Mobile interfaces and micro amplifiers have been making bedroom music quieter, smaller and easier in the last five years. IK Multimedia realised they could collapse the two into one back in 2016 with the iRig Nano Amp. As a seriously affordable and insanely compact home recording solution, it was nothing short of revolutionary. This year the brand has returned with the iRig Micro Amp, a beefier and feature-rich new option to ward off the competition.
Out of the box, the iRig Micro Amp is a sleek little unit that doesn’t immediately betray its price point. Measuring just 210mm x 125 mm x 155 mm and weighing a teensy 1.26kg, the iRig is small enough that it’d fit in a suitcase for travel. As some other reviewers have pointed out however, the portability is slightly undercut by the lack of a travel-handle. IK Multimedia have ensured the iRig’s build does not look or feel like a plastic throwaway, with a kind of plain chic. The amp houses a modest 1 x 4” speaker and is powered by a fairly sizable 15W, if you’re using a 9v power supply or 7.5W if you’re going battery powered. This is particularly impressive if you’re comparing it to the ever-popular and pricier Roland Cube’s 10 and 15W models. The battery option is very welcome, with all six AAs remarkably included. Six batteries is a lot however, so I found myself sticking almost exclusively with the power supply.
Pretty much anyone can operate the control panel without an instruction manual; simply twiddle Gain, Bass, Mid , Treble and Volume knobs to adjust your sound after choosing either a Clean, Drive or Lead channel. The addition of these options from the iRig Nano have made the Micro Amp actually feel like a real amplifier, rather than a novelty. The Lead channel had a surprising amount of oomph for its tiny speaker, with a minimal amount of cable hiss. Clean gave a decently transparent and accurate sound profile. The speaker also performs surprisingly well as a music player; simply connect your iPhone or Android phone via a Lightning adapter or aux respectively and hit play on your tunes. It’s not audiophile quality, but it offers bedroom jammers the opportunity to plug and play along at the same time. At this point though, you will get a little more hiss.
All of this, of course, comes secondary to the iRig’s function as a mobile interface. A micro-USB cable will hook you up to either your iPhone/iPad and importantly Mac or PC for you to record straight into whatever DAW you please. IK’s own AmpliTube CS app fleshes out the array of sounds with ten amp and 26 stompbox models, including Fender, T Rex and Orange authorised sounds, to play through your mobile device; the iRig emits these beautifully. A particularly cool feature of the app is when recording is the ability to place and mic amps in 3D if you choose to record through the app. The only pointer for the next iteration of the iRig would be the option for a Bluetooth connection, though this would definitely up the price.
What makes the iRig a real asset is the ability to plug into a DAW on your computer. The iRig outputs solid 24-bit, 96 kHz quality sound, which is ridiculously impressive for the size and price. I was able to feasibly and quickly build a track in Ableton with relatively little audible difference between that of an upscale interface. The iRig Micro Amp is a highly functional little package that is a lot of fun for hobbyists, and a serious option for travelling players looking to write and record on the road. Look out for one, if you have a little cash to spare.
Hits and Misses
Serious functionality as a small amp
Great compatibility with DAWs
Works as a boombox
Easy to use
No travel handle