This article was first published as Hardware Review: Blue Microphones’ Mikey 2G on Blogcritics…
Less than half the size of my iPod Touch, the Mikey 2G is an external coincident stereo microphone for most iPods. Mikey 2G is designed for musicians, cub reporters, students and anyone who needs to capture high quality audio on the spot with their iPod.
The product ships with a plush lined black cloth pouch, and a bilingual French/English printed user manual almost small enough to fit in the bag as well. Mikey 2G comes with a free companion download from the iTunes Music store, Blue FiRe, a simplified version of Audiofile Engineering’s FiRe field recording application. Blue FiRe includes an audio quick start file built in, which walks you through the major features and functions while you play the file.
Using Mikey 2G is darn easy. Plug it in to the Dock connector, launch the app, and start recording though I found it best to shut down my ’Touch, plug in Mikey, start things back up, and launch Blue FiRe. Blue claims “Compact Disc quality recording directly to your iPod” and, you know what? They’re right! After receiving the second generation Mikey, I trotted over to the lovely Studio Trilogy, where co–owner Justin Lieberman and assistant Alex Knickerbocker had X–Y stereo pairs of very costly Neumann KM 84 and Schoeps Schoeps CMC 6 small condensers already set up in their big room. I brought along my pair of MCA SP1s, fave condenser of audio bottom feeders everywhere.
We patched all six mics into their API 1608 desk, while I set up my 3G iPod Touch with Mikey 2G on an improvised mic stand. We enlisted Alex to play some wide dynamic material, David Lanz’s Vesuvius, which we recorded flat to Pro Tools HD while I recorded Mikey using Blue FiRe at highest quality, 44.1/16. After recording, we easily FTP’d the Mikey 2G files over WiFi to the Mac, using Blue FiRe’s built in server, and sync’d everything up in Pro Tools…
Listening back, we were frankly amazed at the timbre, clarity and directivity of the Mikey 2G. I had brought my SP1s since the pair is very close in cost to Mikey. After some critical listening, we agreed that, believe it or not, the Mikey sound was closest to the Neumann’s. The frequency response was very good and the amount of direct versus reflected pickup was just right. [To listen for yourself, download a 215 MB ZIP'd package of all the WAV files pertaining to this review.]
Since this rant is about Mikey 2G, you may be wondering what’s with Mikey the 1st? The first generation Mikey didn’t have a line input, direct monitoring or passthrough USB. The gain switch was hard to access, and the product didn’t include any container to store it in. Some user complained about the gain settings as well. Oh yeah, the mic could only swivel 180º, sometimes making placement difficult.
All of these objections have been addressed in the current incarnation. The mount has eight detented positions, with a 230º total swing. The three fixed preamplifier gain settings are via a recessed slide switch that’s easy to change but unlikely to get nudged accidentally. Mikey 2G has blue LEDs that indicate which of the three gain ranges the preamp is set to. Blue has re–jiggered the gain staging, and I didn’t have any issues with their choices.
One feature that I mentioned earlier is the FTP server. Blue FiRe has a convenient FTP server function built in that allows any computer on the same subnet to retrieve the recording stored on your iDevice. The UI displays all recordings, their name, running time and file size. For each file, a Format menu lets you select the format you’d like for the download. Choices are WAV, AIF and CAF.
Mikey 2G works with iPod touch 1G, 2G, 3G; iPod nano 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G; iPod classic and iPod 5G. Be advised: it’s compatible only with iPhone versions 3GS and earlier.
With Mikey 2G, Blue has addressed most all of the objections to the first version, while improving on the sonics and ergonomics. The only complaints I had is that I wished the user manual was reformatted to fit comfortably in the storage pouch and, that the pouch itself had a small non–metallic center snap on the flap, no Velcro please, to keep it closed. One caveat is that Mikey 2G is attached to its iPod only via the Dock connector so, you shouldn’t use Mikey while hang gliding.
Other than my niggling complaints, Mikey 2G delivered clean sound with amazing convenience and portability. If you’re looking for a fabulous gift for a musician or lecture hall lounge lizard on your gift giving list, Mikey is just the ticket.
By The Numbers
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Westlake Village CA 91362-4057
Download: 215 MB ZIP package of the Mikey 2G WAV files