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Category: #AudioGear (Page 1 of 6)

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Samson Q9U Broadcast Mic Review: An Easy and Affordable Mic with USB-C and XLR

Researching and investing in audio products is one of the greatest hurdles for amateur podcasters and streamers. But Samson is offering an affordable, low-effort entry point to the world of high-quality audio with its $200 Q9U broadcast mic. With excellent noise rejection and options for USB-C or XLR connections, the Q9U is one of the best entry-level mics available today.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Andrew Heinzman

Windows 10 Is Finally Getting Better Support for AirPods


Part of Microsoft’s great big overhaul to Windows 10 finally includes some major changes to Bluetooth support and audio endpoints. These changes are now live in the latest Windows 10 Insider preview build, reports The Verge.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Joanna Nelius

The 8 Best USB Microphones

Razer Seiren X, Blue Yeti, and Audio-Technica 2005USB against purple backdropRazer, Yeti, Audio-Technica

Finally getting tired of the subpar sound from your webcam mic? For professional recordings, it’s already a no-go, but even for video calls, webcam audio is generally hot trash. Fortunately, USB mics can deliver some solid audio quality at reasonable prices, along with a simple setup process—so let’s look at the best around.

What to Look for in a USB Microphone

There’s a decent amount of stuff to consider when looking at a microphone, whether those are cold-hard specs or the physical design of the product itself.

  • Audio Quality: There’s little point in picking up a microphone if it’s going to sound awful. The issue is it’s hard to gather how good a mic sounds just from the product listing. Looking at the specs sheet can help a little, but it’s not 100% reliable even if you know everything about how microphones function. This is where reviewers can come in handy; looking up a couple of sound tests online is your best bet for getting a taste of how a microphone sounds. And all the microphones on this list offer quality that matches their price tags of course.
  • Sampling Rate and Bit Depth: This is more important if you’re trying to do professional recordings with your microphone. The sampling rate and bit depth both have to do with how much data is being sent by the microphone, which doesn’t matter if you’re just joining voice calls. The standard rate and depth are 44.1 kHz and 16-bit, respectively (commonly called “CD Quality”). Anything higher is called “high-definition audio,” so if you’re planning on doing professional recordings, it’s worth looking out for mics with a higher sampling rate.
  • Polar Pattern: You can think of a polar pattern as the area around a microphone where it will gather sound. There are a few pickup patterns out there, with the most popular being “cardioid.” This pattern focuses on picking up sound directly in front of the microphone, which can also help eliminate background noise. Other popular patterns are stereo (which uses the left and right channels for a more immersive sound), omnidirectional (which gathers sound from every direction), and bidirectional (picks up sound from in front and behind the microphone). Some mics also have settings to let you switch between these patterns.
  • On-Device Controls: Many microphones will have dials or buttons to adjust certain things. It’s a useful feature to be able to mute the microphone or adjust the gain (volume, basically) on the fly without having to mess with any software. Many mics will also include zero-latency headphone monitor jacks, which are useful if you want to, for example, hear your audio live while recording a voiceover.
  • Software: Speaking of, the software of a microphone is important to be aware of. Microphone software can range from a versatile, feature-packed tool to a place where you just change the gain of your microphone. Usually, the former is preferable, but not every microphone needs a complex software suite, so we’ll go into detail on how each software manages.

Best Overall: Blue Yeti

Blue Yeti microphoneBlue

The Yeti is a well-known name in the world of microphones, but it’s a safe call for voice calls, streaming, and voiceovers. For features, the Yeti keeps things simple yet practical; there’s a dial for adjusting volume through the zero-latency headphone jack, a mute button, and a switch for adjusting the polar pattern (it supports omnidirectional, cardioid, bidirectional, and stereo).

It uses a sampling rate of 16-bit, 48 kHz, which is adjustable through Blue’s Sherpa software, alongside the gain. The simple mic stand the Yeti comes with is fine for setting it up, but Blue also offers a dedicated boom arm mic if you need more movement (and most third-party arms will support the Yeti as well). Thanks to a combination of smart features, an elegant design, and good support among the accessory market, the Yeti is an easy choice to make.

But that’s not where the Yeti’s legacy ends, as there are a couple of other microphones under the Yeti label that, while similar to the original, offer some unique features. First up is the Nano, the Yeti’s smaller follow-up that still delivers similarly great audio—in fact, it even has a higher bit depth at 24-bit.  Besides that, the specs are extremely similar, though the Nano only supporting cardioid and omnidirectional polar patterns.

Second is the Yeti X, which is an upgraded version of the standard Yeti that offers better specs and audio, alongside a more versatile dial that can now adjust the gain. It’s a worthy upgrade if you already have a Yeti, or want something with some more features.

Best Overall

Blue Yeti

A well-garnered microphone that balances price, features, and quality excellently.

Best Mid-Range Pick: Blue Snowball

Blue Snowball microphoneBlue

If the Yeti clan is out of your price range, then Blue still offers an excellent substitute—the Snowball. The Blue Snowball is an oddly shaped microphone that still delivers some great audio quality. With a sample rate of 44.1 kHz and bit depth of 16-bit, the microphone does a good job for the money. You still have a couple of polar patterns to switch between, namely cardioid and omnidirectional, and Blue Sherpa still controls your microphone gain. There are no on-device controls to speak of, nor is there a headphone jack, but considering the more casual approach to this microphone those are understandable.

And if the Snowball is still out of your price range, then the Snowball iCE lowers the price even further. This microphone is only capable of using the cardioid polar pattern and cuts down the number of condenser capsules (which, put basically, is the tech inside the microphone that actually records audio) from two to one. This does decrease audio quality overall, but the iCE still sounds fine and is more than enough for video calls.

Best Mid-Range Pick

Blue Snowball

Another option from Blue that offers some solid audio quality for a lower price.

