The Mi-Si Acoustic Trio is a completely unique ukulele pickup. Despite being an active pickup system, it has an innovative design that eliminates the need for a battery. This means that it gives you a stronger, cleaner tone than passive pickups, but with much less hassle than normal active systems. In fact, this is a minimalist’s dream. The simple plug-and-play design and low footprint makes it a great add-on to your favorite uke.
How does it stack up? Read on for my full review of the Mi-Si Acoustic Trio ukulele pickup!
At A Glance
- Low footprint
- Strong signal
- No battery required
- Easy to use
- Lightning-fast charging
- Less tone control
- No on-board tuner
- Pricier than some other systems
One of the primary selling points of the Mi-Si pickup is its unique charging system. Rather than using a battery, the Mi-Si powers its preamp with a small capacitor. All you need to do is plug it into a wall for about a minute, and it will play for up to 16 hours. There’s no need to swap out batteries, and no long charging times. Plus, the capacitor will not degrade in the way that a rechargeable battery will. Even after many years it will still hold roughly the same charge as it did brand new!
As an under-saddle pickup, the Mi-Si produces a clear tone with very little extraneous noise. It’s not quite as acoustically natural as a soundboard pickup like the K&K, but still sounds very ukulele-like. The preamp is very quiet, and the signal is very strong. The strong, solid tone is one big reason why the Mi-Si is one of the most popular ukulele pickups for gigging musicians.
The Mi-Si Acoustic Trio does not come with any tone or volume controls standard. Any EQing will have to be done with an external pedal mixing board. If you’re already using a sound system for gigs, this is probably fine. However, it does make it a little harder for the player to adjust tone on the fly. Mi-Si does offer an optional set of controls, one for tone and one for volume. It will add some extra money to the cost, but also adds a lot of flexibility.
The controls sit just inside the soundhole, and are fairly basic. The tone control dial gives a nice range from jangly to rounded. Ultimately, to get the most natural tone possible you’ll need to do more EQing externally. The tone and volume controls are very useful for open mics and other situations where you need a “plug and play” solution.
Without the need for a battery, and with no on-board tuner or EQ controls, the Mi-Si ukulele pickup has a very low profile on your ukulele. In fact, unless you want to add the optional tone and volume dials, you’ll just need to drill a single hole for the jack. Even those optional controls are tucked away in the soundhole. Overall, the Mi-Si is very discreet. If you’re worried about the impact installing a pickup will have on your beloved ukulele, the Mi-Si is a great option.
The Mi-Si pickup is also incredibly lightweight, coming in at about 1 oz. Many active ukulele pickup systems are scaled-down versions of guitar pickups. These often use 9 volt batteries. You may not feel the extra weight on a large guitar, but you definitely will on a uke! There’s been a move towards watch batteries, which are lighter, but still require a dedicated slot for easy changing. You probably won’t notice a difference in how your ukulele feels at all with a Mi-Si pickup installed.
Overall, the Mi-Si Acoustic Trio is one of the best ukulele pickups on the market. Its strong tone has very little noise, and its minimalist profile won’t mar a nice uke. The capacitor-powered preamp is very easy to charge and use, and lasts long enough to get through multiple gigs at a time. Charging is easy and fast.
The Mi-Si isn’t entirely for everyone. Some might prefer to have more controls on the ukulele itself, or an on-board tuner. Its price puts it squarely in the “premium pickup” camp. It costs about the same as the LR Baggs 5.0, its main competitor, but there are less expensive systems out there.
Still, the Mi-Si easily outshines cheaper pickup systems when it comes to tone and ease of use. For some ukulele players, simply not having to worry about batteries is reason enough to get one. Others will prefer the minimalist aesthetic. And some will just appreciate that it’s one of the best ukulele pickups on the market, period.