Review: Griffin iMic

by on June 27, 2005

As most Macs do not include an audio input, the iMic from Griffin Technology is a workaround. Essentially, it’s a sound card that communicates with the computer using USB.

Priced around $40, but as low as $35 in some places, the small silver iMic allows you to use guitars, microphones, tape decks, turntables, VCRs, and more with your Mac. The iMic also features a high-quality audio output, in case you’re looking for better sound out of your speakers.

iMic
iMic

iMic
iMic Jacks and Selector Switch

The iMic is ideal for anyone who wants to use their favorite microphone with iChat AV or play their guitar on GarageBand on an iBook or Mac mini. As expected, the iMic has the same excellent product design as the other Griffin products and is very easy to use.

The only step is to plug the iMic into a free USB port and pick it in the Sound Preference Pane (a similar process for Windows). Once set up, the iMic is just as easy to use. One jack is labeled with a microphone — this is your sound input (it does both line-level and mic-level). Another jack is labeled with a speaker, obviously the sound output.

The iMic boasts a professional codec, and can record and playback up to 24-bit, 48kHz audio. The iMic’s sound quality is close to many other higher-end audio devices, but it lacks some of the “pro” features. Of course, it also is a fraction of a price.

Also included with the iMic is a RCA-to-miniplug adapter and a CD with a manual and Final Vinyl (an audio recording program).

Surprisingly, the iMic does have one minor puzzler for first-time users who neglect to read the instructions — the switch to choose between mic- or line-level for the input. It’s not labeled, so you must remember which position is which. Flipping the switch away from the input jack is for mic-level, while flipping it towards the jack is the line-level. This seems a bit counterintuitive, but it’s only minor.

I bought my iMic over 3 years ago (I never got around to reviewing it), but a friend bought his last week. What I noticed was that the USB cable that connects the iMic to the computer has been made thinner and the USB connector has been reshaped to match the other Griffin products.

Aside from that, the iMic feels sturdy, and is very easy to use. If you need to get sound into (or out of) your USB Mac, and don’t want to spend too much, the iMic may be the product you’re looking for.

The One-Sentence Verdict™

The iMic is the solution to use if you need to use any audio device with your Mac, but don’t want to spend much.

Pros: Simple, works as advertised, inexpensive

Cons: Input select switch seems backwards

The Facts

5/5Product: iMic
Company: Griffin Technology
Platform: Mac/Win
Price: $39.99

This post has been filed in Reviews and Speakers/Audio