It's become cliché to describe audio input devices as being like "a recording studio in your pocket." That's a shame, because it's an apt description of IK Multimedia's latest foray into the arena, the iRig Pro. Like the iRig and iRig HD before it, the Pro lets you play your guitar, bass or microphone through your iOS device. And, like the HD, the iRig Pro uses your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch's dock connector for a pristine digital sound.
Versatility That Would Make Ron Popeil Proud
But like they say on those late night TV ads: "Wait -- there's more!" The iRig Pro expands on its siblings' capabilities by bringing more options to both the input and output sides of the equation. The iRig Pro accepts not only a 1/4 inch high impedance plug, but XLR and MIDI as well, and connects to iOS devices with either a 30-pin or Lightning Dock port or to a Mac via USB, with all cables thoughtfully provided. The standalone MIDI jack is on the side of the unit; the combination 1/4 inch/XLR jack is on the bottom. Even with all these options, the iRig Pro is only marginally larger than its more limited contemporaries -- about the size of a harmonica, but thicker.
We connected an AKG Perception condenser microphone to the iRig Pro with an XLR cable. This type of mic requires phantom power, which the iRig Pro provides with the flip of a switch on the side. A large, friendly gain control knob on the front of the iRig Pro is the device's only other interface. An indicator light glows blue when input is nonexistent or too low, green when the level is good, and orange then red to indicate clipping.
Solo. So Low We Can't Hear You, That Is
We used several different apps to test the iRig Pro's performance, including IK Multimedia's own VocaLive Free. In all cases, the sound quality was equal to or better than our standard setup -- an M-Audio USB audio interface connected to a MacBook Pro. With the iRig Pro, there were no hums or buzzes -- noise was absolutely nonexistent and the mic's sound was clear and pristine. I've been in professional studios that didn't sound this good. In fact, until I tapped on our test mic, the iRig's output was so silent, I didn't think it was working.
Again With The Clichés
Witht a list price of US$150, the iRig Pro is price competitive with devices that do a fraction of what it does. The idea of having a single device that can handle MIDI, XLR and 1/4 inch high impedance devices is tremendously appealing, and the ability to generate such high quality sound from an iPhone or iPad makes it a no-brainer to toss the iRig Pro into my bag on just about every trip. I can't wait to try it out on a podcast. Actually, it brings to mind another cliché that might fit the iRig Pro better than the "recording studio in your pocket" metaphor: With its multiple, built-in options for audio input and output, the iRig Pro is like a Swiss Army Knife for digital recording.
IK Multimedia has been firing on all cylinders lately, with clever, innovative tools for musicians and audio buffs. The iRig Pro earns its place in a great lineup of products that expand and extend the usefulness of your iOS devices and Macs.