Sennheiser-ClipMic-digitalApogee’s innovation in the realm of mobile audio recording has been tireless. They seem to be betting that many podcasters, YouTubers and even self-recording musicians are coming to view even a rig comprising of a laptop, small audio interface and USB mic as burdensome.

Being able to record pro quality audio on an iPhone or iPad is great, but without a tiny, true pro quality mic it didn’t make as much sense to transition into a micro-sized recording setup.

Of course for the film/TV production crowd that has relied on lavaliers for years, this fully digital route is simply more convenient as a separate audio interface is no longer needed.

Enter Apogee’s ClipMic digital and MKE 2: an entry level and high-end lavalier respectively. This is essentially Sennheiser’s lavaliers with a 24-bit/96 kHz converter by Apogee and lightning connector at the end.

Both models have identical specs in many respects. They work with a large range of iOS devices such as iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air 2, iPad Air, iPad mini. You can record at up to a 24-bit/96 kHz sampling rate with any iOS app that allows it.

The difference is the mic capsule. The ClipMic uses a Sennheiser ME 2 capsule while the MKE 2 uses, you guessed it, a MKE 2 capsule.

The price gap is substantial, with the ClipMic currently retailing for $199 and the MKE 2 for over double that cost at $499.

For film/TV production professionals or journalists that may set up in possibly harsh environmental conditions, the MKE 2 is the right choice due to its superior membrane. For a larger proportion comprising of podcasters, YouTubers, etc., the ClipMic will hold up just fine for general use.

Now we come to the comparison you’ve likely been wondering about all along. How does the sound quality differ between the two?

Make no mistake, the MKE 2 isn’t just tougher, it does indeed sound better. The ClipMic’s sound has been described as hyped in the highs or bright, while satisfactory for the low price point. The MKE 2 is no compromises mic, with richer, fuller sound and the ability to create better dimension in the sound due to better omnidirectional technology.

The Verdict

All but the pickiest interviewers, podcasters and YouTubers should be happy with the great value and above average abilities of the ClipMic.

The MKE is tough and sound-wise the omnidirectional performance takes you into its world with more detail and dimension. However in applications other than film/TV or music production those advantages wouldn’t give you as great a return and won’t be worth the price leap for many.

apogee-micA common complaint about USB microphones is that most only do 16-bit/44.1 KHz recording. This is CD quality and ample for streamed content. However, when working with the Blue Yeti I often found myself eyeballing cases containing XLR mics and my Apogee Duet, lusting for 24-bit goodness.

Blue addressed this urge for high-definition audio by releasing the Yeti Pro. And Apogee has stepped up with the MiC 96k, a revision to the original MiC.

The MiC 96k and MiC look identical on the outside. The differences are of course internal and on the spec sheet. Both allow you to record on your Mac, iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. Like the name implies the Mic 96k allows you to set sample rates all the way up to 24-bit/96kHz.

Some may be irritated that Apogee excludes Windows users but I see it as an advantage. This means their software people can focus all their attention on iOS and Mac OS X, rather than spreading themselves too thin and falling behind as new OS updates come out.

Mini MiC

I was surprised how tiny this microphone is. It measures 4.56” (115.8mm) tall x 1.52” (38.60mm) wide. It is dwarfed by the Blue Yeti, which measures almost 12” tall.

Despite it’s stature this is a USB mic worth taking seriously. It features a road-worthy all metal construction.

The Sound

Beyond the pro level sample rates it is also equipped with Apogee’s highly regarded preamp and converter technology. Sound quality is excellent and may even surprise gear snob producers that trash talk about cheap USB mics. Experienced ears should hear a clear boost in depth when switching from 16 to 24-bit. The small size does have some tradeoffs in the sound department as expected. Due to the form factor Apogee had to use a small capsule; it sounds good but the impressively huge sound of a large diaphragm condenser mic will defiantly not be replaced by it.


Functionality is simple and stripped down although if offers more hardware-based control than the basic Audio-Technica offerings. Those that prefer hardware controls will like this gain control dial on the side. This gives you up to 40 dB of gain.

The indicator light is unique and a pretty nifty detail. This lets you know if the device is ready to record or if the gain is set too high and the signal is clipping. For podcasters and musicians that record themselves, the red status light to denote clipping is useful indeed. And thanks to the dial you can quickly make adjustments without having to touch your Apple device.

One disadvantage to this mic is the lack of different polar patterns. It is configured to record directly in front of the mic (cardioid) only. While this is fine for the vast majority of applications it’s fun to experiment with omnidirectional and bi-directional settings. Blue products give you the ability to do this, even with the modest Snowball.

Review Verdict

This could be the perfect mic for doing high-quality field recordings with an iPhone.

If you need an extremely portable mic that does 24-bit the choice at this point is a no-brainer. This is the only microphone out there that checks these two boxes.

Not long ago the idea of home recording was revolutionary. For the first time ever musicians were able to make impressive recording sans the hourly studio fees.

The latest step in this revolution is increased interest in maximum portability. Why chain yourself to your desk at home when music can be captured virtually anywhere?

Leading the trend Apogee has released JAM, and MiC: a guitar input and digital microphone, respectively, for iPad, iPhone and Mac. Before that the Duet and ONE made strides in the direction of increase simplicity and travel-friendliness.

