FiFine K669 USB Podcast Microphone Review / Test

Today we are looking at another extremely budget USB Microphone by FiFine; the K669 USB Podcast Microphone.

This microphone is listed as compatible with the following operating systems: Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, XP Home Edition or XP Professional and Mac OS and Linux OX.

For the majority of this review, I have connected the mic directly to my mac computer with the computer gain set at ~10%, and the microphone gain set at ~25%, and then boosted +12dB in post. No other processing was done to the audio.

If you are interested in this microphone, it will set you back $25-$28 on Amazon

What's In the Box

  1. Microphone
  2. Permanently Attached Cable
  3. Microphone Mount
  4. Desktop Microphone Stand
  5. Documentation

Specifications

  1. Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20kHz
  2. Polar Pattern: Uni-directional
  3. Sensitivity: -34dB
  4. Max SPL: 130dB

Performance / Features

The build quality of this microphone is what you would expect out of a $25 microphone. It has a metal construction but it does not feel like high quality materials, and it does not feel as though it's extremely well put together. The grill offers minimal protection from plosives, so I would suggest a pop filter. The front of the microphone has a single volume dial, which is a nice feature but has a bit of wobble to it. The USB cable is permanently attached which is less than ideal because if the cable goes bad you will just have to replace the microphone.

The frequency response is listed as 20Hz - 20kHz. When listening back to the audio it sounds compressed/thin, kind of like you're recording over a really nice phone call. Because of this sound profile, I do not think that I would personally use this for anything other than skype, chatting online, or home demos.

The polar pattern of this mic is listed as uni-directional, which means it should mainly pick up audio directly in front of the microphone. However, during the background noise test, it picked up quite a bit of my apple magic keyboard (which is a relatively quiet keyboard).

Pros

  • Super cheap
  • Microphone volume dial
  • No digital artifacts / clicking when gain set high

Cons

  • Audio sounds like high quality phone call
  • Permanent USB Cable

Conclusion

Overall, for $25, I think that this microphone is pretty decent. It doesn't have excessive line noise or digital artifacts, and the audio is relatively clear sounding. However, as I mentioned it does sound similar to a high quality phone call. 

This means I will not be recommending this mic for any professional applications. If you are just going to be chatting online with your friends, or recording preproduction/demos at home, I think this microphone would be perfectly fine. You may be able to get away with this for starting a youtube channel, but you will be pushing it. Other than that I would recommend you look for a higher quality microphone. 

If you have any additional questions about this microphone, leave them on the youtube video, and I will try to reply ASAP. 

Buy it on Amazon
US: http://amzn.to/2kPfq9x
UK: http://amzn.to/2ld4a7R

Aspen Mics HQ-S (HQ-SPK) Lavalier Microphone Review

This time I am back with a review of a stereo Lavalier mic as well as a complementary piece of gear that allows this mic to function as an extension of your smart phone. I am testing out the Aspen Mics HQ-S & Aspen Mics HQ-SPK

If you are interested in this microphone, it will set you back between $45-$50 and it is available through the links at the bottom of the article.

WARNING: This microphone will has a standard operating voltage of 2.0 - 10.0 volts. This means it requires a minimum of 2.0 volts to work, and if you exceed 10.0 volts, you risk damaging your microphone. 

What's In the Box

  1. Stereo Lavalier Mic (w/ 54-inch cable)
  2. Lapel Clip
  3. Two Foam Windscreen's
  4. TRRS Adapter (if you purchase the SPK kit)
  5. Metal Carrying Case
  6. QA Check List
  7. 5-year Warranty

Performance / Features

The build quality of this lavalier microphone is fairly standard for a lav mic. It has a rubber cable 54-inch cable, a metal microphone capsule, and a metal lapel clip. The lapel clip is significantly smaller than most cheap lav mics which is helpful when attempting to conceal it on your clothing.

The metal carrying case is also a nice addition as I have not received a Lav mic that included a way to carry/store the microphone. 

The frequency response of this microphone is 20Hz - 20kHz. Even when clipped to your shirt, far away from the sound source, you get very nice presence unlike some cheaper mics I have tested.

As per usual for a Lav mic the polar pattern is Omni-Directional which means you will pick up a bit of ambient noise. So just keep that in mind when planning out your shoots or recording environments. 

As I mentioned, the standard operating voltage is 2.0 - 10.0 volts. So you need to stay with in this range in order to get good results out of the microphone.

