512 Audio announces its Tempest large-diaphragm USB studio mic

512 Audio is a new brand to us and maybe for many of you. The Austin-based company makes audio equipment backed by Warm Audio, and they have announced the Tempest, a “true” large-diaphragm USB studio mic.

512 Audio says the Tempest draws on the design and sound profile of its Warm Audio WA-47jr studio condenser mic and features a vintage-inspired, large-diaphragm condenser capsule and 24-bit / 48kHz resolution that brings pristine studio sound to your desktop. Here’s what the company’s press release had to say.

512 Audio Tempest

Engineered to capture polished, detailed audio for podcasts, live streams, acoustic instruments, and vocal performances, Tempest is the simplest way to get true studio sound. Initially debuting at CES, Tempest (MSRP $159.99) is coming to Amazon in July and other authorized retailers worldwide.

“Tempest is not your typical USB microphone,” said Bryce Young, founder, and CEO of Warm Audio and 512 Audio. “We’re very excited to be offering a true, large-diaphragm studio mic that can easily connect to any creator’s setup without requiring additional hardware & cables. Tempest bridges our experience in creating high-end studio microphones with the convenience of today’s digital setups.”

At the center of the Tempest design is a true, large-diaphragm, vintage-inspired 34mm gold-plated condenser capsule that shares design DNA with the best-selling WA-47jr studio microphone. Tempest delivers tight lows, nuanced midrange, and pristine high end with a full 20Hz – 20kHz frequency response. The fixed cardioid pickup pattern captures what’s in front of the mic and rejects surrounding ambient noise, letting any source you put in front of it come through loud and clear. With 24-bit, 48kHz resolution capabilities, Tempest captures high-fidelity audio with exceptional clarity and detail for modern hi-res recording.

Streamlining the home recording setup, Tempest allows creators to professionally record and stream straight to their PC or Mac with modern USB-C connectivity; no additional audio interface or studio hardware is required. Essential for USB plug-and-play workflows, Tempest features microphone gain, zero-latency headphone volume monitoring, and mute for full control over your sound; no software is required. Tempest also includes a premium desktop stand and professional, low-profile shockmount to reduce unwanted vibrations and rumble when connecting to a mic stand or boom arm. From pristine streams and rich podcasts to stellar vocal performances, Tempest captures every detail with the richness and depth you’d expect from a studio microphone.

 

How do we get the very best sound from our voice?

As a musician, you need a quality microphone that will capture the sounds from your music without losing them. Microphone eliminates background sounds and frees the singer-choir students to come out of their own layer in your recording studio.

As a singer-choir student, you need a mic that gives you the freedom to create music without worrying about noise on stage. Micphone is ideal for home studio setups and recording instruments away from the audience and stage.

AUDIO-TECHNICA AT2020 CARDIOID CONDENSER STUDIO XLR Microphone is an affordable and reliable mic for every musician. No more distractions for musicians; Microphone is perfect for any type of audio recording, including vocals and acoustic guitar recording. Microphone is compact, lightweight, and portable, and features an adjustable boom mic stand. Microphone is ideal for recording live, or for quick and easy mixing of audio or video projects. Microphone Features :

The price/performance standard in side address studio condenser microphone technology
Ideal for project/home studio applications; The noise level is 20 db spl
High spl handling and wide dynamic range provide unmatched versatility
Custom engineered low mass diaphragm provides extended frequency response and superior transient response
Cardioid polar pattern reduces pickup of sounds from the sides and rear, improving isolation of desired sound source. Output connector: integral 3 pin XLRM type
Black speckles on the mic is the finish of the item. Audio technica case style: R7

Vitec Acquires Audix, the Premier Microphone Brand for Studio and Live Performance Audio

Vitec Imaging Solutions, a Division of The Vitec Group plc (“Vitec”), the international provider of premium branded hardware products and software solutions to the growing content creation market, is pleased to announce that on 10th January 2022 it agreed to acquire Audix and its affiliates, with the deal expected to close shortly. The acquisition continues Vitec’s mission to marry great audio with great video for all types of creators.

With the acquisition of Audix, Vitec’s audio capture strategy is now structured around three core brands – Audix, Rycote and JOBY – that cover all growth segments of the $1 billion microphone market. (Photo: Business Wire)

Audix is a leading, high-quality microphone brand for studio and live performance audio based in Portland, Oregon, with a cult following in the US market. The highly respected brand focuses on premium, professional vocal and instrument microphones, designed for studio, commercial and live applications, with cutting-edge audio technology designed and manufactured in the US.

As part of the Vitec family, the Audix team and facility in Oregon will become Vitec Imaging Solutions’ Audio R&D Centre of Excellence, enabling the acceleration of in-house microphone product design, development and manufacturing across all Vitec audio brands. With the acquisition of Audix, Vitec’s audio capture strategy is now structured around three core brands that cover all growth segments of the $1 billion microphone market.

1. Audix: The Best Microphones for Studio Recording and Installed Sound
Under the global umbrella of Vitec Imaging Solutions, Vitec will add sales, marketing and e-commerce capabilities to develop the iconic US brand worldwide, while maintaining its high level of innovation, with a primary focus on fast-growing wireless applications. Audix will open its vertically integrated, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in the US to the rest of Vitec’s audio brands, ensuring the innovation is applied across our whole audio portfolio to the benefit of all Vitec brands’ users.

2. Rycote: The Leading Microphones and Noise Cancellation Accessories for Professional Broadcasting and Filmmakers
The Rycote brand is dedicated to the broadcast and production segment where it’s trusted by professionals for market-leading windshields, shock mounts and handling protection systems. While Rycote windshields and mounts will continue to be made in the UK, Rycote’s broadcast microphones will benefit from the additional manufacturing facilities in the US. This will enable us to extend the range, further enhance product performance and better serve the US market.

3. JOBY: The Most Versatile Mobile Microphones for Content Creators
The JOBY brand is our largest volume offering, servicing the 40 million monetizing social media influencers for whom great audio quality is a critical component of their success. The JOBY microphone range is expanding later this month with exciting new additions including professional on-camera mics and innovative solutions for podcasters and gamers. Going forward, the development of JOBY microphones will move to the US to accelerate the innovation process in the largest content creator market.

