July 12, 2012

Apogee MiC Review

The Apogee MiC is a portable cardioid condenser microphone that works with iOS devices as well as Mac (and only Mac) computers. It’s incredibly easy to use, the sound quality is great, and it’s so small you could throw it into your guitar case or even in your back pocket. Just like its cousin, the Apogee Jam, it has some built-in features that are very handy.  It’s got a design similar to most studio microphones but more importantly, it’s got the same heavy weight as well. It’s got a full metal casing. Unlike some of the the other iOS USB microphones out there, this mic is built to last.

Recording with the Apogee MiC is as easy as opening Garageband, connecting via USB, clicking yes on the pop-up window, and hitting the record button. Really, it’s that simple. If you use Pro Tools, Logic, Ableton Live, or Cubase then you shouldn’t have any compatibility problems with the MiC. We chose to use it with Garageband, but it is designed to work with any Core Audio compliant application.

Once we got it up and running we did a quick test. Whereas its counterpart, the Apogee Jam, is designed to record electric guitar and bass, the MiC is designed to record vocals and acoustic instruments. So we laid down a track with a few acoustic guitar chords. Scroll down and check out our video to see the results. Recently, we’ve been reviewing a lot of Apogee products like the One, the Duet 2, and the GiO so we’ve come to expect a certain level of quality from anything Apogee. I’m happy to say that the MiC did not disappoint. The sound quality was very nice. The high and mid range frequencies were especially clear and crisp. There was plenty of low end as well. Some of the more expensive studio mics out there may have a little more depth in the lower range but for a $199 microphone, we were very pleased with the overall sound. What’s more is that you are guaranteed to get the same great sound with zero latency whether you’re recording on your gigantic Mac Pro or slim portable iPad because with the MiC all the quality conversion happens inside its solid metal jacket. The MiC features 24-bit analog-to-digital conversion at 44.1 / 48 khz. It also uses PureDIGITAL connection technology to cut down on unwanted noise when capturing either vocals or your acoustic instruments.

The MiC also comes with several features to help you lay down a recording with ease. On the front of the device you have an LED indicator light with four different colors – blue, green, yellow, and red. If blue you’re connected but not ready to record, if green you’re good to go, if yellow you’re getting dangerously close peaking and if red you are just too loud. There is a gain knob right in the side of the MiC to let you dial the sound down if you’re rocking out to hard and making the red light flash. The MiC also comes with a stand so you can setup and start recording wherever you find a flat surface.

Any musician with an iPad or iOS device is going to love the Apogee MiC because of the sheer simplicity involved in getting the mic up and running.  When the MiC was first dropped on my desk, like many of the other iOS devices from Apogee my initial vibes were that of the skeptic, I had thought that Apogee had sold out to the iOS trend but just like their other iOS products from Apogee the MiC sets a new standard of iOS hardware peripherals.  The big advantage to using an iPad or iPhone as everyone knows is convenience, often times convenience forces quality to take the backseat but Apogee is known for their uncompromising high performance products and that is exactly what the MiC is.  As I briefly mentioned earlier the Apogee MiC has a 24 bit analogue to digital converter in it and it is in this tiny bit of hardware that the magic happens.

When recording sound the challenge for audio engineers is converting sound, an inherently analogue medium into something that a computer can read in a digital format.  A sine wave produces big wavy lines that are smooth from bottom up and when these sine waves are run through a digital converter that digital signal is chopped into a bunch of tiny steps to make the sound processable by computers.  Basically instead of a sine wave looking like a nice smooth line when it goes digital it is turned into a bunch of tiny little stairs that step up and down.  The problem with digital is that where these little steps are in the place of nice smooth analogue steps so essentially every one of those steps represents an element of sound missing in your final sine wave.

To combat this loss in quality Apogee has spent year after year researching ways to make those steps tighter and tighter so as to more closely mimic the native quality of a sine wave.  The 24 bit converter breaks up the sine wave into over 16,000,000 levels so that when you hear it back it sounds almost exactly like the original analogue version.  24 bits is far higher than what is considered a good enough quality for audiophiles so you can be sure that the quality of the Apogee MiC will not disappoint even the most discerning of ears.

It might seem like a basic addition to your iOS device but the Apogee MiC packs quite a powerful punch for something so small.  Apogee has really entered the iOS game the right way and is finally bringing high quality professional level products to consumers.  The implications of the Apogee MiC are huge, now you can escape the studio and do something at home that would have cost thousands of dollars in expensive studio time as soon as ten years ago.  Apogee’s iOS products are just the first step towards iOS domination and I suggest you keep an eye out for all future Apogee’s iOS products  because I can tell you they are only going to get better from here.

Until Next Time,
Chris Showalter

Video Transcript:

Hey guys Chris here with and this is the Apogee MiC. Not the most original name I know, but for a USB microphone I was actually very pleased with the quality. Let me tell you why. First off, this microphone has a really good weight to it. It has a solid metal body and that’s always something you want to feel when you’re picking up a microphone. It’s got a multicolor LED light here on the front – green, yellow, and red for clipping. It’s got gain adjustment here on the side and this thing will connect to your iOS device or your Mac via the USB cables. It’s bus powered and it comes with a stand to get you setup and recording with ease. This microphone works with any Core Audio compliant application, it’s designed to work exclusively for Mac computers, we got it up and running with Garageband and did a little test. Now the sound quality was great. The mids and the highs were real clear and crispy. The low end was substantial but I could have used a little more. Anyways I’m going to let you hear how it sounds. So there you go, that’s how the mic sounds. One thing to be mindful of is the fact that the Apogee Mic connects to your iOS device through the charge port, you’re gonna be running off battery, and you can only record for as long as your battery lasts. That being said, it really just gives you a better sound that because the sound is converted in the microphone with their superior A to D converters so you know you’re going to get a great quality signal. So there you have it. Till next time I’m chris. Be you, be unique at