Blue make superb, affordable microphones, including the Mikey Digital, a small stereo mic that plugs into the bottom of your iPhone or iPad, and lets you record all manner of things. Thanks to Apple changing to yet another proprietary connection type, however, they’ve had to release a new Lightning Connection based Mikey Digital.
And it’s tiny, it really is. The included pouch means you can pop it into your pocket with your iPhone, and even then, it’s not a bulky addition. All you have to do is pull it out, and plug it in, and with most recording apps, you’re in business.
But if you want more from it, Mikey Digital offers that. There’s a switch that controls preset volume recording levels. In the middle, the Mikey will automatically adjust for volume, and I found this best for spoken word recordings, due to the nature of people’s differing vocal timbre. Whereas the “loud” setting is better for micing up, say, a guitar amp, due to the aggressive distortion that will come from it.Two example are below in a Soundcloud playlist. The first is recorded using a Gibson Les Paul Custom plugged directly into the Mikey Digital, and recorded using Garageband (using amp-simulation from within it) on an iPhone 5S. Although it’s a simple bit of guitar playing, it’s a pretty clean sound, with the harmonics picking up very nicely indeed. Also noteworthy is the fact that despite no noise-gate in place (other than the in-built Garageband amp-sim ones), there’s very little, if any, line-noise audible. The second is just an acoustic guitar played in a fairly busy home environment.
That said, the Mikey Digital also offers a line-in jack so you can plug your guitar (or amp-output) directly into the device, offering a sort of pass-through into your recording software. This also acts as a line-in for other possibilities, obviously, and a lavelier-style mic can go straight into the Mikey, to save plugging and unplugging multiple devices, and fiddling around.
Not that it’s an awkward device to use, and at the risk of countering my own point, it’s just as easy to pull the Mikey out, and plug a phono-cabled clip-on mic in for on-camera recordings.
One slight negative to the adjustable nature of the Mikey is that in certain positions, it’s not entirely steady. My initial idea to use it as a handheld mic (it even looking like one, once you hold an iPhone like a hand-held mic) was put to one side as I found that there was a slight bit of jiggle in the upright “straight” position. If you angle it slightly, it almost feels as though it clicks into place, and can be used just fine as a handheld mic, then.
Using Mikey Digital for voiceover recordings, however, was a dream come true. If you’ve ever watched our “French Letters” series, you’ll know that we each put together a short video piece, both on and off-camera, with voiceover included. The episode above (starting a 3 minutes 35 seconds) was recorded entirely without a computer – the voiceover (heard during the footage of The Swapper) was recorded using the Mikey, with the on-camera pieces using a RODE SmartLav. The only negative is that there’s no wind or pop-protection, which you’d obviously get with a clip-on mic.
A small, but notable, mention is that as well as the line-in connection, there’s also a USB passthrough, so you can charge your iDevice whilst the Mikey is attached. Add to that the fact that it includes a 1/4″ (guitar size) to 3.5mm converter, and you’ve got a device that really is ready to go whenever you need it. Equally, the Mikey doesn’t allow headphone passthrough, so you can’t really use it for multitracking on a modern iPhone, as the headphone slot is directly next to the lightning connector slot.
VERDICT: The sheer size and portability makes the Mikey a real contender for the small mic category, offering a range of audio capabilities at very little quality cost. It’s not cheap, retailing at £110,99, but it’s a versatile microphone, and thanks to the mobile world we live in, the size means you’ll almost always have the ability to record on the fly.
It won’t replace the high-end mics you may already use, but in tandem with a lavelier style mic, you’ll have a mobile recording setup that will see you through almost any situation.
Full specs for the Mikey Digital can be found here.
Review sample provided by Blue Mics.