IK Multimedia is a company dedicated to being the tip of the spear when it comes to mobile music making. I use a number of their products for many different purposes, when I’m traveling or at home making demos (see here for some of my past reviews). But I’ve sometimes felt that their iRig mobile recording devices were a tad limited in that they could only record a single instrument, and had pretty limited options all around, especially I/O.
The recently released iRig Pro Duo is the answer to all my issues with previous iterations of iRigs. It’s intended as an all-purpose interface for mobile recording, but I learned that it can easily function as your home computer recording interface. With full I/O options including 2 combination XLR/instrument jacks with 48v capability, 1/4″ monitor outs, MIDI in/out (via included MIDI-1/8th” adapter cables), and a 1/8th” headphone jack, it’s fully stocked in a package about the size of 3 iPhone 5’s stacked on top of each other. Aside from a power cable, it includes all the necessary cables for connecting to various devices.
This takes your recording capabilities exponentially higher than any of the earlier iRigs, which are mainly aimed at guitarists. You can have your headphones, monitors, MIDI controller and 2 sources all plugged in and running simultaneously, you know, like an interface should!
Here’s something I tracked using the iRig Pro Duo – an i5 straight into the iRig into my phone using Voice Memo. It was plug-and-play, and I had no problem whatsoever immediately recording with it. This is only the second time I’ve recorded a banjo, so I’m not sure of the intricacies of the tone and whatnot, but it gives you an idea of how the preamps sound and all that. Note the highly professional mic plopped on the coffee table technique (I was on vacation OK?).
I imagine this would be a boon to the singer/songwriter on the go, plugging your acoustic in directly to one input and your vocal mic into the other to track demos on the tour bus or hotel room after hours. The MIDI adapters worked as they should, making it possible to get MIDI in and out of your device, so if you want to plug a MIDI controller along with everything else you can. Naturally, you might want to use something like the iRig Keys Pro (see our review of it here), but since it doesn’t have 9-pin MIDI I/O, you couldn’t connect them to your device simultaneously, so you’d have to use a different, powered MIDI controller to record. Not ideal, but we’re talking about recording on your phone here – not at Abbey Road.
The speaker outs make this interface viable as a home studio hub as well, which you’ll probably only want to do if you’re planning on also using it for mobile, because at $199, there are loads of other interfaces you could be using. None of them are as portable or battery-powered, though.
The main complaint I had was the power situation. Although it can be powered by 2 AA batteries, it ate them startlingly fast, at which point you are left with the option of feeding the beast some more AA’s or plug it in with a standard 9v power supply (same kind you use for typical effects pedals – not included). This means that you’d better record what you need to record and be done with it, or be prepared to carry the power supply with you everywhere you want to use it with your mobile device. If plugged into a computer via USB, it will draw power from the computer and therefore alleviating the problem, but that’s not quite as cool as using it with your mobile device on the go, which is primarily what I think it’s suited for. Also, I feel that they missed an opportunity to have a built-in phone mount on the back, since it was conveniently the same size as my phone
Overall, I felt that the iRig Pro Duo was a massive leap forward compared to previous mobile recording interfaces of the same nature, and although I felt it was maybe a tad overpriced, it does the job it is meant to do extremely well, with no frills or hassle, in a small package.
For more info or to order direct, head over to IK Multimedia.