iRig Pro Duo I/O - Portable, Flexible, Feature-Rich, Sound Interface 🏆
What makes IK Multimedia's iRig Pro Duo I/O so special is the sheer number of features it has coupled with its tiny size. Pictures speak lounder than words, so feast your eyes on the following.
My interest in the Duo stemmed from the fact that I'm on the road without any kind of recording capabilities; my laptop simply doesn't have any audio inputs. I'm not terribly interested in lugging around a chunky box that takes up a lot of space or requires me to carry an annoying adapter for power.
If it's not portable then it's a nuisance.
My first impression upon taking this out of the box was to be wowed at how small it was.
It's no bigger than my 7 year old iPhone SE, and about as thick as 3 of those stacked on top.
The sheer feat of engineering that went into cramming this amount of functionality into such a tiny size is awesome. 😮
The Duo is covered in a rubberized finish which has a soft, matte feel to it that's quite pleasant. The 4 rubber feet on the base keep the unit steady.
There are two volume knobs on top which are completely silent (no clicking) and fairly inset. At first glance you might think this isn't terribly practical but they are actually quite easy to turn. This design choice allows you to throw the Duo in your bag without worrying that you're going to snap off or damage the knobs.
All of the jacks feel solid, there's no wiggling or loose inputs. The volume sliders on the sides have a really solid feel to them. Everything is cleanly and simply labeled.
I pay attention to and enjoy well designed products and very much appreciate that there are no garish design elements. You won't find any brushed metal or cherry red accents nor any glowing lights in an attempt to look high tech (ehhem, Roland). There's a really refined feel to the Duo that hits the sweet spot between professional and functional.
The team really put some effort into the build of this device and they get top marks for it. 🏆
Setup and Installation
Setup was fairly painless. I'm still on Windows 8, so I did have to download ASIO4ALL which is free.
The drivers are quite speedy and I've had no issues with buffering or clicks or anytihng like that, unlike some other devices I've used that were 2-3 times this price.
Once I got running on the backend, setting things up in my DAW was painless, literally less than a minute, it couldn't be easier.
The main way I use the Duo is to record various bits of gear into my laptop. For example, I'm doing some work for the Bastl Softpop2. It's a purely analog instrument and thus requires an external bit of gear to get sounds into your computer.
Simply plug in the output from your instrument into the Duo, setup the correct channel in your DAW and off you go.
The efficient input system is very cool - you connect your XLR's or 1/4" jacks into the same spot. This again makes the unit as small as it is while also giving you great flexibility.
How Does It Sound?
Wonderfully clean! Seriously. I was a little surprised at how loud the signal was. I never needed to go above 3 or 4 on the volumne knob on the Duo itself. Even with my instrument at 50% volume the recording is brilliant. It's not necessary to go any higher as the recording is suitably loud enough and it's great to know you have that extra volume bandwidth available should you need it.
The added headphone monitor is a great way to listen to things before it hits your recording device. You also have the option of outputting directly to two 1/4" jacks, perfect for going straight into a mixer or other device. You can use the Duo as a mini-mixer of sorts if you want to get creative.
Again maintaining the focus on size the device has 2.5mm MIDI breakout cables instead of the classic 5-pin DIN connector. It does mean that you've got an extra cable or two to carry around, but this was done to keep the size as small as possible. This makes sense when you consider that not everyone is going to want MIDI, but it's nice to have the option to connect not one but two MIDI devices.
Setup here again is a breeze, connect the breakout cable(s), configure the device in your DAW and start jamming. Everything you might need is there to get your gear juggling syncs and control with ease.
The Duo gives you not one, two, but three ways to provide power. You can use USB via an included cable, 9V DC with your own adapter, or 2 x AA batteries (included). It's great to know that all you really need is a USB cable and you've got power. Raise your hand if you're tired of those lumpy little AC adapters? ✋
That said if you have mics or instruments or are using some other kind of outboard gear for recording it's nice to know you have the option of using an AC adapter to power the device. Computers aren't the end-all after all.
You'll be pleased to know that the iRig Pro Duo I/O works with a Mac, PC, iPhone / iPad, Android via Lightning, USB-C, and USB-A cables, all of which are included.
One drawback to all of this compatibility is that you need to use the company's proprietary dongles. Everything gets plugged into the same socket, just with a different cable. There's really no way around this without greatly increasing the size of the device. All of the cables you need are included, so you're ready to rock right out of the box. 👍
This isn't just a review. The iRig Pro Duo I/O was critical for me finishing a project I was tasked with doing while on the road. This will be my go to interface with my other hardware as well as my phone.
IK Multimedia's iRig Pro Duo I/O is an enormously flexible, great sounding, wonderfully built, highly portable, sound interface. I know I can rely on this for future projects as well as upcoming gigs, and that gives me a lot of relief.