The iRig Pro Quattro is a Musician's Helvetian Military Multitool

Is there anything it doesn’t do? Barely

  • Home musicians, podcasters, and field recorders will dig the iRig Pro Quattro.
  • Musical multitools are useful, even in the studio.
  • Don’t say "Swiss Army knife."
iRig Pro Quatro pocket-sized audio mixer from IK Multimedia

IK Multimedia

Musicians always need one more cable, adapter, or electronic box. IK Multimedia’s new gadget takes care of many of those needs.

The iRig Pro Quattro I/O is a pocket-sized audio mixer, a microphone, a MIDI interface, a field recorder, and quite a bit more. If you need to plug something into something else, chances are this thing will do the job. But doesn’t this make it a jack of all trades. A compromise? Sure, but that’s kind of the point. 

"I won’t be purchasing it because I don’t need it, yet. But, I will say that I really enjoy my [previous generation] iRig Pro Duo I/O," electronic musician Mtenk replied to a forum thread started by Lifewire. "When I was looking for an iPad audio interface I wanted something compact that had midi, audio, and could be bus powered. It ticks all of the boxes. The only downside is the proprietary cables, but I got over that pretty quickly."

Box of Tricks

Playing any kind of instrument is straightforward—apart from the years spent learning to do it, of course. The frustration starts when you want to connect your instrument to something else, either to record it, to control it, or to synchronize it. 

Musicians using IK Multimedia's iRig Pro Quattro I/O

IK Multimedia

For example, if your keyboard has a standard DIN plug for connections, how do you plug that into a computer’s USB port? If you have an electric guitar, it outputs a weak signal that needs a special input to understand it. The same with microphones. 

What if you want to sing? Then you need a whole lot more gear. And so on. As you can see from the photos, it’s tiny. Not teeny-tiny, but very portable, equally at home in a studio or in a bag. It can be a permanent audio device, living on your desk, or only used as a problem solver when needed. 

Depending on the bundle you buy, you get different accessories in the box. The regular package ($349) comes with cables, and so on, while the deluxe package ($449) adds a pair of XY microphones with windscreen for higher-quality field recording than the built-in mic.

Lazy Swiss Army Knife Simile

Off the top of my head, I can come up with a ton of real-life scenarios where this could be handy. You could hook up the mics from a conference panel, or use the supplied XY mic to record a podcast. Or both. You can also plug in guitars, microphones, and stereo line-in cables to record a live band, all on separate audio tracks.

You could connect MIDI synthesizers, keyboards, or drumheads to a computer, or to each other, routing through this box. Or you could create high-quality field recordings. For a musician who keeps a basic home studio (i.e a desk with a computer and a few instruments), having such a neat problem-solving box to reach for is fantastic. 

Of course, this isn’t the only such tool. Another amazingly useful box is Eventide’s MixingLink, which is designed to let you mix, match, and route audio sources into each other. You can use it to sing through guitar effects, for example, or to send the guitar into an effects app on your phone.

Or the Keith McMillen K-Mix, which is a small, tough, USB-powered audio interface and mixer that is just as comfortable hooked up to an iPad as it is to a studio full of musical instruments and a desktop computer. It can even be powered by the iPad’s own battery. 

One thing this doesn’t do is record to an SD card. For that you need to connect a phone or a computer, or buy a similar unit from Zoom, many of which do have a built-in recorder.

When I was looking for an iPad audio interface I wanted something compact that had midi, audio, and could be bus powered.

"The big question is how it compares to similarly priced (or slightly less expensive) Zoom units," says electronic musician Espiegel123 on the Audiobus forum

The idea of recording your band in a dedicated recording studio seems increasingly old fashioned. There’s no beating all that amazing equipment run by experienced engineers and producers, but it can also be expensive. And you can do almost as well at home, with a little ingenuity. 

After all, The Rolling Stones recorded Exile on Main Street in the basement of Keith Richards’ villa in France. Given today’s technology, you can easily record at home, and do-it-all gadgets like this one make it easier.

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