“Audix is the perfect addition to our existing audio range, in a high-tech, growing category,” said Marco Pezzana, Divisional CEO at Vitec Imaging Solutions. “The brand will significantly increase our total addressable market, advance our audio technology capabilities and, most importantly, bring great people with intimate knowledge of the audio industry, who will be a real asset to the company and enable us to accelerate the delivery of Vitec’s audio strategy and delight the content creator community with easy to use, high fidelity audio capture solutions.”

A snapshot of The Vitec Group plc

Vitec is a leading global provider of premium branded hardware products and software solutions to the growing content creation market. Vitec’s customers include broadcasters, film studios, production and rental companies, photographers, independent content creators, gamers and enterprises. Our product portfolio includes camera supports, video transmission systems and monitors, live streaming solutions, smartphone accessories, robotic camera systems, prompters, LED lighting, mobile power, bags, backgrounds and motion control, audio capture and noise reduction equipment.

We employ around 2,000 people across the world in 11 different countries and are organised in three Divisions: Imaging Solutions, Production Solutions and Creative Solutions. The Vitec Group plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Vitec Imaging Solutions

Vitec Imaging Solutions is a division of the Vitec Group, an international group principally serving customers in the broadcast and photographic markets. Vitec Imaging Solutions designs, manufactures and distributes premium branded photographic and video equipment such as tripods, bags, filters and lights for professional and hobbyist photographers, and content creators. The portfolio includes nine premium brands – Manfrotto, Gitzo, JOBY, Colorama, Savage, Avenger, Lowepro, Syrp and Rycote – that positions Vitec Imaging Solutions as the leading global provider of accessories within the fast-growing imaging market. Thanks to Vitec Imaging Distribution, all the products are directly distributed in 11 markets across the world and in many others thanks to a qualified network of retail partners.

AUDIX

Audix Corporation is a leading manufacturer of professional microphones and headphones, addressing the Professional Audio and Installed Sound / Commercial markets. Audix microphones are known for excellent sound and build quality, versatility and serving a breadth of applications around the world in studios and performance venues and across a range of businesses and institutions. Founded in 1984, Audix is one of the few microphone companies worldwide that produces a comprehensive range of wired and wireless microphones. These include vocal and instrumental microphones for recording and sound reinforcement as well as a range of microphone solutions for business, educational, government and telemedicine users. Audix products have been endorsed by leading artists, have received numerous industry awards and are the go-to solution for many leading systems integrators, consultants and contractors.

Audix products are designed and manufactured in the Company’s facility in Wilsonville, Oregon. Audix is passionate about innovation through advanced design and manufacturing techniques and processes which are key to the Company’s ability to produce competitive, premium products. Having R&D and manufacturing under one roof enables Audix to develop and streamline new products from idea to prototype to production, both rapidly and efficiently. Audix has a substantial Intellectual Property portfolio including patents, trademarks and trade secrets.

Rycote

For more than forty years, Rycote has specialized to develop and make the industry standard shock & wind protection for the extremes of field production sound. It is not just our specialty; it is our passion. It has never been enough to just build the best field production tools for microphones today, we are constantly engineering better tools for tomorrow.

We continue to apply our years of engineering knowledge to create the most complete line of specialized microphone accessories that exists today. These tools are designed for capturing audio whilst preventing wind and handling noise, but preserving the microphones natural frequency response.

JOBY

At JOBY we believe in creation as an act of creativity. Since the very first day, when we were founded in the San Francisco Bay Area, we’ve always designed mounts, cases, lights, stands and grips with a user-centric approach. We’ve always tried to create functional yet playful, innovative yet easy-to-use products. Today, we keep building our legacy, shaping the content creation world day after day. We’re always there for those who care for what they create, those who always go the extra mile, those who dare to be bold, those who want to leave a mark with their content. And, of course, those who want to have fun along the way. If you’re that kind of creator, we stand by you. Because in the end the world is what we make of it, and together we can make it better – one post, vlog, story at a time.

US regulator rules that Google infringed on Sonos speaker patents

The US International Trade Commission has agreed with Sonos’ claims that Google had infringed on its speaker and cast patents. It issued its initial decision back in August, and this finalizes its ruling, which prohibits Google from importing products found to have violated Sonos’ intellectual properties. Since Google manufactures its products in China, that means it won’t be able to gets them shipped to the US when the import ban takes effect in 60 days.

Sonos sued Google in 2020 over five patents, which include one that details a technology allowing wireless speakers to sync with one another. As The New York Times notes, the products affected include Google’s Home smart speakers, Pixel phones and computers, as well as Chromecast devices. While Google is facing an import ban, a spokesperson said that the tech giant doesn’t expect the ruling to interrupt its ability to import and sell devices.

“While we disagree with today’s decision, we appreciate that the International Trade Commission has approved our modified designs,” the spokesperson told Protocol. “We will seek further review and continue to defend ourselves against Sonos’ frivolous claims about our partnership and intellectual property.” The commission didn’t challenge those alternative designs in its final decision, which means Google can implement them.

In fact, the Nest team has recently announced some changes to speaker groups, which it says is “due to a recent legal ruling.” The most notable change is that, going forward, users will no longer be able to adjust the volume of all speakers in a group all at once. They’d have to adjust each speaker individually instead.

In a statement, Sonos Chief Legal Officer Eddie Lazarus admitted that there’s a possibility that “Google will be able to degrade or eliminate product features in a way that circumvents the importation ban that the ITC has imposed.” However, he said the tech giant’s products will still “infringe many dozens of Sonos patents” — that is, unless Google pays Sonos royalties for its technologies.

His whole statement reads:

“We appreciate that the ITC has definitively validated the five Sonos patents at issue in this case and ruled unequivocally that Google infringes all five. That is an across the board win that is surpassingly rare in patent cases and underscores the strength of Sonos’s extensive patent portfolio and the hollowness of Google’s denials of copying. These Sonos patents cover Sonos’ groundbreaking invention of extremely popular home audio features, including the set up for controlling home audio systems, the synchronization of multiple speakers, the independent volume control of different speakers, and the stereo pairing of speakers.

There is a possibility that Google will be able to degrade or eliminate product features in a way that circumvents the importation ban that the ITC has imposed. But while Google may sacrifice consumer experience in an attempt to circumvent this importation ban, its products will still infringe many dozens of Sonos patents, its wrongdoing will persist, and the damages owed Sonos will continue to accrue. Alternatively, Google can —as other companies have already done — pay a fair royalty for the technologies it has misappropriated.”