When I first got into recording over a decade ago I was bamboozled into believing the more flexibility and features the gear had the better. Experience has taught me just the opposite is true.

Apogee’s choice to make drivers only for Apple operating systems is a plus rather than a minus. In practice company’s have big challenges in keeping up with driver updates, and more supported operating systems leads to software development efforts being spread too thin.

The Jam and MiC are incredibly specialized in their configuration and applications, taking this Zen-like product philosophy even further.

While I love the Duet and originally picked it up to strip down my setup, ironically I’ve found it’s often more than I need for on-the-fly recordings and overdubs. The ONE concept is fantastic but again if I plan on spending an afternoon on overdubs the built-in mic is a wasted feature.

What’s really great about owning both JAM and MiC is you can travel with only the tool you need to get the job done.

For me, the more I can minimize production concerns, the better the performances are. Having only the features you need at your fingertips and eliminating the ones you don’t helps achieve.

As multitudes of people carry an iPhone with them everywhere, the ability to pick up the JAM or MiC at the last minute is a groundbreaking possibility. In addition, the use of the touch screen on the iPad is amazing in a rehearsal situation while a guitar is strapped to your shoulder.

Finally next-gen devices can be used to produce professional-quality recordings. As this is just the beginning it will be fascinating to see where this leads Apogee and others.

Pictured: Apogee MiC with Zacuto Zgrip.

Technically the Apogee ONE can’t be thought of as a USB microphone; it isn’t a USB interface either. It is a hybrid of both.

A handful of years ago Apogee released an innovative, Mac-only interface called the Duet. It stood out due to its sleek form factor as well as its minimalist approach. Oh yeah, and it sounds amazing. For many singer-songwriter types, two channels are adequate for producing demo recordings and laying down overdub tracks. In my own travels, I found there was less to get in the way. There was no reason for me to lug around a rackmount unit with 16 channels when so much of the recording process requires only one or two sound sources. It added needless complication, making something I love less fun. In contrast, the Duet was super simple to use.

With ONE, Apogee brings the minimalism of Duet to a new extreme. This time there is one channel instead of two. Apogee hasn’t merely taken away however; ONE includes a built-in condenser microphone. Additionally you can connect either an unbalanced ¼” instrument line from your guitar or keyboard. If you want to make use of an external mic, there is a balanced XLR input.

So why is there a need for an interface with one channel and a built in mic? There are three reasons: convenience, simplicity and portability.

Starting with convenience, every second seems like an eternity when you have a great musical idea you wish to capture. This makes ONE a good sketchpad for songwriters. Portable digital recorders like the Zoom H4n are very useful for applications like this as well, but you’re better off with the Apogee if you have a laptop nearby. Portable recorders have really small displays and cryptic software.

Simplicity is off the charts. Like the Duet, ONE has a big honking knob similar in feel to the one on your stereo receiver. It of course controls volume plus more than you might imagine when it interacts with Maestro software. Press it to toggle between controlling mic/instrument gain level and headphone volume. Press and hold the knob for one second to enable mute; do the same to disable mute.

The portability factor is pretty self-evident. An outboard microphone isn’t necessary for offsite recording sessions. All you need to pack is your laptop, ONE and a USB cable. Setup is substantially quicker as well.

Now for the big question: how does it sound? Apogee has a bullet-proof reputation for sound quality. Even the bargain-priced Duet has sound comparable to their upper-end products like Ensemble. For this reason I went in expecting a lot from ONE. I wasn’t disappointed. With an external M-Audio Sputnik microphone attached, ONE sounded very similar to the tried and true Duet. The lows were pronounced and the highs in the speech were silky smooth. Of course, using a spectacular microphone helped quite a bit.

Next was a test to appraise the real worthiness of ONE. The internal microphone is of course crucial. Otherwise, you’d be just as well off with a small USB interface minus the mic. To produce a bed track, I plugged my Larrivee acoustic/electric guitar into the device and recorded a ditty of mine. Next, I mounted the ONE on a stand, set the levels, and recorded my vocals using the internal mic. The sound was of a fairly bright character as I anticipated; similar to the tone of a small-diaphram condenser microphone. The lows were evident as well so getting a smooth sound wasn’t tough at all with a little EQ magic. Overall, it is a highly usable entry-level mic. Once you outgrow it for critical applications, you can of course add an external large-diaphram condenser later.

I used GarageBand and a fair bit of Logic Pro during my tests. Apogee has designed ONE to work flawlessly with either application. This is an advantage of the ONE being a Mac-only device. I’d rather have a device that works really well on one platform rather than one that has clunky cross-platform software.

Review Verdict

This is one of those rare products that I had a tough time criticising. The internal microphone can’t compare with a large-diaphragm condenser mic, but anyone expecting it to would be crazy. ONE gives you a very solid small-diaphram microphone sound. For the times you need a bigger sound, plug in an external mic and wail away.

The audio interface portion is based on the excellent Duet, so Apogee has left little to chance. At times I missed the extra channel of the Duet because I couldn’t record vocals and a scratch guitar track at once. Really, it depends on your needs. For overdubs on the fly, ONE is godsend.