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iRig MIC Cast enhances your iOS audio recording

- August 18th, 2012

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iOS devices have decent little built-in microphones but of course, they have their limitations. So IK Multimedia decided to come up with the iRig Mic Cast, an ultra-compact microphone, that’s designed, with no pun intended, to take the recording capability on your iDevice to the next level.

The iRig MIC Cast is tiny and about the same form factor as an iPod shuffle and smaller than a Loonie ($1 coin). With its silver perforated upper half and black bottom it mimics the look of the old mics of yesteryear. It’s designed to plug-in to the headphone jack on your iPod touch, iPad or iPhone even with a bumper attached.

 

Dual Gain Switch

It has a dual gain switch right on the mic, so you can adjust the sensitivity low or high to compensate for whether your subject or sound is nearby or farther away. It has a built-in windscreen and unidirectional cardioid electret condenser designed to reduce background noise, so you can better zero in on the sound you want.

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Monitoring

One of its most unique features is its built-in headphone port that allows you to monitor the sound actually passing through to the microphone. You have an opportunity to adjust the recording settings or even your own positioning before you begin to record. This is great because sometimes you don’t get a 2nd chance to get that recording right. We all know how, especially under non-ideal conditions, hitting the big record button can often be a leap of faith.

It comes with 2 free apps you download from iTunes – iRig Recorder (free version) to record and edit and VocaLive (designed primarily for singers) for adding in multi-effects processing.

 

iRig Recorder

This recording software has a couple of valuable features in addition to adjusting the recording level. You have 2 settings allowing you to control latency between what the mic picks up and what you hear while monitoring. There are a couple of built-in Auto features. One allows the recording to start automatically when the app is launched; and the other is to engage Auto sleep during long recordings.

Once you’ve recorded, you can export your file via iTunes File Sharing, Wi-Fi, FTP-upload or SoundCloud.  You can also export to e-mail by registering your software. By registering, you also activate the Optimize Volume processor. There is no provision for more commonly used options like Dropbox or SkyDrive.

However, with the free version, you are limited to Low (32kps, Mono) or Medium (96kps, Mono) .m4a format. To get High Quality (44.1kHz, 16bit, Mono) .wav requires an upgrade that you can purchase within the app.

There are a few different options, but the best is the bundle. For $4.99 you get high quality export option, waveform editing and a suite of 7 additional useful sound processors.

 

Desktop Kickstand

Included with the mic is an adjustable tabletop kickstand suitable for your iPhone or iPod touch to help keep it upright and properly positioned to maximize the sound input. This combo is great for recording lectures or even hands-free calling over FaceTime or via Skype.

 

Test Drive

I decided to use my upcoming Toastmasters presentation to test the unit. I admit I was overly surprised as to how different my recordings were that I had been accustomed to. I was amazed. Monitoring the sound before starting clued me in to someone tapping on a nearby desk. I was surprised as to how sensitive it was given its diminutive size. Of course I ended up changing the setting and adjusting the recording volume. Over the next few uses I found myself becoming a little obsessed with adjusting the sound. Not sure if that’s a good thing or not.  The dual gain is certainly a bonus, but a mid setting between low and high might have been nice for what I have been recording. To quote the late Keith Moon of The Who, I’d have to “fiddle-about” that much less.

The other thing that might have been a good idea would be to include a small pouch or carry case with a belt loop on it, simply because the iRig Mic Cast is so compact it’s easy to lose. I’ve almost lost it twice.

Overall, the iRig MIC Cast is a decent little microphone.  Although it’s not studio grade it’s ideal for voice recordings like speeches and podcasts and certainly kicks any of the built-in mics on the iDevices. The adjustability and software makes for a nice little portable recording studio.

It also works with any app that accepts audio input, even the Camera app. However If you need higher fidelity recording and you want to use the additional features, you will need to upgrade the iRig Recorder Software or use an alternative like GarageBand.

At $39.95 U.S. including the stand, iRig MIC Cast, available directly through IK Multimedia certainly sounds like a great bang for your buck.

 

Pros

small and compact

dual gain

monitoring capabilities

decent sound quality

free tabletop stand and software

 

 

Cons

high quality output requires software upgrade

no export capabilities to DropBox or SkyDrive

could use 3rd (mid) gain setting

 

Rating: 4/5

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Greg Gazin is the Real Canadian Gadget Guy.

Follow me on Twitter @gadgetgreg or Empire Avenue (e)GADGET1.

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3 comments

  1. gold account | September 13, 2012 at 8:35 am

    While I wasn’t impressed with the iRig Mic, I have no such qualms about the iRig MIC Cast. I can easily see recording and editing podcasts from my iPhone or iPad using this microphone. IK Multimedia has created the perfect pocket mic for making podcasts or other voice recordings on your iOS devices.

  2. Kasper Andersen | January 7, 2013 at 3:54 am

    I have experienced that the iRig Mic Cast records significantly lower volume than the inbuilt mic in the iPhone 5. Only when recording in the iRig Recorder, did I find the volume to be better with the Mic cast.
    This is a big problem when using it for video or other apps.

  3. Greg Gazin | January 7, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    Thanks for your comment!

    I havent used it for video, just audio. I haven’t experienced the “low” volume but I do know that you do have to fiddle with the adjustments sometimes. As I mentioned in the review, It would have been nice to have a 3rd gain setting like on the full-sized iRig Mic.

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