There are interesting sounds all around us that can and need to be sampled. Pianos, percussion, nature, etc. all bring different ‘flavors’ to the table. I have been looking for an affordable and compact solution to capture all those sounds with my iPad (or iPhone). The internal microphone is usable, but I feel like I could get a higher quality recording with a better microphone. In the end I picked the IK Multimedia iRig Mic Field and it seems to fit exactly what I need. It is extremely lightweight and portable (30g, featherlight!), affordable ($99/€99 approx.) and very easy to set up.
It connects directly to the Lightning port so it’s compatible with iPhones, iPod touch, and iPads. It features two condenser capsules (cardioid pattern), 24-bit A/D converter (with 44.1/48kHz sample rate), 115 dB maximum SPL rating.
It also has a convenient design that allows you to adjust the microphone 90 degrees and lock it in two positions to get the best stereo image depending on the orientation of your device. It also has a multicolored LED light that allows you to monitor the input level and has an integrated headphone output for real-time audio monitoring. A quick note: plugging in the iRig Mic Field will disable the iOS device’s audio output so you will need to use the headphone out on the iRig Mic Field (or unplug the mic). I’d like to have a software option for this – iOS limitation or design choice?
Since I have been using it, the microphone performed flawlessly. It has worked in every iOS app I have tried. The iRig Mic Field has been instantly recognized in iRig Recorder (available in two versions, free with in-app purchases and full for $7.99. The full version is worth it given its processing options and high-quality export features – funnily enough though, the app doesn’t support 48khz yet), Garageband, Apogee MetaRecorder (the device doesn’t show up in the app’s panel but it works fine ALSO at 48khz), Audioshare, etc. The recordings have a richer and more ’rounded’ sound than what I could get from the internal mic. The difference is noticeable even on a simple voice memo, and of course more with some good sound sources.
If you plan on recording outdoors I would recommend using a windshield. In the packaging you’ll find a foam windshield, but I retrofitted a high-quality one that I had in my drawer, and it seems to be doing the job quite well. The results with the windshield were worth the effort. I was listening to the recordings on my speakers when I got home and they put a smile on my face.
Audio meets Video
One of the most valuable points for iRig Mic Field is its support for audio-video recordings (unlike other similar mics on the market). The iRig Mic Field is compatible with all Core iOS Audio and Video apps including Voice Memo, Camera, iMovie, etc. as well as social apps like YouTube, Facebook, Vine and more. Tell your band members to get ready…
This featherlight iRig Mic Field has been a faithful companion in the past few weeks. If you’re in the market for an iOS-compatible mic that won’t break your bank, I would definitely give it a try. Your samplings/interviews/video recordings will benefit from it.
A quick note for those readers that use a case for their iPhones and iPads. If the case doesn’t leave enough space around the Lightning port, you may need to take your iOS device out of the case to be able to plug the mic (or do some little DIY work on your case!).
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