Provides: Condensor microphone input for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch
Developer: IK Multimedia
Minimum Requirements: iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch
There’s no shortage of external microphones available for your iPhone, and most of them are pretty good. The shortage comes, oddly, in handheld mics. Whereas others are content to attach to your iDevice dock port or sit lumbering on your desk, IK Multimedia’s iRig Mic is designed to be held or fit into the mic stand you likely already own. After all, if you’re considering a microphone for your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, I’d hope you already have a reason to be singing into it.
Or speaking, really. I’m not a singer. But I have taken to using my iPhone for interviews, which I’ve done at Macworld expo, concerts, etc. The iPhone mic is decent if you can control the setting, but that’s not always possible. You just can’t get good sound on an expo show floor without shoving your phone in the interviewee’s face, and that can be a little off-putting. Not so with the iRig Mic, because it gets better sound and because people are more used to having actual microphones shoved in their face. They know what to do with them.
But let’s focus on hardware before I get too far into usage. The iRig Mic attaches to your iDevice via the headphone port. Its 1/8″ mini jack also contains an 1/8″ mini out, so the effects on your iDevice can be kicked back to you via headphones or run out to an amplifier or speaker system. If there’s any latency, I couldn’t detect it.
The cable is well over six feet long, so if you’re using it conjunction with your iPad and the iKlip, you shouldn’t have to worry about yanking over your microphone stand during practice.
The iRig Mic features a unidirectional-electret microphone capsule. It gets good sound for a $60 mic. Not fantastic. You aren’t going to use this for performances, but for messing around with GarageBand, recording a podcast or rehearsing with your band, it’ll do the job.
The iRig Mic also features a three-position gain switch (low, medium and high pressure sound sources). These settings are pretty much shots in the dark, and you’ll still have to adjust your output or further enhance the settings via the software on your iDevice to really get a setting you like. But it’s better to have them than to not have them.
iRig Mic Specifications:
- Microphone Type: condenser electret
- Polar Pattern: unidirectional/cardioid
- Frequency Response: 100 Hz – 15 kHz, -3dB
- Maximum Sound Pressure (set for high sound pressure): 120 dB
- Maximum Sound Pressure (set for mid sound pressure): 90 dB
- Maximum Sound Pressure (set for low sound pressure): 75 dB
- Distortion: 3% THD at 120 dB, 1 kHz
- Windscreen: built-in
- Power and Connection: works with iPhone/iPod touch/iPad only
Speaking of software, IK Multimedia will tell you that the free VocaLive app is included with the iRig Mic. This is a half truth. Yes, it’s free, but it’s free regardless of whether you buy the iRig Mic. It’s simply a free app in the App Store. However, the free version is severely limited, and kind of useless unless you’re really into reverb. To get full use out of VocaLive, you’ll have to buy other effects via in-app purchases, or just spend $19.99 on the full version of VocaLive. Even then, though, you’ll have to spend an additional $4.99 to get multitrack recording. We’ll cover that more, though, in our full review of VocaLive within the coming days.
Until then, the iRig Mic is a good place to start. It’s a solidly built mic that looks and feels professional (it has a nicely balanced weight to it). When I finally get The Adam Routine back together (and I will, we just need to wait for our drummer’s love affair with his car to end), I’ll have no problem letting the iRig Mic / VocaLive app combo replace our current lead mic for rehearsing in the basement. I’d still look elsewhere for performances, but that’s no different from our previous equipment set-up.
In the meantime, the iRig Mic is more likely to see use on the show floor at E3 or Macworld Expo, or the next time Shonen knife comes to town.
Buy the iRig Mic
Also read Appletell’s VocaLive review.