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In the world of Mac audio hardware, Apogee has always been the Rolls Royce of interfaces and converters in professional studios, as well as the luxury choice for serious hobbyists. Apogee’s original MiC microphone is one of the more popular bus-powered mics for folks needing a single unit that works on both Macs and iDevices. This newest incarnation of that microphone, the MiC 96K, retains the cardioid condenser design of the original, but now includes a pristine 24-bit, 96KHz recording ability, bringing the already stellar sound quality up to the highest pro-level standards.
The very first thing you’ll notice about the MiC 96K is how solid it feels in your hand. It’s manufactured entirely in the United States, and the overall build quality of this almost-all-metal mic is a thing of beauty, largely justifying the premium price, especially compared to some mundane foreign-made mics we have on hand. There are three cables in the box: USB, 30-pin, and Lightning, making the unit ready to roll with any of the supported devices, and it effortlessly plugs into an iMac or iPad with no extra drivers of any sort — it works like a charm. We discovered that it would not always power up when plugged into a powered external USB hub, while other hub-powered audio accessories worked fine, but this hiccup was inconsistent; we plugged it into an external hard-drive enclosure with an integrated USB port, and there were no problems.
There is a gain knob on the right side of the MiC, and a multi-color LED lets you know when the unit is powered but not being accessed by software (dim blue), powered and live in a recording app (dim green), picking up significant audio signal (bright green), hitting hot levels (orange), or clipping (red). The box also includes a standard stand adaptor (the mounting thread is on the back of the mic, but this is a non-issue with the adaptor), as well as a small tabletop tripod — a really nice touch for using the MiC right out of the box. While Apogee sells an optional $20 hard case, there was no carrying pouch in the box, which really should have been included for the price. The three included cables are also a bit on the short side (3 feet), but Apogee does indeed offer longer cables as optional accessories.
The bottom line. The Apogee MiC 96K is the kind of hardware that you buy once and never replace. It’s built like a small tank, and provides some of the best audio quality we’ve seen in a relatively inexpensive microphone. The fact that it plugs directly into an iPhone and an iPad simply rocks, and makes this a natural choice for your one-stop-shop mic needs.
Apogee MiC 96K
Mac with an Intel CPU and OS X 10.7.5 or later, or iPhone 4 (or newer) or iPad 2 (or newer) with iOS 6.1 or later
Pristine sound quality. Durable hardware. Comes with USB, 30 pin, and Lightning cables.
Lacks carrying pouch; cables are a bit short.