At 1st glance, you might think the Apogee Jam is just a simple device. But the fact of the matter is, the Apogee Jam is much more than just a simple device. With the Jam, you can record just about any audio source into your IOS device or Mac.
My first foray with the Apogee Jam led me into tracking. The Apogee Jam was connected to the MPC on one end and to my iPad on the other end. The iPad was running the Auria app. Once I had a solid connection (simple as a click), I was able to check the levels. The handy gain control made that easy. Once I had a good level on the iPad I proceeded to record a drum track into Auria (for those that don’t know what Auria is, it is a multi-track recording application made for the iPad that includes a PSP channel strip and pretty nice effects… Pardon the tangent. Auria review pending. Stay tuned).
Once I tracked the drums into Auria, I made it my business to connect the Apogee MiC to record a verse. The mere realization that I was able to take source audio from my MPC, run it through a pristine sound device smaller than a pack of cigarettes and record this sound directly into my iPad was like a revelation. The sound quality was impeccable, which was due to the fact that the Jam has a built in a studio quality instrument preamp with up to 40 DB of gain and a 44.1/48 kHz, 24-bit analog to digital conversion. Yeah that’s impeccable sound quality on the go.
As for the build of the jam, it’s actually nicely made it is not the most sturdy and hefty thing in the world, but it’ll certainly do the job. Although you can clearly see that it’s made of plastic it’s certainly worth your while and road warrior ready. Similar to the the Apogee MiC, the Jam has a multicolored LED for device status and input level monitoring. A blue indication light means the Jam is connected but not ready. A green indication light means that the Jam is connected, ready and that it is working with your software.
Also included on the Jam is the gain control dial, which is pretty handy. The Jam’s output is described as “high quality locking output that connects directly to iPad and iPhone 30 pin port or USB port on a Mac.” The instrument input is described as a “studio quality quarter inch instrument input optimized for all guitar pickups and features auto soft limiting for optimum input level.” And since we’re on the topic of build quality it is worth noting that the Apogee Jam is made in the USA.
So okay, we have this little small box no bigger than iPhone that somehow transfers a single unbalanced input of whatever the signal you might choose into the amazing sound source for the IOS device or Mac. The key to this is the “Pure Digital” instrument connection. The pure digital instrument connection gives you a pristine sound quality that Apogee is obviously most widely known for. Although the jam is designed for electric guitars and bass it certainly works with any instrument with a pickup in my case I use it with the outputs from the MPC.
As a matter of fact, I used the Apogee Jam to record a YouTube video. I recorded the audio for it directly into my iPhone as I recorded the video. I have to say it worked out pretty well.
So how does the Apogee Jam work? It connects to your iPad via 30 pin to USB connector. It takes a sound signal from the source device and it converts the signal from analog to digital on the Apogee Jam itself. Most other devices allow the IOS device or the Mac to do the audio conversion. While it is convenient in the absence of the Apogee Jam to let the IOS device or the Mac do the audio conversion, it results in less than pristine sound quality. In contrast, the Apogee Jams analog-to-digital conversion provides a much better sound quality.
The Apogee Jam comes with both, a cable for the connection of iPad / iPhone and a cable for connection to your Mac. It comes with a quick start guide and even a Velcro strip for mounting almost anywhere. Of course, as with any electronic device, you should probably consider that there are system requirements. In order to run the Jam with your iOS device you’ll need iOS version 4.3 or higher. The Apogee Jam is compatible with iPad, iPad 2, iPad third-generation, iPhone 4, and iPhone for S. As for IOS compatible apps you can refer to the Apogee website. However, I know for fact that the Apogee Jam is compatible with applications such as Garageband and Auria, at least those are the other 2 that I tested heavily.
System requirements for Mac computer are 1 GB minimum of installed RAM although 2 GB recommended you’ll need OS X 10.6.4 or higher and a USB connection. Compatible software includes Garageband, Logic Pro, Mainstage or any core audio compliant software.
The fact of the matter is that $99 is a small price to pay for a high quality pocket-sized analog-to-digital converter. I mean think about that, a pocket-sized analog-to-digital converter with extremely good quality audio in the palm of your hand, opens up a completely new world of possibilities.
Long story short, I can’t find anything bad about the Apogee Jam. It’s a really great little device. It is quite simply a small device with big sound quality. If you have a need to record on the go, especially if you’re a guitar player or bass player or your the typical synth geek gadget freak with the need to record every synth in sight, no matter where you stand, the Apogee Jam is definitely for you. I think the best part about it is that it’s only $99. And all of the BBoy Road warrior recording geeks stand up.