If you’re looking for a first microphone for YouTube, to take to technology shows, for game/voice chat or simply just to record audio, should this be the mic that you buy?
In the box
With the mic you get a fair few accessories which is nice for the pretty low price tag of just £12.95. Included you get
- The mic itself
- A carry pouch
- A wind shield
- Shirt clip
- 2 batteries
- 1 1/4” adapter
- Discount card
Design and Build
The design is pretty much like most other microphones, its mainly Black and is made from a combination of metal and plastic. Right at the very top is the mic module, this is pretty much like most other mic modules, its Black, plastic and has a circular cutouts to allow the mic to capture sound. It also has another circular section to mount the wind shield. But other than that its pretty much what you’d expect from a mic at this price.
Onto the top section of the cable and this is again black and finished in a cheapish feeling plastic coating, by that I mean its not the smooth or soft touch coating found on earphones and other microphones. It does however feel pretty well made and durable, which is all that matters really. The cable is also 1.2m long. Now this is pretty great but if you’re wearing the mic on yourself (which you’re likely to do) it is a touch long and doesn’t include any Velcro ties to manage it.
In the middle of the cable sits the capsule, this hold all the technology and houses the battery. This is made from metal and feels quite durable. You’ve also got a mode switch which I’ll explain later on. This section also has a built in clip to allow you to attach it to a pocket, your jeans or maybe even a belt. This way its not dangling lose and getting in the way and it also prevents it from tugging the mic when its in place. Here is where you also swap out the battery. To do this you simply unscrew the part facing towards the mic end and that allows you to get at the battery. You can then remove it and swap it out.
The bottom section is again more cable and is pretty much identical to the top. The only difference being the inclusion of a Velcro strap and it being quite a lot longer. In fact its approximately 4.7m giving a full total of 5.9m (19.3ft). This has both advantages and disadvantages too. If you’re sat doing an interview with the mic plugged your camera then you have a lot of scope for managing the cable and giving plenty of slack. You also have quite a bit of freedom to move around and if your say at a tech show with a camera man, then you a big degree of movement. On the downside if your using something like a Zoom H1 and its in your pocket, then having a big cable to manage can be a bit awkward. But again this extra length could be good or bad, depending on how you’re going to be using it.
Finally at the very bottom is the 3.5mm jack. This is Gold plated and will allow you to connect it to a multitude of devices, here you also have to option to add the extra adapter to fit a different variety of devices. As a whole the mic is pretty basic looking but its well made where it counts.
The Maono mic has support for PC, Apple products, Android devices, Windows phones, camcorders and DSLR cameras. So not matter what device you have, it should work. On the mic itself there is a capsule that holds the electronics and the battery. This also houses a small switch to allow the mic to record from smartphones and the other devices I mentioned above.
Using the mic is pretty straight forward. You can plug it into a DSLR or something along the lines of a Zoom mic alternately you can use it with a compatible smartphone. You then can choose to attach it to your shirt using the supplied clip and opt to manage the cable. Its super simple and straight forward to use. Like mentioned the excessive cable can be a bit of an issue as tucking it away is not the easiest, especially if you have a liking for skinny jeans. But in reality its manageable and just needs a little finesse to sort it out. On the flipside if your sat doing an interview or at your pc or in front of your camera, it might not be an issue at all.
The mics battery life is pretty solid too. It uses a LR44H 1.5V button cell and should last a fair while. I’ve been using it for over a week and its still going strong. I will give a exact amount of time when it does eventually need a battery swap. Speaking of the batteries it uses are very cheap, you can buy a pack of 10 Duracell for £3.80 and they should last a very long time. So keeping it running is not that expensive. Yes I get there are mics that will just keep working without power, but they lack the preamp that this one does.
Using the mic at a PC is a pretty nice experience, you can sit at comfortably and have enough cable slack to not worry about pulling the 3.5mm out of the mic port. It also doesn’t get in your way if you are using a keyboard and mouse or even a controller. Its a pretty mic for being at your PC or sat in front of your camera.
The sound is probably the most important thing when buying a microphone, so how does this one fair?
Below I have uploaded a few samples of what it sounds like, so that you can hear it for yourself. The 1st sample is an unedited clip where the mic was connected to my PC and recorded using Audacity.
The 2nd sample is another unedited clip with a keyboard typing to simulate how much noise it would pick up if you were using the mic for streaming.
The 3rd sample is an edited version of the first sample where I performed a few tweaks to see what could be done if you were using it for YouTube video voiceovers. The first step was to remove the background noise of which there wasn’t that much. The next was to give a slight boost to the bass and treble. Now of course this was done quickly and you could spend a little more time tweaking the audio to get it even better.
The 4th sample is directly from my Panasonic G7 with no editing and the mic volume set to auto.
The 5th sample is the same as sample four with a few tweaks to remove the noise, lower the volume, bass and treble adjust. Like the previous edited sample, with a bit more time spent, you could easily make it sound nicer.
As a whole I’m pretty impressed, the background noise from PC was minimal and its easy to remove if needed, but even though its right next to where I recorded the audio it wasn’t that bad at all. The sound has decent depth, even before tinkering with it and the bass is acceptable. Its not as capture as much bass as my trusty Zoom H2n or even my Rode Videomicro, but I can’t really complain for the price. Plus its so easy to give it a little bass boost is you want.
Voice pickup is highly impressive too, its a little warm and sounds quite true to what I sound like. So its fairly natural and not too over coloured. Your voice is clear and very easy to pick out and like previously mentioned there isn’t too much background hiss or noise at all, even when listening back via headphones. Higher frequencies aren’t captured too well meaning it probably won’t be good for recording instruments, but then again its a voice mic and was never intended too. Just making you clear that I wouldn’t advise this mic if that is what you’re after.
Now if your using it with a camera, its a different story. Because a camera (usually) can’t process sound as good as a PC, the sound you get is a fair bit worse. Now its still impressive, but not as good as when done via PC. I recorded in the same place to keep it fair and it picked up much more background noise and there was more noticeable distortion. There is also noticeable hiss and the overall quality is just not as good as PC. Now of course you can edit it and it will make some improvements, but if you are doing voiceovers then stick to PC for the best quality recording.
To wrap up this review I think its a solid budget mic. I mean for under £15 its well made, has a built in preamp, works with tonnes of different devices, prodcues good quality audio and has a nice bundle of accessories too. Its easily the best mic I’ve ever tried under £15 and believe me I’ve had a fair few over the years of doing YouTube. So if you want a great starter mic for streaming, YouTube or recording audio this is a great option to start out with and to even progress with. Yes it has its flaws (depending on how you use it) and its not perfect, but as a whole its a great buy for the price and I can recommend it.
Get one here: www.amazon.co.uk/maono-lavalier