iRig Mic review
Feeling comfortable and reassuringly weighty in the hand, the iRig Mic connects via the iPhone, iPad or iPod touch headphone port, with an adaptor that allows you to also connect headphones for monitoring your recording.
A three-position gain switch on the side of the iRig Mic sets the level of audio input from where background noise is almost inaudible to a level where tiptoeing ants might interrupt your recording – we found the setting between the two to work best in most situations. We used the iRig Mic when we interviewed people queuing to buy the iPad 2 at the Regent Street Apple Store, and felt it did a good job of cutting out the noise of the traffic.
Using the free companion app, VocalLive, recording quality bereft of any effects was a step up from the default iPhone headphone mic, but not incredible. For practicing musicians and karaoke fans, recorded singing might be an option but you’re not going to be able to produce studio-quality vocal parts. That said, with effects applied via VocaLive (including pitch fixing for those who need it), the quality can be cleaned up a little.
Spoken-word recordings were far more impressive, making this an ideal tool for podcasters and interview work. When used like an old cassette recorder, VocaLive is a well-designed app that will provide hours of entertainment, especially when you load a song from your iPod library to sing along to.
The iRig Mic and VocaLive app combine to form a personal pocket recording studio
Recording into GarageBand for iPad produced similar results, fairly soft recordings and some background noise as well as hiss at higher volume levels.
The iRig Mic isn’t a bad microphone by any stretch of the imagination – acceptable but not stellar would be an apt description – but would you really expect a performance-grade microphone at this price? Just like GarageBand isn’t a pro-level music studio, the iRig Mic isn’t the best microphone on the market, but it does the job it’s designed for well and the free VocaLive app only enhances that.
For its plug-and-play convenience and the extra pizazz it adds to your iOS device, the iRig Mic is a great tool for amateur musicians and podcasters alike. You won’t always achieve silky smooth, professional vocals with it, but you will have a lot of fun.