While walking through the NAMM convention, one of the biggest standouts of the weekend for us was the fact that Apogee was releasing their new MiC+ USB microphone, an upgrade from one of our favorite USB mics of all time. We were given a MiC+ to provide a fair and honest review here today, and we wanted to give this a go when it comes to not only extensive use but to test its effectiveness in different recording environments as well. One of the best standouts of this USB mic (and including their previous model) is the overall sound quality, in particular the internal technology that helps provide its beautiful audio resolution. Coming in at a hefty and raw resolution of up to 24-bit/96 kHz with technology called ‘PureDIGITAL connection’ that combines internal converters and preamp, this is a lot higher-end and clearer sounding than most USB microphones in the world, especially in this price-point. Let’s get into the details.
Features of the Apogee MiC Plus USB
- Cardioid condenser mic capsule
- Compatible with iPad, iPhone, Mac, Windows 10
- Plug-n-play with no drivers needed
- Audio resolution: 24-bit / 96 kHz
- PureDIGITAL connection
- Headphone output with blend feature
- Mic preamp gain: 46 dB
- Desktop tripod included
- Cables included: Lightning, USB (Type-A), USB (Type-C)
- Weight: 0.45 lbs (0.20 kg)
- Dimensions: 4.9″ (L) x 1.5″ (W) x 1.5″ (D)
Build of the MiC+ USB microphone
When first opening the package, as with their previous versions of the MiC, we’re always impressed with just how small this thing really is. Aside from perhaps a few other ‘portable’ USB mics (perhaps the Samson Go Mic, or Blue Snowball), the fact that they’re able to pack a powerful punch into such a small mic always blows our mind. The MiC Plus is about a few inches bigger than our computer mouse and as long as our iPhone (half the width and about twice the depth) if you’d like to scale its size before purchasing. We can hold it in the palm of our hands very easily, and the biggest pro of this all is just how portable the MiC+ truly can be. While we were traveling with it (to a friend’s studio to record), we were able to put it in the front pocket of our laptop sleeve, although wrapped some cloth around the mic for extra protection just in case.
With that being said, no unfortunately there isn’t a carrying case in the box the MiC Plus, so if you are indeed traveling with it, make sure it’s safe. Our laptop sleeve in our opinion was quite feasible since it has a pretty thick protective layer on the outside in case of drops, although we could also envision people keeping the original Apogee box and just traveling with that (it will fit all of your cables and mic stand, too). You can technically fit the MiC Plus in your pocket as well (yes, it’s small enough), but we wouldn’t consider that feasible protection and do not recommend it.
Bigger isn’t always “better”, and Apogee proves that with the MiC Plus, especially in the microphone game. Just because it’s nearly the size of our mouse does not make it “less powerful” than others, even when compared to thick, grenade-like condenser mics with the traditional studio microphone build and XLR connection. We wouldn’t necessarily compare it to let’s say a Rode NTK, Neumann or other middle-priced studio condensers, but when it comes to recording as compared to many USB mics in the market right now (both quality and power), the small size does not hold this microphone back at all, particularly in smaller home studios for music, or other recording purposes such as podcasts, game streaming or online calls of any level.
The build itself is very sturdy, coming with zero cheap plastic parts. The grille in particular is made of a nice black, metallic finish, efficiently protecting our beloved diaphragm underneath. We attempted to pull it off and even hit the top relatively hard to test the sturdiness and it didn’t budge. The housing below the grille to protect the rest of the mic body is of a scratch-less (yes, we tried with our keys), dark grey metal casing, and the front knob and blend button do not come out whatsoever after trying to pull them out (blend button is rubber while the control knob is a rubberized harder plastic) — a very sturdy build all around.
Lastly, we’ll talk about the included tripod. It’s about the same size as the MiC+ itself, and comes with an adjustable knob on the side to tweak the top’s fit. We recommend keeping the top pointed downward to allow the MiC+’s front to face whoever is recording due to the polar pattern being specialized to record what’s in front of it (and hence, rejecting the sides and back to ensure optimal recording and less ambiance noise in your track). Technically, the tripod can make the top of the mic point directly at the sound source, but that will not be efficient for its recording use (that is more geared towards dynamic microphones). The tripod itself is very sturdy as well, and all three legs can adjust to fit your needs accordingly. While the MiC Plus is mounted on the tripod, the extremely small and versatile fit all around is beautiful for placing it anywhere in your music studio, home office, or even on the go next to a laptop or smart device, such as an iPhone or iPad (no Android, sorry guys), regardless of environment (try not to get too noisy if you’re recording).
Audio quality of the Apogee MiC Plus
Of course, a microphone review isn’t proper without analysis of the sound quality. In our experience of testing more mics than we can count (we will never compare this to professional mics that cost thousands that we’ve tried out, especially plugged in to multi-thousand dollar preamps), the MiC+ is one of the best, especially in the USB microphone game (of course, it isn’t the cheapest either, but you get what you pay for). For consumer-friendly purposes, we hooked this up directly into our computer using the USB cable. Even though sound quality is pretty subjective and the following terms we’ll be using to describe the MiC+ microphone may vary depending on the reader, we’ll attempt to describe it any way.
The MiC+ in our opinion brings us a flat and clear sound among both the lows and highs (as low as you can get with vocals, of course). We do not hear a dominant end of the frequency range, and the MiC Plus picked up very fine detail when it came to speaking into it directly (especially when it comes to the smaller nuances of the human voice, such as breaths, lip and tongue movement). Speaking into this won’t be a problem at all, and if you’re in the process of creating a podcast, interviews, some YouTube videos or among other needs when it comes to actually speaking, this is going to have you up there with the best. For recording vocals (we’d say acoustic guitars or even piano as well), you are going to be covered here as well, at least in a smaller home studio and beginner level types of music needs. No, this package does not come with any type of microphone filter, so if you are concerned with keeping those pesky S, P, and K’s out of your mix, you’ll have to mount the MiC+ with their adapter (comes in the box) and use your traditional mic stand and pop filter — there aren’t any filters we’ve seen that are compatible with the smaller and versatile desktop tripod as of yet.
