From $387 | mikme.com
|The Mikme Pocket Pro and App, a simple high quality wireless audio for your smartphone?|
There are a lot of lapel microphones out there, and a lot of recorders to plug them into, so any new product designed to compete in this space either needs to have standout performance or do something unique. In the case of the Mikme Pocket, it does a bit of each.
A common challenge with wireless microphones is signal dropout, usually as a result of moving out of range or working in areas with a lot of radio congestion. This is where the Pocket has a trick up its sleeve. It uses Bluetooth to connect to your smartphone (using your phone as the receiver/recorder) and records to both the phone and its own internal memory. If you experience a dropped connection during recording, the Pocket automatically syncs and uploads any missing audio as soon as it comes back within range.
It works with a companion app which allows quick and easy setup. However, you can use the main functions of the Pocket without the app. (At the time of writing it’s only available for iOS; an Android version is promised for later in the year.)
The company is squarely targeting video shooters who use smartphones as their camera, although because it records internally it can also be used with mirrorless cameras and DSLRs to sync audio in post production.
The Pocket is available in two versions: a more expensive Pro variant that includes a higher quality microphone and lifetime subscription to its PRO app ($719) as well as a less expensive version with a standard microphone and no app subscription ($387). Mikme initially launched the Pocket on Kickstarter, and after a successful campaign have launched on Indiegogo as well (where discounted crowd-funding prices remain in effect).
- Simultaneous internal and wireless audio recording via Bluetooth
- Automatic wireless sync of audio if the connection is dropped
- Lapel microphone with locking connection
- Choice of app or direct device control
- Auto or manual audio level control
- 16GB internal storage for 30+ hours of recording
|The large central button enables multiple functions and encompasses a multi color status LED.|
The Mikme Pocket offers features I’ve not seen before and I was keen to test it out. This little box, measuring 78 x 66 x 22 mm, includes a lapel mic. The pre-production version of the Pocket Pro I tested included the somewhat smaller pro mic option.
The unit I had for testing records .m4a files (at 44.1Khz) or uncompressed .wav files (44.1, 48 or 96Khz at 24bit) to its built-in 16 GB storage. At the highest quality this allows just over 30 hours of audio to be stored. The higher quality WAV files are only available if you’re using it with with a device that doesn’t have Bluetooth. If you’re using a smartphone you are limited to m4a files.
|The mic connection is via a locking mini XLR|
When using the Pocket with a smartphone over Bluetooth the auto sync function is enabled. This ensures that even if you manage to move out of range (approximately 10 m, or 30 ft.), the audio will automatically be downloaded and synchronized when the connection is re-established. This feature means that transmission range is not a problem as it is with traditional wireless mics, although you do lose the ability to monitor the audio on your phone when the Pocket is out of range.
|The bottom edge houses most of the controls (not final labeling).|
As with a lot of things these days it’s an app based product. However, I was pleased to see that you could achieve some functionality without the need to use the app all the time. The main button on the body of the pocket serves several functions. You can use it to start and stop recording, start playback of the last recorded file and switch between auto and manual audio levels. It houses a multi-color status LED that blinks when the audio level is clipping so that you can adjust it, which is achieved either using the 2 buttons on the body of the pocket itself or in the app. The body of the pocket also has a built in 3.5mm headphone jack for monitoring.
If you experience a dropped connection during recording, the Pocket automatically syncs and uploads any missing audio as soon as it comes back within range
The preferable way to control the unit is with its associated app as it adds a lot more functionality. You can select 3 recording modes: audio, video or remote. You can use it to select sample rate and set recording levels. It also lets you monitor battery life and remaining storage capacity, which is updated live as you record.
It’s early days for the app and I’ve been using the Pro version in beta that includes some extra functionality that will only be available by subscription. This will include the ability to use more than one Pocket at the same time as well as the ability to add pre- and post-roll videos and watermarks. It will also offer movable windows to select areas used for exposure metering and auto focus points as well as some other features.
