MicFlex, by MacMice
Posted: 26-Jun-2004

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: MacMice Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Bill Catambay Class: HARDWARE

Overview
The MicFlex is a USB microphone device for use with your Mac desktop, iBook or Powerbook. The microphone is attached to a better than CD-quality USB audio conversion circuit (16-bit, 48KHz sampling), housed neatly in a small aluminum pod at the end of a flexible steel tubing stand. The tube itself is satin polished, and is solidly mounted to an extra heavy hemispherical silver base (same based used with the SightFlex iSight web camera stand). The flexible tube with the microphone pod is about 18-inches above the base, and, the tube portion can be removed from the base for use with a portable laptop. The hemispherical base has an attached 5-foot long silver/clear braided USB cable. The MicFlex is plug and play compatible with all USB equipped Macs with OS 9.1, 9.2 or OS X 10.1 or higher. It is also plug and play compatible with USB equipped Windows 98Se, Win2000, or Win XP machines.

Price

$49.99 at MacMice

In Use
The MicFlex is a sturdy yet flexible microphone that can either be plugged into the USB port on its base stand or directly into your Mac's USB port. In my first test, I plugged the MicFlex directly into the USB port of a Powerbook. The flexible tube can be contorted easily into any position, but it is not flimsy at all; hence, once you put it into position, it stays firmly in that position. On the Powerbook, I had the MicFlex extend towards me such that when I had the Powerbook in my lap, the microphone was perfectly positioned to record my voice. I activated the speech recognition software on the Powerbook (running OS 10.3.3), and began various tests. After programming a few commands, the microphone accepted my voice commands flawlessly. It turned out to be a great way to take advantage of the under-used speech recognition features of OS X. With a typical wired microphone, you'd have to find a way to keep the microphone in place, such as attaching it to your shirt. In that situation, you have to remember to detach the microphone before walking away from the Powerbook. With the MicFlex, the microphone becomes part of the Powerbook, easily positioned and providing a reliable input source.

Using the MicFlex with my G4 tower, I attached the microphone to its base stand. The base is heavy enough to keep the microphone firmly in place, but not so heavy as to double as work-out weights. The bottom of the base has a smooth plastic finish, and can be placed on any surface. I simply plugged the microphone into the top of the base, then plugged the USB cable from the base into my USB hub. Again, it was great to be able to adjust the position of the microphone so that I could easily record from the comfort of my normal sitting position (or even my slouched sitting position).

To activate the MicFlex as my sound input device, I went into my Sound preference panel, and changed my input source. Choosing the correct input device, however, was slightly confusing, as there was no option that showed up as "MicFlex". There was "Audio In", "iVoice II", and "C-Media USB Headphone Set". Through the process of elimination, I determined that the MicFlex setting was under the "C-Media" description. That seemed kind of odd, since it isn't a headphone set, but choosing this option was the only selection that activated the microphone.

With the MicFlex hooked up to my G4, it was time to test the audible quality of the microphone. I used Amadeus II to record a number of voice recordings. Every single recording sounded consistently good. It didn't provide the quality that you would expect from a professional microphone, as you can hear a slight background hiss in the recordings. Nonetheless, I found the audio recordings to be rich in sound, and enough quality for my needs.

In addition to the flexible tube that the MicFlex comes with, I also enjoyed the overall look of the microphone, with and without the base. It has a soft silver metallic look, and when you bend the microphone tubing, it doesn't kink up at all. The tube bends with smooth curves, always maintaining a snazzy hightech look.

Summary
The MicFlex is a unique USB microphone. Rather than being attached to a flimsy wire or a rigid inflexible tube, the MicFlex provides a smooth bending metallic tube. It adjusts to any desired position, and stays in that position until you decide to change it. You can plug it directly into a USB port on a Powerbook or iBook, or use the sturdy weighted microphone stand that comes with it. The microphone does not eliminate background noise as some professional quality microphones might do, but it did provide consistently rich quality audio recordings, far better than the average computer microphone. With the reliability of its audio recording, the flexibility of its unique metallic tube, and its cool hightech look and feel, the MicFlex is a great audio recording device and a well-themed addition to any Mac system.

Pros

  • Microphone positions easily to any desired position
  • Provides consistently good audio recordings
  • Sturdy base
  • Nice hightech look and feel

Cons

  • Shows up as a headphone set under sound input device
  • Does not eliminate background noise
  • A bit pricey for a computer microphone


Overall Rating

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice