IK Multimedia iRig Mic Review

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Hey vocalists—want to throw an iPad (or other iOS 4.0 or later device) into a backpack, hook up a mic, plug into a PA system, and go? Meet iRig Mic.

The iRig Mic package comes with a condenser electret mic, mic stand clip, and carrying pouch. The mic''s built-in cord terminates in an iThingie-compatible 1/8" multiconductor plug that also incorporates a stereo 1/8" output jack—plug-in earphones, or a suitable adapter to feed a PA, powered speakers, audio interface, etc. Hookup is easy, except that you can''t use a mono male plug with the output, as this would short one channel to ground and generate feedback.

The mic has a metal housing, cardioid pickup pattern, and three-position sensitivity switch to match the mic to the task at hand (iRig Mic is also suitable for interviews, practicing, recording lectures, podcasters, etc.). You can unscrew the metal grille to replace or augment the internal foam that acts as a windscreen.

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Pitch Fix, which does pitch correction, is one of the VocaLive Full effects.

Three free apps are available from the App Store: VocaLive Free, AmpliTube Free, and iRig Recorder Free. VocaLive Free provides reverb and doubling effects, some “vocal tools” (vocal center-channel eliminator, scale player for warm-ups, demo tracks for auditioning effects settings without singing, and a metronome). iRig Recorder is a single-track recorder with some automatic optimization tools, and is designed to provide easy field recording for users at any level. AmpliTube Free is for guitar.

The VocaLive full version ($19.95) includes four more vocal effects (Pitch Fix, Choir, Morph, and De-Esser) and six additional “studio” effects (Delay, Compressor, Parametric EQ, Envelope Filter, Chorus, and Phazer). You can add these à la carte to the free version—$4.99 for each vocal effect, and $2.99 for each studio effect—but the full version is a much better deal. $4.99 upgrades either version to a four-track recorder.

There are some nice extras, too, like being able to import songs in various ways (I found Wi-Fi painless), and speed up/slow down for phrase training. There''s also noise reduction, and options to integrate the mic itself with your iOS device, independent of the VocaLive software.

You can put up to three effects in a chain (saveable as a preset, with four as favorites), and they''re easily editable. In typical App fashion, you can be brain-dead and figure out how to work things, although there''s a help file if all else fails. The effects are definitely up to IK''s high standards, but I did notice occasional pops when using the Ultra-Low Latency setting with harmony effects; switching to Low Latency (which is still acceptable) nuked the pops. In either setting, the Morph effect introduces a noticeable delay, but its effects are so “out there” people probably won''t care.

iRig Mic is clever and extremely cost-effective. I think the mic sounds best with VocaLive, presumably because IK tweaked the software to the mic. While iRig Mic isn''t intended to compete with a U87 and a bunch of rack processors, don''t dismiss it as a toy, either—you really could gig with this.

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Click on the Product Summary box above to view the iRig Mic product page.