To put it simply, because of convenience. With built-in preamps, internal analog to digital converters, and simple “plug-and-play” connectivity, USB mics have become an invaluable tool for professionals on the go. Here’s how they’re raising the bar for mobile sound quality.
USB microphones are used for many different purposes. There’s the musician who wants to make demo tracks while on tour, the corporate professional looking to improve the sound quality of video conferences and meetings. And then there’s court reporters, or even investigative journalists, who need to record interviews and depositions.
For these professionals, good sound quality is imperative, but because they’re out in the field and not in a professional studio, they need to simplify the amount of gear they carry and be able to set up for proper recording in just a matter of moments.
Questions On Sound Quality
USB microphones have evolved to work seamlessly with computers, laptops, mobile smartphones, and tablets used by working professionals every day, regardless of occupation. But what about sound quality? Are USB microphones capable of sounding as good as regular XLR microphones?
Fortunately, MXL Microphones (and other top mic manufacturers as well), have put years of research and development into manufacturing outstanding-sounding USB microphones, and the results are providing users with multiple different options to choose from.
MXL Tempo for Musicians
The MXL Tempo is a cardioid condenser mic with a USB connection and built-in headphone jack for monitoring. The Tempo is great for musicians looking to make some quick demo tracks in a mobile-friendly DAW. They can plug the MXL Tempo directly into a mobile device or laptop and immediately start recording. The design of the MXL Tempo features all the same standout qualities found in traditional XLR condenser mics — a sensitive gold-sputtered capsule, a sturdy all-metal construction, and cardioid polar pattern with rear-sound rejection — but with the added convenience of needing only a single USB cable connection. There’s no phantom power or audio interface required.
Many top performing musical artists today use USB microphones for recording basic demo tracks into simple mobile-friendly DAWs like Garageband. Artists like Grimes, the Dum Dum Girls, Haim, Fall Out Boy, and James Blunt, have gone on-record about their preference for mobile-made demo tracks. These rough takes may not make it into the final studio mix, but the demos provide the band or producer with an original idea that can be built into something more radio-ready using sophisticated equipment and effects.
The MXL AC-404 for Video Conferencing and Court Reporting
The MXL AC-404 is one of the best-selling USB microphones on the market, with its main niche being the court reporting and fast-growing video conferencing markets. It’s not hard to see why — the MXL AC-404 features a three-capsule boundary design that gives a wide 180°-arc of coverage that picks up sound from as far away as 25 feet. The sturdy, flat base enables the mic to be placed securely on a flat table, and it uses the surface as a sound board to capture that wide arc of sound.
The AC-404 makes it easy for professionals to quickly and easily conduct video conferences with pristine sound. The broad pickup range makes it great for large conference rooms where multiple speakers are seated around a table. No one needs to fight over mic space and speakers don’t have to worry about moving out of mic range while talking.
Court reporters have also raved about the speech clarity of the AC-404 during depositions and trials. With its low profile, easy plug-and-play connectivity, and included USB cable, the AC-404 can fit easily into any purse or briefcase and be ready to record in seconds.
MXL .009 For Top-Quality Sound
To really see what a USB mic can do, however, you need to look at the top-tier, and the MXL USB .009 represents the pinnacle in MXL’s USB production quality. The MXL USB .009 was one of the first USB microphones to be able to record at 24 bits/96 kHz, and it has three control dials for gain, mix, and headphone levels. Designed for serious studio musicians, podcasters, voice over artists, and gamers who want phenomenal sound but with USB convenience. The MXL USB .009 uses a 32mm capsule that captures a wide frequency response 20 Hz – 20 kHz, and it has a headphone jack for zero-latency monitoring. Users can switch between recording at 16 bit or 24 bit, and it has a nickel-plated finish with blue LED light in the grille that is illuminated while in use.
The MXL .009 provides amazing sound quality out of a simple USB plug-and-play solution, and it has been used worldwide by musicians and podcasters who want great sound in an easy format.
MXL Microphones is a leading manufacturer of professional audio products for the music recording, broadcast, post production, and live sound markets.
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