Need to silent practice due a baby in the house or just wants to avoid disturbing family and neighbours? Then a headphone amp is the answer.
Among the variety of choices, the Vox Amplug 2 and the Irig HD 2 are two of the better headphone amps. If you are undecided on which one to choose, this is the guide for you.
The difference between Vox Amplug 2 and Irig regular version is the quality of sound. Irig HD sounds much better but it cost twice as much. In addition, the build quality is suspected as it is using cheap materials. Overall, the Vox Amplug 2 is a better value for money headphone amp.
In particular, you will learn:
- Which model is more convenient to just pick up and play
- Which model offers better sound quality
- Which model has a longer battery life
Which headphone amp is easy to pick and up?
Hands down, the Vox Amplug 2 is easier to pick up and pick. What you need to do is just to connect the amp to the guitar, connect the headphone to the headphone jack on the amp and start playing.
For the Irig, you need to connect it to your phone or device first. Then run an instrument cable from the Irig to your guitar and finally, open an app on the phone. This takes quite a bit for time to set up and cannot compete with the Vox Amplug on the ease of usage.
However, if you want better controls and output options, then the Irig will be much better. You can link it to different cabinets and such and experiment with different set ups.
Which headphone amp offers better audio
The Vox Amplug 2 offers more headroom and as a result, is able to provide a clean, deep and warm tone without distortion. I recommend the normal gain setting, rather than the low gain due to the drop in volume.
You are also able to get nice tones from it, be it crunchy to even hot lead. They of course don’t like the same as a $500 amp especially at the higher gains but the quality is still satisfying. As long as you have the right expectation, you will be happy with the purchase.
In contrast, the Irig sounds pretty soft and usually leads to distortion if you pump up the volume. The HD version sounds much better but it is twice as expensive as the Vox Amplug.
At least, the Irig doesn’t give you feedback so it is still pretty ok to listen to.
Which headphone amp offers more effects?
The Vox Amplug comes with 3 main of effects that you can play around with: chorus, delays and reverbs. Each has its own controls to make it easy to experiment and adjust.
The Irig comes with many more effects due to the app. A lot of the effects are free but additional ones need to be purchased. Each purchase will cost around 2.99 and up so the cost do add up over time.
In terms of sheer effects, the Irig got the Vox beat. However, these effects are not essential but adds to the fun of noodling on your guitar
Which headphone amp offers better battery life?
Comparing this aspect is a bit tricky because it is not a straight apple to apple comparison.
For the Vox Amplug, you just need 2 AAA batteries that will give you around 20 to 25 hours of playtime.
For the Irig, it doesn’t need batteries to run as it gets power from the devices you plug it into. However, you need to consider the battery life of these devices. If you are using iPhone, then the iPhone’s battery life will limit the amount of playtime you are going to get.
If an iPhone’s average battery life is around 8 hours, you can say the battery life of the Vox will be longer.
Overall, the Vox Amplug just offers an easier power management option.
Here are some additional small differences to note:
- Build quality: Both have good quality electronics but the unit itself feels flimsy for the Irig. The weakness is in the connection point where there seems to be a lagging effect whenever the unit is being jiggled. Once that happens, the app needs to be rebooted. I believe this is due to the build quality, especially of the connection points.
- App problem: From what I read, getting the app to be work for the Irig seems to be an issue. Their customer support is not the most accommodating as well so getting help might not be easy. Fortunately, the Vox Amplug don’t have such problem. If you are not tech savvy, this is something to think about.
- Outputs: The Irig has output options. The Vox Amplug only has an input in and a headphone out. The Irig has output to mixer, devices etc.
Irig HD 2 vs Irig 2
I cover Irig HD 2 over Irig 2 because of the benefits that the former provides:
- Less noisy to work with
- Sound much much better esp if you are using iPhone 7 as the adapter deteriorates the sound quality badly
- Have treble
- Can connect to USB and Lighting. The non HD version can only work with lighting as far as I can tell
The downside is the high price of the HD version. Usually, it will cost twice as much as the regular version so you need to access if the benefits are worth the money.
I would just get the Vox Amplug instead. It cost the same as the regular Irig but has audio quality that is similar to the HD version.
My final verdict is that for value for money, ease of use and sound quality, the Vox Amplug 2 is the clear winner. The only place where Irig shines is in the effects area where you can get so much more effects from the app. However, most of the effects are not free so cost will be an issue.
If you want something easy to pick up just to play at night or at anytime or place that is convenient, the Vox Amplug is your answer.