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All-in-one mics tend to usually be USB versions, and are surprisingly flexible, with practical applications from music production to podcasting/broadcasting/live streaming. XLR microphones on the other hand, tend to be vocal, instrument or application specific. Neat Microphones and their Worker Bee II brings all-in-one to the XLR world.
It’s a unique shape for sure, with a flowerpot like base, and the microphone element blooming above. With a 1” diaphragm condenser capsule, this cardioid pattern mic is unique, with an internal shock mount. It does require 48v of phantom power and has a max SPL of 145dB and a frequency response of 20Hz-20kHz. A mic adapter to fit this unique form is also included.▼ Article continues below ▼
Starting off doing some voice overs and tracking some vocals we noticed it’s quite focused, and didn’t pick up a lot of extra room noise, the overall coloring could be described as even and full, and after working with it a bit, users who might be looking to step out of the USB mic zone will certainly appreciate the ease-of-use in this setting. Using a pop stopper of some sort helps users from overloading the track at the least, and keeps the singer far enough to project.
Moving on to some acoustic guitar and placing the business end at the fingerboard around the 12th fret, there was a nice balanced presence overall. Trying to get a bit more high-end out of the strumming, we placed it near the soundhole and captured a nice and natural top-end response that didn’t overpower the feel. For $99, we can’t complain about that!
Putting it on a guitar cabinet yielded some great results, as well. Some players might still want to blend in a 57 or another “tried and true” mic on their amps, just for a little extra bite, but there were no issues on getting great sounds with just the Worker Bee II on its own. Again, we’re taking under $100 here. Pulling the mic a few inches away from the speaker still gave us that space and air, but no extra coloration from our room, or need to have any blankets to kill reflections.
In many cases when a mic can be focused on an instrument, and not have to fight the room, it’s usually with an expensive model, meaning getting a second one and going stereo for overheads is pretty impractical for anyone short of a commercial or professional studio. But a pair of these could easily make capturing that extra space of the actual instrument easy and affordable; the off-axis response can really be a factor in making a great track and having a mic that focuses on the item it’s aimed at is certainly very forgiving, regardless of the room.
It’s certainly got a USB cost and flexibility, with XLR audio quality minus any hassles. There’s not a lot of “all in ones” that go to the next level, but this one yields surprisingly excellent results across the board – all at a budget-friendly price. Recommended.
Great sounding, very adaptable, super affordable