A good way of getting a better sound quality in your recordings is by using quality microphones and taking the time to optimize your mic placement. If you are a content creator such as a vlogger or a podcaster, you might be working with a simple smart phone or a DSLR/mirrorless camera for your needs. These devices somewhat lack in versatility and don’t provide the connectivity required to accept regular mics. This is where IK Multimedia’s iRig Pre 2 comes in. This small preamplifier is an ideal companion for your recording needs and will enable you to use more options than the built-in microphone on your device. Read on to find out if this unit can help you increase the quality of your recordings.
I’ve filmed a short video where I talk about the iRig Pre 2. It details the main features and how you can use it in your own creations and with your set-up.
Streamlined audio solution
There isn’t a lot to say about the iRig Pre 2, because it’s a very simple tool. The preamp is enclosed in a very compact shell that is light and easy to carry anywhere you take it. You get a single input in the form of an XLR connector. This is the standard connection used with the vast majority of professional microphones. You get access to a gain knob on the side of the unit, making changes so much easier than navigating in camera or app menus. If you are using a condenser mic, you’ll be able to power it with the built in 48 V (phantom power) switch set to on.
The preamp connects to your device with an integrated 1/8th TRRS jack. Unfortunately, you cannot unplug it. This sort of design decision is always a bit disappointing to me. I like to keep things tidy and disconnect any wires for storage or transport. Also, cables have a tendency to break, and a soldered one makes things way more complicated to repair or simply replace. You’ll most likely have to resort to sending it in for repairs. This type of connector is compatible with DSLR and mirrorless cameras, as well as android phones and tablets. If you are an iPhone or iPad user, you probably know the drill by now—you’ll need your adapter handy. You could also use this with your PC or laptop. Computers don’t usually come with XLR inputs, so it could open up some doors for you.
IK Multimedia thought of including a headphone output. This is great news because you’ll be able to monitor your signal and your recording. This also helps with microphone placement, resulting in better overall audio quality. You can adjust the volume with a thumb wheel, and you can even turn the monitoring off with a switch.
Two AAA batteries will power the preamplifier. A pair is included in the box. IK Multimedia promises continuous use of up to 20 hours. That’s if you’re working with a dynamic or a ribbon microphone. If you are supplying a condenser with phantom power, battery life will drop to 7 hours. That’s still plenty of time for all but the longest of recordings. Lastly, included in the box is a little Velcro loop. It will be useful if you want to attach your preamp to your camera strap or tripod.
I have used and owned many IK Multimedia products over the years. For example, my iRig Pro always accompanies me when I travel for music. It’s been very useful for recording demo tracks of my song ideas, guides for other musicians, or simply for practising. It has been going strong for many years, despite the stress of the road. Although their products don’t have the most rugged construction, if you take care of them and give them a minimal amount of attention, they seem to last a very long time. This makes me think that the iRig Pre 2 will be a dependable companion, especially if you plan on recording in the field.
Very useful, but limited
The iRig Pre 2 has a very narrow range of applications. It’s basically an adapter for your smart phone or camera. The preamp audio quality is good and transparent. This is definitely not where you’ll get a performance boost though. That will mainly come from using a high quality microphone. Phones and cameras have omnidirectional mics that capture a lot of ambient sound. This can make things messy and distract the viewer or listener from what you want the focus to be. Working a dedicated microphone is a great way of getting better audio.
That being said, it’s a very useful accessory if you are a content creator. You’ll be able to drastically improve your sound quality if you take the time to properly set up an industry standard mic. You’ll also be able to easily carry it with you, no matter where you go. This obviously pairs well with a smart phone setup. Being very affordable, the value that this unit brings to your recording rig is very high.
If you want all this connectivity and would like to use it as a full audio interface, IK Multimedia offers products that are a lot more suited for the job. For example, the iRig Pro I mentioned earlier is the ideal companion for musicians because it has a hybrid XLR/1/4 inch jack. This means you’ll be able to plug in any microphone, but also instruments such as guitars and basses. It even has MIDI for those of you that want to integrate keyboards into your portable studio. Additionnaly, the company has many apps/plugins to explore. These range from guitar amps and effects to samplers and mixing/mastering suites.
The iRig Pre 2 is a great tool if you are looking to widen the number of recording options you have. If you want to hit that next level in the audio quality of your productions, this is a very interesting and affordable way to do it.
Check out IK Multimedia’s iRig Pre 2 on Best Buy’s website.