condenser microphone usb

Review: Plugable USB-VOX studio microphone by Allan Tépper

My analysis of the ≈US$75 USB-VOX studio microphone from Plugable concerned a number of completely satisfied surprises, beyond its top quality sound for voice. Before its arrival, I knew that it’s a condenser sort mic with a cardioid pickup sample, and that it’s USB-only (which is nice for some situations, not for all); that it got here with its personal table stand, and can also be suitable with professional growth arms like my Heil PL2T. Nevertheless, I had no idea that it might excel in several other elements, regardless of one lacking function for some customers.

Revealed specs, with my comments

The manufacturer (Plugable) actually understates the ≈US$75 USB-VOX microphone (Amazon link), by publishing that it only presents 44.1 kHz audio sampling frequency. In reality, the USB-VOX microphone is a lot better than that, since I found it additionally gives 48 kHz audio sampling too, as proven in the above display shot. For many who haven’t but read my current article 48 kHz: Find out how to set it in Android, iOS, macOS and Home windows, the Audio MIDI Setup in macOS is the place to find a tool’s capabilities and alter amongst them on a Mac. (That article additionally covers learn how to do it with different platforms.) That setting within the Audio MIDI Setup instructions the A-to-D (analog-to-digital) converter in the exterior USB microphone or interface to vary to 48 kHz mode. The Audio MIDI Setup would not present the option of the 48 kHz choice if the related hardware didn’t supply it.

48 kHz audio sampling is important for use within the video world, and based mostly upon my suggestions within the 48 kHz Alliance, within the audio world too, for causes that go beyond the standard distinction. That’s why I am so glad I agreed to evaluate the USB-VOX, regardless of the unfinished info on the Plugable website about this microphone (a minimum of at publication time of this article).

Above, the revealed pickup pattern.

Listed here are the remainder of the official specs:

  • Component: Polarized Condenser
  • Polar Sample: Cardioid
  • Chipset: C-Media CM6400
  • Frequency Response: 20 – 16000 Hz
  • Bit Depth: 16 bit (confirmed by me)
  • Sample Fee: 44.1 kHz (and 48 kHz, added by me)
  • Power Requirement: USB (5V DC)
  • Weight: 258 Grams
  • General Body Dimensions: 140 mm long | mm body diameter
  • Connector Sort: USB…

I’ll add the USB details: The microphone has an onboard USB-B connector (the sort typically found on printers), and features a lengthy 305 cm cable that goes from USB-B to USB-A, the most typical one on most computers available on the market. Th USB-A finish might be adapted with a cheap adaptor to USB-C if required (which foreshadows other good news within the subsequent part).

Compatibile platforms: another glad shock

The producer, Plugable, states that the USB-VOX works with Linux, macOS (where I did my revealed check recording) and Windows. To that listing, I will add that I successfully used the USB-VOX with my present Android telephone, which is a Google Pixel XL operating the beta version of Android Q (aka Android 10), using the free Auphonic app for Android (my assessment right here), and it worked completely properly with 48 kHz audio sampling. (My latest iOS Auphonic evaluation for iOS is here.) All I needed to attach it was the USB cable that came with the USB-VOX and the USB-C to USB-A feminine adapter that got here with the Google Pixel XL telephone. Your results might differ depending upon your specific telephone/pill mannequin and operating system.

Included equipment

  • USB-B to USB-A cable, 305 cm (described earlier)
  • Mount with normal 5/eight″ thread
  • Adapter to scale back the 5/eight” thread to 3/8” (which I’ve never needed to make use of to date, however is beneficial for some instances)

Sound check and more completely happy surprises

All under information uncompressed mono WAV file at 48 kHz/16-bit. Please pay attention with unmetered knowledge. All have been recorded and trimmed in mono 48 kHz to Hindenburg Journalist Professional, and normalized to -16 LUFS.

Above, USB-VOX unprocessed, aside from normalization to -16 LUFS.

Above, after delicate noise reduction from Hindenburg Journalist Pro.
Above, after delicate noise discount and dynamic compression (not file compression) from Hindenburg Journalist Pro.

I’m extremely impressed at how good the recordings sound for about US$75, even the unprocessed one.

I’m also impressed since I was in a position to use it with none plosives (popping) situation, with out the necessity of any pop filter or windscreen. This is very uncommon when using most cardioid mics up shut, even when addressing them at a 45-degree angle. I am also impressed how low self-noise the Plugable USB-VOX (Amazon link) has (even before processing) and how properly it rejected background rumble, particularly contemplating that it’s a condenser microphone. It’d sound crazy, however the isolation of this Plugable USB-VOX reminded me of the RØDE Broadcaster (which prices US$419, reviewed here, Amazon — B&H) and the Audio Technica AT875R (which prices US$169, reviewed here, Amazon — B&H), since they have been among the many only a few condenser sort mics I have ever examined that isolate background rumble so nicely, when all of them are addressed very intently. In that sense, these exceptional microphones have the additional frequency response, readability and high output degree of a condenser sort mic, while having the isolation advantage of a dynamic mic. This does not mean that the USB-VOX sounds the same because the others, however it does mean that it isolates as nicely (when used in equal proximity) and it does sound excellent for its worth.

