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Thread: NEW: iRig Acoustic Stage-$99

  1. #1
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    Default NEW: iRig Acoustic Stage-$99

    I just saw a story about this on appleinsider.com, so it must be new for NAMM.

    http://appleinsider.com/articles/17/...ording-options

    (direct link to product page is down below)







    Nice to see the USB output instead of Lightning-only which means that this can be used with the iPad Camera Connection Kit 30-pin-to-USB which I have for my older iPad, as well as the newer Lightning-to-USB version, and also your desktop/laptop PC/Mac/Linux, etc...

    Also, it appears that you can use this standalone going into a PA or amplifier or other recording interface, so this could be a universal way to get a clean signal.

    Hopefully this new model, with it's own electronics and preamp will solve the many issues with the first-gen iRig Acoustic which suffered from being easily overdriven (likely due to too-low supply voltage from the headphone jack) as well as terrible crosstalk when recording and monitoring multitrack audio, MEANING that there is BLEED of the sound of the headphone out BACK IN to the input channel, and this is an electrical/electronic problem in most TRRS headphone/mic combo plugs and jacks....

    It might be some time before I can get one, and I definitely want to try it, for it can simplify the recording setup as well as preclude the need for pickups in multiple ukes, and the PRIMARY benefit to something like this, IMHO, is ISOLATION from background noise. like if you have a fan or heater going in your room, most good mics will ALSO pick up that sound, but if the mic is a surface transducer or physically ON the sound source like this unit, the difference in volume betw the background noise and the instrument is a very wide range and likely the background noise is imperceptible under normal circumstances.

    I love that IK Multimedia is innovating and continuing to improve their products. FYI, I am not a stooge, a shill or otherwise compensated by this company in any way. I am just a humble shmoo with 35+ yrs of audio engineering experience that likes to see new products in the market that offer us new and/or better options.

    More info/direct link here:

    http://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/irigacousticstage/

    Thanks for reading. Your thoughts?
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  2. #2
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    I was just coming to post about it but you beat me to it (no surprise there). I like iRig products and am pleased with the items I've purchased. I think I'll be giving this one a try in the next week or so...

  3. #3
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    Yeah I saw that announcement too. It does look interesting, but at this point, it is not going to be a priority for me. I have the iRig Acoustic and have used it for several recording projects recently. The sound is actually pretty good and for "studio" use can be cleaned up perfectly well with the facilities available in iOS DAWs like Cubasis and effect apps like ToneStack and JamUp. The crosstalk is a problem, but I've worked around it by only using it for input, never output or monitoring.

    Now if I were playing live, I would take a much closer look at the Stage. The first version really is not suitable for stage use IMO - flimsy cord, headphone input, requires iOS device so then you have to get the sound back out so that's more interfaces and wires - no, just no. But the Stage seems to have none of those issues. I'd be concerned about the limited "preamp" with the tone presets but I guess that could be augmented with another preamp box if necessary.
    Current Stable:
    -Ohana TKS-15E - Eb cuatro
    -Iriguchi Tenor "Weeble" - Bb, SC SMU
    -Blue Star 19" baritone Konablaster - DGBE
    -KPK pineapple SLN-GCEA
    -Cocobolo 16" SC#1-gCEA, SC SLMU
    -Ono #42 19" baritone, Ab, LW
    -Imua iET-Bb, M600
    -Covered Bridge CLN pineapple - Eb cuatro, SC XLL
    -Rogue bari
    -Bonanza super tenor, FBL cFAD
    Once upon a time:
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    -Bruko sop. custom #6
    -Lanikai lam hog bari
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    -Bruko bari
    -Gold Tone BUT


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    Quote Originally Posted by photoshooter View Post
    I was just coming to post about it but you beat me to it (no surprise there). I like iRig products and am pleased with the items I've purchased. I think I'll be giving this one a try in the next week or so...
    Hey brother,

    Sorry if I stole your thunder, but I thought folks might want to know right away and saw no other threads on it yet so I went ahead. It's nice to see that you were going to post it too since it shows how we are all looking out for each other here on UU.

    Please report back if/when you get one. I am very interested to know if the upgraded functionality will be worth it for the improved sound potential from this new model.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hanks View Post
    Yeah I saw that announcement too. It does look interesting, but at this point, it is not going to be a priority for me. I have the iRig Acoustic and have used it for several recording projects recently. The sound is actually pretty good and for "studio" use can be cleaned up perfectly well with the facilities available in iOS DAWs like Cubasis and effect apps like ToneStack and JamUp. The crosstalk is a problem, but I've worked around it by only using it for input, never output or monitoring.