 

NZXT CAPSULE USB MICROPHONE REVIEW

NZXT is pushing its way back into the audio game by introducing its first mic in years, the Capsule. The Capsule is a $129 USB microphone, which is about the average price for a mid-tier USB mic these days.

Though it has to be said, there are some great-sounding budget gaming microphones around right now.

USB mics are an excellent choice for streaming, and pretty much any other plug ‘n’ play need, such as long, drawn-out, could’ve-been-an-email Zoom meetings and lively Discord sessions. More expensive, professional XLR microphones, on the other hand, use an analog connection fed into an audio interface before they go into your PC. Traditionally it’s hard to get an XLR feel with a USB mic, but the Capsule actually gets close.

The design of NZXT’s Capsule is super sleek and fits in seamlessly on my desk. If I were a minimalist it would blend directly into the background with its all black matte finish. It also comes in a white matte finish with black buttons and a black base if you prefer a little contrast.

There are two buttons on the face of the mic; one for gain and the other volume, which controls the levels of the headphones. Under that is a LED ring of light around the base. On this all-black mic, that pop of color really makes a difference and it’s subtle. Underneath the mic is a 3.5mm headphone jack. Next to that is where the microphone plugs in from a rubber covered USB Type-C to a USB 3.0 cord.

A black steel stand that comes in the box cradles the mic on any desk. There are also boom arms available for purchase or, if you already have a boom arm, the mic fits on a three-eighths thread. If that doesn’t fit your existing setup, it does come with a thread adapter.

Weighing in just under two pounds, the stand is heavier than the mic. Not only is the stand heavy, it’s well built and acts as a shock mount. That means you don’t have to worry about bumping the mic as you throw your head back and forth in laughter while watching a clip from your stream. You’re hilarious, I know.

The Capsule’s main draw is how it picks up on subtle noises. It is really good at blocking out unwanted sounds like bumps against the microphones, but the pre-configured gain button helps open up the mic to more sounds, or lockout some noise.

For example, my lovely stream room is about 15 feet away from my dishwasher, but I don’t want to stream the sounds of my dishwasher. I want to stream every decibel of my low raspy voice—the gain controls on the Capsule can help with that. When I turn down the gain it feels like the ceilings in my apartment get lower, the dishwasher gets further away and my voice sounds like an ’80s DJ playing vinyls on a late night radio show.

Just like the tube TV in the ’90s, the closer the better. Getting right up on the mic gets you the best quality.

This cardioid pattern microphone has a 96KHz bitrate. With this high bitrate the mic is great for entry level streamers, veteran podcasters, or musicians. This is the kind of mic you want to have for podcasting, ASMR dog eating videos, or hype sweaty gaming sessions so people can hear you yell “LET’S GOOOO!” right after you UNO!

Below the physical gain button is the volume control. The volume button also mutes the mic with a push. Since there is no software and maybe you’re doing a pre stream check. There is an LED ring going around the bottom of the mic. It turns red when it’s muted and when unmuted.

The Capsule is labeled plug ‘n’ play, and for good reason, there’s no software to fumble with. Companies like Razer heavily focus on their audio interface software, with mics like the Emote or Seiren Pro. Software can be essential to the fullness of a mic’s sound, but not always necessary.

And the Capsule proves to not need software. Though I did find myself having to manually tweak the gain when switching between applications. My OBS gain isn’t the same as Zoom’s gain, which means a lot of fiddling around in between meetings, chats, and streams.

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But, without the software, the Capsule is really easy to integrate into a streaming ecosystem. A streaming ecosystem can be very sensitive. It’s important to introduce one piece of equipment at a time, just one thing can throw off the balance. I didn’t have that experience with the Capsule. I was able to add it to my setup without any upsets or malfunctions. And it is nice not to download any extra software to make sure the audio is working and at its best.

I can see this mic going the distance because there isn’t really anything to go wrong, and no software to bug fix. Though if anything should go wrong there is a 2 year warranty available.

The NZXT Capsule isn’t just good for the price, it’s a good mic for a good price. I really enjoy how it makes my voice sound, the overall simplistic nature of setting up and using the mic, and the all black matte finish.

 

Tula Mic review, an impressive portable microphone that’s great for iPad and Mac workflows

The Tula Mic is a portable USB microphone with dual capsules and a built-in standalone recorder. It features a collapsable stand, noise cancellation, and 8GB of storage for up to 12 hours of continuous recording. Most importantly, it sounds good. Watch our Tula Mic review as I discuss why it’s a good portable microphone option that’s ideal for mobile recording workflows with iPad or Mac.

Specifications and design
The first thing that caught my eye was the amount of flexibility and options that this microphone brings to the table. Here’s a glimpse of what the Tula Mic offers in a compact package:

Operates as a standalone mobile recorder or USB-C microphone
Dedicated cardioid and omnidirectional capsules
Texas Instruments Burr Brown op amps
Klevgrand noise reduction
3.5mm headphone connection for latency-free monitoring
TRRS lavalier microphone support
8GB of internal memory to store approximately 12 hours of WAV recordings
USB-C connectivity for charging, USB-mic mode, and retrieving files
Upgradable firmware
Rechargeable 3.7V 700 mAh battery with up to 12 hours of continuous recording per charge
Includes removable built in flip stand
Includes adapter for connecting to mic stands and arms
Includes USB-C to USB-A cable
Designed by Red Dot Award-winning design firm
Available in Red, Black, Cream, or Sea Foam colors
Easily repairable thanks to snapped and screwed-together design
Price: $229

The Tula Mic is super portable
As I noted at the outset, I’m always in search of a good-sounding portable Microphone, and the Tula Mic definitely falls into that category. Consider its dimensions and weight:

Length: 3.9 inches
Width: 2.5 inches
Height: 0.98 inches
Weight: 0.35 pounds
As you can see, the Tula Mic is super compact, and easily fits within the grasp of my hands. It’s a microphone that can easily be placed in a jeans pocket or in a bag.

Adding to the portability is the collapsible stand, which sits flush with the microphone when not in use. Unfolding the flip stand provides an angled resting surface for the Tula Mic. You can also remove the stand and replace it with an included accessory that makes it easy to attach the mic to a full-sized microphone stand or microphone arm.