There is also basic version of the app which includes what you would need for day to day operation, missing out on some of the extras above.
|The included mic and adapter protrude quite a bit, which might cause issues when worn next to the body.|
When I tested audio quality I was pleasantly surprised; the sound of the included microphone in the pro package was very good. It’s an omni directional mic with a drop in high frequency sensitivity to the rear (cable entry side), which is to be expected, and very useful for inverted mounting to reduce sibilance and plosives.
It’s not quite up to one of the industry standard Sanken Cos-11 mics, but to have something like this included for the price was a real bonus. The mic itself uses a Micon to mini 3 pin XLR adapter to connect to the Pocket and the main body connection is a mini 3 pin XLR.
I’m pleased to say that the killer function of this mic – the auto sync function – worked perfectly every time I tried it
Unfortunately, I don’t have the ability to give you accurate figures for the noise floor of this microphone as my anechoic chamber is only in the planning stages. My room tone currently bottoms out around -56 dB and the self noise was not evident above this level (this is without any filtering). The self noise seems to be below about 180Hz and a configurable high pass filter will tame it. Mikme told me that this is something that will be selectable in a future version of the app. The low end response is great for some vocals but will prove a problem with wind noise if the capsule isn’t properly protected. It may also cause issues when used in vehicles due to subsonic resonances.
All this is subject to change, however, as the final version of the hardware and software has not yet been confirmed.
|The included pro lapel mic is high quality and a lot smaller than some of it’s competitors.|
I’m pleased to say that the killer function of this mic – the auto sync function – worked perfectly every time I tried it. Not only that, but the audio syncs faster than real time, although I would think that if you are in a high traffic area for wireless signals this might slow things down a bit.
When recording, I thought I’d spotted a bug with the audio while I was testing. If I stopped a recording using the button on the pocket I would end up loosing about 0.2 seconds off the end. Not a big issue but I did report it, and it turns out that this is deliberate so that the mic itself doesn’t record the click of the physical button. Nice thinking.
|The supplied Pro lavalier mic uses a Micon to XLR adapter.|
The Pocket also has some wider appeal as it offers the ability to offload the files via USB. It can even be used as a USB microphone if required. It was immediately detected in Windows once the Pocket had been switched into USB Audio device mode by a combination of connecting it without the Bluetooth transmitter enabled.
The Pocket can even be used as a USB microphone if required
It takes about three hours to charge the built-in battery via micro USB and a full charge lasts approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes in my tests. This was with Bluetooth switched on; without it you can get around an additional 15 minutes, but then you loose the key selling point of this mic. I’d really like to see longer battery life, although you can use it while charging with an external battery pack.
I encountered a few niggles in testing, which is to be expected with pre-production units. There’s a small issue with the fact that the included foam wind shield does not locate snugly onto the microphone capsule itself and it’s sure to go missing while shooting. I also saw a little bug in the app regarding the update rate for the amount of storage left on the device. It was not updating as quickly as I would like, causing some alarm when it reported 0% and I had only been recording for 20 minutes.
I contacted Mikme about these test results, and I’m assured that most, if not all, of my observations are being looked at – after all, that’s what beta testing is designed for.
Having a wireless lav mic that records to itself is not new, and that function has been available for a few years, albeit at different price points and feature sets with products from Zaxcom and Sennheiser.
What Mikme has achieved with the Pocket is the integration of a number of useful features not seen before in a single product. The internal recording together with auto-syncing of audio, manual and auto level control and the additional app functions all work well together. This makes recording good wireless audio much easier than with traditional products, especially with a smartphone or tablet.
What we like
- Easy to use
- Audio syncing prevents audio loss that sometimes occurs on lavalier mics
- Included high quality mic (Pro version)
- Comprehensive control via app (not always required)
- USB microphone function
- Headphone monitoring on device and on smartphone
What we’d like to see improved before shipping
- Improved reporting of remaining memory
- Addition of a switchable high pass filter
- Addition of level control in app in Remote mode
- Addition of strain relief to mic capsule
- Lower profile connection between mic and body
(Based on a pre-production model)
Disclaimer: Remember to do your research with any crowdfunding project. DPReview does its best to share only the projects that look legitimate and come from reliable creators, but as with any crowdfunded campaign, there’s always the risk of the product or service never coming to fruition.