Review: The Tascam iXZ Mic & Guitar Interface

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This is the Tascam iXZ Mic & Guitar interface. I tested it out to see what kind of results I could get with a very common microphone: the Shure SM57.

I liked the iXZ. It has one of those TRS/XLR combo plugs so you can use a guitar or a microphone with it, and it can also supply phantom power to mics that need it. My only question in testing this piece of gear is “Can it produce better results than the onbaord iPhone mic?” and the answer is… well, kinda.

Here’s a recording of me playing the guitar (pooly) into the iPhone mic. This took many tries to be able to get right without much distortion, so even though I flubbed my playing I ran with it.

Now here’s the iXL with an SM57.

As you can hear, there’s a distinct volume difference there. Although the iXZ sounds better because it’s using a better mic, the gain level is very low. That’s with fresh batteries and the gain knob wound up.

Now, this might not be a problem if you’re recording a full band because you’re going to be managing the sound level closely there to make sure it’s low enough, but for my money, if I were looking into a unit like this I would consider the iRig Pre by IK Multimedia instead.

Here’s the iRig Pre in the same setting:

That said, the iXZ seems to be a good bit cheaper on Amazon.com (around $25) than the iRig Pre (just under $40), but I think the results are worth the extra cost.

I am by no means an electrical engineer, but I think that the iRig Pre using a 9v battery rather than the 2 AA batteries ( 2 x 1.5v = 3v) might be what’s making the difference in gain here.

I also didn’t dig the iXZ’s plug. This is a minor quibble, but the iXZ’s plug is fat, which meant I had to take my iPhone’s case off to plug it into the headphone jack, unlike the iRig Pre which has a slim plug that slid in like butter.

Either one would be better than the stock iPhone mic, though, I think, if for no other reason than you can plug in a real mic.

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