One thing that I assume every musician has dealt with when they reach a certain level of proficiency on their chosen instrument is wanting to record themselves playing and then listening back to it. Of course, as you continue to grow as an artist, you then may want to record and share your music. Over the course of my lifetime, this proposition has gone from an expensive pipe dream to a plausible reality. Now, IK Multimedia, with their vast lineup of music-related gear, have put musical creation firmly in everyone’s hands.
Whether you want to get a professional sounding song to stream online, need a demo of a new song to share with friends or bandmates, want to quickly and easily record an amazing sounding new riff, or just want to do some karaoke with friends, IK Multimedia has your back. Gone are the days of scrimping and saving the thousands of dollars you needed to book studio time, as, for a fraction of that cost and in your own bedroom, you can do it yourself. In this blog entry I am going to look at 9 different products from the Italian company IK Multimedia that will help you do just that.
iRig Micro Amp
I will start with the small and portable iRig Micro Amp, but I don’t want the name or the size to fool you because this little beast packs quite a punch and fills many roles for a home content creator. The iRig Micro Amp is a 15-watt guitar amplifier that doubles as an audio interface. So not only does it blast out your crushing riffs over a clean, drive, or lead channel, but it also connects to your computer or iOS device so that you can record your mastery in 24 bit/96kHz audio quality. When plugged in with a DC power supply (not included), the unit outputs at 15W, and when used on battery power (6 AA batteries which are included) it outputs 7.5W.
When connected to an iPhone, iPad, Mac, or PC, you can use their included AmpliTube App to access multiple amp simulators and stompbox models. You also have multiple ways to connect and monitor. Connect your guitar through the ¼” jack and listen through the amp’s 4” speaker, or if you need to not wake the neighbours, you can monitor over headphones that connect through the 1/8” jack. Going in the other direction, you can connect the Micro Amp to an external speaker through a ¼” out jack. An AUX input also lets you connect your phone or other audio source letting you listen to and/or play along with songs for practice.
Having no idea what to expect going in, it’s fair to say I was pleasantly surprised by the tone and the volume on offer through the iRig Micro Amp. I used it only via battery power, so it was only 7.5W, but it was louder than I imagined and provides access to a variety of sounds available over the three channels that you can sculpt even further using the Gain, Bass, Mid, Treble, and Volume dials. Add in the AmpliTube App and this is a fun little unit that is perfect for bedroom practicing or even for heading out to do a little busking. Seemingly solidly built, albeit from plastic, this offers a great mix of portability and features with the inclusion of its interface capabilities. It seems that sound is always sacrificed somewhat in order to be truly portable, but with all that is on offer here from amp and stompbox simulators to external speaker capabilities, this is less of an issue than it might have been otherwise.
iRig HD 2
Now, if you already have what you require on the guitar amplifier front, but still want the ability to record your own compositions, then the iRig HD 2 mobile guitar interface will help you accomplish that with relative ease. The HD 2 will connect your guitar to an iPhone, iPad, Mac, or a PC. You plug your axe of choice into the HD 2’s ¼” input jack and plug the unit into your iOS device or computer with the included cables (which include a Lightning to micro-USB and a USB to micro-USB). It records at 96 kHz with a 24-bit Analogue to Digital conversion. There is also a 1/8” output jack, so you can monitor over headphones.
Like the Micro Amp, purchasing the HD 2 provides you access to AmpliTube content—in this instance to AmpliTube 4 for Mac/PC or AmpliTube for iOS for mobile devices. At only 1.8 ounces and measuring a mere 1.53” x 3.9”, it’s fair to say that the HD 2 is ridiculously portable. You can slip it in your pocket and pull it out any time inspiration strikes.
Recording your inspiration is straightforward. Plug in your guitar or bass, output to your device or computer, set gain levels with the LED level meter, monitor over headphones, and record on your device. You can also send your dry or your processed signal from the HD 2 into a guitar amp which effectively makes your computer or mobile device a pedal board thanks to the AmpliTube App. You can do this in a live environment as well, and can Velcro strap the HD 2 to a mic stand for easy access while playing. Velcro straps included!
The iKlip Grip is a multi-function smartphone stand with a twist. You can attach your smartphone, set up the tripod, aim, and walk away to get into the shot yourself. How can you do this and still take the picture you ask? Well, by using the included Bluetooth shutter control, of course, that is compatible with iOS and Android devices and will work up to 10 metres away from your device. There are, of course, more ways to use the iKlip Grip than simply as a small desktop tripod mount, including as a monopod, a video stabilizer, a selfie stick, and as an adapter attached to a larger tripod.
The grip itself is an expandable spring-based bracket with a great soft feeling rubber texture to securely hold and protect your smartphone. With movement functioning off the ball joint design, it is easy to attach your device in either portrait or landscape mode. It works with smartphones between 3.5” and 6” but can also accommodate other digital cameras and even GoPro cameras or handheld audio recorders.
