Become an iPhone diva with this vocal tool

The advent of the iDevice could well be a mini music revolution. Having portable recording and practice equipment on the iPhone and iPad could open up a lot of avenues for music production and experimentation that was up until now limited to the hiring of expensive studio time.

Now, with the release of the iRig Mic, vocalists get a proper look in too. This is the first handheld microphone for the iPhone, and it brings with it high-quality audio and vocal capabilities.

This excellent piece of kit is available for an RRP of £49.99/$59.99, which is a small amount when compared to the high price point of professional microphones for recording studios.

The mic works with a variety of apps, such as the developer’s own AmpliTube, but its flagship app is VocaLive, and the possibility it brings for vocalists is certainly high.

Using the mic (or even the iPhone’s built-in mic, to lesser quality), vocalists can feed their voices into the app, add a variety of effects, record and much more.

The effects themselves are Pitch Fix, Choir, Morph, Double, De-Esser, Reverb, Delay, Parametric EQ, Compressor, Chorus, Phazer and Envelope Filter. The results are excellent, from adding subtle adjustments to the vocal, to forming three-part harmonies from the one input.

You can combine effects in sets of three and there are 50 presets available from the subtle, such as ‘Soft Chorus’, to the extreme, such as a preset that makes you sound like a duck.

As well as using VocaLive as an effects suite and performance tool, it can also be used to make recordings too. One track comes free with the app, with four available through an in-app purchase (£2.99/$4.99), so you can record different parts before merging them together through a Bounce option.

The app allows you to add effects during the recording process, mix the levels and then export files though email or File Sharing.

VocaLive, of course, isn’t restricted to recording voices, as the mic will pick up any kind of audio. This means you can record each separate part of a song, with guitar, vocals, drums and more on individual tracks, before tweaking the mix and bouncing into one track.

It really is a multipurpose recording tool that comes for a tiny fraction of what you’d pay for recording studio time or equipment.

The app doesn’t end there, however, with many more features set for you to explore. There’s a vocal trainer, which plays arpeggios for you to sing along to. You can change the key and scale from minor to major, but that’s about it.

This type of exercise is the staple of any vocalist’s training, but it would have been nice to see some other exercises on here such as running scales or more varied vocal patterns.

In the Tools section there is also a metronome and an audio demo so you can experiment with how the effects sound on a pre-recorded track.

You can also import songs and loop sections of it to practise intricate patterns, as well as utilise a speed trainer so you can slow down or speed up bits you wish to perfect. You can also take the vocal off the imported song to use it as a backing track, which works incredibly well.

VocaLive is clearly an all-round app that can be put to many different uses. It isn’t limited to songwriting, however, and can be used to record speech too, from interviews, to podcasts, audio notes and more.

It really is a versatile app that brings high-quality audio recording to the iPhone. It is one of the more expensive apps out there, but its attributes are worth paying for, and there’s also a free version so you can give it a go.

It clearly won’t have the power of a bigger amp when it comes to live performances, but it’s still one of the best vocal apps, with no throwaway gimmicks, that we’ve seen on the App Store.

Rated 4 out of 5

This clearly won’t match up to studio quality, but for experimentation and a cheap way to record, this app excels at what it does.