Vocals especially are tough to come by in the USB microphone world, and in all honesty, we usually don’t recommend them if somebody has a decent budget and can afford an XLR-connected mic into some type of audio interface or mic preamp. Of course, the cost of these will start to add up, and most likely will exceed the overall retail price of the MiC+. The reason many prefer the latter solution for pro recordings is because USB mics can’t connect to an external sound processor, so you won’t have much leeway when it comes to either tweaking the mic’s settings and clarity or perhaps just wanting to make it louder. You’re essentially stuck with what’s inside of the USB mic since it technically has an interface already built inside to process the audio (although you can always edit and tweak in post-production, which we do with our USB mics if we ever record with them.) At the same time, Apogee’s PureDIGITAL connection starts to solve this problem, since technically you have a literal preamp and interface built inside of this (with converters and a preamp up to 46 dB, which we’ll expand upon in a bit.) You can adjust this preamp level with the control knob, but in terms of any other tweaks to your recording, you’ll have to wait until post-production in your DAW.
Now this is where Apogee’s PureDIGITAL connection comes in to play, and to summarize what this tech actually involves, it is their own signature way of processing audio like an interface does. What this tech does is combines an internal build of three separate components — the microphone, a small preamp as well as A/D and D/A converters. USB mics didn’t always have this capability, and it’s higher quality than a lot of other standard USB mics (many only have converters in there), plus as stated previously, you’re already getting a nice controllable 46 dB of preamp gain without an external device with the MiC Plus, so we really can’t complain when it comes to the lack of audio interface if you do have to use a USB mic for recording music. It’s starting to rival some beginner-level traditional studio condensers.
Check out Apogee’s page for some MiC Plus recordings to get a feel for how this will sound.
Using the Apogee MiC+ USB microphone
Aside from audio quality being one of our biggest concerns when it comes to reviewing microphones, let’s talk about some of the other features this microphone will bring our home studios, office or portable, on-the-go recording rigs. The headphone out for proper monitoring is always a must in our opinion, especially if you plan on recording vocals over instrumentals and existing songs. This is something quite a few other popular USB mics lack, and since this also has on-board control knob to adjust the level of your input preamp gain for recordings, we have a nice combination for user-friendly recording uses in terms of convenience and effectiveness.
There are also three multi-color LED lights on the front of the MiC Plus itself for status indication, which is always a plus when it comes work flow for us. You’ll also be given a blend mode indication if you intend on using the button right below (adjust how much mic input you hear alongside your recorded signal coming from your software, this will be more handy than you think), or if you’d like to mute the mic for a few moments you can push the control knob inward to do so.
The Apogee MiC+ vs. Original MiC 96k
So what are the improvements when compared to their previous MiC 96k? For one, they’ve changed the gain control to have this here larger knob for easier access as opposed to their previous side control, and the knob has been upgraded from an analog wheel to a new digital encoder wheel. You also previously had to purchase a different version of the MiC 96k for either iPad, iPhone and Mac or just a MiC 96k for Mac and Windows — this time you have all iOS devices, Mac and Windows in one. The audio resolution has not changed however they’ve upgraded the dynamic range and a new, higher quality mic capsule for the MiC+.
When it comes to recommending buying their older models, we really don’t see the point unless you’re able to find it discounted extremely low and want to save some money. Otherwise, the MiC+ not only brings us more versatility in terms of compatible with all devices across the spectrum, but better sound quality and an overall improved build on top of it all. We recommend spending the extra few dollars on the MiC+.
In conclusion of the Apogee MiC Plus USB micropohone
Again, one of our favorite qualities this USB microphone brings is audio quality. As compared to many other popular (and new) USB mics in the game right now, such as perhaps the Blue Yeti or Samson G-Track Pro, the MiC Plus either comes in even or wipes them out in the resolution department (albeit for some more money). You can indeed grab the Yeti Pro which goes all the way up to 192 kHz, but the price fluctuates and is usually found a lot higher depending on where you look, so your budget will be a determining factor here as well. The Yeti mics aren’t nearly as portable as the MiC+ either, so if traveling or being on-the-go was your thing, the MiC+ will be your pick here as the best traveling USB mic in the market today.
Don’t forget, another huge standout of the MiC+ is the cross-platform use here, and we’re not just talking about operating systems on a PC — this can work with Apple smart devices, too. As compared to other iOS microphones, the MiC+ is one of our picks as the best (that do not connect directly into your phone or tablet and stay there, like the Rode iXY). The MiC+ is the best iOS microphone that acts as a traditional microphone with a stand, and the quality just completely blows the standard audio resolution of iOS devices out of the water. If you’re like a few other producers and vocalists we know that use a music making app to create their tunes, please buy this microphone if you want to take a step up in the audio quality game or at least want to try to compete with those who use a traditional studio, otherwise it won’t get you to the next step until you invest in a proper mic to do so.
Of course, our popular best USB microphones guide (we’ll be updating that soon here to include the MiC+ instead of their older model once it’s more available in the market) can help give us some more comparisons when it comes to the “best” and “most reviewed” out there; however, this particular USB mic is just flat-out great and defeats many others in the market due to the audio quality, versatility in different uses and settings, portability, and overall rugged and high-quality finish to allow confidence in our long-term investment with the Apogee MiC+ USB microphone.