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Technology Tell Review: IK Multimedia iRig Mic Studio

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By Kirk Hiner

IK Multimedia has pretty much become the go-to shop for all things mobile/desktop audio recording. There are some great apps and hardware available from a few other top-tier companies, but only IK Multimedia brings you the great one-two punch of software and hardware that work perfectly together.

That type of seamless integration isn’t required, of course; you can mix and match your apps and accessories to your heart’s content. But IK Multemedia gives you no reason to, as their products always deserve to be at the top of your shopping list. The iRig Mic Studio is no different.

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The first thing you’ll notice about the iRig Mic Studio is its portable size. At about 4 inches long and 1-3/4 inches in diameter, it’s easy enough to slip into a backpack or laptop bag. The included mic stand folds nicely so it doesn’t add much more bulk, but you’re not going to fit it and the mic in the included carrying pouch, which is only large enough to contain the iRig Mic Studio with about two of the three necessary cables (Lightning, mini-USB and USB). I’m an Apple guy, so the Lightning and USB cables are the only ones I’d ever need to have handy.

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Taking a quick focus on the mic stand, I want to point out how easy it is to attach and position the iRig Mic Studio without the need for any tools. However, there is no shockmount, so you’re still likely to pick up some vibration depending upon your recording setup. I’m not going to complain about this since the stand is free, but a microphone of this quality does call out for a higher-end stand. If you’ve got one, the microphone mount does detach.

So, let’s talk about that quality. The iRig Mic Studio sports a 1 inch diameter back electret condenser capsule that helps it accommodate a wide number of uses. This—in addition to the 24-bit audiophile-grade A/D converter (with 44.1/48 kHz sample rate) and built-in low-noise high-definition preamp—means you won’t need to mess around with its settings to capture audio at a level beyond what you should be able to in your immediate surroundings (most likely). In fact, the only settings you do get on the hardware are the gain and headphone level knobs (the headphones plug into the back).

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Between the gain and headphone level knob is an LED indicator that allows you to easily monitor and adjust the recording level. Blue means you’re coming in too low, red means you’re too high. Green or orange, and you’re all set.

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Beyond that, you’ll need to rely on your software settings in your app of choice for iPhone, iPad, Mac/PC or Android. IK would like to point you towards their apps, of course, including the recently announced Mic Room which allows you to mimic the sounds of “the world’s most coveted studio microphones” in much the same way that IK’s Ampltube apps allow you to reproduce various guitar, amplifier and pedal effects. Mic Room may be more than what you need, so we ran most of our voice testing with iTalk Recorder Premium, which the iRig Mic Studio supported thanks to Standard Core Audio compatibility. Even with no effects added, I was impressed at the iRig Mic Studio’s ability to capture rich tones and clean audio at various distances from the source (my voice and my “guitar,” which is actually just Pearl Guitar Pro for the iPad because no one wants to listen to me practice my bass).

The drawback to the sophistication of today’s iOS and Android devices is that you’re tricked into thinking they do everything well. There are great apps available for recording music, voice and even just some sound effects, but you still need help with your hardware. For your desktop needs—be they portable or fixed in an office or studio—Ik Multimedia’s iRig Mic Studio is possibly the best option available in its price range. At $180 in silver or black options, it’s currently $80 more than another of my of favorite iK products: the iRig Mic HD (http://www.technologytell.com/apple/140767/review-irig-mic-hd-iphone-ipad-natural-choice/). However, it’s also much more portable and easy to use in a variety of settings. Podcasters and YouTubers especially quickly grow to love the iRig Mic Studio whether their main usage involves voice, music or both.

If you’re already familiar with the nuances of IK Multimedia’s recording apps, all the better. If not, just fire up your app of choice and see how much easier a quality original makes the editing process, and how much more professional the results sound.

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