It turns out that Apple’s Camera Connection Kit provides a module that plugs in to the charging connector on the iPad and gives you a USB jack, ostensibly for connecting a digital camera. But a USB microphone also works, and shows up in software as a valid audio source for recording. I connected a Blue Yeti Pro (to be reviewed soon!) and it showed up right away as an input in AudioFile Engineering’s FiRe software as well as Blue’s free BluFiRe software. More importantly, my old MicPort Pro also showed, allowing me to connect several regular microphones to the iPad for recording.
Another interface option, one which I did not have an opportunity to check out but looks interesting for older iPods, is the Alesis ProTrack for iPod Classic from 5G to 7G, plus all but the newest iPod Nanos and the 2G iPod Touch. The ProTrack carries a list price of $399 but is widely available for considerably less than half that amount. It’s a more complex device, but is still portable. The ProTrack provides a sled with a dock connecter, into which your iPhone or iPod slides. Two built-in condenser microphones are placed at the top of the unit, while independent gain controls for each channel are located at the bottom of the unit, just below a VU meter. The ProTrack also has built-in XLR and quarter-inch input jacks, and full 48-volt phantom power. It comes with an AC power adapter, but also operates using four AAA batteries.
The ProTrack has a built-in screw mount for use with a tripod or stand. You’ll probably want to use that or at least set the unit on a table, since handling noises from the plastic case will end up in your tracks and drive you nuts. There’s also a built-in headphone jack for monitoring. The ProTrack supports mono recording, and comes with a built-in hardware limiter. If you have one of these older units then it’s worth a look, especially with its XLR and quarter phone interface, and bargain-basement price. Me, I’ll stick with the MicPort Pro.
There are several more microphones on the horizon that promise pro results with current iPads and iPhones, including Mic from Apogee <www.apogeedigital.com/products/mic.php> and iRig from IK Multimedia < www.ikmultimedia.com/irigmic/features/>. We’ll be having a look at these (especially the Apogee piece!) in upcoming issues of RAP, promise. And all this talk of microphones brings us to what is currently the most professional of all the recording apps for an iGizmo: FiRe 2 from Audiofile Engineering.