Developer: IK Multimedia
Price: $39.99
Device Reviewed With: new iPad, iPhone 5

Usability Rating: ★★★★☆
Integration with iPad/iPhone Rating: ★★★★☆
Hardware Design Rating: ★★★☆☆
Re-Use Value Rating: ★★★☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

IK Multimedia’s iRig Pre does the two things it’s made for very well. It connects any professional quality microphone using an XLR connection to your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, and it provides pre-amplification to the microphone signal with phantom power to boot. It’s small enough to drop into a gig bag, just a bit bigger than a 9 volt battery, which is included so as to not waste that precious iPhone or iPad’s battery. It connects to an iOS device via a 16 inch 1/8 inch cord right to the headphone jack.

The iRig Pre allows any mic with an industry standard XLR plug to connect to an iPhone or iPad. It can be used with any app that requires a microphone, including GarageBand and iRig’s own VocaLive and iRig Recorder. It has a gain control dial, +48 V of phantom power, an on/off switch, and a headphone jack to monitor the signal while recording. The battery life is touted at 30 hours with dynamic microphones and 10 hours with condenser mics with their own phantom power. My own dynamic mic testing showed no drain on my iPad battery power when using it, and the included battery is still going strong after several hours of use.

The only problem here is similar to one I pointed out when the iRig guitar connector came out: there’s no easy, un-adapted way to take the sound from the iOS device to a mixing board, PA, or amplifier. The guitarist in me rejoiced when the iRig Stompbox released, since that allowed me to use my iPhone as a multi-effects guitar processor with a stage-ready interface. The iRig Pre isn’t stage ready without a kludgy 1/8 to 1/4 adapter and then another long cable. If IK Multimedia can come out with a stompbox with the iRig Pre inside, that will be a must have device.

Even without that easy live-music functionality, though, the iRig Pre still makes a lot of sense for professional or hobbyist musicians who use their iPad or iPhone to record vocals in a variety of apps. If singers have a need to connect a real microphone and/or a preamp to their iOS device for a decent price, they can’t go wrong with the iRig Pre.

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