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USB mics are really convenient, but somehow seem to a lot of serious enthusiasts to be a bit lacking, either looking or feeling cheap, or just featuring a MEH sound. M-Audio is offering up a game changer with a USB mic that sounds flat-out great, at a ridiculously low price point.
This is a pretty beefy piece, with a three capsule condenser inside the rugged metal housing. There are four patterns to choose from: Cardioid, Figure 8, Omni and Stereo. The front panel has an LCD display with a level indication as well as which pattern is being used. Below that is the volume control, mute, and the mix control that balances out the playback vs. the mic signal. The bottom has a threaded mic adapter, as well as USB connections and 1/8” Stereo headphone out for monitoring. The backside has the gain control and the microphone pattern selection. It comes with a well-done table top stand for easy adjustability, and can also be fitted to a mic stand.
With the multi-pattern selector, the Uber Mic can really be configured to fit the room it’s in. Doing podcasts with multiple people, without multiple mics is now a breeze. Set the Omni mode, and there’s no hollow-ness when placing it on a table with a few people in a room. Using it for vocals in an overdubbing setting was great; just set it for Cardioid and you’re done. There’s no noticeable latency either (an issue we’ve faced with slower USB mics in the past), and the Uber picks up the subtle nuances in performances that seem to be missing in other USB mics.
Placing it in front of an acoustic guitar, the Uber works really nicely in both Figure 8 and Stereo modes. With just this in a room, connected to a laptop, you’ve got a basic mobile studio for capturing rehearsal sessions and song ideas a lot easier than transferring files from a separate portable recorder or an iPhone.
It works with Mac as well as PC and Pro Tools First, and Touch Loops software is included, making this a great input device for a singer/songwriter who wants a no-nonsense, easy-to-use microphone without having to spend a ton of time dialing in sounds or hooking up XLR cables and interfaces to work with their DAW.
The only downside is the bottom threaded adapter can’t use the included thumbwheel washer, as the teeth interfere with both the USB and headphone input. One would guess this would have been addressed in the design phase, pushing both of these critical connections further out. It is beefy and big, so make sure to make an investment in a good mic stand, if you’re planning on using it in that configuration.
It’s a good all-around demo/podcast mic that has a no muss/no fuss feel, all the while taking things a step well above the usual consumer item found on store shelves.