The build quality of the microphone is pretty decent as well. It’s not built like a tank, but its mostly metal chassis should hold up reasonably well over time. Worth noting is the fact that it can be easily repaired, as parts are snapped and screwed together instead of everything being glued down like a lot of modern tech is nowadays.

Flexibility
One of the things that makes this microphone so practical is that it can function in two primary ways. Most obviously, the Tula Mic operates as a USB-C microphone. Simply connect the mic to your MacBook or iPad via a USB-C cable, and use it as a microphone input source and headphone output source.

The Tula Mic also works as a standalone audio recorder. Featuring a built-in 8GB of storage and the ability to record for up to 12 hours straight on a single charge, it’s a good option for recording while on the go.

Hardware buttons and LED indicators
Flanking each side of the Tula logo, on the front of the microphone, are two LED indicators. The left LED is the Recording Indicator, which lets you know when the microphone is actively recording audio. The right-side LED is the Gain Meter Indicator, which displays green for good input with no clipping, yellow indicating that gain should be reduced, and red to indicate clipping. If no light is displayed when audio is present, then the gain is too low and should be adjusted accordingly.

On the rear of the Tula Mic, on each side of the USB-C input, rest two additional areas of interest. On the left side of the USB port you’ll find a tiny battery LED indicator, which will show red when the battery is depleted, or yellow for when it is low, while a hard reset input rests on the opposite side.

The Tula Mic features numerous hardware buttons — 13 in all — on each side of the device. These buttons control everything about the microphone and recording functions. Having lots of buttons is cool, but this can also be a downside. See my conclusion for more on that.

Tula Mic left side
Gain Up and Gain Down: These buttons increase or decrease the gain for the microphone in 5dB increments.

Skip Forward and Skip Back: Only applicable when playing back tracks recorded to the Tula Mic, a single press will skip to the next track or skip to the previous track, while a long press will fast forward or rewind within the current track, respectively.

Mute: A single press will mute or unmute the microphone. The mute functionality works in both recording and playback mode.

NC: The built-in Brusfri audio noise reducer plugin, from Swedish-based software company Klevgrand, can be used to address background noise while recording. By long-pressing the dedicated hardware Noise Cancellation button, Brusfri can take a sample of the background noise and “subtract” it from your recordings. Thus, it’s important not to speak while performing the long-press so that Brusfri can learn what’s actually noise.

While in USB mode, users can toggle noise cancellation via a press of the NC button. While using the Tula Mic as a mobile recorder, noise cancellation can’t be toggled if it’s already enabled, but the unit will automatically save both a noise-reduced file and the original unmodified WAV file.

Mic Select: While the Mic Select LED is disabled, the Tula Mic is in the default unidirectional cardioid mode. This mode is best used when a single person is speaking toward the front of the microphone. For recording an entire room or 360-degree audio, press the Mic Select button to switch to the omnidirectional polar pattern. In addition, a long press of the Mic Select button will activate the LAV microphone input via the 3.5mm headphone jack. When in this mode, the Mic Select LED will flash.

Tula Mic right side

Volume Up and Volume Down: These buttons increase or decrease the gain for the 3.5mm headphone input in 5dB increments.

Record: A single press will start a recording, while pressing again pauses recording.

Stop: Pressing the Stop button while a recording is ongoing will stop the recording. While playing back audio, the button will stop playback and return to the start of the track. Pressing Stop a third time will take you back to the beginning of the last recorded track.

Play/Pause: Pressing once will play back the last recorded track, while pressing again will pause playback.

On/Off: A single press will toggle the Tula Mic on or off.

The Tula Mic handled splosives relatively well, given the fact that it doesn’t come bundled with a pop filter or wind screen. Although splosives are inevitable when you get really close to the mic — you can hear them in the up-close recording above — they can be managed with some preparation. With that being said, I wish that the Tula Mic included a pop filter or a wind screen of some sort, but enterprising users can always come up with their own solution.

The Tula Mic’s noise cancellation feature is handy for noisy environments, as long as you keep your expectations realistic. Noise cancellation won’t block out barking dogs, crying babies, or things like that, but it does a decent job of reducing hums from HVAC units and the like. The Tula Mic’s Brusfi-based noise reduction works well, but as you can hear from the tests above, it emphasizes sibilance in recordings, and causes them to have somewhat of a processed sound. There are times when noise cancellation will come in handy, just don’t think of it as a cure-all if you’re recording in a noisy environment.

Playing back and offloading audio recordings
Recordings created with the Tula Mic are automatically saved to the microphone’s internal 8GB of storage. You can easily play back recorded audio by pressing the Play/Pause button, which will play the last recorded track. Unfortunately there is no built-in speaker for quickly reviewing recordings, so you’ll have to use headphones to monitor playback.

The Tula Mic’s noise cancellation feature is handy for noisy environments, as long as you keep your expectations realistic. Noise cancellation won’t block out barking dogs, crying babies, or things like that, but it does a decent job of reducing hums from HVAC units and the like. The Tula Mic’s Brusfi-based noise reduction works well, but as you can hear from the tests above, it emphasizes sibilance in recordings, and causes them to have somewhat of a processed sound. There are times when noise cancellation will come in handy, just don’t think of it as a cure-all if you’re recording in a noisy environment.

Playing back and offloading audio recordings
Recordings created with the Tula Mic are automatically saved to the microphone’s internal 8GB of storage. You can easily play back recorded audio by pressing the Play/Pause button, which will play the last recorded track. Unfortunately there is no built-in speaker for quickly reviewing recordings, so you’ll have to use headphones to monitor playback.

The Tula Mic’s noise cancellation feature is handy for noisy environments, as long as you keep your expectations realistic. Noise cancellation won’t block out barking dogs, crying babies, or things like that, but it does a decent job of reducing hums from HVAC units and the like. The Tula Mic’s Brusfi-based noise reduction works well, but as you can hear from the tests above, it emphasizes sibilance in recordings, and causes them to have somewhat of a processed sound. There are times when noise cancellation will come in handy, just don’t think of it as a cure-all if you’re recording in a noisy environment.

Playing back and offloading audio recordings
Recordings created with the Tula Mic are automatically saved to the microphone’s internal 8GB of storage. You can easily play back recorded audio by pressing the Play/Pause button, which will play the last recorded track. Unfortunately there is no built-in speaker for quickly reviewing recordings, so you’ll have to use headphones to monitor playback.

