Thursday, 19 February 2015

MicW i-series microphones
(initial tests)

its fair to say that the conventional mics I use most are manufactured by some of the companies whose reputation for very high quality products has been in place for years; DPA, Sanken, Sennheiser, Schoeps etc. Its also true that I often use microphones that cost considerably less, or indeed are now 'vintage'. For example Rode and smaller microphone manufacturers such as MM Audio, Naiant have mics that give even those on tight budgets a chance to expand their kit and their listening / recording at a good level of quality and durability. I use these to keep up on developments across every budget range and to be able to offer advice on workshops to allow as many folks as possible to begin exploring.

Since ipod / ipad / iphone and android compatible mics started to appear i've kept an eye / ear on this area. It can be fun to use these technologies for recording, though my first bit of advice is be realistic about what you'll be able to achieve. Generally speaking recording quiet sounds with this kind of kit is challenging to say the least. Rode have led the way with the i-xy, and the SmartLav and now there's a new series of i-mics from MicW.

After doing some research on the company and talking to them I got hold of several of their i-mic units to test. I was also sent a matched pair of their conventional E150 pencil mics (with 3 sets of interchangeable elements: omni, cardioid and hypercardioid) which i'll review in a separate post.

At this point i'll say openly that as most folks already know I am fortunate that companies occasionally send me equipment to test or for use on workshops / courses - partly so I can provide feedback to them and informed guidance to others. However it goes without saying that unlike the standard music / audio press I do not depend on their advertising and it is always 100% clear that I do not allow any support from a manufacturer to influence my opinion of their equipment. I try to find the pro's and con's and quite simply if I don't like it, I don't use it and wouldn't suggest others do either. 

MicW is based in China, so I think its only fair to say at the outset that of course there will be differences between these and european built mics. Having said that the company is part of the BSWA Technology LTD group - known for their measurement devices used for all sorts of industrial purposes and with a good reputation. They're also distributed in the UK by Synthax  - who only handle high quality audio products, including RME interfaces.

The MicW units i'll be discussing are:

i-436 omni measurement mic
i-456 cardioid
i-266 cardioid (high sensitivity)

(tests of the igomic - x-y cardioid to follow)


test one: 
recorded from room window of hotel, Ayr, Scotland
i-shotgun (0:00 - 1:03)
 omni i-436 (1:04 - 2:10)
 cardioid high sensitivity i-266 (2:11 - 3:35)
Rode i-xy (3:36 - 4:59)
(all connected to ipod touch)

gain on recording app for ipod touch was identical for each sample recording.

This test was 'straight out of the box'  - to check each mic. As you can hear, considering the recording technology being used the results are actually better than one might expect. I've had the ixy for some time and so was interested to see how the MicW mics compared to that - this isn't intended as a precise comparison test, as the i-xy is obviously a stereo mic with two elements - but it does perhaps illustrate something of the initial differences.

test two:
recorded on the mezzanine at Leeds Train Station
 omni i-436 (0:00-0.51)
 cardioid high sensitivity i-266 (0:53-1:59)
 cardioid i-456 (2:01-2:59)
i-shotgun (3:01-4:04)
(all connected to ipod touch)

so far i'm quite impressed by these mics, given the limitations of i-device / android devices for recording in the field. To check prices in the UK visit:

the mic kits come in a handy plastic carry box and a further metal tube case, which (as the photo above shows) also can turn into a tripod mount when using with an extension cable (which is also supplied in the kit for each mic)

The kits also contain an extension plug that allows you to connect the mic and a set of headphones to your i / android devices.

also available is an adaptor cable allowing the mics to be used with p48.

more tests to come soon....

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