Pros

  • Very nice sound
  • Smart Phone Compatible
  • Full frequency response
  • Small Lapel Clip
  • Metal Carrying Case
  • 5-Year Warranty

Cons

  • Standard Rubber Cable
  • Omni-directional polar pattern picks up ambient noise (but is required for a lavalier mic to work well, so it's not really a con)

Conclusion

This is a pretty rad little lavalier microphone. I think the sound reproduction was great, and the smartphone capabilities are a huge plus because it essentially provides you with a wireless microphone. I was also able to use this microphone across every single platform I tested with very nice results.

I should note that just like most other lavalier microphones, this is omni-directional, so it will pick up a bit of ambient noise. Therefore, it is important to take into account when planning where you will be using this microphone. 

I would basically recommend this to anyone who is looking for a lavalier microphone for interviews, or vlogs. It is a great price, and it works very well on the smartphone, camera and computer. 

If you have any additional questions about this headset, leave them in the comments on this site or on the youtube channel, and I will try to reply ASAP. 

Aspen Mics HQ-S: http://amzn.to/1TgdJAG
HQ-SPK: http://aspenmics.com/col...
TRRS Adapter: http://amzn.to/1TgdSUH

Behringer Ultravoice XM8500 Review/Test

Today I'm testing out another cheap Dynamic Microphone. This time it is the Behringer Ultravoice XM8500.

Being that this is a Dynamic microphone, it does not require phantom power to function. That means that you should be able to utilize an XLR to USB cable (which I demonstrate in this video).

What's In the Box 

  1. Plastic Storage / Carrying Case
  2. Microphone
  3. Microphone Clip
  4. 5/8" to 3/8" Mic Stand Adapter
  5. Documentation

Performance / Features

The build quality of this microphone feels pretty sturdy. It is an all metal body and a metal grill and it has some nice weight to it. 

The mic has a Cardioid Polar Pattern, and it is incredibly directional. As you get off access, the amount of pickup drops exponentially. It rejects background noise incredibly well (you could hardly hear the keyboard), so if you are going to be using a mic in a loud area, this may be a good option.

The frequency response was not listed, but it sounds comparable to the frequency response of the SM58, with slightly boosted mid frequencies. Let's be honest. If you're buying a $20 microphone, chances are, you're not too concerned with the specifications, you're more worried about if it sounds good or not. Well, I think this microphone sounds good.

Pros

  • Extremely Cheap
  • Nice build quality
  • Decent sound
  • Good at Isolating sound

Cons

  • Lack of Documentation
  • Muddy low end

Conclusion

In all honesty, this is a nice sounding microphone for $20. There are it's draw backs, but you have to remember; It's $20! If you are on a budget and are looking for a durable microphone, this is a great option. It works with an XLR to USB cable, so all you need is the Mic, a Stand, and the Cable and you're good to go.

If you have any additional questions about this headset, leave them in the comments on this site or on the youtube channel, and I will try to reply ASAP. 

Behringer XM8500: http://amzn.to/1S7zvWv
Pyle PDMIC58: http://amzn.to/1S7zwtD
USB to XLR Cable: http://amzn.to/1lMypB6 (not the cable used, but same type of cable)

Pyle PDMIC58 Dynamic Mic Review / Test

After testing out the PDMIC78, I couldn't wait to test out this microphone, the PYLE PDMIC58. This mic is nothing more than Pyle's response to the Shure SM58; a Dynamic XLR microphone that feels sturdy. The main difference between this and the Shure SM58 is the price. This microphone is $13, and the Shure is $100+. So, keep that in mind throughout this review.

It's also important to know that this is a dynamic microphone, so it shouldn't require any voltage to function, however I am plugging it into my Sabrent USB Adapter. 

What's In the Box 

  1. Dynamic Microphone
  2. 15-foot XLR to 1/4" Microphone Cable
  3. Warranty / Spec Sheet

Performance / Features

The build quality on this microphone feels pretty good and it feels very similar to the Shure SM58. It is an all metal body and a metal grill just like the SM58, however, it is about half the weight. This means that either their are fewer components inside, the body is not all metal, or the metal is a lighter metal. I can't fault Pyle for the minor differences in build quality due to the mic being ~$90 cheaper. 

The frequency response is 50Hz - 15kHz which is actually the same as the Shure. They did not include a diagram showing the actual frequency response of the microphone but when comparing the audio it seems like there are a lot more highs on the Pyle. All around it performed well in this regards. (in the video, the electric guitar example provides the most notable difference between the microphones EQ)

The impedance of this microphone is 600-Ohms compared to the 300-Ohms of the Shure. Basically what this means is that the Pyle will not perform as well if it is running through a long cable; it will lose some of the high frequencies. This isn't the biggest deal if you are just using the microphone in a home studio, but once you start throwing long cables on this microphone, you may start to notice a bigger impact.

