Provides: Audio recording for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch
Developer: Blue Microphones
Minimum Requirements: Any iPhone, iPad or iPod touch with dock connector; Lightning Adapter required for use with iPhone 5, 4th gen iPad and iPad mini
You have a greater need for a device like the Mikey Digital than you may think. If you’re recording classes, filming video, or even creating podcasts on the go, Blue Microphones’ Mikey Digital is going to enhance the experience and create better results, but that’s kind of what Blue products are known for.
To use the Mikey Digital with your iDevice, you simply plug into the dock port. It’s about the same width and thickness of an iPhone 4, so it’s a natural fit. And although it does add a couple inches to the length, it’s light enough that it doesn’t alter the weight distribution. If you’re using a case, however, it’s possible you’ll need to remove it in order to make the connection or to get the Mikey’s full range of movement.
Lights at the bottom front of the Mikey indicate the gain level. There are three different levels that can be adjusted with the sensitivity switch on the back, but there are a couple small problems with this. First, the switch is hard to set in the center for the auto level; I kept bouncing right from the 1st to 3rd position. Second, when you make the switch the LEDs don’t light up to indicate you’re now at another level. Note, however, that the LEDs do stay lit when connected to a voice recording app such as Camera or iTalk Recorder Premium, so this is only an issue before you’re recording.
The sensitivity switch options are loud, auto and quiet, the names of which coincide with the environment, not the output. You’ll use loud at rock concerts and air shows, and quiet for lectures and such. Auto will handle everything else. If the level you selected is causing distortion, the three LEDs will flash red to let you know you need to bump up to Auto or Loud.
Mikey Digital isn’t just for voice, though. An 1/8″ stereo mini port allows you to plug in any device directly for audio recording, and an included adapter will even accommodate guitars and such, although there are better devices available specifically for that. And since the Mikey takes up your dock port, a USB mini port is available on the side so you can still charge your iDevice when the Mikey is in place…although a USB mini cable is not included.
What matters most here, however, is the audio, and the Mikey Digital does get much better than your iDevice can on its own. Blue recommends using the Mikey Digital with a high-quality recording app (Garageband, FiRe 2.0, etc.) as opposed to lower end apps such as Voice Memos, which records in mono at a lower bit rate that can’t take advantage of the Mikey’s capabilities (see Blue’s recommended apps). When using a good app, the Mikey’s stereo inputs pull in clean, clear audio, and the ability to adjust the position of the Mikey accommodates multiple recording conditions, from FaceTime (forward) to interviews (flat) to recording while filming video (flipped back). Unfortunately, if your device placed the headphone jack next to the dock connector, you won’t be able to monitor the recording because the Mikey will block that port.
And speaking of ports, the Mikey is currently built specifically for the old dock connector. Blue has tested and confirmed, however, that Mikey Digital is fully compatible with Lightning devices using Apple’s Lightning adapter. So, if you need the device now or need it for both Lightning and standard dock port connections, you’ll need to add the adapter expense to your purchase. I won’t fault Blue for that, though, since Apple kind of sprung the Lightning port on all of us.
The Mikey Digital is a great device with a wide variety of uses. It brings quality audio to your recordings in a highly portable manner, and it’s as simple to use as the iDevice mic itself. If you record audio for any purpose, it’s certainly worth checking out.
Buy the Mikey Digital