After nearly two years of waiting the self proclaimed GoPro of microphones finally dropped on my doormat. After railing in over 400k on Indiegogo Michele Baggio and his Instamic team ran into several underestimated production checkpoints that seem to plague many crowdfunding projects. Good things come to those wait they say, so let’s put the Instamic Pro to the test.
Instamic Pro Features
The Instamic comes in two flavours; a regular white coloured version which is splash proof and a black Pro version that adds a waterproof (up to 5ft) enclosure and additional recording options such as stereo- and mid-side recording.
Recordings are stored as .wav-files onto an internal 8GB giving you plenty of space to carry around recordings before transferring them to a computer over USB. The USB cable is also used to charge your device which takes around 2 hours after which your Instamic is good to go for approximately 4 hours.
Inside the Instamic package you’ll find three different mounting clips. A 3M adhesive, velcro and a magnet clip. The latter makes it really easy to attach the mic to a piece of clothing. At the moment of writing the Instamic team is also working on making these clips available as a separate purchase for heavy users.
The Instamic features 3 green LED lights which are used for several purposes such as battery- and recording input level.
The Instamic team where hard pressed on having an MFI certification from Apple before shipping the Instamic units to their Indiegogo backers. This caused a delay in the production process but made it possible to allow the Instamic to stream audio to any supported iDevice.
At the time of writing audio streaming only worked for seeing an input level on my iPhone. The audio monitor button was not working, so I wasn’t able to hear any audio coming into the device. Let’s hope this will be fixed in an update and massively supported by other developers inside their apps.
Next to triggering recordings with your app you can configure basic settings like recording mode (mono, dual mono, stereo, mid-side for the Pro) and the sample rate. The app felt buggy as I had the occasional crash and sometimes issues with pairing my Instamic.
After being truly disappointed with the recording quality of other, crowdfunded recording devices the sound quality of the Instamic came as a pleasant surprise. The Instamic team definitely did not cut corners in this area considering its small size.
Check out the following samples to get a general idea on what kind of audio the Instamic produces:
The sound does seem tailored to specific purposes such as voice overs and guitar playing. The placement of the Instamic towards your subject is also vital for achieving good results, but overall it’s a very clear sound.
It’s obvious that the big selling point of this mic is its size. You can easily carry a couple of these in your bag as part of your portable rig. They’re also sturdy so you don’t have to worry about damaging anything.
The different mounting clips add great value for placing the Instamic on nearly every surface, allowing you to be really creative with your recordings. I love the magnetic clip.
Lastly, the recording quality is top-notch for a mic this size. It surpasses the baseline of a typical smartphone or video camera
The single button on the Instamic Pro that you use to switch on and off your device or enable recording takes some getting used to. First, the button does not feel very responsive so that you have to try a few times (and press hard) to know for certain you pressed it. Furthermore, there’s no clear visual indication other than the three LEDs to tell you what state the mic is currently in, which in general can be
- On / idle
In idle state the LEDs function as a battery level meter.
When switching on recording mode the LEDs briefly function as an input level meter. A few seconds into your recording they’re switched off so you have no indication that you’re recording at that point (other than maybe looking at your smartphone app). Pressing the Instamic button again will save the recording after which the mic will return to idle state.
Switching off the Instamic requires you to hold the Instamic button for three seconds after which you quickly see the LEDs flash before the device turns off.
It’s hard in itself to tell when you’re pressing the button and whether you’ve hold the button for three seconds. Very often I trigger a new recording instead of turning the device off, so this can turn into some frustrating situations when you’re really depending on your Instamic and you’re unknowingly recording audio.
It would be good if the Instamic LEDs supported showing different colors (such as the Mikme) in the future, so you can easily distinguish between the input level status and the idle battery status indicators.
The Instamic is a niche mic and shines when putting it out in the field buddied with an action cam. Its compact size, sturdiness and the different mounts that ship with it make it ideal to slap it onto any surface. Alternatively it’s a great wireless alternative to a lavalier mic making this a go-to mic for film makers. The current Instamic Pro is a 1.0 version and can definitely use further iterations to improve the hardware and make it more usable without controlling it with the app. Other than that it’s an impressive first launch for a crowdfunded product.
Oh and watch out, because this thing is easily lost!