VocaLive and iRig Mic Review

This is a guest post written by Imei Hsu.

Many of you know I am a musician. You also know how I adore my iPad and iPhone, so when a new product in the world of apps for musicians is released, I literally pounce on it like my iCat Charles-Monet pounces on his catnip mouse. Finally, there is something new for the vocalist as well. IKMultimedia has released the VocaLive app in the iTunes store, an app that unleashes the vocalist star potential in you. When used with the iRig Mic, vocalists, presenters, comedians, and those who need a portable microphone system will get a multi-functional powerhouse of effects for every occasion.

While the iRig Microphone (not to be mistaken for the iMic, which is a Griffin product) is a high-quality condenser microphone made to support iOS devices (iPhone and iPad), you can use it with any application that accepts an audio input. In my simple art loft set up, I used the iPad, the iRig Mic, and my Bose speaker. The cord on the iRig Mic, similar to the iRig, has a port for your cable – whatever speaker you wish to use. You can also listen with a pair of headphones.

The interface of VocaLive is similar to other IKMultimedia apps such as Amplitube and Amplitube Fender. Users have several presets they can fill and save, a single-track recorder (which can be expanded to a four-track recorder with an in-app purchase) the effects boxes (which look like stomp pedals), and a place to store songs downloaded from iTunes to your computer and fileshare to your iOS device. Additionally, the preset section has a plethora of funky effects for your voice, from standard harmonizing effects, to sounds that will send the hairs on the back of your neck on end with pervy voice distortion a la Silence of the Lambs. I’ll be sending along another video demonstration of those presets later, because there are so many with which to play for hours on end.

By the way, it’s no secret that I don’t listen to a lot of pop music these days. Just ask Chris how he responded to my accidental loading of the Lady GaGa Radio show on his Pandora account on his iPad last year. While she’s a superstar, neither of us followed her music closely, though I greatly appreciate her talent and mass marketing appeal. I had to sing through the song Bad Romance about four times before stepping in front of the camera, and thanks to a second iPad, it was nice to scroll through the lyrics. Yet, without being familiar with the song, VocaLive makes it easy to sing along karaoke style, or to import your own music and add vocals with multiple voices. You can judge for yourself if you think I can actually hold a tune. Watch out Al Yankovic; VocaLive might just unleash a little goofball singer onto the geek world.

VocaLive is perfect for people with much to say and small voices like mine. I can easily fill up a room with my voice using the “arena” preset, and the equipment necessary to do that barely fills a small gym bag. I am so excited to use this app and microphone on the road when I begin public speaking in the health care field in 2011 and 2012. But as a hobbyist who loves to sing for fun and in bands, VocaLive gives me a competitive edge for live performance with minimal set up. Better yet, there are only two cords involved in that set up; no more wires on the floor to trip over a half dozen stomp boxes and volume pedals. It’s all at your fingertips. And these fingers are going mobile.

Thanks to IKMultimedia and Starr Ackerman for the advanced copy of VocaLive and the iRig Mic.

B. Imei Hsu is a nurse psychotherapist, dance artist, musician, and sometimes shower singer. She’s been a guest blogger for LockerGnome, and she writes for her own blog Hips For Hire. When she’s not creating music or dance, she’s yodeling with her iPad iCat Charles-Monet in her art loft in the Old Rainier Brewery in Seattle, WA.