iRig Acoustic Stage Comparo

Saturday, April 1st, 2017

Those folks at IK Multimedia have figured out how to trigger my impulse buy urge and they did it again with the iRig Acoustic Stage. The iRig Acoustic is a sound-hole mounted MEMS mic that plugs into a smartphone. The Stage version comes with an MEMS mic and a preamp/mixer. This Stage preamp offers tone control, anti-feedback, and the ability to mix an external source.

I had thought the the mic provided in the Stage package was the same as the original iRig Acoustic, but that appears to be incorrect. The Stage version of the mic has a somewhat unusual plug, a 2.5mm tip-sleeve plug that makes the Stage preamp a mandatory part of the chain because this plug doesn’t fit into the usual 3.5mm mini-jack. The only path to connect to a smartphone and is a micro USB connector. Because of this connecting to an IOS device will require a Camera Connection kit.

There are a lot of features to be explored with this system, but I started out by doing some raw comparisons between the iRig Acoustic Stage and various other pickups in various guitars, along with a miked track of each guitar for comparison. Ideally I would have figured out some way to match audio levels for each system, but I didn’t come up with any brainstorm solutions, so I just aimed for decent tracking levels and then did a bit of matching in post production. There are now standard loudness measuring systems in use for broadcasting and my Edius NLE includes a tool for checking loudness. I adjusted each track to get the measured levels into the ballpark. With the widely different frequency spectrum of the different tracks their are still some glaring subjective differences.

I shot a video while I cut the comparison tracks. Each clip includes the audio from the Zoom XY mic module for the acoustic sound, the iRig by itself, and the pickup I’ve installed in each guitar. The three instruments are a Martin OM-18GE with a K&K Pure Western Mini bridgeplate transducer, a Wingert Model E with an older B-Band AST soundboard transducer, and a Yamamoto OMY with a Baggs Lyric internal mic.

I never recommend listening to a YouTube clip to critically evaluate audio, so here are the tracks in uncompressed form for you to download and compare. I’ve applied no EQ or effects except for a bit of level matching in post:

Martin XY
Martin iRig
Martin K&K

Wingert XY
Wingert iRig
Wingert B-Band

Yamamoto XY
Yamamoto iRig
Yamamoto Baggs

As usual, these are uncompressed 16/44.1 WAV files, so they won’t stream very well, I recommend that you download the files to compare them.



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    About the Blog

      Howdy, my name is Fran Guidry and this is my Homebrewed Music blog.

      I play Hawaiian slack key guitar and recorded my solo acoustic CD at home. Most of the recording information I find on the internet seems focused on bands, drums, multitracking, and so on but my main focus is recording solo acoustic guitar. Lately I’ve been enjoying video recording along with audio, so that shows up in the blog as well.

      I’m also a guitar nut. I love big ones and little ones, handmades and factory guitars, cheap ones and expensive ones. So I’ll be sharing the fun of exploring guitars as well, along with the challenges of amplifying acoustic guitars for live performance.

      Welcome!

    Philosophy

      My recording philosophy is pragmatic, skeptical, not super critical. After all, the performance is by far the most important component of a track, and every aspect of any recording is a matter of taste.

      But I do like to know “about stuff.” Back in hifi days I learned about double blind testing. I learned that we humans can easily hear differences that don’t really exist. The more I’ve learned about our human auditory system, the more I’m skeptical of what people say they hear, especially if they claim that a particular microphone or preamp or cable has some magical property.

      I’ve only been recording since 2001, and when I started I found the usual places on the internet. I sought advice and accepted it, thought I would improve my recordings by using more expensive equipment. It didn’t work.

      Two things that did seem to lead to better recordings were experience and room treatment. Getting an appealing sound is the combination of many small details, and learning those details only comes from experience. Amd the sound of the recording space is obviously a big factor.

      I’ve only recorded seriously using digital technology, but I remember trying to record rehearsals and gigs back in analog days. I don’t have any nostalgia for analog recording and playback systems at all. I think even low end digital systems can capture marvelous recordings. So when I look at gear, I look for good specs: low noise, broad flat frequency response, wide dynamic range, low distortion. I’m not interested in colorful components, mics and preamps with a sound, I want the sound to be the sound of my guitar.

      But the last word is that I’m just learning and I hope you find something useful in my posts.