If you’ve ever needed a mic that is versatile but doesn’t cost the world, would this budget dual microphone from MAONO be a good pick?
In the box
Included with the mic you get
- Two microphones
- A 3.5mm adapter
- A carry pouch
- Two shirt clips
- Two wind shields
- The documents
Design and Build
For such an affordable microphone its quite clever in its design. It comes in two parts. There is one section of the cable that is essentially like an ordinary lav mic. This looks pretty standard and features the capsule up top, the cable and then the three pole 3.5mm termination at the end.
The capsule is made from a combination of metal and plastic. It feels very durable and I don’t think there will be any problems with it, even after long term use. The capsule is also large enough to fit a foam windshield (included) as well as a shirt clip (also included).
The mic is a total of 2m long which is about ideal for an interview scenario, if you doing some A-roll for a video or simply recording a voice over at your PC. The cable is fairly decent, its not the most robust but it does have a good amount of strain relief in all the right places.
The next section of the microphone is where all the magic happens. This features a capsule that is again quite ordinary. Its made from all plastic though and doesn’t feel quite as durable as the secondary mic.
So far it looks pretty ordinary. But when you get down to the business end it all changes. There is two inputs and one output. The inputs allow you to connect the secondary mic as well as a pair of headphones for monitoring. That is pretty great as you then have two mic sources as well as a way to keep a check on your audio.
There is then a 3.5mm mic output, this would be the section that connects to your audio recorder or mobile device.
This section of the mic also has some decent strain relief and feels fairly durable. The split however is where it looks most vulnerable. The split itself feels pretty solid, but its the lack of strain relief that is of concern. The cable is thick enough and looks pretty good, but even so some strain relief would help increase the longevity of this part of the cable.
This primary section of the mic is 2.7m and will again give you enough to set it nicely during an interview.
When its all set up there is a lot of cable to deal with, so you’d probably need to bring some Velcro cable straps to keep the cables in check. It would have been a nice inclusion to some sort of way to minimise the cables length if the full amount was not required.
As a whole the design is pretty clever and well implemented for such an affordable product. I just wish they would have included a few Velcro ties to help keep the cables in check. But overall the design works great and its pretty well made for the most part.
So I have mentioned that this mic will work on PC, Laptop, Mobile and of course audio recorders, but there are a few catches.
The first being the fact that if you want to use headphone monitoring on mobile, you’d need an app that has support for audio monitoring as it won’t work without it. Its not a deal breaker, but just be aware as if you try it and it doesn’t work straight away, that could be the reason why.
On PC/Laptop its pretty straight forward, you plug in the mic and open up your chosen audio recorder. You can either do this as the single secondary mic, the primary mic and both together. Just remember that to use on PC or Laptop that you’ll need to use the adapter for it to work as they won’t recognize a four pole 3.5mm. Its the exact same for audio recorders too.
We’ll start with the secondary mic first and it turns out that this mic only records in Mono. Now with audacity you can actually fix this and its pretty straight forward too. So I’ll quickly go over how to do it.
If you’re editing a track that you’ve prerecorded then head over to http://www.wikihow.com/how-to and that will give you a walk through. If however you’re using Audacity to do the recording its a little different. This is how to do it with an audacity recording.
Step 1. The track will appear in two parts, the left and right. However only one side contains audio and will need to be split.
Step 2. Select the drop down arrow next to where it says “Audio Track” and pick option “Split Stereo Track”. This will split the tracks in two and you can then delete the track without the audio. You do this by pressing the “x” next to where it says “Audio Track”
Step 3. Once deleted select all the original and copy (Ctrl + C). You can then paste (Ctrl +V) the original. Make sure to select an open space on the screen and ensure that its not on the original or the menus.
Step 4. Next is to make sure that the channels are correct. You do this by selecting the drop down menu and making the top audio the left and the bottom the right. That way it will play the audio on both speakers rather than just one.
Step 5. You can now make any edits to the audio quality or if you’re happy, export it.
Keep in mind that this isn’t true stereo but it will give the illusion of stereo.
Now you’ve got that sorted we’ll move onto the primary and this records in full stereo, so there is no need to do the above. But how does it all work together? Well it depends on how you’re using it. Now if you’re on Skype or recording a voice over or even doing A-roll then you’d want to use the primary as that records stereo. Yes there is the split section and extra cable to deal with, but its far less hassle than having to split the audio.