Small form, big sound

Neat may be a newer name in the audio hardware industry, but it is anything but an amateur when making microphones. Now part of Turtle Beach since the start of 2021, the company looks to use its award-winning suite of audio engineers to compete with companies it helped succeed.

That being said, Neat’s Bumblebee II is an excellent choice for newcomers and experienced streamers alike. Made by the original creators of Blue and its famous Yeti microphone, Bumblebee II enters the conversation as a contender for the increasingly crowded chase for the USB mic crown.

Nuts and bolts
Bumblebee II comes with many of the standard features expected of a USB microphone. An LED ring surrounds a pushable adjustment knob on the front of the mic, which changes colors representing its three modes.

The yellow mode adjusts the side-tone (mic monitoring) signal for headphones connected through the 3.5-millimeter jack on the bottom. Blue mode adjusts the signal sent to audio software from the mic, and green adjusts the signal level to a pair of headphones connected through the system.

Unlike other mics like the higher-priced Blue Yeti X or the similarly priced Roccat Torch, gain levels aren’t represented by LEDs. The lack of a visual gain meter on the Bumblebee II means you’ll need to adjust the decibel levels through audio software or by ear, which could be cumbersome while gaming. Ring colors aren’t customizable like on Yeti X. For the price point, however, it is similar to the Blue Yeti Nano, which doesn’t have LED gain monitoring either.

Inside the Bumblebee II is a front-facing, internally shock-mounted 25-millimeter condenser mic. The condenser is permanently polarized in a cardioid pattern, meaning sound picks up from the front of the mic. Like other plug-and-play mics, the front-facing side is the pickup point instead of the flatter top portion.

While it lacks other polar patterns, most users only use cardioid anyway. It’s capable of recording 24-bit signals at a sample rate of 92kHz. Its specs push the Bumblebee II ahead of the Yeti Nano’s 24-bit/48kHz and the HyperX Solocast’s 16-bit/48kHz by delivering a closer recreation of the original sound.

Under the grille of the mic is a built-in pop filter. These inclusions help users get clear audio without additional accessory purchases, making it a budget-friendly option for streamers and content creators.

Packaged with the Bumblebee II is a five-foot USB-C to USB-A cable that connects underneath the mic beside the headphone jack. It doesn’t require additional drivers to download when plugged in, so it’s ready to record from the start. Neat doesn’t have any proprietary software for the mic like Blue Voice, necessitating another program for sound processing and effects.

The form factor
Bumblebee II’s compact works in its favor for placement in audio setups. Without the stand, the mic is eight inches tall by five inches wide—it’s about a foot tall with the stand attached. It weighs 0.88 pounds, lighter than the Yeti Nano but not as light as the Solocast.

The mic rests on a tiltable yoke mount table stand. On the bottom of the stand is a knob that can be removed, allowing the mic to screw onto a standard five-eighths inch threaded boom arm or another mic stand. Bumblebee II’s unique design connects the yoke mount to the microphone, adding to setup flexibility.

Removing the stand on the first attempt was tricky because a pin in the back holds the mic in a front-facing position when clicked into place. It required a little bit of force to try and unlock the knob, which resulted in precariously holding the microphone to twist off the bottom knob. After figuring that out, however, detaching the mount and mic from the stand was much more manageable.

Its small size is a benefit, though. Coming in all black with tasteful logo size and placement, Bumblebee II’s aesthetic is not about standing out but complementing an audio setup. Those looking for flashier microphones to match RGB setups should look elsewhere, however.

Sounding off
Sound quality with the Bumblebee II is exceptional. It matches well against the Yeti X due to its larger condenser capsule—Yeti X has a 14-millimeter capsule array—and faster sampling rate providing clear and crisp playback. Deeper voices may find the warmth of voice slightly lacking compared to Blue mics, but higher-pitches may prefer it.

The internal pop filter helps to block intense “P’s” and “B’s,” with peaking infrequently occurring when very close to the microphone. Users should still swallow their P’s and B’s since it won’t block all of the intensity.

What is slightly disappointing is a lack of an additional polar pattern. For the $100 price point, it’s surprising to see only a cardioid pattern when other microphones like Blue’s Nano or Roccat’s Torch have multiple condenser capsules. Though, it may just come down to Neat focusing on capturing the best solo performance possible instead of multiple sound sources. If that is the case, the manufacturer succeeded in that regard.

Should you buy it?
With the features of the Bumblebee II, it is clear this is a microphone designed for use in a wide variety of audio setups. Streamers and gamers alike should enjoy this microphone because of its ease of setup and audio clarity. Due to a lack of LED gain monitoring and multiple polar patterns, it may not be the best pick if looking for stream-focused features.

Although it may lack aesthetically for some, for $99, not many microphones can match the same value Neat offers here. Those looking for a no-nonsense microphone with excellent sound quality and a small form-factor can trust the Bumblebee II to deliver.

Neat Bumblebee II pros and cons
Pros
Compact size is great for a variety of setups
Sound quality punches above its weight
Built-in shock mount and pop filter
Higher sampling rate than most USB mics at a similar price
Cons
One polar pattern
No LED gain monitoring

NEAT BUMBLEBEE II MICROPHONE REVIEW

The Bumblebee II USB microphone made by the folks at Neat Microphones has been a pure joy to use over the last few weeks. Its plug-and-play functionality, crisp, clear audio detection, and compact size are excellent for any podcaster on the go. And at 100 bucks, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better deal.

The Bumblebee II USB microphone made by the folks at Neat Microphones has been a pure joy to use over the last few weeks. Its plug-and-play functionality, crisp, clear audio detection, and compact size are excellent for any podcaster on the go. And at 100 bucks, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better deal.

Equally as simple is getting the Bumblebee II itself set up. As mentioned, it’s a plug-and-play microphone that gave me no trouble whatsoever, whether I was using it with a Mac laptop or desktop PC. I couldn’t find any drivers on the Neat Microphones website, but there wasn’t a single time during use that I thought I needed them. Everything worked and sounded well right out of the box.

Simple, Yet Effective
Speaking of out of the box, I’m also a big fan of the Bumblebee II’s look and presentation. It’s packaged neatly in clean, minimalist packaging, yet it catches the eye immediately upon opening. The microphone itself is low profile and would fit on any desk with the attached mount. However, it does also come with an adapter if you’d instead attach your Bumblebee to a desk boom arm.

