Blue Microphones Tiki really blew me away a couple of weeks ago. Today I bring you the Blue Mikey which promises to make recording with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod a whole new experience. This time Blue sent in the Mikey Digital mic. The Mikey Digital is compatible with iPhones and iPads. For iPods you'll need the Mikey for iPod which I'm assuming is functionally identical but perhaps works better with the iPod's software.
This thing is small. If you look at the gallery pictures you'll see that it only sticks out from the phone about an inch or two once installed. What can they pack into a couple of inches of size that makes this so much better than the built in mic in my phone? How about stereo recording (that's right, this is two mics), has an input jack to plug in any device with a line out, a built in USB charging port, and some very intelligent software. In the back of the unit there is a small switch that lets you select the input strength (gain) that you want to maximize your recording. If you are at the symphony you can set it to pick up the softest flute or violin and then switch over to recording a full on rock concert and still capture great sound. Pretty cool stuff here.
One thing that makes this mic so useful is that you may already have an app on your iPad/iPhone for recording. Everything from Musical Studio Lite to Garage Band is compatible with this mic. Since I play guitar I chose to use Garage Band hooked up to the line out of a Line6 modeling amp. I also tried this with a Boss GS-10 pre-amp and found that it worked equally well. Previously I could only hook up the GS-10 to my home computer with a USB cable - now I can record in Garage Band at a friend's house without any trouble using my phone.
So how did it work? Recording without an external mic and using the Mikey I found the sound quality to be very good. Recording can be very subjective - your distance from the source, your direction, elevation, etc can really impact the quality of recording. Considering that the two mics in the Mikey have almost no separation you won't get true stereo separation. What you will get is excellent recording, and since you can swivel the mic up while laying your phone flat, i was able to capture some reverberation off the walls which really made the sound seem larger in the recording. This is much better than anything an iPhone or iPad could do on their own. That alone makes this useful for the majority of people out there. It records voice extremely well - you can count on this mic for recording speeches, lectures or conversations. When plugging into the input jack the recording really comes alive. I tried a professional mic, which I had to put a mic to 1/4" adapter on, and the included 1/4" to 1/8" adapter and tried some speaking and recording guitar with the mic directly in front of the speaker. I was blown away how good this worked. If your app software allows you to control the amount of input you could just record this way. If not, use the line out port on an amp/pre-amp and your in business.
I found my recordings in Garage Band were much better than what I was able to get before. In between the mic's low input and high input settings is an auto mode. Auto mode is very good at differentiating between loud and soft sounds and making adjustments. It does what Blue says it will which, if you think about it, is a lot considering the adjustments than an auto mode has to do. The software for my GS-10 is not this intelligent and its a full size pre-amp hooked up to and running in a computer. I'm not knocking the GS-10 but just goes to show how much recording has advanced since that unit was made.
This mic is so much better than what comes in the package with your iPhone/iPad. Previously when I bought apps like Garage Band I felt let down with the quality of recording that I was getting. Now, I'm glad I spent that money. If you plan to use your iOS device for recording you need to look into this mic. I'm sure you won't be happy with your results with the stock mic either. Blue has hit another home run by concentrating on an area where great recording really benefits the user. The micro USB charging port on the Mikey let me charge my phone with all my friends phone chargers. I hate that I can't charge away from my car or home since my connector is different than 80% of the phones out there. For recording from an iOS device I can't recommend any other mic at this time.