“Any man with a microphone can tell you what he loves the most.” So wailed Jack White in the barnstorming Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground that was released two decades ago and still sounds as fresh and furious in 2021. And while we can’t all achieve the screeching falsetto of Mr. White, many of us want to capture our own melodic bon mots without having to revert to scratchy Voice Memos. But how to do this when you’re constantly travelling (and don’t have White Stripes-level access to the world’s studios)? Hello, iRig Mic Studio.
The IK Multimedia brand is world-famous for its wide range of accessories to help both amateur and professional musicians record music on their laptop, phones and tablets. The iRig Keys is a great example of how players can record synths directly onto their phones, while the iRig Pro Duo I/O is their current top-of-the-line interface that allows musicians to connect practically any electronic instrument into their devices and record crisp, studio-quality sounds within a few seconds of setting up. We checked out an iRig Mic HD back in 2015 and while its performance was impressive at the time, the iRig Mic Studio is a huge leap forward in every conceivable way.
The small oblong microphone has a gain control knob and a multicolour LED level indicator as well as a headphone output that means you can monitor the sound directly from the iRig Mic. A small but sturdy metal tripod attaches to the mic on a hinge, allowing you to plonk it on the table in front of you and start recording. It also has the functionality to screw into a mic stand for those who want to record or perform standing up.
There’s no need to lean into the mic in order to record, as it picks up crystalline sound from a decent distance (although if you want to record bow instruments, e.g. a cello, then you may want to position the mic closer to the strings to capture the full vibration). I was blown away by the quality of recording acoustic guitar and mic at the same time through one input. If you want to mix or edit the instruments separately then you’ll need to record them in individual channels, using an interface like the iRig Pro Duo I/O, but for scratch tracks, demos or just to get that old-school ‘drop a mic in the middle of a room’ recording feel then you really can just plug in and play.
The mic syncs with GarageBand, Logic et al. and comes with a trio of wires* that can connect to any device of your choosing. My preference is on a MacBook Air as GarageBand is much more user-friendly on the bigger screen, but for recording on-the-go, your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch (as well as Android equivalents running Android 5 or later) mean that you don’t even have to carry a bag around with you – quite literally, a studio in your pocket.
* One note – if you have the latest iPad, you’ll need to get a separate USB-C cable.
The iRig Mic Studio connects to a range of apps that can be used to edit and add effects to your recordings as well as assist with vocal practice. VocaLive is a multi-track recording app that allows users to utilise 12 real-time vocal effects, while EZ Voice for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch and EZ Voice for Android are sing-along apps that will help you to keep your voice in tip-top shape by singing along with any song in your device’s library.
Even if you’re not a musician, the iRig Mic can be used for all sorts of audio recording, including podcasts and live-streaming. IK Multimedia even provides easy-to-use apps for note-taking, field recording, etc., including iRig Recorder for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch and iRig Recorder for Android.
The quality of the recording is unparalleled in a mic of this price range. For the tech-heads out there, the impressive specifications include:
- 1” diameter back electret condenser capsule
- 24-bit audiophile-grade A/D converter (with 44.1/48 kHz sample rate)
- Built-in low-noise high-definition preamp
- 133dB SPL rating
Essentially, this boils down to you having the ability to record studio-quality sound wherever you are in the world, for the price of about an hour in an actual recording studio.
The iRig Mic Studio is compact, elegant and doesn’t weigh much more than a can of Coke, so it’s the ideal device for musicians on the road as well as being a great bit of kit for a home studio. I now won’t leave home without it, meaning that whenever the urge takes me I’ll be able to tell the world what I love the most. “And you know why you love at all, if you’re thinking of the holy ghost.” Right on, Jack.