IK’s new interface is designed to go anywhere and record anything.
The iRig Pro Quattro I/O mixes mobile recording with multi‑channel audio, professional connections, metering, mixing and adaptation in a chunky hand‑holdable device. Is this the supercharged iRig interface we’ve been waiting for?
My first impression is that it’s surprisingly large in all dimensions. It’s not heavy but is quite chunky in the hand. It has a nicely grippy rubberised texture to it and all the connections on every surface make it look multi‑functional rather than beautiful. It’s got sockets all over the place. It looks every bit like a field recorder with those low‑profile, thumbable knobs, metering display and the adaptor that could let you mount on anything from a tripod to a camera shoe. Except that it doesn’t have any ability to record.
IK Multimedia have highlighted the lack of recording ability as a ‘feature’ because you’re not going to need any of those annoying SD cards. What you do need is a computer, phone or DSLR, and that, at least for me, makes it feel like it could be a bit cumbersome in the field. However, independent field recording is only one possible scenario and there are plenty others where the Quattro might well show its quality.
The iRig Quattro I/O is a four‑channel battery‑, USB‑ or DC‑powered audio interface. It has four phantom‑powered microphone combi XLR inputs that can double up as two instrument and two line‑level inputs. Further alternative line inputs are provided on RCA phono and mini‑jack, so you won’t need to be carrying a pocket full of adaptors. For outputs you have a pair of balanced XLR connections plus a mini‑jack line output and mini‑jack headphone output. Finishing it off is MIDI in and out on those annoyingly smaller‑than‑mini‑jack sockets IK like to use. But you do get one 5‑pin DIN MIDI adaptor in the box.
The Quattro also has a switchable in‑built omnidirectional microphone for simple and easy sound capturing. It appears at Input 1 and can be controlled via the same gain control. Alternatively, you can plug in a pair of condenser microphones, like the iRig Mic XY (not included) to make it look even more like a field recorder.
The included cable set is worth a mention. The Quattro uses a 7‑pin ‘Host’ connection rather than regular data ports, but this allows them to supply the right cable for every eventuality. Along with USB A you get a cable with a Lightning connector for iPhone and iPad connection, and a USB C connection for computers and most Android devices. There’s an additional micro‑USB port that’s expressly for power when working with low‑power devices such as phones, and you don’t have any batteries to hand. That’s a very welcome sight and simplifies the connections when using a phone. Although it doesn’t pass through power, which is a shame, you can also power it from an IK Multimedia power adaptor (not included), which will power your device as well.
The cables are a bit short, so the Quattro and your phone/tablet/laptop have to stay pretty close together. It’s not a major problem but the Quattro does have a threaded adaptor on the back for using with cameras or mic stands, so unless you’re using it purely in mixer mode then you’re going to have to gaffer tape your phone to the mic stand leg or something. Although that assumes that you’re using the Quattro to be everything all at once, when in fact this iRig is adept at transforming to meet different scenarios. So, if you did mount it on a camera, you would probably wire it into the camera’s mic input for recording, not your phone.
The physicality of the box has a slightly ungainly vibe of having cables coming out of every side. So, when cabled up it’s not a very neat solution, but IK have made great use of space. It’s solid enough and would survive a fall or two even though it’s made of plastic. The thumb wheels are not really my cup of tea. I understand that they serve a purpose in keeping the unit small and are potentially easy to operate when using the same thumb as the hand you’re holding it with, but they are not a joyful experience. They are a bit too resistant to movement and whether I’m using thumbs or fingers they tend to slide off.
For the included software bundle IK are firmly focused on Apple iOS. On the desktop you get to enjoy an SE version of AmpliTube and T‑RackS plus two SE instruments of your choice, but there’s no recording software. On Android you get nothing, although the Quattro is compatible with Android 5 or later.
On your recent iPhone or iPad you get a whole suite of apps including AmpliTube CS, VocaLive, Mic Room, iRig Recording and SampleTank with a bunch of sounds. Upon registration these freeware apps get upgraded to the paid version although, except for an extra mic, stompbox or amp, I couldn’t really tell the difference. The apps appear to be full of in‑app purchasable extras which pop‑up annoyingly whenever you tap on something you haven’t paid for.
However, the features of the apps you get are really good. The mic modelling in Mic Room and VocaLive is outstanding and takes the built‑in mic to some characterful levels. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the included Cubase LE version to unlock on my iPhone because it’s only supported on the iPad. While the apps are great there’s very little information about how you use them with the Quattro. For instance, to use the Mic Room to warm up the mic before recording into iRig recorder you’ll have to get an interconnection app like Audiobus, and if you’re not familiar with how all that works then you might struggle as the IK documentation isn’t going to help you.
