The Mikme wireless microphone ran a similar path as the Instamic, going from a successfully crowdfunded campaign to taking a while to end up in backers’ hands. I was lucky to be one of the first people to receive mine and since the Mikme is now publicly available it’s time to give it a thorough review. Is this the best, studio-quality wireless microphone for your iPhone?
The Mikme is an elegantly designed black box that houses a 1 inch, gold plated, condenser microphone. It holds 16GB of internal memory to store about 34 hours worth of WAV recordings in 24 bit. Powering this is a Li-Po battery that gives you about 3,5 hours of recording time after a full charge through the USB connection.
Mikme sports several buttons, a large one on top of the device with which you can start / stop the recordings and smaller round buttons on the back of the device to switch the Mikme on / off, enable bluetooth or set your mic gain or audio out volume. Yes, the Mikme also has an audio out so you’re able to monitor the latency-free audio signal with headphones or feed it into your mixer or professional camera, very useful.
Enabling Bluetooth (2.1) will allow you to stream your Mikme’s audio to your iPhone and this is really where the Mikme can shine for videographers and vloggers. The official Mikme app not only allows additional control over your Mikme device, it packs more features.
From the beta phase, the Mikme app was a good way of remote controlling your Mikme device from an iPhone and saving recordings directly inside the app over the Bluetooth connection.
Since the app is now available to download from the App Store it recently gained a powerful feature with the addition of video recording. This allows you to create a video with your iPhone’s camera and immediately have the audio streamed from the Mikme and in synch with your video. No more nasty manual synching in your video editor, but videos ready for immediate sharing.
While the camera is great, more than often the internal iPhone microphone is not up to par for making semi-professional videos or vlogs. The Mikme + iPhone seems like a great out of the box option that saves time synchronising an audio stream and produces great quality video.
After having saved your audio samples and/or video inside the Mikme app you’re able to export the clips elsewhere (i.e. Dropbox).
How to record
The Mikme contains a high-end condenser microphone. Before you start recording two things are very important (this goes for all condenser mics really):
1. Setting your mic gain.
2. Getting the right mic position
Both of these things take some trial and error.
The gain can be set using the plus and minus buttons on the device or by using the iPhone app. The LED indicator on top of the Mikme will flash from red to dark whenever the gain is set to high. This in turn will leave you with a distorted recording so best to lower the gain in that case. You can monitor the Mikme’s mic gain by plugging in headphones in the audio out port.
The form factor allows for flexibility in positioning your mic for the best performance (although the tiny Instamic is probably a tad more versatile in this area). The bottom supports a 3/8 inch & 1/4 inch thread so you can mount the Mikme on cameras, mic stands and even selfie sticks if you wish.
Mikme audio samples
Now, on to the audio samples. I’ll leave out Mikme’s own iPhone vs Mikme comparison videos as I don’t think they’re fair towards the iPhone (the iPhone often doesn’t get an equal position in the videos).
Recording a classical orchestra using two Mikme’s in a stereo recording setup:
Recording a girl performing a song with a guitar on a dirty toilet:
Here’s a set of raw samples from Mikme’s Soundcloud:
Finally, here’s a drawing video I made using the Mikme for narrating with my sexy voice:
The Mikme is a well designed device. It has the right weight and form factor to conveniently make hand-held recordings. You’ll even look cool using it in videos. The housing is sturdy and also offers you a peek at the internals through its grate. The single button at the top works well with differently coloured lights indicating the mode that you’re currently in and it seems you’re able to properly operate the Mikme without using the app.
As you can hear from the samples the audio quality of this wireless microphone is impressive. It accurately covers a wide frequency range and seems especially good in capturing voice in a warm and upfront way.
Wireless audio transfer
Next to having a good amount of offline storage available on the device a big selling point is the fact that you’re able to transfer audio directly over Bluetooth and store it on your iPhone. This easy pairing of devices make a it possible to field record with a lightweight rig.
Automatic Video/Audio Synch
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a microphone that’s able to wirelessly synch its audio with a video you’re recording on your iPhone. This is an instant upgrade over the poor-quality internal iPhone mic. For the automatic audio synch you currently need to use the Mikme app to record video, but let’s hope that through their SDK the native Apple video recorder will also support this.
While I don’t want to leave a typical ‘what about Android?’ here, there is a substantial user base that the Mikme currently can’t serve to its full capabilities. Android was mentioned during the campaign but there’s no app on the horizon yet unfortunately.
I’ve been using the Mikme I’ve received from the Indiegogo campaign on and off. One thing I’ve noted is that the battery depletes quickly when you don’t use if for a while to the point where you need to give it a full charge each time you need to use it again. Supposedly this issue should be solved in one of the most recent OS updates which I haven’t tested properly at the time of writing (will update when I have). With the available recording time on a single charge it might be good to have a spare battery pack at hand anyway.
Early backers got a great deal with the Mikme. I picked the device up for a third of the current retail price which seems fair for a crowdfunded campaign like this. If I wasn’t familiar with this microphone yet I’m not sure if I would have picked it up myself at its current price point.
Mikme Final Verdict (TL;DR)
Together with the Instamic the Mikme is at the forefront of a new generation of wireless microphones. The Mikme offers studio-grade quality without the bulk and hassle of a traditional condenser microphone. Pairing it with your iPhone brings out its full potential and if you’re serious about video recording, vlogging or lightweight field recording / sampling this a must-have to toss in your bag. I don’t think there’s anything similar on the market yet with this quality which may justify the current price point.
The Mikme is an elegantly designed black box that houses a 1 inch, gold plated, condenser microphone. It holds 16GB of internal memory to store about 34 hours worth of WAV recordings in 24 bit. ...