It has been nearly nine years since I reviewed the original iRig Pre from IK Multimedia in December 2012. Between then and now, I have reviewed countless other interfaces and other devices from the same manufacturer (and others). The other audio interfaces I have reviewed fulfill different missions than the original iRig Pre, since those other interfaces are both preamplifiers and A-to-D (analog-to-digital) converters. The ≈US$50 iRig Pre 2 is still analog-only, but it still has many applications today and in the future, and it adds two key features/improvements that make it greatly superior for about US$10 more than the original. Ahead I’ll recap its uses and its two key improvements, together with a test recording and the only thing I would change.
What’s in common between the original iRig Pre and the new iRig Pre 2
Like the original iRig Pre, both are designed to connect an XLR microphone to a 3.5 mm unbalanced input, making all of the appropriate changes in level, impedance and isolation. They both work properly with either dynamic or condenser microphones which require 48 volts phantom power. But there are important differences ahead.
What has been improved?
First, unlike the original iRig Pre which had TRRS only for smartphones, tablets and many computers, and therefore required either an adaptor or a major modification to make it work with TRS inputs like those found on many consumer cameras and audio recorders, the new iRig Pre 2 auto-senses the 3.5 mm input and adjusts accordingly. Essentially, the iRig Pre 2 solves the TRRS TRS misconnection epidemic I wrote about in 2015, making it foolproof.
TS/TRS/TRRS/TRRRS: Combating the misconnection epidemic (2015, Allan Tépper)
That in itself is a major improvement. Now you can connect the iRig Pro 2 with a phone, tablet, camera or audio recorder directly, without having to be concerned about whether the 3.5 mm input is TRS or TRSS. It just works.
The second improvement in the iRig Pre 2 is that its stereo TRS headphone output finally includes the option of latency free monitoring.
This feature is also known as sidetone and is key for quality control of the user’s own voice. This is a major improvement which up until now was only available in the digital version of this converter from iRig (the iRig Pre HD), which I reviewed and is still available but at double the price. While I could hear myself during the recording without any latency (delay), I could also hear any sound coming from the host device, as long as the host device has a TRRS connection. That sound could be the live voice of a co-host or moderator of a show, i.e. Cleanfeed Pro or some other app, or the sound of any audio you play back. In a smartphone or tablet, no special settings are required for that to work. However, in a computer you may have to set the monitoring for this connection via a menu in your app or system settings.
As I do whenever I test preamplifiers, I used a dynamic microphone to make sure that the iRig Pre 2’s preamp worked the hardest. I had to set the input potentiometer to about 7 to get a conservative -12 dB raw recording at our absolute standard of 48 kHz. For more information, visit 48KHzalliance.com. The below file is a 48 kHz WAVE file. Please listen with Ethernet or other unmetered data connection.
The above recording is flat, without any equalization, compression or filtering.
The above recording has mild noise reduction from Hindenburg Journalist Pro.
What I love in the iRig Pre 2
- I love that it is still true to its core mission.
- I love that it continues to included numbers on the gain potentiometer.
- I love that it can even work with some newer smartphones (which lack 3.5 mm jack) with the included (or optional) 3.5 mm converter to digital from the phone manufacturer.
- I love that it is now foolproof TRS/TRRS auto-detection.
- I love that it now has selectable latency free monitoring (aka sidetone).
What I would change in the iRig Pre 2 if the ever make an iRig Pre 3
The female XLR input in the iRig Pre 2 is not directly attachable to a handheld XLR microphone without an XLR cable or XLR coupler, which would be wonderful. I covered this in the past in this article about the iRig Pre HD:
Directly attach iRig Pre HD to an ENG omni dynamic mic (Allan Tépper, 2017, illustrated above)
Other manufacturers have made interfaces, transmitters and tiny recorders that can be directly attached to an XLR mic without adding an XLR coupler, and I wish iRig would do that someday. The XLR jack is female anyway: It just needs a wider area to accept the microphone’s male XLR plug which has a wider diameter.
In the meantime, we can solve it with an inexpensive XLR male <>female coupler.
In what cases is the iRig Pre HD better (at double the price)
- When you absolutely must have a pristine recording, bypassing the A-to-D (analog-to-digital) converter in the host device. (However, the iRig Pre HD is not nearly as universal as the iRig Pre 2, since the iRig Pre HD is limited to USB-A, USB-C or Lightning, so that excludes it from being used with camcorders or consumer audio recorders.)
- When you want to connect an XLR mic to a “laptop” or desktop computer and you must have the audio be monitored elsewhere, not via the iRig Pre 2. (Even though it is not the most recommended workflow, some people insist on connecting an external XLR mic while monitoring via the computer’s computer and activating the echo-cancelling feature in Cleanfeed Pro, Riverside.fm, Skype or Zoom.us.)
Appearance and build quality
Audio recording quality
In its category.
Analog connectivity to computers, smartphones and tablets
Latency free monitoring + monitoring of host device
Connection with dynamic or condenser XLR mics via cable
Direct coupling with handheld XLR
Sadly non-existent without an external coupler, as illustrated in the article.
I am extremely glad that IK Multimedia added the two of the three key missing features to the iRig Pre 2 and I consider it well worth the price. I hope that sometime in the future, they make an iRig Pre 3 or iRig Pre 2 Plus to add direct coupling too.
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No manufacturer is specifically paying Allan Tépper or TecnoTur LLC to write this article or the mentioned books. Some of the other manufacturers listed above have contracted Tépper and/or TecnoTur LLC to carry out consulting and/or translations/localizations/transcreations. Many of the manufacturers listed above have sent Allan Tépper review units, including Cleanfeed, Hindenburg and IK Multimedia. However, for this particular occasion, Allan Tépper purchased the iRig Pre 2 at retail since he needed urgently for a production. So far, none of the manufacturers listed above is/are sponsors of the TecnoTur , BeyondPodcasting CapicúaFM or TuSaludSecreta programs, although they are welcome to do so, and some are, may be (or may have been) sponsors of ProVideo Coalition magazine. Some links to third parties listed in this article and/or on this web page may indirectly benefit TecnoTur LLC via affiliate programs. Allan Tépper’s opinions are his own. Allan Tépper is not liable for misuse or misunderstanding of information he shares.
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