Sure, the Bumblebee II won’t win any awards for its aesthetics – especially compared to Neat’s more expensive line of products – but what’s here, and especially for the price point, is nothing to sneeze at. Granted, looking at the microphone, the “cardioid polar pattern” that Neat claims help to reduce noise from unwanted sources has only been effective in making the device look nicer. If you’re hearing something in the background, chances are you’re going to hear it in your recording.

It’s tough to find any faults with the Neat Microphones Bumblebee II, though. It works well with all operating systems immediately upon plugging it in. It records podcasts, streams, and instruments as effectively as you could ever expect a $100 microphone to do. And to top it off, it’s sleek and modern, without being too bulky or flashy. I’m now a believer in Neat and eagerly anticipate the Bumblebee III.

Important features in a USB microphone

Capsule type

Capsules are pieces of hardware that converts sound-pressure levels traveling through the air (in this case, your voice) into a direct-current (DC) signal, aka the audio signal. How a capsule picks up audio signals is determined by its type. The two most common kinds you’ll encounter—and should seek out—are condenser and dynamic capsules.

Condenser capsule microphones: This variety of mic uses extra voltage (+48V aka phantom power) to charge the capsule, which makes it more sensitive. Generally, condenser mics are better for people who speak at softer volumes or have voices with more dynamic range.
Dynamic capsule microphones: Dynamic mics don’t require that extra voltage and are thus less sensitive. This sort of mic is better for people with loud voices or folks trying to better isolate audio pick-up to only what’s close to the microphone (i.e., trying to block out background noises like a mechanical keyboard or loud PC fan). Dynamic mics tend to last longer, as too much sensitivity can harm a capsule over time.
Electret condenser capsules: This capsule type is cheap and small, and more often used in laptops and smartphones. Unlike a true condenser mic, electret condensers aren’t actively charged—instead, they essentially come pre-charged, so they’re lower power and produce lower-quality audio.
Digital signal quality (bit depth / sample rate)
After your voice has been transformed into an electrical signal by a microphone’s capsule, it then passes on to the analog-to-digital converter (ADC) found in all USB mics. As you might guess, the ADC converts the incoming analog signal (your voice) into a digital signal that your computer can use.

How accurately the ADC does so depends on its defined bit depth and sample rate. These two technical specs indicate how faithfully an audio signal replicates the original sound—in this case, the transmission of your voice through your mic to your PC. As the microphone transcodes your voice, it captures parts of the audio at specific intervals (sample rate) and a specific level of detail (bit depth) and then reconstructs the original based on that data.

The higher the number of both bit depth and sample rate, generally the more faithful the reproduction. Other factors, such as the condenser type and how the microphone is tuned, also influence what you actually hear as the end result, but because bit-rate and sample-rate numbers reveal the amount of data captured and kept for use, they can serve as a quick way to screen for anything underpowered. A low bit depth and sample rate results in a voice that sounds digital and robotic—the signal lacks enough detail to keep all the nuance and personality of the original speaker—so avoid microphones that are stingy in this regard.

Consider a 16-bit/48kHz signal a minimum (it’s roughly the level of a CD in quality), and aim for higher to prolong the use of your microphone. Like with photos and video, standards gradually climb over time, and so too audience expectations for quality.

Sensitivity
The sensitivity of a mic indicates how easily it picks up sound. If you have a quieter voice, seek out a more sensitive microphone for more accurate reproduction of your voice—conversely, if you have a booming voice, you’ll need a less sensitive microphone for the same effect. Condenser types (see above) influence how sensitive a mic is, as does the ability to tweak the gain level.

Mic controls
Touch-based controls might be popular for some microphones, but physical controls like buttons, knobs, and dials are superior: No looking is necessary when making on-the-fly adjustments during streams—you can keep your eyes on your screen while fiddling. Better microphones offer control over mute, gain level, and headphone volume (if you can plug in headphones directly into the mic) at minimum. We like to see crossfade (the balance between your PC’s audio and hearing your own voice fed in from the mic) as an option, too.

Software controls

For a USB microphone, you’ll do all your audio processing—that is, tweaking the audio that comes through the mic—in a desktop PC program. Ideally, this companion software should be easy to use, easy to navigate, and allow you to tune the audio output. The best software also lets you configure the routing of other audio sources (e.g., the game, chat from programs like Discord, and music from Spotify). You can choose what gets pulled in and how that’s directed out.

Build quality
The build quality of a microphone affects more than just how the device holds up with use—it also has an impact on audio performance. The better the materials, the better quality of vocal performance. The capsule type, housing around it, and any shielding placed between you and the capsule (to tamp down unwanted noises) all influence the mic’s output.

Type of USB connection
Micro-USB is still surprisingly common among USB microphones, despite the growing adoption of USB-C and its advantages. We prefer a USB-C connection for its better durability, both for the port itself and for cables—anecdotally, we’ve had more micro-USB ports and cables fail or loosen over time.

That said, micro-USB should still serve fine, especially if you don’t plan to move your microphone around (a potential source of stress on the port) or regularly plug and unplug the cable.

Polar pattern

A polar pattern (or pick-up pattern) indicates the areas of a mic that are sensitive to sound. Streamers should focus on microphones with a cardioid pattern, which makes the mic more sensitive right in front of the capsule (typically the top of the mic) and less so on the sides and rear. This type of polar pattern helps physically isolate the audio source being recorded—in this case, you.

Some mics feature other polar patterns as well, making them more versatile for use. Other common ones are omnidirectional, which makes the mic sensitive to pick up on all sides (useful for conference calls); bidirectional, which picks up from the front and and rear (useful for face-to-face conversations between two people); and stereo, aka mid-side, which makes the mic pick up the right and left channel separately while being sensitive at the front (useful for multiple people conversing or singing while sitting side-by-side and all facing the mic).

What to look for
Our picks for best USB microphones work well with a wide variety of voices, but to find a mic that fits your voice just that much more, keep these factors in mind.

Tonal reproduction
Tonal reproduction refers to how close the microphone’s output matches the sound of a person’s actual voice. Some microphones cater to lower-end vocal ranges by doing things like boosting mid-range frequencies, while others cater to those with higher pitches by having a less sensitive capsule. To get your desired style of output, find out how a microphone is tuned, plus the size of capsule in the mic and the type of mic. These add up to form the microphone’s profile—and once you know it, it’s pretty easy to narrow the field of mics that are right for you.

