Review: iRig Mic Studio – Studio Quality Audio in The Palm of Your Hand

Review: iRig Mic Studio – Studio Quality Audio in The Palm of Your Hand

It seems like everyone is producing some type of audio or video content these days. From YouTube creators to podcasters, musicians to teachers, the use of multimedia seems to have no end. One thing all the best videos, podcasts, songs, and lectures have in common, though, is that the ones we tend to like are the ones that look and sound the best. While I’m not here to tell you about ways of making your powerpoint look fancier, or your YouTube video prettier, I can tell you that audio makes a huge difference. With the iRig Mic Studio, recording excellent quality audio is easier than ever.

Overview

The iRig Mic Studio ($179.99 from IK Multimedia) is the latest piece of hardware to come from our friends over at IK Multimedia. Weighing in at less than 1/2 pound (desktop stand included), the little condenser mic can fit in the palm of your hand, and captures audio as well as (if not better than) larger, pricier mics, without all the fuss of audio interfaces and mixers.

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Designed for ultimate portability, the iRig Mic Studio is small enough to fit into your laptop bag, light enough to ride in a pocket, and nearly as simple as plugging in your EarPods (believe me, I’m as impressed as you). Using the included stand, the iRig Mic Studio can be ready to record in seconds.

To use the iRig Mic Studio with your iOS device, screw the mic onto the included desktop stand, grab the included MicroUSB to Lightning cable (30-pin version available separately), plug the microUSB end into the bottom of the mic, the lightning end into your iPhone, iPod or iPad, and launch your favorite audio recording app – or pick up one of IK Multimedia’s various recording apps.

Male Vocalist Singing Into Microphone In Recording Studio

In my testing on iOS, I played with both the Mic Room app and iRig Recorder app from IK Multimedia – each offering a different set of tools for various situations. Using Mic Room and the iRig Mic Studio, you can easily record audio into GarageBand using real-time mic modeling – from the dynamic 57 (an SM57 style mic) to ribbon mics to an old-school telephone mic, enabling you to get unique sounds depending on what you’re recording.

Using iRig Recorder is very similar to using Voice Memos – allowing you to record unprocessed audio into your device. With the iRig Recorder app, you gain some extra control (like adjusting the input gain), as well as unique sharing options, like FTP and Soundcloud, making it easy to post your recordings online (can you say “instant podcast”?).

From an audio quality standpoint, the iRig Mic Studio produced extremely clear audio in my tests.  When recording speaking into Garageband and iRig Recorder, the audio was clear and full. While many variables can impact sound (room, mic placement, etc.), the Studio performed well in both close-up recording, and ambient recording.  

The built-in gain control is extremely helpful in adjusting the signal at the source, meaning you easily turn up and quiet talker or turn down a loud talker. The included headphone jack and headphone volume control also means you can monitor your audio directly from the mic, without the need for additional peripherals. It’s a mic and audio interface in one.

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In a recent episode of Macnificent (embedded below), I used the iRig Mic Studio in place of my MXL R77 ribbon mic, and the results were staggeringly impressive. Aside from picking up some keyboard noise, and the occasional bump through the stand the mic did a great job of reproducing my voice. Being a condenser mic, the tone is a little brighter (less warm mids and lows) than a ribbon mic, but the overall clarity and quality was easily on par with a much more expensive microphone. 

Recording instruments also yielded great results. The iRig Mic Studio reproduced crisp, natural guitar tones from an acoustic, as well as picked up both clean and distorted guitar with relative accuracy. One drawback of the built-in gain control for instrumental recording is the inability to adjust the levels in software or at a mixing desk as a recording is happening. This means accidentally clipping when you get carried away in a song is a possible risk – but not one that most bedroom rock stars will notice. 

The extreme portability further adds to the package, meaning I can bring the iRig Mic Studio with me wherever I go and not worry about mic cables, an audio interface, a stand, or potential damage to the fragile ribbon mic. Knowing the iRig Mic Studio is designed to be portable means it’s designed to be durable. The solid construction really shows.

Verdict: [rating: 5]

You often hear that high quality and affordable can’t be put in the same package, but the iRig Mic Studio is really pushing the envelope when it comes to creating a high quality microphone at a great price. $180 might sound like a good chunk of change to some, but when you consider that it includes the audio interface to works with Mac, PC, iOS, and Android device, and offers extreme portability and quality, it’s a bargain in the world of studio quality audio recording.

Pros:

  • Compact, portable
  • High quality audio
  • Easy to use
  • Premium feel
  • Available with Black or Silver finish

Cons:

  • x?

Honestly, I can’t think of any con that’s notable enough to take a point for!  It’s a fantastic device, and if you’re at all interested in recording great quality audio on the go, or in a home studio, the iRig Mic Studio from IK Multimedia is possibly the best option in it’s category (USB desktop microphone) right now.

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