Review: IK Multimedia iRig Voice
Originally debuting at this year's CES, IK Multimedia's iRig Voice ($40) is basically a redesign of the company's 2011 iRig Mic (iLounge rating: B), now coming in five iPhone 5c-coordinated colors instead of just basic black. A new companion app, "EZ Voice," is available as a free download. iRig Voice retains the same analog audio connection as the prior version, including the pass-through headphone port, and is constructed primarily from durable plastic rather than metal. iRig Mic's multi-position gain switch has been swapped for an on/off switch in iRig Voice, with sensitivity adjustments now handled in software.
By contrast with its predecessor, iRig Voice is targeted more toward the casual vocalist, with a design that leans toward “fun” rather than professional. That said, it retains all of the same capabilities and specs as the original iRig Mic, with a lower $40 price tag and a choice of five colors—yellow, red, white, blue, and green—instead of basic black. iRig Voice connects to the headphone jack of an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, while including a six-foot cable that allows the mic to be used at a comfortable distance from the device.
Since the mic connects to the device’s headphone/mic jack for audio input, a pass-through monitoring port is also provided for connecting a set of headphones. This allows users to listen to their recordings in real-time, or play back audio from the device while the iRig Voice is connected. Although the headphone/mic port is an analog connection, rather than the digital input provided by a Lightning connector, this is not something that is likely to make any reasonable difference for the type of casual recording applications for which the iRig Voice is designed. As an added bonus, it allows the price of the mic to be kept at a much more reasonable level.
The microphone itself is an condenser electret cardiod model, which is pretty much exactly what we would expect of a microphone at this price level. In short, you’re not getting pro-quality recording here, but that’s no surprise in a sub-$50 microphone, and what iRig Voice does deliver is quite respectable for the price point. The sound quality is crisp, and as the name implies, the mic is clearly tuned and focused for vocal performance, particularly excelling at close voice pickup in standard vocal frequency ranges while minimizing background noise and distortion.
Since it uses an analog connection, iRig Voice should be compatible with pretty much any audio recording app ever produced for iOS, however IK Multimedia also provides its own EZ Voice app to at least give users a good starting point. EZ Voice is free on the App Store, with optional in-app purchases available to add additional effects for $1 each or $5 for the complete bundle. The app supports basic recording and playback capabilities, quality vocal effects, and even allows you to import your favorite songs and remove the vocals so that you can then record your own vocal track.
Looked at simply as a standalone microphone, iRig Voice is a good mic for the price. But what you’re really getting in this package is not only a good microphone, but an optimized iOS user experience, both in terms of the audio engineering as well as features such as the 3.5mm port and the pass-through headphone port. The microphone market is very mature at this point, with a lot of good microphones available at similar or even slightly lower price ranges, but many of them don’t come with iOS-compatible ports or gain levels that are well-adjusted for iOS device input. iRig Voice provides users with what is essentially a plug-and-play solution for getting started with vocals on the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch at a price that’s very reasonable for the quality it offers.