Vocal clarity
Vocal clarity refers to how loud and clear someone can be heard with a microphone. While tone can certainly play a part in this, the biggest influences on clarity are how sensitive the microphone is to the audio it’s receiving and how strong the amplification process is in translating that to a digital signal. A quiet voice will need both a more sensitive microphone and stronger amplification in order to achieve desired volume levels, while a big, booming voice will need the opposite. (In fact, if a highly sensitive microphone is regularly subjected to loud sounds, it can actually damage the capsule over time.)

The distance from you to the microphone has an impact on this as well, but we don’t recommend shifting your position to make a mic work with your voice. Generally, you want to have a microphone as close as possible to your mouth, as that’s the position for getting its best performance.

Analog-to-digital converter quality
As mentioned above, when you speak into a mic, that analog signal gets captured by the microphone’s capsule, then an analog-to-digital converter (ADC) transcodes that to a digital signal that your computer can use. How good an ADC is will impact both the tone reproduction and clarity of the digital output, as well as how loud it is. Output from low-quality ADCs sound less natural and can even have more digital artifacts, resulting in a tinny sound with less range. An ADC can also affect the signal transmitted to your PC by not providing enough power to the output of the audio, resulting in less clarity and a quieter volume to work with.

Think of an ADC like the middle person in a three-person game of Telephone—it has the ability to dramatically convolute or distort what the original person passed on. Generally, the better the converter, the more the voices of all types benefit from accurate reproduction, but some folks with specific voice concerns (like quiet volume or a thinner sound) might need to pay more attention to specs like bit depth/sample rate, which influence how strong a signal the ADC sends to your PC.

USB microphone vs. a headset

While USB microphones are cheaper than a full professional setup, they’re pricier than a good headset. Even headsets that cost about the same may still seem more appealing, since you can use a headset for both listening and talking.

So why choose a USB microphone instead of a headset? While headsets don’t sound bad on a stream, a headset microphone is just too small to really compete with a USB mic. Generally, the larger the capsule, the more sensitive a microphone can be to sound pressure changes, thus producing more accurate results.

That’s the reason headset microphones struggle to produce a well-rounded sound, especially in the low end. Short of attaching a huge capsule to a boom arm on a headset, a standalone USB mic will be better suited for professional-sounding streams. And the more you sound like you could be in the same room as your viewers, the more likely they’ll connect with you and stick around.

 

Best USB microphones for streaming

Whether you’re streaming games to Twitch, YouTube, or another platform, your audience needs to hear you clearly over the gameplay. (The same holds true if you’re holding live chat sessions or talking with your viewers as you work on a project.) And unfortunately, microphones built into laptops, webcams, and even headsets just don’t sound as good compared to a full-size microphone sitting close to your mouth.

The good news is you don’t have to spend a lot of money to upgrade—while professional streamers use pro-level audio equipment for the best possible sound, USB microphones are much cheaper. They’re much easier to use without sacrificing quality, too—plug a USB microphone into your computer, and you can be off and running immediately.

Elgato Wave:1 – Runner-Up

Best Prices Today: $99.00 at Amazon
The Elgato Wave:1 may lack its sibling’s fancier features, but don’t count it out. It still has the same fantastic large condenser capsule and protection against plosives and clipping as the Wave:3, and you get similar sensitivity and tonal clarity, too. This mic plays nice with almost every voice out there—it provides warm, full tones in the low end that mix perfectly with a crisp high range.

Where it falls behind the Wave:3 is with its lower-quality analog-to-digital converter, which offers a 24-bit/48kHz signal. Less data in the digital capture of your voice means a less faithful reproduction of it, though as noted above, it still sound pretty good.

More disappointing are the stripped-down hardware controls. The control dial on the Wave:1 only toggles muting of the mic and headphone volume. You can still control mic gain and crossfade through Elgato’s Wavelink PC software, but the experience is more cumbersome than having dedicated controls on the mic. We think it worth the extra $30 to get a Wave:3, but if you’re on a tight budget, this $130 mic is still one of the best on the market.

Pros:

Same great sound profile as the Wave:3
Same amazing software features
Same clean and sleek look
Easy-to-use mic mute
Cons:

Not a great value for its price
Lacks dedicated mic gain/crossover control
Lower-tier ADC compared to Wave:3

Shure MV7 – Premium Pick

Best Prices Today: $249.00 at Amazon
Last fall, Shure released the MV7, a USB microphone inspired by the well-known audio company’s legendary SM7B—a professional microphone used for decades by vocalists and countless radio shows. But while still aimed at a more experienced user, the MV7 requires far less time to learn its ins and outs for the best possible experience.

And what an experience it is. This dynamic-capsule mic sounds fantastic in the lower range (think booming radio voice), with smooth, clearly defined reproduction of tones in the mid and high range, too. To get the best results, you’ll need to tweak the EQ settings using Shure’s easy-to-use MOTIV software, but you largely get similar performance to the unparalleled SM7B. Furthering the MV7’s professional vibe is its solid build quality, though its heavier weight and lack of included stand means you’ll need a strong boom arm to use it effectively. The MV7 is also compatible with XLR connections, so if you upgrade to a more high-end audio system in the future, you can do so without having to buy another mic.

The MV7 isn’t for everyone, however. Its dynamic capsule is better suited for a loud voice, and it also has a highly directional hyper cardioid polar pattern, which limits how you can use it. (Its position relative to your mouth strongly affects performance.) This mic’s signal also caps out at 24-bit/48kHz. Most disappointing is the touch panel interface on the device for mic gain control, mute button, and monitor levels, which can be awkward to use during streams. But if you’ve got the patience and the right kind of voice, it’ll make you sound like liquid gold.

Pros:

Inspired by a legendary microphone
Rich, bright, radio sound
USB/XLR connections
Easy-to-use software
Built like a tank
Cons:

Touch controls
Requires more knowledge to use
Micro-USB connection
Steep price

Razer Seiren Elite – More Affordable Premium Pick

Razer Seiren Elite – More Affordable Premium Pick

Blue Yeti X – Also Great For Other Users

Best Prices Today: $139.99 at Amazon
Like Shure, Blue is a well-respected name in professional audio. But unlike Shure, Blue also has a history of producing great USB-based microphones for many use cases—and the company’s Yeti X comes closer to the Wave:3 in terms of audio performance than the rest.

