IK Multimedia hit the market with the iRig Mic three years ago, a mic for podcasting and recording that plugged into the headphone port of your favorite iOS device and allowed for real-time monitoring. At the time, I wasn't impressed with the device; there were some issues with shielding and the recording quality just wasn't that good. Tomorrow, IK Multimedia will be releasing the iRig Voice microphone (US$39.99), a similar mic that's targeted at just having fun with vocals. Let's take a look at the iRig Voice and the companion EZ Voice app (free with in-app purchases).
Microphone type: condensor electret with built-in windscreen
Polar pattern: unidirectional and cardioid
Frequency response: 100 Hz - 15 kHz, -3dB
Maximum sound pressure (set for high sound pressure): 105 dB
Distortion: 3 percent THD at 105 dB, 1 kHz
Powered through headphone port, features pass-through port for monitoring
Microphone Type: condenser electret
Colors: Green, blue, yellow, pink, white
These low-cost microphones and the accompanying EZ Voice app are designed for fun, and in that respect they do a wonderful job. Once you've plugged in the iRig Voice, you can use it with most recording and podcasting apps. But anybody who likes to have fun will use EZ Voice.
The app is very simple to operate and lets you do a bunch of fun things with the music already on your device. Import any song, tap "No Voice", and the primary vocals for that song are muted so you can now sing along for karaoke fun or practice singing with the original band in the background.
Should you decide to, you can add autotune (a $0.99 in-app purchase) to make sure that your singing sounds at least something like the original vocalist's. Autotune is one of several effects that can be purchased, including choir, morph, level, chorus, EQ, delay, filter and reverb. The entire bag of tricks can be had for US$4.99 instead of making eight purchases at $0.99 (reverb is added for free when you register).
During my "audition" of iRig Voice and EZ Voice, I decided that I really wanted to try out the "No Voice" feature so I picked a recording from my iTunes library ("Baker Street" by Gerry Rafferty, a Seventies classic), imported it with a tap, stripped the vocals, then tapped the "target" button to get started. After a short countdown, the instrumentals started and I jumped in at the right point.
This is a wonderful way to practice for those karaoke nights so you won't sound like a complete buffoon. I found that if I used the "arena" preset that's built into the basic EZ Voice, it gave just enough reverb and "space" to my voice that it sounded like it fit right into the song. It took a little time to figure out how to keep the de-voiced audio quiet enough to keep from deafening me but loud enough to balance my voice -- but that was part of the fun. Doing that also let me capture the timing of the vocals in the original song.
There are some other presets that you can use just for the heck of it that are included in EZ Voice that are going to make you want to spend that $4.99 and buy the entire batch. I'll spare you my karaoke singing, but here are a few fun little riffs on "The Unofficial Apple Weblog" run through the VoxOder and Glam effects:
One thing you want to make sure of before playing around with the EZ Voice app is that you have the iRig Voice or another mic plugged in or you may get a horrendous amount of feedback. Trust me on this one -- it sounds like a fire alarm going off! This happened when I had my Mophie Juice Pack case installed on the iPhone, but not when I took it off, so your mileage may vary.
I was going to complain about the total lack of instructions that come with the iRig Voice except for one that shows -- through pictures -- how to plug everything in, but then realized that most people never read instructions anyway. Someone who just wants to have fun with the iRig Voice is going to plug it into their favorite iOS device and start playing around, and that's the best way to learn how to use it.
Unlike some of its sibling mics at IK Multimedia, the iRig Voice is designed for one thing -- fun. The low cost of entry, free (at least for some purposes) EZ Voice app, splashy colors, solid metal construction and ability to do voice training or karaoke with songs from your iTunes library all add up to a product that anyone can enjoy.
Rating: 4 stars out of 4 stars possible
You've heard about the fun you can have with the iRig Voice; now here's your chance to win one from IK Multimedia and TUAW. Here are the rules for the giveaway:
Open to legal US residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.
To enter, fill out the form below completely and click or tap the Submit button.
The entry must be made before June 22, 2014 11:59 PM Eastern Daylight Time.
You may enter only once.
One winner will be selected in a random drawing and will receive an iRig Voice microphone from IK Multimedia and TUAW valued at $39.99