The iRig Mic by IK Multimedia is a handheld, unidirectional condenser microphone that plugs directly into your iDevice. Instead of the mediocre internal microphone, use this sturdy tool to capture quality sound. PadGadget was lucky enough to get our hands on one of these babies and we’d like you to know what we think.
IK Multimedia became famous for being the first company to sell an adaptor to allow musical instruments like a MIDI keyboard or electric guitar to be plugged directly into the iPhone or iPad, called the iRig.
The iRig Mic was the next step for the accessory makers. Why stop at instruments? Why not make something for singers, too?
The first thing I noticed when I pulled the iRic Mic out of the box was how sturdy it was. I expected it to be made from plastic, or some other lightweight, but weaker material. It is made out of durable metal, so it can withstand road travel, accidental drops and even overzealous singers like me.
The iRig Mic comes with a microphone stand clip, so you don’t have to worry about whether it will fit on a traditional stand, which it doesn’t. The clip comes with an adaptor so that it can be screwed onto a typical stage stand, or a smaller tabletop stand.
The cord is smaller than I’m used to with regular vocal microphones, but I don’t think I would want this to have a thick cord. It would not be as portable and the iRig Mic is not meant to be used by punk rock singers during live performances anyway.
The device connector has a mini jack in and a mini jack out so that, after you’ve plugged the iRig Mic into your iPad, you can plug in a set of headphones, a PA stereo speaker connector or a mixer and listen in real time to the audio. The input jack is a four tip-ring-sleeve, which I believe is used for left and right audio plus two for the microphone.
The performance of the iRig Mic is outstanding. There are three different levels of sound pressure intake for various sensitivities. The low intensity feature is for quiet sounds like classroom speeches or recording crickets in the backyard. The medium intensity feature is for acoustic guitars, close-up interviews and loud room sounds. The High intensity feature is for direct input from electric guitars and yelling singers.
Each level performs perfectly. When in low intensity, I could whisper as quiet as possible, directly into the microphone and hear everything as if it were being spoken out loud. When I set up the iRig Mic to record my band while we practiced, I was able to stand it in the center of the room and use the medium intensity level to record everything. The final result was a bit quiet, but it picked up each instrument as clearly as if you were listening to it in real life. Most room recordings sound distorted and the base is usually drowned out by the high-end guitar and wash of the cymbals. With the high intensity feature set, I was able to lay down vocal tracks for a couple of songs that the band had already recorded their parts for. It sounded seamless.
The iRig Mic is fantastic, but the free apps are its weak spot. IK Multimedia offers a selection of free apps when you buy their microphone, but they are really just minimally equipped “lite” versions of fairly expensive full-featured apps. It is great to have the opportunity to try out some portion of each app, but they are very stripped down. For example, the VocaLive free app comes with one effects pedal. If you want a second one, you have to register with IK Multimedia and if you want any more pedals, you have to purchase them for $2.99 to $4.99 each. The app also comes with a multi-track recorder, but you can only record on one track for free. The full eight-track recorder will cost you $14.99.
The fact that additional features in VocaLive and the other apps cost money is not a big deal. If you are going to go for it, you might as well spend the extra money to make it good. Plus, the apps are not necessary to record top-quality sound. It works seamlessly with GarageBand.
If you are in the market for a quality microphone for recording music, lectures, or even podcasts, this is a fantastic device. It costs $59.99, which is the average price of a condenser microphone, and fairly inexpensive for something with the level of quality this has. You can purchase the iRig Mic, as well as IK Multimedia’s other music related idevice gadgets from their website.