Review: New iRig Acoustic

 New iRig Acoustic

Just last weekI wrote a review about the new iRig Pro DUO; and now on the heels of the first dual-channel iRig comes another first: the iRig Acoustic ($49.99). The iRig lineup provides electric guitar players what they could previously only get by shelling out serious cash for guitar gear or expensive mixing software. Now IK is extending the unique plugged-in mobile experience of iRig to acoustic guitar players.

The iRig Acoustic uses much the same kind of superb mobile mic technology used in your iPhone. In fact, I use my iPhone all the time to grab simple recording ideas, and am usually amazed at the quality of the recordings that it captures without any extra gear, fancy processing, or apps. That's due to the MEMS microphone technology and iOS filtering added to reduce background noise. It's great for a quick sample, but musicians who have played through studio and live mic situations can all attest that the best way to capture the sound coming out of an acoustic guitar is to get the mic as close as possible to the sound hole without interfering with the guitar player while performing. Pickups that snug into the sound hole are a popular variant, although you can also get kits that add an internal pickup through the guitar strap button at the end as well (around $10–$100 bucks).

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The iRig mic fits onto the lip, probably best positioned at the bottom, of your acoustic guitar's sound-hole (though I tested it at multiple locations to see if it made any difference). In the case of a classical guitar, this turned out to be quite a snug fit. Basically, like other iRig products, you connect it to your iPhone and then out to headphones or another speaker. I have used just about every variant of the common amplification types with an acoustic guitar: pickups that stick in the sound hole, pickups that connect through the tail piece button, mics that stick on the outside of the guitar with a stickum-like substance, even playing through a normal on-stage mic. My mileage varied depending on the situation (the stickum mics are very sensitive, for example).

Probably some of the best reproduction of any acoustic instrument through a sound system (IMO) comes in the case of a superior directional microphone pointed at the instrument, but using a pickup system can also produce very true sound. It also doesn't require the musician to stay still and stand close to a mic. And it's usually not as prone to feedback issues as an open on-stage mic. Compared to these other techniques, the iRig Acoustic is probably best in the context of being on the go, and wanting to produce a better-than-average sample or recording on your phone or iPad. I wouldn't necessarily think of it for on-stage uses; however, I wouldn't exclude it completely. I think private recording or smaller venues (like practicing in your bedroom) may be a good use case.

For this review, I used the new version of Amplitube Acoustic ($9.99), which is also tailored for the acoustic player. The filters, amps, and main selections are acoustic-centric more acoustic-centric—meaning choices are designed to help you get the best sound in this context. There are some really novel features in the full version of the app to play around with. Modeling is old hat these days, so of course you can electronically turn your acoustic into a 12-string, electronically tune it down an octave to sound like a bass, or even change the "model" sound of the guitar itself. In practice, it is very cool to play songs like "Hotel California" and still get the authentic sound even with just a six-string. Another advantage is not having to drag around and tune a real 12-string! Other features to entice users into spending the dough on the full version  of the app include an acoustic compressor, detailed EQ settings with other amp models, and a suite of full-featured recording/looping capability common to all versions of Amplitube.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Great in-app sound features

Cons

  • A bit pricey when combining full app cost and device

Final Verdict

IK Multimedia is doing great work with the iRig line of guitar products, and the iRig Acoustic only adds to the excellence. Honestly, it was kind of a no-brainer to add an acoustic option like this. The price is also quite acceptable, and the size makes it a perfect stocking stuffer. It comes with a handy little zipper-lined carrying case, and would be the perfect gift for that acoustic player in your life.

 

 

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Author Details

Nate Adcock's picture

Author Details

Nate Adcock

Nate Adcock is a system and integration engineer with experience managing and administering a variety of computing environments. He has worked extensively with mobile gadgets of all shapes and sizes for many years. He is also a former military weather forecaster. Nate is a regular contributor for the iphonelife.com and smartphonemag.com blogs and helps manage both websites. Read more from Nate at natestera.tumblr.com or e-mail him at nate@iphonelife.com.