Review: The IK Multimedia iRig Pre

If you’re going to record your shows with Set.fm, and we certainly hope you are, you’re going to have to use a microphone of some kind. The only problem is the included mic on the iPhone, even the one on the iPhone 5, isn’t that great for this application.

It’s not Apple’s fault, though. The onboard mic was intended to record a person’s speaking voice very close up, not a whole band on the far side of the room. For this reason, it’s very easy to get much better results than are achievable with the onboard mic for low cost and little set up.

One of those ways is by using the iRig Pre by IK Multimedia (link goes to IK Multimedia’s site). I tested it out using a very simple setup with a Shure SM57 mic plugged right into the iRig Pre, and then the iRig Pre’s cord plugged into my phone, like so:

The testing setup I used in my messy room.

The testing setup I used in my messy room.

As you can see, the iRig Pre has a little velcro strap that allows it to be tied to the mic stand. As you can also see, there are cables going everywhere in my bedroom recording studio. Ignore those.

It also has 48v phantom power in case you want to use a powered mic. I resisted the temptation to plug in a large diaphragm condenser because I wanted to show what kind of results we could get with a mic pretty much anyone would have lying around.

The iRig Pre is extremely easy to use, but the results I got with the SM57 were greatly improved over the iPhone mic. This is an MP3 of me playing, recorded by the iPhone mic. Ignore my playing mistakes. It took several tries to get this recorded without the iPhone’s automatic leveling making the recording completely crazy, so even though this contains a mistake in my playing I kept it.

Press the play triangle thingy.

Now here’s me in the same messy room with the iRig Pre and an SM57. Of course, my playing is still questionable, but I think the difference in sound quality is pretty huge.

Of course the iRig Pre does cost money — it can be had for a bit under $40 — but it’s a lot cheaper than a lot of other solutions, and you can’t beat the ease of setup. I was impressed with it.

If you have any ideas of other low cost, or even high cost, setups, let us know. We are trying to be the best we can.

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