Review: The King Bee II Is My Favorite Home Studio Mic


It’s onerous to make a microphone that stands out nowadays. The fundamentals of capturing audio have not modified a lot in many years, and the largest distinguishing issue is price. If you will have some huge cash to spend, there’s already an ideal mic on the market, however getting the perfect sound at a lower cost might be tougher. That’s the place the King Bee II, from Neat Microphones, excels.

The King Bee II has a comparatively massive 34 mm condenser diaphragm, which makes it significantly better at choosing up low-frequency sounds than a variety of condenser mics in its value vary. Combined with nice {hardware} and tremendous low self-noise, you get an impressively clear, correct, and wealthy sound for nicely beneath $200.

Bee-utiful

The final time I felt such a satisfying heft when pulling a microphone out of a field was the primary time I unboxed a Blue Yeti. Many folks may discover the King Bee II unnecessarily heavy, and that will be onerous to argue with—particularly in case your mic arm cannot deal with the load—however I prefer it.

The mic encompasses a tapered cylindrical physique that is subtly harking back to a bee, with a spherical lollipop-like diaphragm (the membrane that detects audio) protruding of the highest. This second-generation mannequin is an enchancment over the corporate’s earlier design, which was unsubtly bee-like, with stark black and yellow stripes. The King Bee II may be much less visually placing, however I can consider only a few eventualities through which the very best design selection is thick and yellow. For me, the brand new physique is a welcome change.

The tapered design does imply that it wants a customized shock mount, which it comes with. In my expertise, the shock mount labored decently, with solely the occasional bump getting by means of. I primarily use my mic for recording voiceover, which permits for a number of takes, however I’d nonetheless really feel comfy utilizing it in a reside broadcast state of affairs. However, the necessity for a customized mount means most third-party mounts will not work fairly as nicely, which is one thing to think about.

It comes with a built-in pop filter, which is sweet to not have to fret about shopping for individually. In one other delicate nod to the bee branding, the filter encompasses a honeycomb sample. In my expertise, the pop filter was efficient at decreasing some plosives (suppose huge “P” sounds), however it wasn’t a miracle employee. If you will have a extra significant issue with pops, you may want a third-party filter, or to step again from the mic.

The Sound of Silence

Photograph: Neat Microphones

One of the nicest traits of the King Bee II is low self-noise. Previously, I’d been utilizing the AudioTechnica AT2020—a standard entry-level XLR mic that is respectable sufficient for those who’re simply getting began with voiceover or voice appearing work. However, the AT2020 has a comparatively excessive 20 dBA of self-noise. 

The result’s a hiss that is current on each recording, regardless of how quiet I make my recording house. Currents working by means of any digital machine make a small quantity of noise, so to a sure extent that is unavoidable, however the King Bee II brings that noise all the way down to a mere 6 dBA. This alone is critical sufficient that if I have been shopping for at present, I’d spend the additional $70 (or $50 when it is on sale) for the King Bee II. Not solely is it lots simpler to get a transparent sign, however my voice sounds richer coming by means of this mic, just because it isn’t getting muddied by the noise the microphone itself is making.

A Solo Experience

Despite excelling at a variety of the fundamentals that you just’d count on from general-purpose mics, the King Bee II has some stunning limitations that may exclude some use instances. The greatest downside is that it solely encompasses a single, cardioid polar sample. This means it can solely actually be good at choosing up audio immediately in entrance of the microphone. If you are hoping for a mic to report an interview between two topics, you may must look elsewhere or get two mics.

Additionally, whereas this could go with out saying for a studio-focused mic just like the King Bee II, you may want an audio interface that may present phantom energy with a purpose to use it. Check out our information on how to level up your at-home recording studio for more information on this sort of tools, if you do not have it already.

The King Bee II’s comparatively low value for its high quality places it in a novel place the place it feels prefer it ought to sit proper subsequent to USB mics just like the Blue Yeti. However, it’s a pretty studio-focused mic, and for those who do not have already got the interface and associated gear to report higher audio, the value to entry is greater than the mic itself. Expect to spend a minimum of 100 {dollars} on a good interface.

On the opposite hand, for those who do have that gear already and are searching for an inexpensive mic for single-source recording, the King Bee II is hard to beat. It picks up spectacular, correct sound whereas being a lot much less finicky (and loud) than different mics it competes with. At the very least, it has satisfied me that I can do higher than the voice recording setup I already had for related cash.



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