Studio-quality; rugged; super-portable; easy to use across multiple platforms – it's nice to find a microphone that checks all of those boxes. I was a fan of the original Apogee MiC, and this new version of their portable USB/Lightning condenser microphone improves on the first in some subtle but significant ways.
Like the original, the MiC+ offers a 24-bit recording input path (up to 96 kHz) and is compatible with both Macs (via USB) and iOS devices (with Lightning-style connectors). It also comes with all the necessary cables, a mic stand adapter, and a sturdy little mini-tripod stand (which gives it the appearance of a futuristic mecha-spider on your desktop).
New to this model, however, is the built-in headphone output, which turns the MiC+ into a turnkey single-channel 24/96 recording solution with the same stellar I/O conversion wizardry you've come to expect from Apogee. Now that Apple has made the "courageous" decision to drop 1/8-inch headphone jacks from their iOS device lineup (current iPads still have headphone ports, but that is expected to be cut from the next generation), the inclusion of a headphone output is a critical addition. This single feature makes this little mic so much more useful for the traveling musician, field recordist, voiceover artist, journalist, podcaster, etc. Now I can plug this mic in to benefit from Apogee conversion while not having to rely on a separate output path in my DAW (or recording app) – the mic is the interface, the interface is the mic!
Apogee has implemented a multifunction button, which can be used to adjust direct signal in relation to the DAW or app output for low latency monitoring. I wish the blend button could be used to smoothly transition from direct signal to computer (or device) output, but instead, the MiC+ has essentially three preset states that you toggle through with the button: weighted towards input level, a 50/50 blend of both, or weighted towards DAW/device output. It's unconventional but very usable and a good solution given the tiny size of the hardware. Note that there is no hardware output adjustment on the MiC+ – you must control your output levels via your connected device, app, or DAW.
The cardioid condenser capsule has a greater dynamic response with a cleaner built-in preamp (according to Apogee) than the original MiC, and I believe it! Input gain is digitally controlled via the central knob on the face of the MiC+ and is spec'd at 46 dB of gain. In my testing, the capsule seemed particularly well suited for vocals and voiceover work, but performed equally well at capturing band rehearsals, field recordings, impromptu percussion samples, etc. While I found the MiC+ to be a shade noisy at the highest gain settings, it is much less so than the previous-gen MiC.
In my view, the most significant benefit of this portable mic is how darn flexible it is. If you record on the go in any capacity and are beholden to the Apple ecosystem, the MiC+ is a no-brainer – this plus an iPhone and the recording app of your choice gets you an ultra-powerful mobile capture and monitoring rig (PC users, don't fret – Apogee states that this works with your kit as well). I loved being able to switch recording environments effortlessly from an app like Samplr on my iPad to Pro Tools on my MacBook Pro. Even just using the MiC+ as a sound card is a vast improvement over the built-in MacBook Pro headphone out (I did that quite often in testing on the plane and train).
Speaking of the MacBook Pro, I like that Apogee includes both USB-C and USB-A cables (meaning, no dongle needed with the latest USB-C MacBooks), as well as the fact that the MiC+ doesn't use a proprietary connector at the mic end like its predecessor (this new version terminates in a mini-USB connection). Note that there is no option to use this USB-powered mic with an external preamp, nor is there any convenient way to use it with standard mixers, XLR connectors, or 1/8-inch terminals. But that's not how this product is meant to be used – the MiC+ is intended to be a super-quick, easy, high-quality capture and monitoring solution for every and any application that doesn't require simultaneous multitracking – and this lovely little creature excels in that regard.