The microphone is also uni-directional. That means that it only picks up audio directly in front of the microphone. As soon as you get off axis, the sound decreases quite a bit. That's why this kind of microphone is used in concert settings. It isolates the sound source really well, while eliminating surrounding noise.

Pros

  • SUPER CHEAP!!!
  • Good Sound Quality
  • Good Build Quality
  • Good at Isolating Sound

Cons

  • Bad with Plosives (need to Invest in pop filter)
  • Poor Documentation

Conclusion

All around this mic sounds great for the price. It's $13 and it performed pretty closely to the $100 microphone in a controlled setting. The real test would be to take this thing out back and beat the hell out of it because that's what's amazing about the Shure SM58; it's indestructible. I'm thinking that this microphone won't survive as much as the SM58, but it's a great starter for the price.

I think that the folks that would really benefit from this mic would be beginning podcasters. This microphone (with a ball pop filter on top) will sound great for a solo podcast, but you can also have multiple people in the same room, each with their own microphone, and you will have minimal bleed between the microphone.

For gamers, I'm not sure if this is the best microphone since you will need to stay right on top of the microphone to get the best audio, but it will be great at cancelling out the background noise. You will need to decide if you're willing to buy a boom arm and keep the mic close to your mouth the entire time your gaming. If you're willing to do that, this is a great mic.

For music, I think this did really well with the electric guitar and voice, but for an acoustic instrument, I think you'd be better off with a condenser microphone to pick up more of the ambience of the instrument. 

Overall, I'm really impressed with this microphone and I recommend this to most people. If you have any additional questions about this headset, leave them in the comments on this site or on the youtube channel, and I will try to reply ASAP. 

Pyle PDMIC58: http://amzn.to/1mx01eM
Ball Pop Filter: http://amzn.to/1JUlWkL

Neewer Mic Suspension Boom Arm Review

This is an off day review because this doesn't count. I am talking about the Neewer Microphone Suspension Boom Arm

What's In the Box 

  1. Desk Mount
  2. Microphone Boom Arm
  3. Microphone Clip
  4. 5/8" to 3/8" Microphone Stand Adapter

Performance / Features

The build on this thing is pretty decent. It's an all metal stand and a metal mount. The mic clip that is provided is somewhat cheap feeling, and the mic stand adapter is not of the highest quality. 

I have two main issues with this boom arm.

(1) the springs on the boom arm tend to cause a bit of noise. If the microphone you have mounted to this arm is not on a shock mount, and you bump the desk or springs on the stand, you will hear it all in your recording. It tends to sound like a hum in the background (it almost sounds like 60 cycle hum).

The solution to this issue would be to utilize a shock mount. A practice I would recommend even with a higher end boom arm.

(2) The joint that the microphone clips on to is attached via pressure. It is placed between two pieces of metal that are squeezed together to hold it in place. This is not the sturdiest option. If you have a heavy mic and have this joint point downwards, there's a chance that this joint will break and your microphone will fall. This happened to me and I was not able to fix the joint. 

The solution to this problem is to keep this joint always pointed up so gravity cannot become your worst enemy. (if this second issue is confusing, I demonstrate it in the video).

Pros

  • SUPER CHEAP
  • Decent Build Quality

Cons

  • Springs cause noise
  • Microphone joint is poorly designed

Conclusion

This is a $15 microphone boom arm that gets the job done. I would absolutely recommend it. Just make sure you're aware of both of the issues that I pointed out, and you'll be fine. I would also recommend staying away from the boom arm that has the microphone cable built into it. The issue I see with that version of the boom arm is, if the mic cable goes bad, you're going to have to cut the mic cable and pull it out of the stand. You're better off just buying the solo boom arm and purchasing a separate cable.  

If you have any additional questions about this headset, leave them in the comments on this site or on the youtube channel, and I will try to reply ASAP. 

Buy it on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1O083U2

Can Phantom Power Improve Your Cheap Mics Audio?

This is my third video of the week because people keep asking good questions, and I can't wait to answer them. Over the past few weeks, I have received countless comments asking if adding a phantom power supply to your cheap mic setup can improve your microphones audio. To put it simply, yes and no. Let's look more at this.

The Test

For this test, I ran the Excelvan BM-700 directly into the Sabrent USB Audio Adapter as well as the Gino Stereo USB Audio Adapter for a base quality test. Then as a comparison, I ran the microphone into the Neewer Phantom Power Supply, and then ran the output from the phantom power supply into each adapter. I include comparisons of me talking, and then samples of the background noise. 

Results

The initial audio from the Sabrent Adapter was pretty good. My microphone input gain was set at 7% on my computer and there was very little background noise. When I added the phantom power supply to this set up, I was able to drop my input gain from 7% down to 4%. You can hear a slight bump in clarity and high end once phantom power is added, but you also hear a slight increase in background noise (a new hiss).

