IK Multimedia iRig Stream Mic Pro review: What is it?
If you’re looking for an inexpensive, fully-featured USB microphone which you can use with your laptop, tablet or smartphone, then you’re in luck. The IK Multimedia iRig Stream Mic Pro is here, packing in a bunch of useful tools into a neat, compact form factor. But competition is fierce in the crowded USB mic market, so does the iRig Stream Mic Pro have what it takes to stand out?
If there’s one thing IK Multimedia likes doing, it’s releasing new products. The prolific Italian innovators have spent the last decade or so releasing countless new versions of its lightweight, Swiss-army iRig range. Often there’s overlap, and it’s hard to know where one sub-range ends and the other begins, but in general I’m a big fan of IK’s willingness to offer clever solutions to very modern problems.
Take, for example, the IK iRig Stream Mic Pro, which we’re reviewing here. For a shade under $/£170, you get yourself a highly capable, all-in-one microphone and audio streaming interface which you can use with your laptop, tablet or smartphone to record, monitor and stream audio from a couple of different sources. The potential use cases are endless. Podcasts, vlog, gaming streams; the Stream Mic Pro can do it all, and in keeping with IK’s ethos, it has some special tricks up its sleeve to help content creators do things they may otherwise have required other gear for.
IK Multimedia iRig Stream Mic Pro review: Performance & verdict
IK touts the iRig Stream Mic Pro as being good across a range of applications, not just speech, so I started by recording some acoustic guitar - not the typical use case for this type of mic but a good one to judge clarity and performance. The finished waveforms were highly usable; perfectly clean and detailed, giving a neutral base for post-production. This isn’t a mic that’s going to impart any colour or character of its own onto musical applications, but it does give you a nice canvas for adding your own effects later. Speech tests demonstrated much more in the way of typical performance, as you’d expect, with the multiple options when it comes to pickup patterns making it hugely versatile for recording two-way interviews, table reads, or voice overs. So, as a microphone for recording, it’s perfectly capable. No qualms there.
The Stream Mic Pro’s audio interface credentials are boosted by the inclusion of loopback functionality to help routing audio inside your recording device. It meant, on a Windows laptop, that I was able to route my incoming audio into IK’s T-Racks mastering app for processing before directing it towards OBS for streaming. Connectivity and I/O isn’t especially comprehensive, with only a single 3.5mm aux input and a headphone output for connecting external gear, but it should be enough for basic setups and portable rigs. I would however question why IK still uses a mini-DIN connector, rather than choosing a USB flavour like everyone else. That said, it does provide adapter cables for USB-C and Lightning, and the mic is MFI-certified so will instantly play nicely with your Apple devices.
There are a couple of negative points that should be raised, however. It still grinds my gears that you have to pay extra money to unlock a lot of the complementary app’s functionality. Downloading the free iRig Recorder LE app and finding out it’ll cost an extra $/£4 to unlock high-quality uncompressed WAV exports was a particularly frustrating experience. Why not just bundle the full-fat app and mic together? You could even charge a bit more for the mic up front to grant full access to the app. A strange approach, to say the least. In fairness, this is common across all IK products so it’d be unfair to single out the iRig Stream Mic Pro, but if it’s got ‘Pro’ in the name then surely the users are going to expect certain functionality right out the box?
I’d also have slight concerns over the durability of its lightweight build. While the metal base unit is reassuringly weighty, the mic itself is - in keeping with other iRig products - quite cheap and plasticky. This could be in order to keep costs low - IK has always leaned more towards innovation from its products over elite-grade industrial design and materials, but this approach can go too far. Again, pitching this as a ‘Pro’ model means you’d be forgiven for thinking it would have a more premium feel, like the weightier iRig Mic Studio did.
Higher-priced competitors like the Shure MV7 offer a lot of the same functionality, but with a degree of slickness and premium quality - particularly in the build - that IK cannot compete with, at least not at this price point. But perhaps that’s fine.
For a small device, however, I was well impressed with the Stream Mic Pro. It packs in a lot of functionality which streamers require, and the audio quality levels are great at this price point. Sure, it doesn’t have the same bomb-proof exterior as some of its competitors but for what it is, and for what it costs, it’s easy to recommend.
IK Multimedia iRig Stream Mic Pro review: Hands-on demos
The GarageBand Guide
IK Multimedia iRig Stream Mic Pro review: Specifications
- Mic type: Condenser
- Polar patterns: cardioid, omni, figure-8, stereo
- Frequency response: 20Hz to 20kHz
- Interface type: 2 in/2 out or 4 in/2 out
- Conversion: 24-bit
- Sampling rate: 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2 kHz, 96 kHz
- Power: bus powered, with option for external PSU
- Dimensions: 55mm x 136mm x 38mm
- Weight: 430g
- Contact: IK Multimedia