When both mics are connected you still get the stereo recording but its able to capture both mics. This means that there is only a stereo recording to deal with rather than two different sources. This would be a massive advantage in a interview situation as you can use two mics into one stream of stereo audio. So if you were using two separate mics, you’d have to mess around with the audio and sync it, with this, its all done in the recorder so there is far less hassle.
This is a good and bad thing. If you wanted two separate streams then you’d need to ways to capture the audio. But in that case you’d probably be better off with two mics like the other MAONO I reviewed a while back. But what this solution is perfect for is
- Quick setup. So you can get the interviewer and interviewee set with audio really quickly as there is only one capture source to worry about.
- Quick edit. There is only one stereo stream of audio rather than two separate ones. This will lead to quicker edits and reducing overall production time.
- Less work as a whole.
Of course this still has its flaws, like if you were on a show floor and needed to move around, you’d be restricted by the cable. If you were careful and kept in mind of the cables length then it could work, but in that situation a solo solution would be better. On the flip side, this can still work as a solo solution and there is nothing stopping you from just using the main mic and having the secondary as a backup if you needed to interview someone.
Onto the most important part of a mic and that is the sound. As per my usual mic reviews I will be uploading a few samples. They are as follows.
- The primary mic.
- The primary mic with sound improvements.
- The secondary mic unedited.
- The secondary mic stereo edited.
- The whole setup together, unedited and edited
Also note that the mic gain is set to +10dB with no other effects in place.
So I’ll start with the primary mic as is (unedited audio) and the quality is decent, you have to remember that its a very budget mic. The overall quality is okay. The low frequency pickup is quite solid so the audio doesn’t sound too thin. The bass sound is pretty solid too, its quite deep and seems to pick up lower frequencies fairly well. Voice pickup is decent too, of course the clarity isn’t amazing but its very audible and I can hear everything that is being said without any effort.
There is some noticeable hiss in the recording and the mid range is a little lacking, but for a starter mic for a podcast, YouTube or streaming its not to bad at all.
(Edited audio) You can then add a few tweaks to further improve it. For this one I removed the background hiss (simple noise removal), turned down the volume, gave a 1.4dB bass boost and a treble boost of 4.3dB. Its a basic edit and you of course can fine tune it even more. But it has cleaned up the mids, toned down the bass a little and made the audio sound a bit higher quality. Of course you can edit it to your preference.
Now we’ll do the secondary mic is its original mono state. The quality is actually equally as good as the primary and almost sounds identical. There is however some serious buzzing feedback in the audio, so if you were to use this secondary mic, I’d edit out the false stream and use the instructions to make it stereo. Other than the buzz though the quality is again quite good for the price.
I’ll now apply the stereo fix and the same adjustments as on the primary. Again there is a vast improvement in the midrange and the bass is again tones down a little. If you spend a but of time, you can actually get some good quality audio from this mic with a bit of manipulation.
Finally this is what the whole mic setup will sound like. From what I can tell the secondary mic retains its original quality whereas the primary seems to lose some of its. It becomes a little thinner, a bit sharper and more tinny sounding. This is of course the sample that is straight from the source.
The final sample is edited and again I will apply the same edits as in the previous samples. This does improve the overall audio but it is clear that they work and sound better when used independently. The sound is still okay after the edit, but some of the artifacts in the audio are tricky to remove. Also to note the levels differ slightly between the mics and it is fairly noticeable.
As a whole the mics on their own sound pretty good, when together the quality does suffer a little bit of degradation. Its still passable for the price point, but keep that in mind if you’re using these for an interview. Also keep in mind that the audio will probably sound better when coming from a PC than it will via a mobile device.
So to sum up. It’s very affordable coming in at just £13 and you do get quite a fair amount for that. Its versatile, easy to use, the design is simple but works well, the build as a whole is good, it works on multiple platforms and is cheap. To top it off the sound quality is pretty solid too, especially again keeping in mind that its under £15.
Yes it does have its flaws like the lack of cable management, the secondary mic only recording mono and the sound does suffer a little when both mics are used together.
But if you want a very cheap setup for doing basic interviews, YouTube, Skype, streaming then its a solid mic. Yes of course there are better mics out there and some that do the same for around the same price point. Whether they are as good, its hard to tell, the next closest rival is the Movo LV20 which is £35 and has good reviews, but again without testing I couldn’t say if its better. But what I will say that this offers a genuinely good solution for quickly setting up interviews, is it perfect? No, but its pretty good for the price.
Pick one up here via Amazon UK
MAONO Dual Lapel Microphone