IK Multimedia iRig Pro I/O Universal Audio Interface
Multi-platform mobile just got easier
by Craig Anderton
What? Another interface from IK Multimedia? Yes, but this costs more and does more, starting with Mac/Windows/iOS/Android compatibility, hardware MIDI I/O, and overcoming Apple’s Lightning interface limitations.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
- A Neutrik combo connector handles 1/4” mono or XLR plugs.
- Separate MIDI in and out 1/8” stereo connectors patch to included adapter cables for use with 5-pin DIN MIDI devices.
- The 1/8” stereo output with associated volume control drives headphones or line inputs.
- You can use your fave analog headphones with an iOS Lightning device (!).
- There’s switchable +48V phantom power for the mic, and unlike some other interfaces I’ve tested, this really does deliver +48V so it can make any condenser mic happy.
- A DC in power jack for the optional iRig PSU 3A power supply ($39.99) lets you charge your Lightning-compatible iOS device and monitor audio through standard 1/8” headphones—so your recording time is not limited by the phone’s charge. Nor do you need Apple’s Lightning Dock (also $39.99), which does not exactly represent Apple’s finest hour (see the user reviews on Apple’s site).
- The audio quality is excellent. iRig Pro I/O uses a discrete-component preamp with “front-panel” gain control, 24-bit kHz conversion, and credible converters.
- A firmware update adds 96 kHz recording to the native 44.1/48 kHz native sample rates.
- Two LEDs change colors based on what’s happening; one indicates phantom power and MIDI activity, the other power and audio level. For example, the Power/Audio Level LED is dark blue when connected and on standby, bright blue when active, green when it senses signal level, orange for optimum signal level, and red for “turn the input gain down.”
- According to IK, the red phantom power LED blinks when the battery runs low. However, the batteries never got low enough during testing to verify this.
- The package consists of the unit itself, two batteries, the aforementioned MIDI cables, and cables that mate the unit’s multipin connector with USB or Lightning connectors (in other words, don’t lose the cables—you won’t find replacements at Best Buy).
- iRig Pro I/O is bus-powered with computers; the two AA batteries (included) are needed to pass audio with iOS and Android devices.
- For Android, your phone or tablet needs to be running Android OS 5 or later with USB digital audio capabilities, and you’ll also need an optional-at-extra-cost Micro-USB-OTG to Mini-DIN cable ($29.99).
- Like most IK products, registering gets you free software. For iPad/iPhone/iPod devices, there’s AmpliTube CS (with four additional amp models), VocaLive FREE, SampleTank CS (with 68 sounds total), and iGrand Piano FREE. All of these are expandable at extra cost. For the Mac and Windows, you get expandable versions of AmpliTube Metal with Custom Shop, SampleTank 3 SE, and T-RackS Classic mixing and mastering suite with four effects processors.
- Although iRig Pro I/O doesn’t support older 30-pin iOS devices, it’s compatible with iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone SE, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5, iPod touch 6th generation, iPod touch 5th generation, iPad Pro (12.9-inch), iPad mini 4, iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3, iPad Air, iPad mini 2, iPad mini, and iPad 4th generation. iOS 6 or later is required.
- The input jack is mono XLR/TS only.
- The maximum preamp gain is 47 dB—not enough for ribbon mics that want 65 dB to 70 dB. If it’s crucial to use particular ribbon mics with iRig Pro I/O, try before you buy.
- IK recommends the ASIO4ALL driver with Windows, which sometimes works well, and sometimes not. Thankfully, I tried iRig Pro I/O with Cakewalk SONAR using Windows 10’s WASAPI Shared mode, and it worked fine—with latency very close (10 - 15 ms) to what you can obtain with ASIO4ALL when it’s working properly, so problem solved. However I couldn't get iRig Pro I/O working with WASAPI Exclusive mode, which gives around 7 ms latency.
- There's no free software for Android.
There’s no question iRig Pro I/O is a well-designed piece of gear from both an audio and compatibility standpoint. I love that it overcomes the limitation Apple imposed on the iPhone where everything has to be done through the Lightning connector—even though it will cost you another $39.99 for the power supply.
With Windows, the lack of dedicated drivers means you’re stuck with installing ASIO4ALL—but the ability to work with WASAPI Shared mode is a more universal, Windows-friendly, and forwards-thinking solution.
iRig Pro I/O has a lot going for it. The unit itself is light but rugged, with a slightly “rubberized” feel. It’s compact, reasonably priced, and solves several issues when you want high-quality, mobile interfacing. I’ve yet to see something this compact, at this price, that delivers true phantom power and hardware MIDI I/O. When you need to throw an audio interface into your backpack, iRig Pro I/O works as advertised, gets the job done, and is painless to set up—it’s a winner for mobile recording and playback.
iRig Pro I/O is available from:
IK Multimedia Introduction Video
Craig Anderton is Editorial Director of Harmony Central. He has played on, mixed, or produced over 20 major label releases (as well as mastered over a hundred tracks for various musicians), and written over a thousand articles for magazines like Guitar Player, Keyboard, Sound on Sound (UK), and Sound + Recording (Germany). He has also lectured on technology and the arts in 38 states, 10 countries, and three languages.