Our smartphones really are wonderful devices. We can choose to fritter the day away playing games or posting to Facebook, do productive work, or something in between. When it comes to recording, that can fall into either category depending on your needs. Most smartphones come with a sound recording app, but the weak link is the built-in microphone on the phone. IK Multimedia has developed both the hardware and software to remedy the problem.
IK’s first device for smartphones was the iRig, which was an interface that allowed a guitarist to plug into his or her iPhone, and with the accompanying AmpliTube app have the use of virtual amps and effects pedals to use the phone as a portable recording studio. IK’s latest products give vocalists the same advantage with the iRig MIC Cast and the iRig Mic.
The MIC Cast is a mic about the size of a quarter that plugs into the headphone jack of the phone. It also has a headphone jack so you can hear the real-time recording or listen to the playback later. There’s a low/high setting to use depending to whether the source being recorded is close or further distant. To me, this would be a great device to record a lecture at school, record a concert, or while doing an interview as a journalist.
The other device is the iRig Mic, which looks like a standard vocal mic. It can be used handheld or attached to a mic stand (the device comes with a clip to mount it on a stand). It will be instantly familiar and comfortable to any singer.
The real secret to these devices are the apps that go along with them. VocaLive is the app that works with both MIC Cast and iRig Mic. For the MIC Cast, which you’ll use for recording interviews, lectures or concerts, it’s fairly straightforward—record it and play it back. Where VocaLive really shines is for use by the singers amongst us. You can record yourself singing, or sing along to your favorite songs, which is where the function that allows you to import songs from your song library comes into play. A great feature is the “No Voice” button. This will greatly suppress the recorded vocals, which allows you to be the lead vocalist in the band.
The Vocal Trainer feature has tools to help you warm up the vocal cords, with reference notes to hit and a metronome for your timing. The real fun comes with the effects. There are five dedicated real-time vocal effects (pitch correction, choir harmonizer, voice doubler, vocal morpher and de-esser) plus seven effects tailored to vocal processing (reverb, EQ, compressor, delay, envelope filter, chorus, phaser) that can be combined on a 3-processor vocal rig chain (similar to a guitar effects pedalboard).
There are so many different ways the iRig Mic and VocaLive can be used. For practice at home via headphones, as a karaoke machine to party with friends, or even in a recording studio or live gig setting. The versatility is the key.
The products are affordable, too. VocaLive app is $13.99, iRig MIC Cast is $39.99 and iRig Mic is $59.00. If this review sounds like an advertisement, well….I’ve used the iRig for guitar for years for practice and recording, so I’m familiar with IK Multimedia’s products. I wouldn’t recommend them if they didn’t perform.