Sound and Music | RRP: $319.99
Remote recording is an increasingly popular choice for podcasters, YouTubers, journalists, and any other content creators you can think of. While more traditional methods of recording via an XLR cable may offer more options in terms of signal flow like preamps and compression, for someone focused on video or pictures with a running commentary, audio is a secondary priority.
USB microphones provide a digital platform for super clean recording, and the sE Electronics NEOM USB mic more specifically offers controls for gain, output level, and latency free monitoring so you can quickly get recording and focus on the capture rather than the set-up. The sE NEOM USB is a USB cardioid condenser microphone powered by an electret condenser. It’s housed in a classy and rugged metal chassis that is modelled vaguely like a vintage ribbon or condenser mic, so it’ll look great in your videos as well. The NEOM can record at up to 192kHz with 24-bit, and the chassis of the mic offers input gain via ‘Mic Gain’ that doubles as a mute button, and a second dial for output level under ‘Mic Level’. ‘Playback Level’ controls a latency-free headphone output on the back of the mic.
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The NEOM weighs approximately 445g so it’ll be easy to pack and take just about anywhere you need it to go. It supports sample rates from 44.1 all the way up to 192kHz, and both analogue to digital and digital to analogue conversions spec out at 24-bit. The NEOM is bus-powered and takes either USB type A or C depending on your system. It’ll pick up sounds from 20Hz all the way up to 20kHz so you won’t lose any clarity from a rich range of voices, sources or instruments. The three knobs for controlling input and output feel solid and precise, allowing you to dial in precise gain structuring as well as recall thanks to little indicators surrounding each of the knobs. The back of the unit features a 3.5mm headphone output for monitoring. The interior contains a 16mm back-electret condenser capsule that offers a cardioid pattern and reasonably flat response with a little bump around 120Hz and another at about 12kHz. The frequency response makes it ideal for voices or podcasting, or alternatively as a super clean mic to quickly record instrumental ideas on either an acoustic instrument or in front of a quiet amplifier.
In use the sE Electronics NEOM USB mic couldn’t be more simple. Making it bus powered is a simple but great choice, allowing the NEOM to be connected via one single cable and nothing else. This makes it a super portable solution, and its lightweight build won’t make an impact in your backpack or laptop case. The capsule is big enough to capture hi-fidelity sound, but not as big as a larger condenser. sE has managed to pack a lot into a really portable package, and the chassis itself is really classy, road-tough and built to last.
What’s most surprising about the NEOM is the top end. Some more budget microphones suffer in the high end but the NEOM remains clear and articulate. While it’s not designed for a super punchy low end, the lows work well for voice and most instruments, and it features a nice proximity effect for any podcast guests with an especially rich timbre to their voice. In addition to proximity, the sE NEOM does a great job at capturing ambience, space, and distance from the microphone, allowing a source to sit back a little in a mix if required. Most more affordable mics really struggle in this space (pardon the pun), so it’s a welcome feature in the NEOM.
sE Electronics produce mics from the most entry level dynamics up to top-tier microphones seen on some of the biggest sessions in modern times. What they always bring though, is the features and specifications they cram into the products. What’s more, their products are super usable and designed with the producer in mind, so they function in very practical and well-planned ways. The NEOM encapsulates this ideology, bringing form and function into a tidy chassis. The layout of the knobs and dials packs a lot of control into the tiny package, allowing you to really do away with any other products you may be using to capture ideas on the fly.
Whether you’re an experienced engineer or a budding podcaster, the NEOM serves its purpose for you, and it serves it well. It records cleanly and allows you to monitor simultaneously via an integrated headphone output, again with a controllable headphone output. One cable is all you need to start recording, and recording very cleanly at that. It may be a big statement, but any other USB microphone in the market may be the wrong choice now that the sE Electronics NEOM USB mic is available, you’d be hard pressed to find anything that offers anything more comprehensively than the NEOM USB does. And even if you do, you won’t find anything with the style, rugged housing and classy aesthetic that the NEOM offers.