The iKlip Xpand is a tablet and iPad support that securely holds your device and attaches to a microphone stand. You can use it to show tablature or sheet music while practicing, to provide lyrics or voiceover scripts, or you can use it on stage as your guitar effects and/or amp simulator. As the possibilities in your mobile devices increase, the opportunities to utilize the iKlip Xpand also increase.
The soft rubberized grips on the Xpand will not let you down, and the construction will ensure your electronics are secure. It will safely and securely hold any tablet measuring between 7” and 12.9”, even with the case on. Easy to adjust angles or orientation, the ports on your device remain accessible. You can even attach it to a desk or counter, provided there is an overhanging surface. Heck, it even comes with the iKlip Stage—a musical score management and page-turning app, so when you’re on stage, IK Multimedia has you covered.
iKlip Xpand Mini
Take everything that you just learned about the iKlip Xpand and shrink its size so that it applies to smartphones. Essentially everything you can do with a tablet you can also do with your smartphone, and if that is the route you choose on stage, then the iKlip Xpand Mini is your answer. It protects your smart devices between 3.5” and 6” while also leaving the device’s ports available.
iRig Mic HD2
If you are an audio content creator, especially one seemingly always on the go, then the iRig Mic HD 2 may be what you are looking for. A high-resolution handheld condenser microphone, the Mic HD 2 connects to your iOS device or Mac/PC, letting you quickly and professionally create audio content. You can use this portable but professional quality microphone for recording office-based or field interviews, acoustic instruments, guitar amplifiers, podcast audio, studio vocals, or practically any other thing you could imagine recording.
The Mic HD 2 has a headphone out jack, so you can monitor in real-time, or you can use this to send the signal to a PA or mixer. The sound quality is quite good, at 24 bits with sample rates of 96kHz. The audio I recorded (some of which you can see in the accompanying video), was low noise and had amazing clarity. The Mic comes with an attachable desktop tripod for those times handheld isn’t an option, and it also comes with a slate of software and all of the cables you need to start recording amazing audio.
While I will only provide a brief overview here, you can go to a full-length blog review and video I did for the iRig Voice. The iRig Voice is a vocal microphone that works with your iPhone, iPad, or Android device, and a number of different apps to do karaoke or record your vocal stylings. Use it handheld or in a microphone stand and monitor your input through headphones. The sound quality is good, and the unit itself is quite durable, so fun will be had for a long time to come.
I also have a detailed blog for the iRig 2 that you can look at by clicking here. I will state once more that the iRig guitar interface is one of the more significant innovations in allowing the average musician to take an active role in the production of music, and the iRig 2 carries on the proud tradition.
Based solely on the order that they have been presented here, and in the video, I “should” say that the iRig 2 follows the template that all of the other IKMultimedia products talked about here have laid out. It does quickly and easily connect your guitar or bass to your smartphone or tablet, and it efficiently lets you record or play professional quality audio using apps like Garage Band or AmpliTube. But to say it “follows” this template is a misnomer because the iRig was the leader that set this standard, and with the iRig 2 it is even easier to use, and it sounds even better.
iRig Pro I/O
Bringing us home (and appropriately encapsulating the spirit of all the IK Multimedia gear discussed here) is the iRig Pro I/O. Another portable audio interface, the Pro I/O is also a MIDI interface that works with iOS, Mac, Android devices, and PCs. With this unit you can connect guitars and basses, microphones (both dynamic and condenser), keyboards, MIDI instruments and controllers, and headphones. It also provides 24 bit/96kHz quality audio recordings and features plug-and-play simplicity.
It can be powered by 2 AA batteries, your computer’s USB bus, or an optional iRig DC power supply. It takes the other recurring theme of simplicity to heart as well. A dual ¼” or XLR input will handle all of your guitar or microphone choices with ease. The Pro I/O also has 48V Phantom Power to let you use a condenser microphone, which really opens up the possibilities for you to record. There is a 1/8” jack for your headphones and a MIDI jack and a MIDI throughput for you to route your signals in multiple ways.
Connecting with your smartphone, tablet, or computer, you are also introduced to the wonderful world of apps and software, including AmpliTube for iOS, AmpliTube 4 for Mac/PC, Sample Tank, T-Racks 4 Deluxe, Garage Band, and more. It comes with the cables you need to get connected and fits in your pocket for ease of transport.
All of the products looked at here from IK Multimedia give you access to an amazing place. They let you navigate your creativity and explore the wide world of musical sounds and expression in ways not possible before. What was once a concept out of reach for all but a select few—musical creation, production, and sharing, now exists at the tips of your fingers. So, head into your local Best Buy and see if their musical equipment fits the bill for you.
iRig has great stuff! I have the iRig 2 and the iRig Keys Mini, they are excellent products.
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