On the surface, the Apogee HypeMiC looks like another plastic USB microphone, but the press of a button enables a compressor built directly into the mic itself. Dynamic range compression improves vocal clarity by reducing the differences between the loudest and quietest audio parts of the audio signal, creating a louder overall level. Compressors are what give radio broadcasts, podcasts, and professional voiceover recording their distinctive presence and tone.
For the first time, virtually anyone can achieve a broadcast-ready vocal sound without any additional postproduction hardware or software. Simply plug in the microphone, set levels, click the center button to engage the compressor, and get perfect results right away. Even better, the HypeMiC is compatible with laptops, mobile devices, iPhones and iPads alike. It receives power from the supplied USB cable, making it portable with a small footprint.
As mentioned previously, this microphone offers an adjustable built-in compressor with three settings for compression. In addition, the microphone has a 3.5mm headphone jack for zero-latency monitoring, and a single rotary dial to adjust the microphone input gain. Included in the box are a desktop tripod, a microphone stand adapter, a lightning cable (for iPhone or iPad), a USB A cable (for windows and older Macs), a USB C cable (for newer computers), and a pop filter, all contained in a carrying case. The microphone is constructed mostly from plastic, but it feels rugged enough to withstand regular use. Keep in mind that this microphone is marketed toward consumers, so don’t expect it to withstand heavy abuse.
It’s difficult to compare the Apogee HypeMiC to other USB or XLR microphones as the built-in compressor places it in category unto itself. Without the compressor engaged, the sound quality of the HypeMic is comparable to most other consumer-grade USB microphones. It has a low noise floor of -108dBFS according Apogee’s specs, and a frequency response wide enough for vocal recording and small instruments, like acoustic guitars.
Off-axis response is moderate to poor, as one would expect from a condenser microphone, and decreases with the compressor engaged. For noisy environments, avoid this microphone and opt for a dynamic mic instead. If you plan to do commercial music or voiceover recording, we recommend looking for a professional condenser microphone instead, like the Audix CX-112B, or even a Neumann U-87.
Where this microphones shines is through the use of it’s built-in compressor. For speech and singing, compressors go a long way to improving clarity and intelligibility. There’s no objective way to compare the quality of this microphone’s compression setting to another microphone, so we’ll just say that this microphone works perfectly for vocals. There’s no need for additional EQ or processing, at least for the majority of recording applications. For a more bass-heavy tone, simply use the microphone’s natural proximity effect by moving closer to the microphone, and for less bass, place the mic further away. Listen to the audio feed in real time through the headphone jack to find the ideal position.
The microphone comes with three preset levels of compression, as indicated by the three LEDs on the front of the microphone. Level 3 (“smash it”) offers the best compression for speech, singing, and voiceover, but it can raise the background noise your environment too much. For noisier environments, use level 2 (“squeeze it”).
Who Is This For?
Apogee markets this microphone for musicians looking for premium sound quality without having to do any mixing or postproduction. This market segment fits well enough, but we have something else in mind.
Now that social distancing has made remote communication a daily necessity, microphones aren’t just for performers and entertainers anymore. Everyone needs clear, intelligible vocal communication that can be set up quickly and conveniently. This includes those who stream live on platforms like Twitch, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook, but also professors, doctors, judges, managers, and countless other professionals who now spend most of their working days in remote meetings, lectures, and webinars.
For those that require crystal clear communication in a small, user-friendly package, the Apogee HypeMiC is simply the best that the market has to offer. Plug it into your computer or mobile device, select your compression setting, place the microphone within several feet of your mouth and you’re done. No additional power cables or fancy software necessary for broadcast-grade audio quality. You can use select this microphone as an input on Zoom, Twitch, Discord, and OBS, and it will work for iPhones, iPads, and Android devices for live streaming.
Given the $349 price tag on this microphone, it’s out of reach for the average consumer. However, a good microphone may be the most important communication tool for those in the business of remote communication and live web streaming. That alone makes the Apogee HypeMiC a worth expense.