    Now if I were playing live, I would take a much closer look at the Stage. The first version really is not suitable for stage use IMO - flimsy cord, headphone input, requires iOS device so then you have to get the sound back out so that's more interfaces and wires - no, just no. But the Stage seems to have none of those issues. I'd be concerned about the limited "preamp" with the tone presets but I guess that could be augmented with another preamp box if necessary.
    The crosstalk of course can be dealt with as you mentioned, but the biggest problem I had was that I bought and returned 2 units of the original iRig Acoustic, one from Amazon, and a different one from B&H Photo NYC, and then I also bought a 3rd from Sweetwater which I just kept.

    The IKMM forums were totally useless and the official 'guru' from IKMM was arrogant and hostile to those asking for help. I dont have hours to spend on the phone or in painfully slow email conversations to work out the kinks on a $50 product. For that, they should PAY me to help out.

    I thought them to be defective, and maybe so by design but not intent. I felt this way due to the fact that no matter the settings or other changes in use, I always had a very hot input level on average, and since a lot of my compositions have a very wide dynamic range of both soft parts and louder strumming parts, my choices were either to have a low input signal and mess a lot with compression and normalization in post, or run the risk of clipping during recording. This happened no matter what app I used, on iOS, Mac or Linux.

    (I dont have this 'over-sensitivity' problem, nor need to do much post-production when using nearly any kind of pickup, or any of the many microphones that I have)

    (also, proper mic technique can prevent the need for lots of cleanup in post, and in my work-flow, I prefer to 'get it right' upon capture, rather than spend hours twiddling virtual knobs and still not getting 'the sound in the air' that I heard with my own ears, but YMMV and in no way am I knocking other methods, what works for you and what works for me can be different and we can both be happy )

    On the original iRig Acoustic that uses the headphone port, my guess is that the TRRS voltage limitation of 1.5v DC is causing the MEMS mic to act as a 'starved-capacitor' in the circuit and thus has little headroom and a narrower dynamic range than if run at 6v or 9v DC, which is within spec for these MEMS mics, but requires another resistor, capacitor and or buck-converter in the circuit to make the jump UP from 1.5v or if via 2x AAA/AA batteries 3v, and likely they omitted that from the original design.

    Also the crosstalk can be easily prevented by putting a capacitor across the ground of the input and ground of output within the iRig dongle hump itself, acting as shunt and to isolate them from each other, but there may be be other circuit factors inside the iOS headphone jack that interfere with this that I don't know about....

    As far as the limited preamp circuit, 2 things:

    1. I would expect that you can alter the presets via the USB connection from the computer and save your own settings, but I have no real info yet

    2. The MEMS mic needs SOME kind of impedance matching and amplification done in order to work with guitar amps and PA systems like in the 3rd photo in my original post above, and likely IKMM realize that an iOS device is not the ideal device for this on the stage, especially with that flimsy 20' cord that I hated and kept coiled down to about a 6' length any way.

    I'm going to see if I can scrape together enough change to get one, but I will also wait because there might other great toys coming out of NAMM betw now and Monday...and the flood of videos on YT will take time to watch and decide...

    But, I tell you, if the new model has the same issues as the old one, or sounds bad to my ear, it's going to be returned and I will continue to use microphones for both recording, whenever live for stage use.

    I dont have to dance around and dont mind staying in position to a mic on stage, and in the studio, it's not an issue to stay in one place.
    Last edited by Booli; 01-18-2017 at 06:07 PM.
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    I thought this video might be helpful to see how it works:


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_r3-w7zvS0g
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  7. #7
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    Yeah, I am curious to hear some reviews on it.

    You lost me on the volts and ohms stuff but I do know what you mean on the input level. My last project I used the Multitrack DAW app and I had to turn down the input level in the app but only by 2db. Now I wasn't playing very hard and not very "dynamically" either, so I can see how that might be a real issue in another context.
    Current Stable:
    -Ohana TKS-15E - Eb cuatro
    -Iriguchi Tenor "Weeble" - Bb, SC SMU
    -Blue Star 19" baritone Konablaster - DGBE
    -KPK pineapple SLN-GCEA
    -Cocobolo 16" SC#1-gCEA, SC SLMU
    -Ono #42 19" baritone, Ab, LW
    -Imua iET-Bb, M600
    -Covered Bridge CLN pineapple - Eb cuatro, SC XLL
    -Rogue bari
    -Bonanza super tenor, FBL cFAD
    Once upon a time:
    -RISA Concert Stick
    -Bruko sop. custom #6
    -Lanikai lam hog bari
    -Kala SLNG
    -Bruko bari
    -Gold Tone BUT


    Jim's Blog

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hanks View Post
    ...You lost me on the volts and ohms stuff ...
    The volts thing is related to 'plug-in power' for classic electret mics, which MEMS mics share some, if not most of the same electrical dependencies, as well as with phantom power.

