Can the Maono USB/XLR Dynamic Podcast Microphone help photographers with streaming, YouTube podcasts, vlogging, gaming or communicating with clients? We had a look at this microphone so you can learn more about it and hear it in action.
The Maono PD200X USB/XLR Dynamic Podcast Microphone is an attractive dynamic microphone which has a glowing band of light that either remains a solid color or continually changes color, a look that sets the microphone apart from most other microphones. This feature has gained popularity with gamers and Twitch users.
How is the microphone for vloggers, photographers, and content creators? I used it for several Zoom and Skype calls while testing the microphone. I’ll describe how it went. You can hear audio examples of the microphone in which I compare it to my 2017 iMac 27″ internal microphone and the more expensive HyperX Quadcast USB Microphone.
Note: Maono sent us the Maono USB/XLR Dynamic Podcast Microphone to review and keep. However, this is a completely independent review. All thoughts about this microphone are our own.
- Attractive microphone with a band of various glowing lights which stands apart from other microphones
- An easy-to-adjust gain-control dial on the side of the microphone allows you to adjust the volume easily
- The LED light around the volume knob indicates function and volume
- Monitor the microphone input through a 3.5mm headphone jack
- Everything is easily accessible on the microphone and easy to understand
- The microphone can be controlled via the well-designed Maono Link app (Windows, Mac, Android, Google Play)
- Self-noise is a little loud for quiet or delicate nuanced audio
Maono USB/XLR Dynamic Podcast Microphone — Technical specifications
- Element Type: Dynamic microphone
- Connectivity: XLR & USB-C
- Bit Depth/Sample Rate: 24-bit/48kHz
- Frequency Response: 40Hz-16kHz
- Adjustable Gain Range: 0 to +42dB
- Sensitivity: XLR: -52dBV; USB: -10.5dBFS/Pa(Max)
- Compatible Devices: Desktop/Laptop/Computer/Mixer/Audio Interface/PS4/PS5/MAC OS/WINDOWS
- Recommended Uses For Product: Podcasting, Recording, Streaming, Gaming, Video Conference
What’s included: Dynamic Microphone, Shock Mount, 2.5m USB-C to USB-A/C Cable, 5/8” to 3/8” Adapter, User’s Manual, 18 Months Free Warranty. The Maono Link app comes. with PDF user’s manual.
Maono USB/XLR Dynamic Podcast Microphone — Ergonomics and build quality
I used the Maono microphone with a mid-2017 iMac. Upon connecting the USB plug in, the computer recognized the microphone right away without having to do anything. This included not only the Audio section in System Preferences, but also Zoom, Google Meet and Skype. Most USB microphones are plug-and-play as well, but still, it’s nice to know this worked flawlessly. I hope to use it for future Nightaxians Night Photography YouTube podcasts as well when we resume recording.
When the microphone is connected via USB, the band lights up with either a dynamic changing color or one of the eight colors that you can select.
Maono Link App
You may use the Maono microphone with their free app. However, much of its functions are easily accessible on the body. Also, it functions well without the app. With the app, you also have access to a limiter, compressor, volume control, EQ modes, RGB light customization and one-button mute.
On my iMac, installation was a breeze. The app immediately recognized and controlled the microphone. I did two recordings of the Maono microphone below, one prior to using the app, and one with the app, using the compression and limiter. The app is extremely easy to use and has a nice, clean layout.
This microphone is primarily for vlogging, streaming, video podcasts, and podcasts. While it has a metal body, the shock-mount and adapter are plastic. In other words, it’s not built for the rigors of a commercial recording studio. However, the build is perfectly fine for what it’s suited for: vlogging, podcasting, streaming, and gaming.
The dial and other buttons feel fine, if slightly plasticky. There is a small button on the button that allows you to select continually-changing multicolor gradients or one of eight static solid-color effects.
I should note that the included 8.2 ft. (2.5 m) USB cable is nice and long and feels robust.
Maono USB/XLR Dynamic Podcast Microphone — In the field
Everything is well-labeled and easy to use. The controls at the bottom of the microphone are a bit hard to see. However, since this is ordinarily a set-and-forget selection, I do not see this as a problem.
Ideally, when you are speaking into a microphone, you should talk past the microphone, not directly into it. Regardless, this microphone has a foam filter to stop “plosives,” reducing the chance for breaths to create unprofessional lower-frequency percussive sounds. This works reasonably well. If you talk slightly past the microphone, you will be fine.
Controlling the volume
The volume knob actually controls both microphone gain and headphone volume. You simply press the knob to switch between the two. When you do so, the color immediately changes from green to blue. Now it controls the headphone volume.
Furthermore, if you press the button above to mute the microphone, the light ring turns to a dim red. Nice!
And it gets even better. The brightness increases or decreases, corresponding to the volume level! This is a great functional item that also looks cool.
And of course, you may also control the volume via the app.
I found the conveniently-located gain control dial made it very easy to quickly adjust mic input sensitivity. The microphone is intuitive and easy to use every step of the way.
What’s on the bottom of the microphone?
The microphone has a USB Mini-B port for connecting to your computer as well as a 3.5mm headphone output. This is also how it communicates with the app.
However, because the microphone is also has an XLR output, you can connect it to analog equipment such as mixers, portable PAs, or audio interfaces.
Maono USB/XLR Dynamic Podcast Microphone — Sound quality
In the video above, I made four recordings, all of which are on the YouTube video above:
- Maono PD200X with no app (via USB)
- Maono PD200X with the app, using compression, limiting and flat EQ (via USB)
- The internal microphone of my 2017 iMac
- HyperX Quadcast (via USB)
The microphone has a cardioid polar pattern and has good sound quality.
For the first recording, I simply plugged it in and began recording. I noticed some self-noise that is not present with either the internal iMac microphone or the HyperX Quadcast microphone. This sounds a bit like what people might describe as “static” or “hash” and therefore does not sound as clear. While this sound is not obtrusive, I would not want to record a professional podcast or anything involving quiet or nuanced sounds with it.
Interestingly, this noise was less noticeable when using the app with or without the limiter and compressor. I’m not sure why. You can hear this in the second recording. For this as well as access to more controls and functions, I would recommend using the app.
The sound quality is certainly fuller than the internal computer microphone, but again, is a little noisier.
The HyperX Quadcast has smoother, fuller, quieter sound to my ear. Then again, it also costs twice as much.
I did not test the Maono microphone via XLR. However, typically, XLR microphones must go through an analog mic preamp, so I would anticipate the sound quality might be either about the same or slightly noisier than via USB.
Maono USB/XLR Dynamic Podcast Microphone — Reactions from others
When I used this for Zoom and Skype calls, people noticed the glowing band right away and commented on it. I didn’t need to do very much adjusting during these calls. However, when I did, it was very easy to do while continuing to speak or work. Muting the microphone is very easy, as it is one button click. The light by the volume knob then turns off, an excellent feature.
A brief explanation of compression and limiting on the Maono Link app
As it turns out, I do recording engineering, recording bands as well as my own music. I’ve written articles about recording engineering in magazines such as the late, great EQ Magazine. Hopefully this means I can describe compression and limiting in an understandable way!
This function reduces dynamic range by bringing down the level of the loudest parts. This means that the loudest and quietest parts are now closer together in volume and the natural volume variations are less obvious.
This function catches the loudest peaks of an audio source and applies brick wall compression that prevents it from exceeding the clipping point of 0 dB or wherever you set the slider. A limiter is basically a compressor set to a very high ratio, which is why it is often referred to as “brick wall” compression.