The folks behind the Mikme microphone are aiming to make recording inspired moments of creativity as easy as possible, whenever and wherever you happen to be when the muse strikes. Though you can make use of the microphone on the ubiquitous smartphone, the captured audio probably isn't going to be a match for the Mikme's promise of studio-grade quality. The Mikme is also a versatile little beast, able to work as a battery-powered standalone microphone, be cabled to a computer via USB or wirelessly paired with a smartphone running a companion app.
The Mikme is the brainchild of former AKG acoustic and mechanical engineers Philipp Sonnleitner, Josef Scheider, Alex Pohl and Richard Pribyl and designer Kat Earnshaw. It features a 1-inch gold-plated cardioid condenser capsule with a 20 Hz to 20 kHz frequency range, 18 mV/Pa (millivolts per pascal) sensitivity and 75 dB-A SNR. There's a Cortex M4 processor running at 168 MHz and what's described as state of the art analog to digital conversion. Starting a recording is as simple as pushing a button to the top of the housing.
An audio class compliant USB 2.0 port is included for cabling up the microphone to a computer/tablet running recording software or for charging the 1,000 mAh Li-ion battery, which is claimed to offer 7 hours of recording when in standalone mode or 5 hours when recording with Bluetooth.
For standalone mode, the Mikme has its own internal recorder that's claimed capable of capturing audio to a maximum resolution of 24-bit/96 kHz and there's 8 GB of included storage for 180 hours of MP4 or 16 hours of WAV files. The microphone can also automatically adjust the gain and has a 3.5 mm audio out jack for headphone monitoring.
The Mikme can be paired with an iPhone running a companion app (iOS 7 or later) over Bluetooth 2.1 for capturing, mixing, editing and sharing recordings (Android 4.4 compatibility is also on the development roadmap). The company has also developed something called the Bluetooth Lost & Found protocol.
"We are using Bluetooth to send audio back and forth between the microphone and the app," company CEO Sonnleitner told us. "We are not using any standard Audio Bluetooth profile such as BT HPF or A2DP because they can’t guarantee audio streaming, meaning that audio pieces are lost if the connection gets weak. We are using Bluetooth only as a transport layer. Our custom Lost & Found protocol sits on top of Bluetooth and makes sure that the audio data is securely transmitted. Lost & Found will resend each piece of a file when it’s lost if the Bluetooth connection gets weak. That’s important for recording audio because not a single piece of your recording should get lost. It also makes sure the recording and the playback tracks are played in time at the microphone if you play along to a playback. If you are making multitrack recordings it will make sure they are synced in time."
The app allows up to eight tracks per song to be recorded, meaning that you can lay down some tabletop finger-drumming rhythms and then fill out the sound with vocals, kazoo, beatbox, acoustic guitar, washboard, jug and so on layered over the top. Users can mix and edit from within the app, and effects such as reverb and delay can also be applied.
The song can then be mixed down for sharing with friends, or retained as a complete song for review and tweaking by fellow bandmates. Up to three Mikme microphones can be controlled from one smartphone running the Mikme app.
The company has a working prototype in the bag and has launched on Kickstarter to bring a production version to market. 500 early bird Mikmes are being made available at US$179, which represents a saving of $120 off the expected retail price.
The production version will be within 5 percent of the prototype's pocket-friendly dimensions and weight of 2.75 x 2.75 x 1.4 in (70 x 70 x 35 mm) and 7 oz (200 g) respectively. If all goes without a hitch, delivery to backers is estimated to start in May 2015.
Have a look at the Kickstarter pitch video below.