Guitar Jack 2 USB is a very portable guitar and microphone audio interface from Sonoma Wireworks. It’s a sibling to their Guitar Jack 2 iOS interface, which I reviewed previously, but the USB version supports Mac and Windows computers.
Since my review of the Guitar Jack 2 iOS I’ve used it extensively and I really appreciate it’s sturdy design and its amplified output jack – something that’s really needed if you want any sort of decent volume when you connect your iPhone or iPad to anything other than headphones.
The Guitar Jack USB looks exactly the same as its iOS counterpart, with an aluminum exterior and three connectors:
- mono 5,6 mm for instrument input
- stereo 3,5 mm line/mic input
- stereo 3,5 mm line/headphone output
Instead of the docking port connector the USB version has a micro USB port, and with the supplied USB cable you connect it to your computer, or to an iPad or an iPhone with a USB camera connector/adapter. For this review, I’ve only used the unit with computers.
The Guitar Jack doesn’t contain any hardware controls. On the iOS version you control things like input gain using a special app, which I find a bit of a hassle. With the USB version it’s much easier – just use your regular volume sliders in Windows Control Panel or MacOS System Preferences, or easier still the track input volume control of your DAW.
While it could be a benefit to have hardware controls for volume, that would also make the interface less durable. It’s a lot easier to break off a knob by mistake than actually damaging the aluminum housing of the interface, so with the Guitar Jack being aimed at mobile use I think software control is a better choice.
I’m very impressed with quality of the input, especially with the low noise level (I’d say that my Focusrite makes more noise with a muted guitar plugged in). Latency was as expected from a modern device – not noticable.
Here’s a clip of some samples from a quick recording session I did with the Guitar Jack 2 USB:
- High-quality, sturdy build
- Sound quality
- Very versatile: works with iPhones, iPads, Macs and Windows computers
- Small and portable
- Amplified output (good for iOS devices)
- Super-simple installation – on MacOS I just plugged it in
- Multiple inputs that can be used simultaneously
- Extra equipment needed for use with iOS devices
- No hardware controls or gain indicator
- Price – with a retail price of about $129 it’s not far from a fully-fledged audio interface like the Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 which retails at $199
Who Should Get One?
I have a Focusrite interface for my desktop computer, which I’m really happy with. For mobile use though, the Guitar Jack is an excellent complement. I’d never drag around the Focusrite unless it’s for something very specific, but the Guitar Jack I’m keeping in my laptop bag at all times. Together with my Macbook Air, it probably makes for the least cumbersome fully featured (for my needs at least) recording studio you could imagine.
Similar small mobile interfaces with support for iOS have tended to have only Mac support, and even though I mainly use Macs nowadays, I’m happy that Sonoma decided to support Windows as well. It makes the interface much more versatile, and I’m able to bring it work (I actually have a guitar at the office) or to friends that only run Windows.
For someone with and iOS device and no guitar interface the Guitar Jack 2 USB is an excellent choice since it not only works with your device, but also with your computers. You need an extra cable (camera connector/adapter) for it to work with iPhones and iPads, but on the other hand you can get one with a lightning connector whereas the GuitarJack 2 iOS has an old docking port connector.