IK Multimedia, a pioneer in mobile music interfaces, recently released a very unique recording interface designed specifically for acoustic instruments and that is compatible with iOS, Android and Mac or PC desktops. The iRig Acoustic, unlike most acoustic recording solutions, is designed to mount easily directly inside the sound hole of your instrument. This fact alone takes a lot of the guesswork out of acoustic recording, as you don’t need to worry at all about proper mic placement.
Beyond the convenience of simple mic placement, the iRig Acoustic offers features that make for a really convenient approach. The mic itself features a compact design with a rubberized clip that hooks over the edge of your sound hole. There’s also a generously long wire that connects your mic to the device via a standard 1/8″ plug. The wire is very thin and light, so it’s pretty unobtrusive.
The design of the microphone capsule itself if probably where most of the magic happens. It’s a MEMS microphone, which stands for MicroElectrical-Mechanical System. The technology is actually borrowed from smartphone microphone design, so this is a really interesting adaptation.
The second piece of the puzzle with the iRig Acoustic is a companion mobile app, Amplitube Acoustic, that is designed for processing and recording sound from acoustic guitars or ukuleles. The app starts with a calibration process that lets you attune the microphone to your specific instrument. After that, you have the option to run your signal through a variety of virtual effects ranging from basic compressors and equalizers to more experimental options like body modelers. With the body modeler, you can make an orchestra model sound like a Jumbo body or vice versa. There is also a 12-string modeler and an effect to make your guitar sound like a bass.
The Amplitube app also has a recording function, but you can also pass the app’s audio over to a more full-featured DAW such as Garageband.
I’m sure what you’re actually interested in hearing are sound samples, and I recorded a bunch for you using both a guitar and a ukulele. Before I get to them, I’ll cover the one quibble I have with the design of the device. The rubberized clamp on the guitar is clearly designed to fit a majority of guitars with a regular sound hole and not-so-thick top. I happen to have an archtop guitar with a carved top, however, and the clip did not fit over the edge of the wood. I was able to use it by wedging the mic into a thinner part of the f-hole on the guitar, but it was not an idea setup.
Despite that, hopefully you’ll agree that the sound quality is great. The iRig Acoustic does a great job of capturing the unique voice of each instrument. Listen to the samples below and judge for yourself. The iRig Acoustic is available from major music retailers and you can find out more information on the IK Multimedia website.
Guitar – Loar LH700 Archtop
Guitar – Takamine OM-style Body