Developer: IK Multimedia

Price: $19.99 for VocaLive, $59.99 for iRig Mic
Version Reviewed: 1.0

iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★½☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

The iRig Mic is quite a piece of hardware. As a microphone, it’s a solid instrument with a condenser-electret unidirectional capsule, which basically means a good mic for low cost that also filters out background noise. This is good on stage, where the vocal mic shouldn’t be picking up the instruments behind it, as well as for podcasting in less than ideal conditions. There is also a three level sensitivity switch, allowing the microphone to be used in a variety of situations and environments.

Connecting the iRig Mic is chimp simple: simply plug in the iRig’s 1/8″ jack into the headphone port, then connect headphones or an external speaker/amplifier/PA system to the tip of the iRig as well. And, done. Simply set the level switch best suited to the vocal style and environment noise level, and it’s ready to go.

The only small issue I have with the iRig Mic is the thin cord. For podcasters, this is a non-issue. The cord is solid enough for everyday podcasting use. As a stage mic, however, the cord isn’t going to cut it. It’s too thin to hold up to much live music, in my opinion, and as such won’t get too much use in that environment. Which is a shame, as the app I tested it with is really great, and could definitely be used on stage. My advice to IK Multimedia? Make an iRig Mic adapter, one that allows vocalists to plug in a standard microphone XLR cable to an iPhone or iPad, much like the iRig guitar adaptor does for instrumentalists.

The vocal processing app that I tested the iRig mic with, VocaLive, is a stunning piece of software, however. With 12 vocal effects that can be arranged in 3-effect chains, this is a vocalist’s dream come true. While not quite the powerhouse something like a TC Helicon, VocaLive works as well as that type of dedicated box. The effects are clean, not muddy, and display a surprising lack of lag between the vocal performance and the effect itself. Twelve effects are plenty to play with, and singers can even import their own iPod songs for backing tracks. Recording is simple and intuitive, as well, with a cute mix tape interface when saving any performance. All works well and as advertised, though the voice cancel feature of the backing track import had varying success, depending on the source music. This is a fairly advanced feature, so even just having it there is a plus. VocaLive works with the built in microphone and even Apple’s headphones with the mic, but the iRig really kicks things up a notch to something a singer might, in fact, use on stage, even with the above stated fragility issue.

Bottom line, the combination of the iRig mic and VocaLive voice processing software bring a powerful set of software and hardware tools to any vocalist’s toolbox, whether they are creating the next musical hit or podcasting from their mother’s basement. At $19.99, the price of the VocaLive app may seems stee as compared to other iOS apps, but considering its power and flexibility matches that of a $300 – $600 dedicated device, it’s quite a deal. The iRic mic, at $59.99, brings a solid stage mic with good quality to the iOS world.

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