Nevertheless, sound quality and isolation aren’t the one problem when choosing a microphone. There are other elements, as you’ll see forward.

Advantages & disadvantages of a USB microphone

As I’ve clarified in other articles, USB microphones are really analog microphones with a built-in A-to-D or analog to digital converter. The advantage is simplicity to hook up with a computer (or typically to a pill or smartphone), particularly when there’s going to be a single microphone and the purchaser doesn’t already personal a high-end interface (preamp + A-to-D converter), so no additional gear have to be purchased in an effort to connect it.

Multiple USB mics to a single pc?

Regardless of common myths, it is indeed potential to connect a number of USB microphones to a single pc, utilizing software program that particularly permits for that, like Hindenburg Journalist Professional (see my many articles here), Sound Siphon (coated in these current articles) or Audio Hijack. A few of these packages even permit recording multitrack from each USB mic, where each microphone is recorded on an unbiased monitor for max management in submit manufacturing.

Nevertheless, despite these prospects, there are challenges —and solutions, as I coated in Monitoring challenges when using a number of digital USB mics concurrently (illustrated above).

What can’t you do with a USB (only) microphone?

You possibly can’t join a USB (solely) microphone to a standard camcorder, HDSLR or mirrorless digital camera. You also can’t connect it to a standard audio recorder, or audio/video recorder. But there are indeed situations the place a USB microphone is greatest for the appliance, especially when there is a single microphone to hook up with a computer (or telephone or tablet).

Lack of onboard monitoring

Most radio announcers and voice talent I have met (but not all) choose to watch themselves “live” as they report or broadcast, to carry out prompt evaluation and quality control. For many who need that perform, it ought to be direct and nearly latency free, since listening to ourselves with a slight delay and could be each distracting and fatiguing. One of the closest really helpful USB mics in this worth range that indeed consists of onboard latency-free monitoring is the Samson Q2U (reviewed here, Amazon — B&H). The Q2U is totally different both because it’s a dynamic (not condenser sort) and since it’s hybrid, with XLR along with USB. Nevertheless, because the Q2U is so sensitive to plosives, I only advocate the Q2U together with the A81WS presidential windscreen, and that complete worth (≈US$93) goes greater than of that the ≈US$75 USB-VOX (Amazon link).

In fact, depending upon the undertaking, you possibly can report your self after which instantly verify the playback. Nevertheless, even in the event you don’t need to hear your self stay, you’ll nonetheless need to wear both isolating headphones or earbuds/IFB when dealing with other individuals remotely, to keep away from suggestions. That’s feasible when using the USB-VOX microphone with typical computer systems, although the three.5 mm jack is steadily disappearing from most of the latest fashions of smartphones and tablets, so I hope Plugable will add latency-free monitoring to its subsequent USB microphone model.

I’’ll talk about this extra in the Advisable makes use of and Conclusions section, forward.

Lack of 24-bit resolution

Though it’s great to have 24-bit decision audio (see my Understanding 24-bit vs 16-bit audio manufacturing & distribution), it isn’t a should and not likely anticipated in a USB microphone at the ≈US$75 worth point. It simply signifies that it’s more essential to set the perfect volume degree as precisely as potential initially, before beginning the printed or recording.

Image credits

A number of the pictures in this article are courtesy of Plugable.

Really helpful uses & Conclusions

The Plugable USB-VOX has lots going for it for less than ≈US$75 (Amazon link) when used quite intently, at a 45-degree angle: excessive voice quality, great background rumble isolation, pop resistance and 48 kHz sampling frequency. Its solely essential missing function (onboard latency-free monitoring) shall be a dealbreaker for the portion of potential purchasers who demand it. In consequence, my really helpful makes use of for the USB-VOX are for many who don’t like hearing themselves “live” in these purposes:

  • Audiobook production
  • Remote co-hosts and interviewees on on-line radio exhibits (including podcasts)
  • Skype/Hangouts
  • Webinar co-panelists

For most of these, they should use both isolating headphones or earbuds (plugged into the computer/smartphone/pill that has a 3.5 mm output) to hear the other individuals remotely, without feedback. The host or audio engineer can do the standard management for them and advise them, when required.

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FTC disclosure

No manufacturer is specifically paying Allan Tépper or TecnoTur LLC to put in writing this text or the mentioned books. A few of the other manufacturers listed above have contracted Tépper and/or TecnoTur LLC to hold out consulting and/or translations/localizations/transcreations. Most of the producers listed above have despatched Allan Tépper evaluate models, including Audio-Technica, Plugable , RØDE and Samson. To date, not one of the producers listed above is/are sponsors of the TecnoTur , BeyondPodcasting CapicúaFM or TuRadioGlobal packages, though they are welcome to take action, and a few are, could also be (or might have been) sponsors of ProVideo Coalition magazine. Some links to third parties listed on this article and/or on this net page might indirectly benefit TecnoTur LLC by way of affiliate packages. Allan Tépper’s opinions are his personal. Allan Tépper is just not responsible for misuse or misunderstanding of data he shares.

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