IK Multimedia makes a number of gadgets, accessories and forward-thinking tools that are geared towards the postmodern performing and self-recording musician. However, its new iRig Acoustic Stage is a must-have for both live and studio sound engineers for its unique problem-solving capabilities, coupled with a low price of only $99.
This acoustic guitar (or acoustic bass, or ukelele) system utilizes a small (about pick-sized) clip-on microphone that feeds a beltpack preamp housing DSP and an array of features. A quarter-inch input accepts a guitar’s electrical output, with polarity reversal and independent level control for proper blending.
“Warm,” “Natural” and “Bright” settings are complimented by the same settings for nylon string instruments, with versatility and useful tonal differentiation. Feedback cancellation is helpful for live settings while class-compliant USB interconnection and modeling apps are useful for self-recordists. Overall, iRig Acoustic Stage has ample versatility from the above mentioned features alone.
Studio engineers will find utility for corralling troublesome players and situations, to be frank. So, a player can’t sit still enough for close miking techniques? Is there not enough room for instrument mic stands? iRig Acoustic Stage neatly solves those problems, but to achieve the best sonic performance, a calibration is necessary. Once you perform a series of barre chords, the iRig Acoustic Stage’s processors manage to milk out a sweeter and more balanced sound. Surprisingly, the three tonal settings still apply to your custom “patch” and the process is dynamically sensitive; an overly energetic ”string banger” (or a gentle string tickler, for that matter) can be mitigated and smoothed out a bit with proper calibration.
I tried the iRig Acoustic Stage with a nylon-string acoustic bass and a ukulele and received good results in both instances. For optimal results, don’t be afraid to move the mic around, even placing it closest to the bass strings. For serious tracking purposes, I found song-specific mic placements, careful blending in of the piezo pickup output and fine tweaked custom calibrations until ideal balances were achieved.
That’s a whole lot of utility for a mere hundred dollar bill, so don’t expect a modular mic cable, or a metal case beltpack, or a fancy data display. But do expect a reasonably tough plastic beltpack a storage case that should help preserve the life of the kit and a clever little device that may just save the day the next time the acoustic guitar, or maybe the acoustic guitarist, is giving you problems.
Rob Tavaglione owns and operates Charlotte’s Catalyst Recording and has been a long-time Studio Contributor. twitter.com/robtavaglione