How to Use It
Plug in the supplied USB cable to the HypeMiC, and then to your computer or mobile device. For computers and laptops, select the HypeMiC as your microphone in you audio application’s audio settings. For mobile devices, plug in the microphone before unlocking the home screen, then open your application of choice. Once the microphone is plugged in and ready to use, simply set your desired compression level using the toggle switch on the front of the mic (we recommend level 2 or 3), then set your input gain using the rotary knob. Apogee provides tutorials on how to setup the microphone for common applications like Zoom on their website, and provides customer support.
You will need headphones for best results, and the easiest method is to connect to the headphone jack on the bottom of the mic. For those using computers and laptops, you have the added option of using wireless headphones and earbuds.
For noisy environments, condensers make poor choices for audio capture, and tend to pick up far more off-axis sound than a dynamic mic. The effect gets more exaggerated with the compressor engaged, as this increases the level of ambient noise floor. If you’re near a busy street, in bustling office, near a loud HVAC system, outdoors, in a space with poor acoustics, or anywhere that ambient noise is a concern, then opt for a dynamic microphone instead. For moderately quiet environments, the Apogee HypeMic will work excellently.
Like all condensers, this requires a pop filter when addressing the microphone closely. This can be unsightly for video, and potentially block the face of the person speaking. Where visual aesthetics matter, either place the microphone further away, or opt instead for a lavaliere microphone. Note that lavaliere microphones lack the built-in compressor of the Apogee HypeMiC, thereby resulting in a more dynamic (and potentially less clear) sound.
This microphone won’t replace a traditional microphone for music recording, like our favorite Audix CX-112B, or the Neumann U-47 FET, nor was it meant to. This small microphone with its mostly plastic housing shouldn’t compete in the realm traditional studio quality microphones where postproduction is a requirement. That said, it can work for vocals and instruments in a pinch, though it won’t interface with traditional mixers. Where this microphone shines is when it’s built in compressor can be engaged for live communication and web streaming, or for streamlined recordings where postproduction isn’t an option.
There’s no XLR jack, which makes this microphone even less oriented for professional audio applications. With USB output only, this microphone does not work with standard audio mixers, meaning that it’s best suited for computers and mobile devices. Having fewer options makes it more user-friendly, but an XLR output would make it a better investment at this price point and give it more versatility for multi-mic setups. For mobile devices like iPhones and tablets, expect to only use one of these microphones at a time.
There’s no microphone better suited for professional web streaming and remote conferencing, but the design might be off-putting to some. Working professionals need tools that are understated and somewhat conservative. The design of this microphone shows that it’s marketed toward music recording enthusiasts, as the logo and small size make it look more like a toy than a tool for communication. We hope the widespread adoption of remote communication across all industries will lead to more simple future designs.
The included microphone tripod is rather flimsy and offers little flexibility for positioning. It’s better than nothing, but we suggest upgrading to a proper mic stand or table mic stand with a boom arm.
And did we mention this microphone costs $349? Put simply, it’s overpriced for what it offers, and it’s a matter of time before another manufacturer makes a similar product for a fraction of the price. Unfortunately, there are no competitors that offer a USB microphone with a built-in compressor at the time of writing. If there was a functional equivalent for half the price, we would recommend that in place of the Apogee HypeMiC, even it came with a slight decrease in audio quality. At the time of writing, used copies of the HypeMiC average somewhere around $240 on eBay, though listings for this item can be uncommon.
The Apogee HypeMiC with its built-in compressor is the best user-friendly microphone for live web streaming, remote conferencing, and voiceover. It offers broadcast-quality audio for speech, voiceover, and singing in realtime, without the need for postproduction or extra equipment. It’s small, powered only by a single USB cable, works with computers, laptops, and nearly all modern mobile devices. Simply put, this microphone is a game-changer that does what no other consumer or professional microphone does.
The $349 price tag might put it out of reach for the average consumer, but it’s a worthwhile expense for professionals who need clear communication every day. Used copies can be found on eBay for about $240 dollars, but keep in mind that listings may be hard to come by. Currently, no other competitor exists, which makes the Apogee HypeMiC a unique option to the landscape of consumer USB microphones. If you’re looking for a simple, easy-to-use microphone with broadcast sound quality all contained in a small package, the HypeMiC is the best on the market.