iRig Mic Studio
IK Multimedia, www.ikmultimedia.com
rugged; portable; studio quality sound
I have just finished a session recording narration for a podcast audio tour with the recently released iRig Mic Studio. The latest addition to the iRig Mic family, the Studio describes itself as a “studio-quality one-inch capsule, low-noise preamp and high-quality A/D-D/A converter for high-definition 24-bit, 44.1/48kHz sound”. The front of the unit has a microphone gain control and a headphone level control. At the rear is a stereo output for headphones. A multicolour LED indicator on the front of the unit monitors my input status. Bright blue tells me I’m connected and ready to go. Green says my signal is too low, red means too high, orange is just right.
The iRig Mic Studio comes with a micro-USB to Lightning cable and a micro-USB to USB cable, which attach via a socket in the microphone’s base. A 30-pin cable is also available if you have an older iPhone or iPad, but that’s a separate purchase. It is surprisingly small at only 45mm wide and 117mm high, but it feels solid in my hand and more than capable of handling the rigours of recording in the field. It’s a simple matter to attach the microphone to the small metal tripod and to adjust the angle to suit. The online manual gives some handy mic placement tips for voice and instrument recording and is well worth reading.
The iRig Mic Studio works with any Core Audio application. For my purposes I’m using GarageBand on my iMac. It’s a simple matter to connect the microphone, create an empty vocal track, do a quick level test and then start recording. As a point of comparison, I used a much larger studio microphone from a well-known Australian company for some earlier narration sequences. In terms of quality, it was virtually impossible to distinguish between the results I got with that and the tracks I recorded with the Studio. There was very little background noise and crystal clarity. For example, one narrator had significant sibilants, which the Studio unfortunately captured in minute detail! That was easily fixed using GarageBand’s capable De-esser tool.
Mobile users are also accommodated. As well as being very compact and with a rugged metal construction, the iRig Mic Studio can be used with an audio app on my iPhone or iPad to give me a highly efficient portable system to capture broadcast quality sound on the road. If you’re not completely committed to Apple’s ecosystem, there’s also support for Android devices, although I didn’t test those out.
The iRig Mic Studio comes with a suite of vocal apps with cross-platform compatibility. iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users can use VocaLive, a powerful effects processor and multi-track recording app that features a selection of 12 professional real-time vocal effects. EZ Voice for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch and EZ Voice for Android are streamlined and easy-to-use sing-along apps that make it easy for vocalists to practise with any song in their music library. iRig Recorder for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch and iRig Recorder for Android are straightforward apps for field recording, podcasting and note taking and more. There’s also Mic Room, a microphone modelling app for iPhone and iPad.
A price of $195.95 may seem a bit steep, but I’ve learned not to confuse size with quality. The iRig Mic Studio is a fully professional unit. It comes in either silver or black.