As a longtime podcaster, I imagine I think a lot more about microphones than, say, your average man on the street. I’m also a bit of a gadget guy, so if something functions better or packs more features into a smaller footprint or, hell, just looks cooler, I’m usually down. Suffice it to say the iRig Mic Studio from IK Multimedia hits all the aforementioned high points.
The iRig Mic Studio is a palm-sized large-diaphragm digital condenser microphone. For those not steeped in audio jargon, a condenser mic is able to capture a sound source like the human voice with amazing depth and fidelity. It does so thanks to its stretched membrane (the diaphragm) and metal backplate, which together creates the microphone’s capacitor.
The Studio’s 1″ condenser manages to a record clear, beautiful sound with virtually no hum, pops, or tinniness–all this despite the fact that it resides in such a diminutive housing. The mic comes with its own mini desktop tripod, but a standard threading means you can easily attach it to any of your existing stands or shock mounts.
An onboard gain knob and LED indicator manage to give you solid enough control over your volume level, and there’s even an integrated headphone output for monitoring. Sadly, its lower headphone volume knob requires a much firmer touch to twist up or down.
As you can imagine, the iRig Mic Studio works well for desktop recording, and, using only the included USB cable, my Mac immediately recognized the device in both GarageBand and Audacity. But, since this is IK we’re talking about, where it really shines is on your mobile device.
Lightning and Micro-USB cables are also included, meaning you can easily add the Studio to your recording workflow on your tablet or phone. Obviously, this opens up new possibilities in many of IK Multimedia’s apps, particularly their VocaLive effects processor and multi-track recording suite. Personally, however, I had the most fun with Mic Room.
This microphone modeling app–imagine the functionality of a modeling amplifier, but specifically for mics–will work with practically any mic, but it pairs beautifully with the Studio. You can even leave it running in the background, modeling any number of classic condenser, dynamic, or tube mics, as you record vocal or mic’d instrument tracks in another application like the iRig Recorder.
Sadly, IK applications’ greatest strength, the sheer number of options available, also leads me to my greatest gripe. Not only is it easy to get bogged down in or intimidated by all the content available, but practically each individual microphone model or recording effect comes with its own price tag. Sure, practically all their apps have a free tier with complimentary introductory options, but it’s understandable if you feel you’re being nickeled and dimed.
That being said, if what you’re looking for is a quality microphone with nigh limitless potential, definitely give the iRig Mic Studio a look. While I’ve already got a perfectly good stationary rig in my home for regular recording, the Studio has at long last convinced me to put my old field recorder out to pasture. From here on out, any jam sessions, house shows, or on-the-road interviews I record will be coming to you courtesy of this little giant and my trusty iPhone.
Review materials provide by: IK Multimedia