I’m a gadget junkie and I love my consumer electronics. So recently I decided I should pick up a USB mic to run it through its paces. I currently own an analog Rode VideoMicro cardioid condenser which works really well for location video, but I wanted a tabletop mic for voiceovers, youtube videos and podcasts.
Three mics that looked good to me were the Sudotack ST-800, Maono AU-A04, and the Uhuru UM900. All three have nearly identical specs and for all I know might come out of the same factory with slightly different branding and industrial design tweaks. I decided on the AU-A04T with its 11″ tabletop stand, shock-mounted mic holder, foam windscreen and pop filter. The mounted mic on it’s stand can reach a max height of 15″ which is nearly tall enough for proper placement on a sitting desk.
The AU-A04 is a compact, all-metal mic with a gorgeous matte black stealth finish and a minimalist design with no buttons, lights or knobs. The 2.5m (96″) cord is long enough to easily reach my USB hub and the stand is decent for tabletop use. In making my decision I felt the tabletop kit made the most sense for my home studio kit.
The copy I received of the mic has what I’d consider an acceptable signal output. With my Mac mic levels at 100% and the mic about 6″ away from my voice I get proper levels in Audacity. I’m ok with that because I think even the unprocessed sound quality is pretty-damn good, but I don’t have a lot of wiggle room for mic placement since there is no way for me to increase the gain except in post. The noise floor seems nice and quiet to me but I don’t know whether that is accomplished with noise reduction circuitry or not. Even with the pop filter on the mic, it’s easy to get unwanted plosives so placement is critical.
I’ve got to hand it to them, construction-quality looks fantastic to me. Everything is solid metal sans the pop filter, the foam windscreen and the cord. It’s heavy in my hand and I love electronics that are well-thought-out and manufactured! Is it as heavy as a brick like a $1000 microphone? No, but I don’t think that is really necessary.
My only suggestions to Maono would be to include a 3″ taller stand and a slightly larger, more expensive condenser capsule. If they wanted to go crazy they could incorporate a 1″ diaphragm in the mic but I think it would need a larger body and more expensive price point.
Below is an audio clip of the microphone test I made for the blog. Click the orange play button to listen.