Unlike the other mics on this list, though, the Yeti X doesn’t focus specifically on streamers. The company’s top microphone features multiple polar patterns (cardioid, omnidirectional, bidirectional, and stereo), which you can easily toggle through using the physical dial on the back. The condenser capsules in the Yeti X pick up voices easily and capture voice in all vocal ranges well, with an output at 24-bit/48kHz that has a neutral, more generic sound and works well for a variety of scenarios. That’s both a plus and a minus for this mic—with no features or distinct identity in its sound, it lacks a personality worth lavish praise. While you can tweak the audio profile in Blue’s Voice software quite a bit, the program can be buggy, making such adjustments unreliable.

Build quality is solid on this mic, which also comes with a heavy and sturdy included base. The main drawback of Yeti X’s design is how imposing it is in size—it takes up a lot of space within your field of view.

At $170, the Yeti X is the best Blue has to offer, but unless you’ll use your microphone for other purposes (in-person interviews, multi-singer recordings, etc.), you’ll be better off with a streaming-focused mic like the Wave:3.

Pros:

Simple and clean sound profile
Sturdy build for mic and included stand
Feature-rich software
Multiple polar patterns make it versatile
Cons:

Sound lacks character
Micro-USB connection
Big and bulky
Buggy software

Blue Yeti – Affordable Alternative To The Yeti X

Similar to its newer, higher-end sibling, Blue’s original Yeti model is a solid, all-purpose USB microphone that offers good sensitivity to a variety of voice types and clear, neutral sounding output. It also has excellent physical controls on the mic, with separate dials for headphone volume, polar pattern (cardioid, omnidirectional, bidirectional, and stereo), and gain level, plus a mute button.

As you’d expect, this signal produced by this baseline Yeti is stepped down (16-bit/48kHz versus the X model’s 24-bit/48kHz), but audio reproduction still sounds good. Its primary downside is just how sensitive its condenser capsule is—even in cardioid mode, the mic picks up background noises easily, including the sound of pressing the mute button. The Yeti also still sports the mini-USB connection that it launched with back in 2009, though arguably, mini-USB is a sturdier port type than micro-USB.

The included base is sturdy and heavy, though this mic benefits from being put on a boom arm. (Remember, it picks up background noise easily, so it’ll capture the sound of your keyboard and how it rattles on the desk with unfortunate clarity.) Positioning it can be a bit of a hassle, though, due to how the Yeti’s large size can block your view.

At a list price of $130, the Yeti is best for budget-minded people who will also use it for other purposes like multi-singer recordings and in-person interviews. However, if you can find it for a sale price of $85 (which the Yeti often dropped to before the pandemic), we’d consider it a solid budget mic.

Pros:

Simple-and-clean sound profile
Sturdy build for mic and included stand
Multiple polar patterns make it versatile
Feature-rich software
Cons:

Slightly oversensitive condenser
Big and bulky
Buggy software

Similar to its newer, higher-end sibling, Blue’s original Yeti model is a solid, all-purpose USB microphone that offers good sensitivity to a variety of voice types and clear, neutral sounding output. It also has excellent physical controls on the mic, with separate dials for headphone volume, polar pattern (cardioid, omnidirectional, bidirectional, and stereo), and gain level, plus a mute button.

As you’d expect, this signal produced by this baseline Yeti is stepped down (16-bit/48kHz versus the X model’s 24-bit/48kHz), but audio reproduction still sounds good. Its primary downside is just how sensitive its condenser capsule is—even in cardioid mode, the mic picks up background noises easily, including the sound of pressing the mute button. The Yeti also still sports the mini-USB connection that it launched with back in 2009, though arguably, mini-USB is a sturdier port type than micro-USB.

The included base is sturdy and heavy, though this mic benefits from being put on a boom arm. (Remember, it picks up background noise easily, so it’ll capture the sound of your keyboard and how it rattles on the desk with unfortunate clarity.) Positioning it can be a bit of a hassle, though, due to how the Yeti’s large size can block your view.

At a list price of $130, the Yeti is best for budget-minded people who will also use it for other purposes like multi-singer recordings and in-person interviews. However, if you can find it for a sale price of $85 (which the Yeti often dropped to before the pandemic), we’d consider it a solid budget mic.

Pros:

Simple-and-clean sound profile
Sturdy build for mic and included stand
Multiple polar patterns make it versatile
Feature-rich software
Cons:

Slightly oversensitive condenser
Big and bulky
Buggy software

Roccat Torch microphone

Best Prices Today: $84.99 at Amazon | $84.99 at Best Buy
The Roccat Torch isn’t going to beat some of the more focused studio-quality mics on the market. But since it’s catering to the gamer and streamer crowd, with a flashy design and easy-to-use controls, it doesn’t really need to. The Torch delivers 24-bit audio recording that’s a little on the flat side despite the built-in pop filter, but more than good enough for your Discord server or a quick Twitch session. Its unique base with built-in DJ-style controls, as well as its dedicated “whisper” mode for working when you’ve got sleepers elsewhere in your home, are both plusses for busy gamers with real lives. While it’s technically possible to mount it to a boom arm, it works best as a bit of RGB eye candy sitting on your desk next to a gaming keyboard and mouse. At under $100, it’s not a bad deal, either.

Pros:

Cool looks
Easy controls
“Whisper” mode for late night sessions
Cons:

Weird extra cable
Gesture mute is awkward
Recording quality is just okay.

HyperX QuadCast

Best Prices Today: $109.99 at Amazon
HyperX’s QuadCast has a distinctive look, but unfortunately, its appearance is the primary thing going for it. While the QuadCast’s flashy red coloring, tall rounded shape, and included shock mount show well onscreen, it doesn’t produce audio that sounds good. HyperX uses an electret condenser capsule, which are cheap and small—the opposite of what you want inside a $140 microphone. Its signal is capped at 16-bit/48kHz, too, which doesn’t do the QuadCast any favors given how light and flimsy it is. Its output sounds hollow and tinny, with a lack of warm, full lower tones. HyperX had a great idea with the built-in shock mount and the inclusion of physical controls on the mic, but the audio performance just isn’t up to snuff, especially at this price.

Pros:

Unique, flashy design
Built-in shock mount
Easy-to-access controls
Cons:

Subpar audio quality
Overpriced for its audio performance
Cheap and flimsy build materials