One of the biggest things I deal with when at a gig and warming up prior to the show is sound. While practicing unplugged is a great option, when you’re working on tricky passages or phrasing that you know you need to focus on, it’s not ideal. A small practice amp would be great, but that’s another thing you have to lug around. Headphone amps are an option too, but not a lot of people love the isolation. The folks at IK Multimedia have come up with a simple solution: the iRig Nano Amp.
The iRig Nano Amp weighs next to nothing, measures 6″ x 3.5″ x 1.75″ (so it easily fits in a gigbag or case), powered by 3 AA batteries (which are included) and provides you with 3 watts through a 3″ speaker. I know what you’re thinking already; it doesn’t sound good with a bass. At all.
You’d be wrong.
When I originally got the unit to review, I used it with my Willcox Guitars Saber VL fretless bass. This bass has an active circuit with a very hot signal; usually I engage the dB pad on my amp when playing it. With the GAIN control, I was able to get the signal at a level that was usable, and with the VOLUME could dial in a nice sound. The fretless sounded good through the iRig Nano Amp. With the NORMAL/BRIGHT switch, you have a preset that made the fretless sound a bit more Jaco-like than I wanted, although it’s a great feature to have. The passive Fender Jazz bass I used with the iRig Nano Amp on other occasions worked just great.
One of the other nice features of the iRig Nano Amp is the AMP/DEVICE switch, which allows you to plug in your iOS device (with the help of the included TRRS cable) into AmpliTube, and utilize the amp modeling found there. I enjoyed using this to get some grit and dirt out of the bass, but for my purposes, just sticking with the amp itself works wonders.
The iRig Nano Amp from IK Multimedia is easily one of the most handy practice amps I’ve come across. With a size that’s comparable to your phone, this little guy provides suitable volume for practicing wherever you are; backstage, a coffeeshop, or even outside enjoying a couple of free minutes. At $49.99 USD, it’s also at small price point, especially when you consider everything that comes with it.