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IK Multimedia iRig Mic
The availability of music applications for mobile devices has grown exponentially recently, and IK Multimedia has been leading the field with a range of hardware and software products for this emerging market.
Their latest creation, iRig Mic, adds to the line a pro-style microphone and accompanying VocaLive software for the iPad and iPhone that includes multiple effects and four-track recording (in the full version). The mic is also compatible with AmpliTube and iRig recorder, and IK Multimedia lists on their website a number of other non-IK programs that the microphone is compatible with (we’re hip to the Karaoke program with auto-tuning). In fact, pretty much an program that utilizes microphone input is compatible with the iRig Mic. The package also includes a mount for placing the mic on a stand.
The mic itself has a permanently attached cable that plugs directly into the iPhone/iPad’s headphone/mic 1/8 inch input jack. The connector on the cable also provides a pass-through 1/8 inch line out for ear buds or connection to an audio system. Specs on the mic itself are:
iRig Mic Specifications
Microphone Type: condenser electret, unidirectional/cardioid polar pattern
One nice touch is that the mic itself contains a three-position gain-reduction switch so you can match your sound source to the input level.
We spent most of our time using VocaLive (Amplitube has already been reviewed as part of iRig at this link). We downloaded the full version for $19.99, which gave us access to all effects including a suite of five dedicated real-time vocal effects (pitch correction, choir harmonizer, voice doubler, vocal morpher and de-esser) plus seven effects tailored to vocal processing (reverb, EQ, compressor, delay, envelope filter, chorus, phaser). The numerous effects can be combined to form a three-effects vocal chain. VocaLive also includes a number of presets to help you get started.
The iRig mic and VocaLive were rather simple to use — and definitely fun. All the effects sounded decent, and the harmonizer worked better than expected. If you want your vocals to sound like an alien, the morph effect works great! We also liked the “glam” preset which gave the input voice a Queen/Bohemian Rhapsody sound.
As this reviewer has directed a number of a cappella groups, it was an unexpected and pleasant surprise to find vocal warm-up exercises included. We could change keys chromatically and alter the tempo. Vocalists will really appreciate this feature.
While there is the ability in input tracks to VocaLive to sing along with (i.e., import songs from your iPod), it would be great if you could also export your recordings. For example, an entire four-part a cappella tune could be recorded on the go, and it would be nice to then import it right into a pro DAW and tweak.
Of course, the focus of VocaLive for the iRig Mic is live, real-time use, and we think it does this quite well. However, an iPhone’s screen size is a limiting factor for overall usability in the field, at least for some users. But just as we were going to press with this review, IK Multimedia released the iKlip Mini for the iPhone. We were going to comment that an iPad with an iKlip attached to a mic stand and running VocaLive would be a useful live tool. Now that suggestion applies to the iPhone as well.
To make it clearer, think about it like this: you have an iPhone with iRig Mic/VocaLive on a mic stand on stage. The output of the iPhone goes to the mixing board and PA. Since you can set up your own custom presets, lets say you make preset One chorus plus one octave below harmonizing (say, for verses, similar to a U2 effect). Then, you set up preset Two harmonizing at the 3rd, 5th, and octave above (for a full chorus sound). In real time, the lead singer can just touch the screen and toggle these effects between verse and choruses. It doesn’t get much easier than this! For another song, you might create presets that toggle between distorted/morphing effects and clean vocals. This is a really easy way to add some creative effects to your live performance, assuming you like the sound of the actual iRig Mic vs. your “standard” vocal mic.
One other interesting note: the effects for VocaLive are interchangeable With AmpliTube 2 for the iPad/iPhone, which can help you save a few bucks if you’re using both applications.
We also spent some time with the free software, iRig Recorder. This is a neat little program for on the fly recording: interviews, podcasts, etc. Although the free version’s capabilities are pretty basic, for just $4.99 you can purchase the full processing suite- which transforms iRig Recorder into a very competent, pro level application. The full app allows you to cut/crop/loop your recordings (using a graphical waveform editor), and process your audio files including optimizing volume, tone, pitch shifting, speeding up or down without affecting pitch, brightening, and smoothing.
Further, iRig Recorder has the ability to transfer files via e-mail, Wi-Fi, or iTunes File Sharing, and it exports files as compressed .m4a or uncompressed .wav files. Recording time is limited only by the memory on your recording device, so with 32 GB and 64 GB iOS devices, this should be plenty to get someone through the day. This could be very hand for journalists, as they don’t need to pack an MP3 recorder along with their cell phone (or kick it old-school with a MiniDisc recorder). We highly recommend the full version if you need to make recordings on location.
While iRig Recorder can be used for recording musical performances, though, the one limiting factor is that this is a mono recording device.
Overall, we especially enjoyed using the iMic and VocaLive. We’re confident that musicians on the go will come up with many creative ways to put iRig Mic and VocaLive to use, and the iRig Recorder is a very handy solution if you need a quick way to capture your thoughts and ideas.
Pricing & Contact Information
iRig Mic: MSRP $59.99, street $60
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