Once plugged in the Quattro integrates nicely with iOS and offers a very impressive array of connections, including MIDI, and the full advantage of battery powering. The versatility again shines as you can just plug the box into your phone and start recording using the in‑built mic without any other hubs, adaptors or power sources. It also has a built‑in JFET‑based limiter on the first two channels, which can be really helpful in a spontaneous or chaotic recording environment — which is likely as the Quattro likes to see itself as a frontline device, in the thick of things, ready to be whatever you need.
For a smoother app experience I’d recommend using an iPad over an iPhone, and you can make use of the included Cubasis LE to give you a mobile multitrack recording solution out of the box. Plug in four microphones and you’re off, or a pair of mics and some guitars, or just sit the device in the room and play.
Working with regular computers it gives you four inputs and four outputs, ASIO drivers and buffer sizes down to an eyebrow‑raising 8 samples. But regular operation at 128 samples gives good low‑latency performance when monitoring and a round trip of under 10ms. All the input switching is done in the device itself so all you have to worry about is plugging it in. It records at up to 24‑bit/96kHz and can phantom‑power four microphones just with the USB connection.
The internal microphone is not too bad in a pinch. It’s a MEMS type microphone with a good frequency response and relatively low noise. It’s designed to capture the room rather than a close‑up vocal performance and does a good job of that. When compared to an AKG C3000 condenser plugged in via another mic input it certainly lacked some depth and warmth but otherwise captured a decent take. IK tell me that they programmed some custom DSP code to get the response as flat as possible, which gives it a good range of uses, but if you want a bit of character you’ll need another mic.
Whichever way I plugged things in, the Quattro I/O gave some good recordings. The analogue limiter, which is just a switch on the front, showed its usefulness while I was testing lots of different things in different places. Having all the controls on the device is also very welcome. I didn’t have to mess around trying to software‑enable a feature and I didn’t even mind using the thumb wheels after a while, although I’ve found that two fingers is the best method of movement.
If you don’t know what’s coming next, if you’re out and about, or snatching interviews, sampling nature and rocking up to a rehearsal space then the iRig Pro Quattro I/O is going to save you a lot of bother.
Out of the box I didn’t like the Quattro very much. I usually enjoy a good‑looking audio interface with futuristic mixing software and an understated, permanently wired vibe. This thing crashes on to the desktop, makes your cables untidy and wants to do too many things at once. But that’s the charm of this odd‑looking box: it can do everything. With batteries and a phone, you have a mobile studio or a live streaming setup. It could mix multi‑channel audio into your camera or serve as a mini PA mixer. If you kept one in your bag, then you’d always have something that would work in any situation. Well, that is provided you bring along the right host cables, annoying MIDI adaptor, batteries or maybe the power supply — it’s not perfect.
Although I do get the versatility of using a phone or computer for recording, the lack of internal recording does feel like a missed opportunity. The Quattro absolutely looks like it should be able to do it and there are many Zoom and Tascam devices that will do so for less money. But the Quattro is more than that one scenario.
I think if you’re recording in the same way all the time then there are other audio interfaces more suited to a permanent scenario. But if you don’t know what’s coming next, if you’re out and about, or snatching interviews, sampling nature and rocking up to a rehearsal space then the iRig Pro Quattro I/O is going to save you a lot of bother.
As with the first iRig Stream interface, using Loopback is a doddle, perhaps even too easy. Loopback lets you capture the output of your device and route it back to the inputs. So, you could record the output of a piece of software into another or combine that sound with a mic input for live streaming. It’s brilliant for live streaming games or software‑based musical performances. With the Quattro you just throw the Loopback switch and the output arrives at inputs 1+2. You might want to turn off monitoring to prevent feedback. If you then engage the internal microphone it arrives at the same inputs sort of mixed in with the Loopback. That’s what I mean about too easy; it could do with a little more individual control and routing.
Even on the desktop there’s no mixer application or anywhere to balance the loopback channels alongside the other inputs and outputs. It’s not essential to do so, you just set your levels at source, but a more nuanced approach to monitoring would have been welcome.
- Lots of connection formats.
- All controls are on the device.
- Compact and battery‑powered.
- Built‑in mic.
- Can solve a range of problems.
- No internal recording.
- Fiddly thumb wheels.
- Needs additional PSU to charge your device.
- Not for a tidy desktop.
- Pricey considering the cost of handheld recorders.
The iRig Quattro I/O has a solid feature set and versatile connections as an audio interface but for a price. The lack of internal recording means you’ll also need a phone or laptop for recording, making it not quite the all‑in‑one solution it appears.
£339 including VAT.