IK Multimedia is back with iRig Mic Studio ($180), the latest — and highest-end — entry in its lineup of digital microphones. iRig Mic Studio builds on the company’s flagship iRig Mic HD, promising a more versatile and ultra-compact studio quality mic that can be used for a wide variety of recording applications, yet it remains portable enough to carry with you just about anywhere.
In terms of raw specs, iRig Mic Studio appears to incorporate much of the same electronics as its handheld sibling, with a 24-bit A/D convert with 44.1/48 kHz sampling and what appears to be the same low-noise, high-def preamp built in, as well as basically the same great sound pressure level (SPL) rating. That said, we were pretty impressed with the quality that iRig Mic HD delivered, so there’s not much room for improvement on an already great thing. Where iRig Mic Studio surpasses iRig Mic HD, however, is in its larger diaphragm — specifically a 1” diameter back electret condenser capsule, making it a more sensitive mic with an even lower noise floor, thus increasing the number of possible applications.
In addition to the iRig Mic Studio itself, in the box you’ll find cables for connecting to a Lightning-equipped iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, as well as a standard USB cable and a Micro-USB OTG cable for connecting to modern Android devices. A 30-pin Dock Connector cable is available separately from IK Multimedia if you’re still using an older iOS device — it’s notable that the cables are also compatible with iRig Mic HD, so any cables you may have purchased for that model will work with iRig Mic Studio as well. A studio mount and portable tabletop stand is also included, as well as a storage bag for when the mic is not in use.
The mic itself includes a headphone output on the front for onboard monitoring directly from the mic, with its own level control found on the back alongside the gain control. As with iRig Mic HD, a multicolor LED on the front provides connection/power status as well as a level indicator for adjusting gain. Connecting to your iOS device is straightforward, with the cable simply plugging into the bottom of the mic and then running to the Lightning port on your device; power is drawn from the connected iOS device. Standard Core Audio compatibility allows iRig Mic Studio to work with any iOS recording app, ranging from the iPhone’s built-in Voice Recorder, to apps such as GarageBand or IK Multimedia’s own VocaLive or SampleTank.
Alongside iRig Mic Studio, IK Multimedia has also released a new modelling app, Mic Room, which allows you to use microphone profiles for more creativity. So in addition to recording the pure sound from iRig Mic Studio, you can also apply profiles to model other microphone configurations, offering even more versatility for using the mic in a wide variety of recording applications.
We ran through some of our standard sound quality comparisons with iRig Mic Studio, putting it up against IK Multimedia’s own iRig Mic HD as well as a Shure Beta 87C connected via IK’s iRig PRO audio interface, Blue Microphones’ Spark Digital studio mic, and Apogee Electronics’ MiC studio mic. While roughly on par with iRig Mic HD for raw quality in terms of vocal applications, iRig Mic Studio definitely had a noticeable edge as an instrument mic in certain applications, due to the larger diaphragm, and was particularly well suited to more nuanced, lower-end recording. However, even for vocal applications, iRig Mic Studio provided better results as a desk mic, as one would probably expect from its back electret design. iRig Mic Studio generally bested both of the more expensive studio mics we’ve reviewed, again likely due to its larger diaphragm, which resulted in a virtually non-existent noise floor and crisp and clear recording quality even at higher volume levels, likely due to its noticeably higher 133dB SPL rating.
At $180, iRig Mic Studio may be a tough sell for the average podcaster or recording artist, but as with iRig Mic HD, we’re talking about a professional-grade microphone designed for higher-end studio applications, with acoustic performance noticeably superior to the other higher-priced studio mics we’ve looked at. IK Multimedia’s ecosystem of iOS apps is also a nice bonus, and while these apps can be used with any input source you choose, they’re obviously fine-tuned to the profiles of the company’s own accessories, and include features and content specific to devices like iRig Mic HD and iRig Mic Studio. Audio professionals may still ask the valid question as to whether a dedicated digital mic is worth the expense compared to an analog condenser mic, but the versatility and power of recording applications for the iPhone, iPad, iPod and Mac continues to get better every day, and many studios are eschewing the analog mixing boards of yesteryear in favor of the benefits of an all-digital environment. As with iRig Mic HD, iRig Mic Studio is a versatile mic that provides professional-grade audio capabilities that are even more suited to a variety of professional studio environments, and it earns our high recommendation.
Company and Price
Company: IK Multimedia
Model: iRig Mic Studio
Compatibility: All Lightning iPads, iPad minis, iPhones + iPod touches, Other iOS Devices*