developers got top grips with Apple’s 30-pin and, latterly, Lightning connectors which ramped up the sound quality considerably, and made tablet-based recording very much ‘a thing’.

Line 6 Sonic Port VX Review

Lightning connectivity

This new device from Line 6 is among the best we’ve come across at carrying out such activities. Straight from the box, it feels like a decent quality bit of kit which could withstand being lugged around from place to place in a laptop bag. It comes with all manner of physical connectors, so it can be attached to a mic stand, sit slightly raised using the accompanying desktop stand, or it could sit flush on your desk without getting in the way too much.

Connectivity-wise, it features two inputs (guitar and auxillary, through a mini-jack) and two outputs so you can send a signal to a pair of active monitors. It doesn’t have an input gain control, which can cause slight distortion if not managed properly, although you’d have to be pushing it hard to encounter any real problems here.

The real star though is the in-built condenser mics. By flicking a switch, you can choose between a single, forward facing mic, or two sideward facing mics which give a neat stereo effect. There is a gain switch for the mics too, so you needn’t worry about clipping here.

Line 6 Sonic Port VX Review

Pod Farm mobile

The Line 6 Sonic Port VX can be connected either to your iPad or iPhone, using the Lightning connector, or it can function as a fully fledged USB audio interface into your PC or Mac. Sound quality from the mic is highly usable, and the versatile desktop stand ensures it could be used for vocals, guitars or other acoustic instruments with no problems.

For iDevice users, you can unlock a full version of Line 6’s Pod Farm mobile, which is fine for sketching out rough ideas before recording begins. Honestly, it’s not the best amp sim we’ve come across, but the app is such a small part of the deal that it doesn’t detract from what is a great quality, affordable solution for recording on the go.

While putting this Line 6 Sonic Port VX review, we plugged into both an iPhone and a Macbook Pro, and the results were fantastic. It’s so simple to use, and the sound quality was better than expected.

All told this is a great little interface, and well worthy of your attention.