Review: Smart Acoustic SUM2020 USB Condenser Mic

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Review: Smart Acoustic SUM2020 USB Condenser Mic

Words by Rob Gee

Smart Acoustics SUM2020 USB Condenser Mic | Australis | RRP: $64.99

For those of you who don’t know of Smart Acoustic, you need to go into your local music store more often and have a browse. Although a fairly new name to the audio scene, Smart Acoustic have been producing a large range of portable PA solutions, wireless systems and studio essentials for the Australian market, Significantly, this is a brand that is designed in Australia, offering fair pricing and with local support when needed. So, if you’re looking to get started in home recording, the Smart Acoustics SUM2020 USB Condenser Microphone is a great place to start that journey.

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Be it recording instruments and vocals for music or as a centrepiece for a podcast or live-stream setup, this is a budget option worth looking at. In a format that many of us will be familiar with, Smart Acoustics have packaged it all into one product to get you set with the need for little else. In a housing that has the look and shape of the classic large diaphragm condenser microphone that we know so well, a permanently polarised, capacitive condenser capsule is housed. This is fixed to a cardioid pickup pattern, which is many ways is a simple blessing as it removes the need to fuss over unnecessary details and just offers you a worthwhile polar pattern for the likely uses the SUM2020 is intended for. When set up on the supplied desktop tripod stand, you are able to angle the microphone up slightly and set it as far back from your seating position as your desk space allows. With this slight angle, it reduces unwanted reflections from the desktop.

As the microphone capsule is housed in a caged framework, this offers some protection against sibilance and plosive sounds, especially when set up at a range of one to three feet from the vocal source. If that is not enough, or if you are finding unwanted environmental noise is being captured, the included windsock fits over the cage to reduce these issues. Low level computer operating noise is often an issue with a microphone like this as it is usually set up on the desk alongside a laptop. Placing the computer to the rear of the microphone, even off to the side and behind, helps this issue, as does the added reduction from the windsock.

When using this microphone for instrument purposes, you can work with a floor standing microphone stand should you wish. You just need to unscrew the adjustable cradle from the tripod and set it up with your new stand. Keeping the capsule around two or three feet from the sound source is ideal for most acoustic instruments like guitars and percussion. Bringing it closer does increase the detail in the higher end, with more finger noise on the guitar certainly present. For an electric guitar amplifier, or even as a room microphone for drum applications, this actually a usable option. The high SPL handling of the capsule allows for clear audio capture at a controlled distance. You can actually get away with using the little tripod for a lot of guitar amplifier combos as they generally have a 12” speaker mounted just an inch or two about the ground level. This will leave your microphone capsule sitting just below the centre of the speaker cone, where you ideally want it placed, with a slight upwards angle firing across the speaker cone.


Setting up the SUM2020 couldn’t be easier. As the housing includes a built in audio interface, you just need to connect the microphone to your computer via the USB cable. Power is supplied to the microphone via the USB connection, so long as the bus has adequate power. It doesn’t take long to select and set up the SUM2020 as your audio device and then adjust the input levels. All audio is transferred via the USB too, with monitoring offered by the 1/8 inch TRS headphone connection on the front panel. A volume control is located just above the headphone output, and above that, is a curious control labelled Echo. Sadly, there’s no free microphone, for anyone who guesses what that does. A simple reverb style effect can be turned up with this control to add a subtle touch of room ambience to your vocal should you so desire.

Below these controls, is a Mute button that allows the user to instantly cut off the input signal from the microphone itself, without having to reach for the computer and do so within the software. This is rather handy for us in a podcast situation when you want your microphone to be quiet at certain times, but still be able to bring it back into record mode instantly when you want to chime in on the conversation. This saves a lot of effort after the fact, removing the need to go through and edit vocals in and out to remove unwanted noise. It’s almost like having a manual noise gate at your fingertips.

It really is quite amazing that all this is on offer for under seventy dollars. I can remember when the first budget condenser microphones for home use started to appear on the Australian market. At that time, you were lucky to get away with one under five hundred dollars, and that required a preamp with phantom power options and an audio interface before you could record. To get all that in one unit for the price of a few trendy craft beer pints is just outstanding. This about that, if you end your session at the local craft brewery early on a Saturday evening, you could afford a new recording setup on Monday morning! So, with that, get into your local music store and have a look at one of these some time this week.

For more information, head to Smart Acoustic. For local enquiries, visit Australis.