Science & Technology

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

It is arduous to make a microphone that stands out today. The fundamentals of capturing audio have not modified a lot in many years, and the largest distinguishing issue is value. If in case you have some huge cash to spend, there’s already an ideal mic on the market, however getting one of the best sound at a lower cost could be more durable. That is the place the King Bee II, from Neat Microphones, excels.

The King Bee II has a comparatively giant 34 mm condenser diaphragm, which makes it a lot better at choosing up low-frequency sounds than a whole lot of condenser mics in its worth vary. Mixed with nice {hardware} and tremendous low self-noise, you get an impressively clear, correct, and wealthy sound for effectively 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 individuals may discover the King Bee II unnecessarily heavy, and that might be arduous to argue with—particularly in case your mic arm cannot deal with the burden—however I prefer it.

The mic includes 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 is likely to be much less visually hanging, however I can consider only a few eventualities through which the absolute best design alternative 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 way of. I primarily use my mic for recording voiceover, which permits for a number of takes, however I would nonetheless really feel comfy utilizing it in a dwell broadcast state of affairs. Nonetheless, the necessity for a customized mount means most third-party mounts will not work fairly as effectively, which is one thing to contemplate.

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 includes a honeycomb sample. In my expertise, the pop filter was efficient at lowering some plosives (assume huge “P” sounds), but it surely wasn’t a miracle employee. If in case you have a extra major problem 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 many nicest traits of the King Bee II is low self-noise. Beforehand, I would been utilizing the AudioTechnica AT2020—a standard entry-level XLR mic that is first rate sufficient should you’re simply getting began with voiceover or voice appearing work. Nonetheless, 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 operating by way 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 right down to a mere 6 dBA. This alone is critical sufficient that if I have been shopping for right now, I would spend the additional $70 (or $50 when it is on sale) for the King Bee II. Not solely is it so much simpler to get a transparent sign, however my voice sounds richer coming by way of this mic, just because it isn’t getting muddied by the noise the microphone itself is making.

A Solo Expertise

Regardless of excelling at a whole lot of the fundamentals that you simply’d count on from general-purpose mics, the King Bee II has some shocking limitations which may exclude some use instances. The most important downside is that it solely includes a single, cardioid polar sample. This implies it should solely actually be good at choosing up audio immediately in entrance of the microphone. When you’re hoping for a mic to document an interview between two topics, you will have to look elsewhere or get two mics.

Moreover, whereas this could go with out saying for a studio-focused mic just like the King Bee II, you will want an audio interface that may present phantom energy so as to use it. Try our information on find out how to degree up your at-home recording studio for more information on this type of gear, if you do not have it already.

The King Bee II’s comparatively low worth for its high quality places it in a singular place the place it feels prefer it ought to sit proper subsequent to USB mics just like the Blue Yeti. Nonetheless, it’s a pretty studio-focused mic, and should you do not have already got the interface and associated gear to document higher audio, the worth to entry is greater than the mic itself. Anticipate to spend at the least 100 {dollars} on an honest interface.

Alternatively, should you do have that gear already and are on the lookout 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. On 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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