So here it is, the first handheld condenser microphone for iOS, accompanied by Amplitube Free and Vocalive Free. We had a beta version of Vocalive to test this with and it was pretty good, so was the microphone. Both components took a bit of tweaking to get the right sound and eliminate any hum or buzz, but with Vocalive's noise filter, and the iRig Mic's three gain settings, it's easy to get around.
Here's some basic features of the hardware and software:
- Three gain settings for speech, singing, and singing in loud environments
- Unidirectional condenser microphone is sensitive and respsonsive with a wide EQ range
- Dual mini-jack connector allows real-time monitoring on headphones, speakers, mixers, PAs
- Processing in the box means you only have to use PA to amplify your output signal
- Can be handheld or placed on a standard mic stand
- App operates as a live processing tool, but also has a multi-track recorder function
- Can be used with a multitude of other apps
There's not much you can say about a $59 microphone, the build-quality is good and it does the job. Its USP is obviously that it can be used for iPad or iPhone, but as with original iRig for guitar, maybe just the adaptor would have been enough of a selling point here, which would have allowed you to plug your own microphone into the iPad. But nevertheless, for $59 this is a very high quality microphone – picks up highs and lows and very sensitive to proximity from the microphone. This makes it useful for professional vocalists with good mic technique, but also means that when you use it live you're not going to pick up too much of the drummer's cymbals.
I get the feeling this isn't aimed at singers with bands though, this is a great piece of kit for a solo artist or a small club performer. You can load your own backing tracks onto the Vocalive app and sing along to them. Then you can set up effect presets for each individual song. You get some very usable effects, as well as some pretty crazy ones, for example, the pitch corrector which makes you sound like a ubiquitous RnB vocalist. But the compressor, parametric EQ, delay, and reverb all have a warm quality to them, and respond really well in realtime use.
This is really one of those things that you have to hear to fully make up your mind on. Niall Everitt (These Words) demonstrated the capabilities of the hardware and software in our video review, and it's probably worth putting in a disclaimer here.
The sound quality of the app and microphone is great, but when using it in ultra-low latency mode, it can be prone to some glitching, which does sound a bit like digital clip on our video. We switched to low latency mode, and there was no problem whatsoever, and low latency mode still has almost unnoticeable latency levels. And remember, our software was in an early beta version, so these are probably just infant kinks in an otherwise brilliant piece of software, and why wouldn't it be brilliant? These guys made Amplitube!