The features that distinguish the Mikey from the competition are mostly behind the scenes. For instance, the microphone capsules Blue uses on the Mikey (the parts that actually transform air vibrations into sound) are gigantic compared with what we find on consumer microphones, each measuring approximately half an inch in diameter. Bigger capsules don't necessarily translate into improved recording quality, but the choice of components is unique among Blue's competitors and offers some evidence that Blue actually gave some serious thought to designing its lowest-priced microphone.
Another one of Mikey's undercover features is quite literally, under the cover. To avoid the kind of low-end rumble and distortion people typically get when recording outdoors, Blue shielded its mic capsules with a built-in windscreen, using a material similar to that on the Zoom H2. There's no low-pass filter feature built in to the Mikey, so if the integrated screen doesn't cut it for you, investing in a separate windscreen may be necessary.
If there's one feature we wish the Mikey had, it's direct monitoring. Without a way to hear what you're recording in real time, you simply have to cross your fingers and hope the results come out all right. With the iPod's own headphone jack either obscured by Mikey's design (Touch, Nano) or disabled during recording (Classic), an additional headphone jack for direct monitoring would be handy. Granted, none of Mikey's similarly priced competitors include a direct headphone monitor feature, but higher-priced options such as the Alesis ProTrack and Belkin GoStudio have shown us how valuable the feature can be.
It's safe to say that the recordings we made using Mikey sound better than any other iPod microphone in its price range. In fact, even higher-priced iPod recorders, such as the Belkin GoStudio, couldn't match the realism and detail we heard from Mikey.
One of the most noteworthy characteristics of the Mikey's sound is the minimal amount of background noise introduced into the recording (aka, the noise floor). As usual, recordings made with hard-drive-based iPods (fifth-generation, Classic) weren't as clean as those from the flash-based Nano, but aspects such as stereo realism and frequency range were still quite good.
Using the Mikey with a fourth-generation iPod Nano offered the best audio results, since its flash memory uses no moving parts, and it's long, lightweight design is easy to hold and transfers a minimal amount of handling noise to the mics. Aside from the usual assortment of music recording tests (guitar, piano, music box), the most surprising recording we made was an afternoon rain on the front porch, which came though with an almost unnerving amount of clarity and realism.
If your recording needs are humble (voice memos and lectures), you could probably get away with a lower-priced iPod microphone. Spending a bit extra on Mikey should provide more flattering results for recorded voices (you want your memoirs to sound good, don't you?), and its natural sound should lead to less ear fatigue when listening back to lectures.
Blue rates the total recording time of the Mikey at around 1.5 hours, which is slightly better than average, but not as long as you'll get with a standalone audio recorder.