I’ve always been excited about the idea of portable. Though I’m not a voice artist, small recording packages do spark my interest for things like interviews, sound effect gathering and of course, helping set people up with easy to use systems that are both cost effective and small. So, when the iPad came out I knew a new market for just such devices was soon to be created.

IK Multimedia is a company that’s been around for a while. Makers of software for digital audio workstations, they’ve been used by engineer’s to mix music and films. Recently however, the company has begun releasing hardware products (along with software for them) aimed at the ‘i’ market, namely the iPhone and iPad. The challenge in this space is connectivity. Both previously mentioned devices share history with the personal computer, but due to the consumer nature of both, they often are configured lacking ports and jacks with which to connect peripherals. There is a march towards opening up the systems, but the shear portability, convenience and battery life make these devices right at home with content creators looking to simplify and expand their kit collection. In fact, many news gatherers (ENG, as we call it in the biz) are using these devices more and more to record interviews for both TV and radio. Connected to the iPad itself, apps and internet connectivity allow the user to record, edit and upload from one small portable device!

I’ve been watching the analog microphone to iPad market recently and was excited to see IK Multimedia expand their line of guitar to iPad devices to include a new one with both XLR connectivity and phantom power. I’ve tested a few digital mics and they generally sound good, but I’m more interested in using a standard analog condenser mic with my iPad to record.

Enter the iRig Pre

iRig Pre by IK Multimedia

iRig Pre by IK Multimedia

I was excited by this device for three reasons.

  1. Cheap. The device retails for 40$
  2. Connectivity. Although a 30pin or lighting connector to iPad is fine, the fact that this used a 3.5mm headphone jack plug meant that it was so much more versatile. I could plug this into my iPad, but also my iPhone and Android tablet or phone and really any other device with this type of analog connection.
  3. Phantom Power with Variable Gain. I’ve used usb mics with my iPad and although they work, often I’m not able to adjust the gain of the mic and so recordings often are low and too close to the noise floor. With this device I’m able to adjust the gain on the hardware itself, giving me more options when it comes to recording different sources.

So with my recent purchase in hand, it was time to test it against a known standard of quality. I thank the lovely and very talented Victor Huzvar and Tara Radcliffe for contributing their voices.

Victor Huzvar & Tara Radcliffe

Victor Huzvar & Tara Radcliffe

For the microphone I chose a Sennheiser 416 shotgun (voice over standard) and basic XLR cable.

  • Control (base quality sound to gauge others)
    • Sennheiser 416 -> Focusrite ISA preamp -> Pro Tools
  • iRig Test
    • Sennheiser 416 -> iRig Pre -> iPad with Twisted Wave App
iRig Pre through iPad with Twisted Wave App

iRig Pre through iPad with Twisted Wave App

I brought both sets of audio into Pro Tools afterwards and cut and normalized each to similar volumes. Below are the results.

Male (Control Recording)

Male (iRig Into iPad)

Female (Control Recording)

Female (iRig Into iPad)