IK Multimedia are one of the mainstream music technology companies that have fully embraced iOS as a music-making platform. As well as making some very good apps (many of which I’ve reviewed here on the Music App Blog), they also make hardware aimed at the iOS musician. This includes devices such as the original iRig audio interface (that launched many guitar players in the the wonders of iPhone/iPad amp modelling) through to more recent products such as the iRig Duo, iRig Mic Lav, iRig Keys Pro and iRig Acoustic.
In the main, this hardware is developed to appeal to those on a more modest budget and, while there are exceptions (the iRig Mic Studio, for example, which performs to a pretty high standard), in the main, the hardware is going to appeal to those just starting out on the music making journey rather than those with more miles under the clock (and more equipment already in the studio).
However, IK Multimedia have, via the music technology fest of NAMM, just announced the iLoud Micro Monitor. As shown in the screenshots here, these are small-format monitor speakers but they come with a pretty big claim as IKM describe them as ‘the smallest studio reference monitors in the world’.
Small they certainly are and, in terms of size, they are not so far removed from a pair of multimedia-style speakers. However, the press release suggests that, inside the box, there is something just a bit more sophisticated than something you might use for watching movies or playing computer games.
Allow me a little sidetrack here by way of context. Like acoustic treatment of your listening environment, ‘good’ monitoring is an often overlooked – but critical – part of any music production system. If you can’t hear what you are recording accurately (that is, the frequency response of the room/speaker combination is biased in some way), then it becomes very difficult to mix in a way that is also not biased. Monitoring therefore matters….
Now, you can buy a pair of monitors designed for nearfield use for around the UK£100 mark…. but I suspect most recording old-hands would suggest that you need to spend somewhat more than that (and, potentially, a LOT more than that) to get something that you can really trust. How much is enough… UK£300, UK£500, UK1000, more…? Well, that will, of course, depend upon your budget and other constraints.
OK, for the iLoud Micro Monitors, IKM are most certainly aiming these at folks with a compact (and perhaps mobile) recording system. And, if emphasising that the speakers offer a flat frequency response, a transparent sound and plenty of headroom if you need volume but without distortion, then it certainly suggests these new speakers ought to be of interest to someone with aspirations for their iPad-based recording setup. And, with a price tag when they become available of €365.99 (perhaps around the UK£275 mark given current exchange rates?), they are certainly not right at the budget end of the market….
Anyway, in terms of the quality of the sound we will just have to wait until the units start shipping – and if I can get IKM to cough up a pair for review, then I’ll take a proper look (and listen) and do a full review. However, the spec looks respectable and the connectivity and feature list suitable for the task. How they might compare to some more traditional studio nearfield monitors in a similar price bracket… well, we will just have to wait and see.
The iLoud Micro Monitors are advertised as ‘available soon’… which I think probably means Q2….