IK Multimedia, one of the most prolific hardware companies for iOS musician-centric hardware accessories, has continued their ever-accelerating pace of releasing new products. The latest of these are their iRig Mix audio mixer for DJ's and performers using multiple iOS devices or instruments to mix down their final audio output. And for portable podcasters, performers and vocalists who prefer a better microphone than the iPhone's built-in mic for recording interviews and performances, IK Multimedia's iRig MIC Cast offers a high quality, portable stereo microphone that plugs into the iPhone's headphone jack. Read on to see how well these products hold up under the demands of a live performance.
The iRig Mix is a beefy, solidly built dual channel audio mixer that offers all the controls DJ's and audio recording buffs have come to expect from a serious mixing board. Although it's designed to support two audio input devices (two iPhones, an iPhone and an iPad, or an iPod Touch and a traditional, third party MP3 player for example), iRig Mix also has an extra onboard input a microphone or guitar along with standard RCA outputs to drive external speakers. Thanks to its compact size and easy access to the necessary audio ports, carrying the iRig Mix in a gig bag takes up minimal space, and set up time takes a matter of seconds. The volume sliders for the two connected devices along with the lower center slider aid in the perfect, distortion-free mix. Even when I had the volume pumped up to the maximum levels and rapidly slid the controls up/down and left/right, nary a crackle or warping distortion effect was discernible - clean mixing from start to finish.
In addition to the stereo inputs, each channel has its own bass, treble and gain dial controls. Input on the first device can also be split into dual channels for mixing on a single iOS device. Then there's X-Sync mode that allows iRig Mix to auto-sync with any audio source via IK Multimedia's free DJ Rig app. Speaking of the DJ Rig application, this is where using the iRig Mix really shines (and what the hardware was undoubtedly designed for). As of the date of this post, DJ Rig is an iPhone app that can work on the iPad, but doesn't look very attractive when pixel-doubled, especially on a Retina display. IK is working on an iPad release, but would not specify whether it would be released as a separate iPad-specific app or as a Universal app. Either way, using the current release on an iPhone just looks better. If you're wealthy enough to own two iPhones (or more likely, can borrow a friend's iPhone), you can run DJ Rig on both and hook the iPhones up to the iRig Mix for the full virtual DJ simulation. IK did a great job with the touch interface, giving just the right amount of physics to the 'feel' of the spinning on-screen discs. Veteran DJ's will be able to scratch and spin minutes after becoming acclimated to DJ Rig's interface, just like the real thing.
Overall, IK Multimedia have done a super job capturing the nuances of the DJ disc spinning experience, especially when using dual iPhones or iPads attached to the iRig Mix. Sweetness!
Rating: 5/5 stars
iRig MIC Cast
The iRig MIC Cast turns an iPhone into a portable audio recording device with a far better mic compared to the tiny mic built into the iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. While it doesn't offer the quality of a studio microphone, it offers sound capture quality equivalent to many purpose-built portable digital audio recorders. Since you're likely to be carrying your iPhone with you at all times, carrying the small iRig MIC Cast attachment in your pocket is far better than lugging around a dedicated mic-outfitted recording device.
The iRig MIC Cast offers two audio capture modes, LO and HI. While both settings are adequate, I would have preferred a MID setting as well to hit the center of the capture mode bell curve, as well as provide a wider spread of audio effect from such a median option. Fortunately, both settings to the job of adequately altering the capture quality depending on the recording scenario.
A headphone jack on the side allows you to monitor your recording in real-time. When used with IK Multimedia's iRig Recorder
apps, available for free from the App Store, the iRig MIC Cast turns your iOS device into a great sounding digital audio recorder. While the mic isn't going to deliver high-end studio microphone capture quality, it's surprisingly good considering its small size and low-cost. I can see this being a boon for podcasters at trade shows and seminars, looking for that lobby-track impromptu interview opportunity, as well as by vocalists who want to digitally capture that lyrical hook in their head before it dissipates back into the creative ether.
As a bonus, the iRig MIC Cast includes a fold-up stand for the iPhone or iPod Touch so that the iRig MIC Cast isn't resting against a table surface, negatively impacting the recording quality. Besides propping up the mic, the stand is a nice-to-have accessory whenever using the iPhone in a scenario when it would be nice to prop up the screen for viewing purposes.
Still, for a price that is less expensive than most iPhone headsets, the iRig MIC Cast makes for an excellent, portable microphone to capture interviews and those magical moments of musical inspiration on the go. Smartly designed and well executed, the iRig MIC Cast is yet another winning product from the iOS audio hardware accessory engineers and designers at IK Multimedia. Great stuff, IK!
Rating: 4/5 stars