Tag Archives: irig

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.

iRig and AmpliTube Rock You


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This is a guest post written by Imei Hsu.

My first band was an all-girl band that didn’t need a keyboardist (my first musical instrument of choice), just a second electric guitarist and substitute bass player. Instead of passing me over for the audition, they stuck a guitar in my hands, handed me a lyric sheet with chord progressions, and asked me to give it a go. I did, and I got the part. Good thing I knew a few standard chords on the guitar. Songwriting and practice times used to take forever, mostly because we had to haul in our own equipment (including quarter-inch cables, stomp pedals, mics and mic stands, and speakers that almost weighed as much as I did). We scratched notes on paper, made rudimentary recordings, and we didn’t even have a video camera between us. What’s a girl rocker to do? If I could, I’d climb into a time machine with iRig and AmpliTube for iPad and iPhone, and rock the living daylights out those girls.

IKMultiMedia sells an impressive family of software instruments designed for the modern musician. It takes bulky components and hacked pieces of hardware strung together with miles of chords, and streamlines your set up to not only be less cumbersome, but also less painful to the consumer’s wallet.

Ben of Ben Union spent just fifteen minutes in my art loft in Seattle playing with the iRig and Amplitube on my iPhone4 (also available on iPad), and in moments, he was playing sweet licks and grooves with very minimal set up, and no gigantor speakers and amplifiers to carry. We ran sound through my Bose speaker, and compared it to the Fender Vibrochamp amp (which I rescued from a garbage dump, and once scraped off a dried frog that had taken shelter in the back and ended up getting fried onto the metal parts). Amplitube is the mobile app of the moment for the modern guitarist and composer, allowing users to create, process, record, and amplify music seamlessly, without the burden of carting around heavy, sometimes fragile, and often expensive equipment. Users can plug in a set of headphones or external speakers into the iRig, insert the ⅛-inch plug to the iPhone, and plug a ¼-inch cable from the guitar to a port on other end.

The latest version of the killer app, AmpliTube 3, ramps user’s experience with the following elements:

  • 160 pieces of gear, more than double the amount of other packages
  • 51 individual stompboxes and effects
  • 31 amplifier preamp & power sections
  • 46 speaker cabinet models
  • 15 high end stage and studio mics
  • 17 post amp rack effects
  • Open architecture, so users can add more packages as you need them, like AmpliTube Fender™ and Ampeg® SVX
  • Drag and drop features, so you can locate your components where you want it

Additionally, AmpliTube 3 boasts the proprietary VRM™ (Volumetric Response Modeling) technology, allowing users to add ultra-accurate rotating speaker effects, free dual mic placement plus room ambiance and response. Translation: ever wanted to sound like you were in a different-sized room, with a variety of vintage sounds and effects at the touch of your finger on a screen? If you are a guitar, bassist, drummer, or vocalist, you should be waving your hands wildly by now, shouting, “I want!” I know Ben was having a blast with AmpliTube, and he had not even explored all the settings!

While most of the app world is not accustomed to the cost of applications for music creation, any musician would tell you that the price of this app and hardware are well worth it. With nothing to wear out, and upgrades and additions available, this is a system no modern musician can afford to pass up, unless s/he is willing to be passed by.

B. Imei Hsu is a nurse psychotherapist, Bellydance and Bollywood dance artist, musician and vocalist, and coach for artful businesses. She creates content for her own businesses, including Hips For Hire, as well as content for other blogs, including Psycho Nurse on Lockergnome. You can drop in on her art loft in the Old Rainier Brewery in Seattle, WA, where she lives and plays with her iPad loving cat, Charles-Monet, by tuning in at Ustream.tv.