The first test with the Gino Stereo USB Adapter is horrible. The audio sounded digital, quiet, and I had to set my microphone input gain to 72% which yielded a ridiculous amount of background noise. Once I added the phantom power supply, the audio for this adapter improved considerably! The sound was clearer, crisper, and less digital sounding. We were able to drop the input gain from 72% down to 35% and this led to a significant decrease in background noise. 

Conclusion

If you have a Sabrent audio adapter, or an audio adapter that gives you plenty of gain, and you don't have much background noise, I do not think that it's justifiable to purchase a $20 power supply. On the other hand, if you have a cheap piece of crap USB adapter that forces you to crank your input gain, causing ridiculous background noise, the phantom power does seem to improve that.

However, keep in mind that regardless of what accessories you get, you are running a microphone into a cheap USB Adapter. Your audio quality will always be limited by this. The pre amps in these USB Sound Cards are nothing special, and quite frankly, kind of suck. If you really want to improve your audio, I recommend looking into an audio interface that was designed to record microphones. An audio interface that has real preamps in it. But if that option is out of your price range, this solution seems to work just fine.

Neewer Phantom Power Supply: http://amzn.to/1llLK3a
Sabrent USB Audio Adapter: http://amzn.to/1llLGR6
Gino USB Audio Adapter: http://amzn.to/1IkwCIQ
BM-700: http://amzn.to/1InMPgb

 

What's the Best USB Soundcard?

One of the most asked questions on my youtube videos is "can I buy the cheaper USB soundcard and get the same result?" The answer I have always had to give is "I have no idea". I decided to fix that, I bought 6 USB Soundcards to compare the audio from.

My least favorite cards were the two wired USB adapters. The stereo one (white cord) was just too quiet, and too digital sounding. The 7.1 card (black cord) was simply too loud and completely unuseable. At 2% input gain, I was still clipping. Then we have the virtual 5.1 soundcard which is blue. This card gave me the same problem as the other cards. Too digital and too quiet, but if you are on a budget, it will be a decent soundcard.

Number 3 on my list is The HDE 7.1 which is one of the cheaper cards. I like this card because it provides a much more natural sound and audio compared to the previous 3 discussed. Unfortunately, for me it was too quiet. I had to crank the gain up to about 75% to get a good level, and at that point, the background noise has been turned up along with the microphone. If you are on a budget, this is a great option for a soundcard, and it performed admirably. 

Number 2 on my list is the Sabrent 7.1 card which is the most expensive card that I tested out. I liked this one a lot. It provided natural sounding audio, plenty of gain, however, for what I am doing, I don't need the headphone volume & mute or the microphone mute. These are nice features, but for me are unnecessary. 

Number 1 is the Sabrent Stereo USB Audio Adapter. The card that I have been using since day one. In all honesty, it was just pure luck that I ordered this one, and that it turned out to be so good. I think the audio produced through this is as good as the Sabrent 7.1, but in a simpler package. No buttons to mess with, which I like. It is also cheaper than the 7.1 card.

In conclusion, if you are just recording a podcast, or voice over for a video, I think that the Stereo Sabrent card will work perfectly fine for you. It's what I use and I am completely happy with it. On the other hand, if you are gaming online, and you want to be able to adjust your headphone volume, or mute your microphone, the 7.1 Sabrent card will be the right option for you.

My Ranking

Sabrent Stereo: http://amzn.to/1Ikwqt5
Sabrent 7.1: http://amzn.to/1IkwtVI
HDE 7.1: http://amzn.to/1Ikww3H
Virtual 5.1: http://amzn.to/1T8qZ64
Gino Stereo: http://amzn.to/1IkwCIQ
Gino 7.1: http://amzn.to/1T8r21R

Can You Record Music With a Cheap Mic?

I have received comment after comments asking me if the mics that I test out are capable of recording music and sounding good. Rather than testing all the microphones I have tested, I selected 3 to test out. The SF-920, the NW-700, and the SM48. All of these mics are $30 or less and I did a couple tests on them.

  1. I recorded an overdriven guitar with the mics (I should note that the amps volume is not very loud).
  2. I recorded a clean guitar with the mics to show you more of what the mic is capable of doing on an amp.
  3. Lastly, I recorded a Ukulele to show you how this thing functions with acoustic instruments.

To sum up, I believe that the Neewer NW-700 performed the best on the clean guitar and acoustic instrument, and the SM48 performed the best on the overdriven guitar. However, if either of these mics are out of your price range, you will probably be okay picking up the SF-920. So the answer to "Can You Record Music With a Cheap Mic?" is YES!