    The typical 'plug-in power' is a spec for 1.5v & 500mA DC to supply a charge to the mic element so it can 'respond' to sound pressure.

    Phantom power can be 12v, 24v, 36v, or the most common 48v DC and works in a similar way.

    Most condenser mics also have a nice circuit board inside with it's own little preamp, pre-set EQ, and impedance matching circuit), and all of this requires power, usually phantom power, if not a single or dual AA battery or 9v battery for portable use.

    The problem with too low a voltage is that the membrane of the microphone which senses the vibrations and converts them to electricity is usually going into a transistor, like a JFET or MOSFET, or other derivative with a source-follower-gate arrangement internally.

    (I can offer links to read up on, or videos if you want more info, as it can get pretty deep here.)

    What this means is that the transistor needs to have a 'bias' voltage going into it parallel with the audio signal on the same input pin to activate or 'carry' the electrons going into the transistor, but on the side leg of the transistor, there is a GATE that is opened proportionally to the amount of voltage that is fed to the transistor to the input leg.

    What this translates to is that the voltage going in is proportional to the amount of dynamic range before clipping or overdriven signal at the output. Too little voltage and it take very little audio signal to overdrive the output, and more voltage actually OPENS the GATE proportionally more, and allows more audio to FLOW through to the output, giving greater dynamic range and more headroom before distortion. Most electret as well as MEMS capsules as per the data sheets provided by the more popular makers of these components such as STM Microelectronics via Digikey, Mouser and BG Micro, show that there is a range of about 1.2v DC up to about 10.5v DC where these mic components will 'work'.

    However, the caveat is how you define 'work'. If it is for something that is simple sound detection, as in "sound: Y/N?" and PWM type inputs for digital logic, then 1.5 volts is fine, but typically this low voltage causes the GATE of the transistor to have a narrow bandwidth and narrow usable dynamic range for audio fidelity, especially if shared with both the transistor, as well as the charge needed for the mic element itself.

    Conversely, more voltage, say 9v DC as a median, will allow for greater audio fidelity.

    I am grossly over-simplifying things here, and not sure if this makes sense, but it's like a garden hose, too low diameter=distortion even at low levels and low SPL at the input and larger diameter=improved overall audio fidelity.

    The voltage is the diameter of the garden hose. For better audio fidelity, we want the 'water' to have as much flow as possible.

    Let me know if this makes sense.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hanks View Post
    but I do know what you mean on the input level...I had to turn down the input level in the app but only by 2db...
    Remember that the decibel scale is logarithmic and not linear, thus a 1db change in the meter is actually a 10x change in perceptible sound pressure level (volume), and a 2db change is actually a 100x change (10 x 10) in perceptible sound pressure level (volume)...

    So if you set the gain so the meter reads the peak level at -2.0db, you are actually lowering the sensitivity of the input by 100x. Sounds crazy, I know.

    I don't have the math background to explain the finer-detailed layers of the theory, but I know 'how it works' in real world use, and that's good enough for me.

    Hope this helps - if not let me know.
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    Thanks for the heads-up Booli. I was contemplating buying and fitting a pickup for each of three ukuleles until you mentioned this.

    I won't need to amplify very often, so I'm just really glad there's an inexpensive way to get me set up for busking, small gigs or open mics, and still allowing me to swap ukulele mid-set for different tunings if I want to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jimavery View Post
    Thanks for the heads-up Booli. I was contemplating buying and fitting a pickup for each of three ukuleles until you mentioned this.

    I won't need to amplify very often, so I'm just really glad there's an inexpensive way to get me set up for busking, small gigs or open mics, and still allowing me to swap ukulele mid-set for different tunings if I want to.
    Hi Jim - no worries. Glad the info is useful.

    Seems to me that at $99US, this would be a lot cheaper than at least $100 ea x3 for an active pickup like the MiSi or the LR Baggs Five.0, and you also wont have to drill a hole in the end block for the endpin jack or in the bridge slot the pickup ribbon.

    IKMM usually has a sort of parallel pricing scheme so $99 USD and 93 Euros or 81 GBP seems to be the going price. I dont know if it will have a discount unless there is some NAMM promo for the product launch.

    In case you don't know, NAMM is a big trade show in Anaheim, CA that occurs every year and that runs from today (Thurs) until Sunday where all the folks that make music stuff get together to show off and announce new products...if I see any discounts I will share them here in this thread and hope that other folks would do the same.
    Last edited by Booli; 01-19-2017 at 01:55 AM. Reason: typos
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