June 13, 2012

Apogee Jam Guitar Interface Review

When the call came down the pipeline that we were going to have to review another iPad/iOS guitar interface I would be a liar if I said that I was completely and utterly excited to get started on the project.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with iOS devices and most of them are actually pretty cool but I work at a pro audio company and am constantly surrounded with gear that is absolutely mind blowing and reviewing something built for standard consumers can sometimes feel a bit pedestrian.  When I heard that the device was made by Apogee my interest was sparked.  If you don’t know about Apogee then its time for you to crawl out of the rock you’ve been living under and get with the program because they make the best A/D and D/A converters on the market.  (A/D means Analogue to Digital, D/A is the same in reverse)

Apogee is the company that I used to dream about when I was a kid flipping through music trade magazines, from their legendary big ben to their revolutionary Duet. Virtually everything Apogee produces will become an industry benchmark in some way.  The JAM is Apogee’s first attempt at making a consumer level interface for iOS devices and I couldn’t wait to take it out of the box to give it a test run.  

One of the first things I noticed was the size and build of the product.  It was made of plastic, the same kind of plastic you see when handling some of the other iOS devices but what stood out to me was the weight, it felt nice.  Not heavy like, “put it in a sock for a blackjack” but weighty like, “put it on your sheet music to prevent it blowing away”.  There is only a single LED light on the front of the unit and on the side you will find the USB interface as well as a quarter inch opening for a TRS cable.  It also comes with a connector to connect to the 20 pin USB dock on your iOS device or you can plug it directly into your computer via USB.  This is an excellent feature because when I first saw the unit I thought it was just for iPads and if you have ever used one to exclusively record you already know that it can be a challenge sometimes.  By making the device compatible with the Mac a whole different world of recording possibilities opens up.  I think the JAM really shines in this perspective because for a relatively small amount a Mac user can have access to the legendary A/D D/A converters Apogee is famous for.  When analogue sound is produced it looks like a big smooth sine wave but when it changes to digital it is broken up into little steps that make it possible to transmit data in a digital environment.  The process of converting something from analogue to digital is a tremendous task and to do that with no latency is borderline impossible.  Apogee are masters of this process, everything they make is designed to get analogue sound into and out of your computer without degrading its quality.  

Using the device was incredibly simple, we downloaded GarageBand for iOS to the company iPad and got to work plugging the JAM in and testing it out.  I guess what stood out to me was the pure ease of use the JAM provided.  There is no mystery as how to get this thing up and running, just plug it in and open Garageband, select your inputs and you’re all good to go.  Garageband has several amp models to choose from so we had a good time switching between them to see if there was any latency but in classic Apogee fashion: there wasn’t.  Using a piece of gear like this made me realise how much we as musicians take technology for granted everyday.  My co-worker was recently at a music conference with dozens of Top 100 Global DJs and when I asked him how many of them just use their keyboard to produce his response was, “All of them”.  We are in an age when entire records can be written on a computer without even a keyboard to interface between the software and musician.  If I could step into a time machine and go back to the 60’s with an iPad and a JAM it would literally be game over for all of the modern studios.  You might be thinking that there is no way it would end major recording studios as they had analogue recording capabilities that far exceed the quality of an iPad and JAM but the truth is is that the JAM is the peoples recording device.  It is cheap enough that any creative person’s potential will no longer be limited by financial restraints.  It is now possible to get high quality A/D D/A conversion for a device that sits in your lap, literally a recording studio in your lap on the cheap thanks to the JAM.

The Verdict:

I think the JAM is the highest quality iOS guitar interface on the market and highly recommend this device for any iOS or Mac user creating music.  The quality is good enough that a pro can use it and the cost is cheap enough that average Joe Blow garage rocker can afford it to record his rock opera magnum opus.  Professionals are finally starting to take the iOS seriously and this is reflected in the quality of products currently being released for iOS devices.  I really can’t stress enough how amazing Apogee products are, if you are a car person then Apogee is the Bugatti of the music world; and it’s as if Bugatti made a subcompact.  The JAM is small, portable, easy to use, powerful and incredibly cost effective.  If you are in the market for something to connect your guitar or a mic to your iPad or Mac then look no further, the JAM is all you need.

Until Next Time,

Apogee Jam Overview UniqueSquared


Transcription :

Chris Showalter:  Hello Chris here with and I have for you today the Apogee Jam and this is a guitar input for iOS devices, lets check it out. So this device provides high quality portable sound anywhere you go, it’s ready to work with garageband and it also works with any of your ios devices as well as your mac computer.

Chris: So this device is really simple and its really small it can fit right in your pocket um it has usb out, it has quarter inch in. One feature that i really like is this LED light that you find here on the front if your levels are where they need to be then this light will be green if they are peaking then they will be red.  Um and then it has a gain knob here on the side that will let you adjust your gain knobs accordingly.  

Chris: So when i first got this out of the box I was a little bit worried because it didn’t have a monitor jack on it but after using it I realised that it wasnt an issue because there was no latency.  Also what I really liked about it was that it connected to my iOS device via the dock not the headphone jack so what i ogt was super crystal clear signal.  

Chris: It works with a lot of the third party apps that you can download for your ios device and that’s another win for the apogee jam and it’s a little more expensive than a lot of other guitar inputs out there but for good reason because you pay for the quality that you want.  So there you have it guys this is the apogee Jam my name is Chris Showalter Be U, Be Unique at





  1. [...] Podcast which we record through the Apogee Duet 2 or check out our reviews of the Apogee MiC  and Apogee Jam. You can add other Apogee interfaces to the Quartet to expand your input [...]