Best Budget Option: Fifine K669B

Fifine K669B microphoneFifine

Considering how inexpensive this microphone is, it still delivers an impressive level of audio quality. The K669B is a basic microphone though; there’s no software, no headphone jack, and it only supports the cardioid polar pattern. The mic still sounds good though, it has a gain dial on the front, and it records at 16-bit, 48 kHz. If you don’t need anything fancy, the K669B is good enough for most audio purposes—but it will disappoint if you try to use it for anything professional. Just turn off your fan when using it, because most reviewers cite it as being pretty sensitive to background noise.

Best Budget Option

Fifine K669B

An inexpensive mic that, while sensitive to background noise, still lives up to the price tag.

Best Premium Microphone: Audio-Technica AT2020USB+

Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ microphoneAudio-Technica

Forget fancy features and software, if you just want great audio quality, the AT2020USB+ has it. Audio-Technica makes some of the best microphones around, and the AT2020USB+ is a shining example of that. It records at 16-bit, 48 kHz and has two dials on the bottom; one for mixing audio from the mic and computer, and the other for headphone output volume through the zero-latency jack. It’s limited to the cardioid pattern, which is unfortunate, but if you’re just doing voice recordings that shouldn’t be an issue —you’d want to use cardioid for that either way.

If you’re looking to do professional recordings but aren’t quite ready to make the jump to XLR, then the AT2020USB+ is a nice middle ground.

Best Premium

Audio-Technica AT2020USB+

A high-end USB mic that delivers quality sound.

Best Ultra-Premium: Blue Yeti Pro

Blue Yeti Pro microphoneBlue

We have one more stop to make in the Blue realm, this time with the Blue Yeti Pro. While it is technically a part of the standard Yeti family, the Pro offers a lot more upgrades than even the Yeti X in terms of quality—for a much higher price. It records at a max of 192 kHz, 24-bit (adjustable through Blue Sherpa), and can be switched between cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional, and stereo polar patterns. It also keeps the headphone output volume dial, zero-latency jack, and mute button of the standard Yeti.

But the most interesting feature of the Yeti Pro is it’s not solely a USB microphone—it also includes an XLR port. XLR is an alternative connector for microphones capable of transferring higher-quality audio signals, which makes it preferable for professional recordings. It does have some drawbacks, however. It’s more complicated and requires an audio interface to work. This feature makes the Yeti Pro a smart choice if you think you’ll want to switch to XLR in the future with the simplicity of USB to start.

Best Ultra-Premium

Blue Yeti Pro

Another mic from Blue which offers high-quality audio and a choice between USB and XLR connection.

Small and Powerful: Razer Seiren X

Razer Seiren X MicrophoneRazer

If you’re familiar with Razer, then it’s no surprise that all its microphone released over the years are marketed as “gaming microphones.” However, that shouldn’t dissuade you from the Seiren X, because at the end of the day, it’s a great microphone in a sleek and compact package. There’s been a lot of these smaller microphones released over the past few years, mostly targeted at streamers, and the Seiren X makes a compelling case for itself.

The Seiren X records at 48 kHz, 16-bit which can be adjusted alongside the gain in Razer Synapse. The most unique part of the Seiren X is the polar pattern it uses: Super Cardioid—an even more focused version of standard cardioid. This helps eliminate background noise, which is something a lot of other USB microphones struggle with. It also features a zero-latency jack, a dial for adjusting the volume, and a mute button.

Then there’s the Seiren Emote, which is extremely similar to the X but uses the “Hyper Cardioid” polar pattern, which is even more focused than Super. It also has an LED panel on the front of the microphone that can display small images and animations. This is mostly a fun alternative to the Seiren X than an upgrade per se, although you’d be forgiven for thinking the latter as the Emote is nearly twice as expensive as the X.

Small and Powerful

Razer Seiren X

A sleek and compact microphone that uses a unique polar pattern.

Best for Streamers: Elgato Wave 3

Elgato Wave 3 microphoneElgato

While any of the microphones we’ve listed so far would make for competent streaming microphones, the Wave 3 is a special case. Elgato is well-known for making some of the best streaming peripherals you can buy, and the Wave 3 is no different.  In terms of hardware, it’s a pretty solid offering; compact form factor, a sampling rate of 24-bit, 96 kHz, cardioid polar pattern, and a versatile dial that can adjust gain and headphone output volume. (There’s also a zero-latency jack.) There’s also a dedicated mute button located on the top of the mic.

But the software is where things get more interesting. Through Elgato Wavelink, you can access a lot of features and settings that simplify the streaming experience. The main feature is you can balance and mix up to nine audio sources, including the microphone itself, games, or other programs. And then there’s the “Clipguard” setting, which automatically balances your microphone audio to avoid clipping on stream. Clipping occurs when your audio is too loud and overloads your microphone. Clipguard will ensure your audio never gets to that point by dynamically lowering the gain.

It’s a feature-packed microphone, but admittedly expensive. That’s where the Elgato Wave 1 is handy—it loses the multifunction dial and dedicated mute button, but still keeps the great functionality of Wavelink.

Best for Streamers

Elgato Wave 3

A feature-packed microphone built for streamers.

Versatile: Audio-Technica AT2005USB

Audio-Technica AT2005USB microphoneAudio-Technica

The final microphone on this list is one for users who want some freedom. The AT2005USB features a sampling rate of 48 kHz, 16-bit, and uses the cardioid polar pattern. So nothing too unique there, but unlike most of the other mics on this list, it has an XLR port alongside a USB. This allows you to switch from USB to XLR on the fly (assuming you have an audio interface for the XLR) and choose whether you want the simplicity of USB or higher quality audio of XLR. This is also a dynamic microphone, which means it’s more suited for recording loud noises and instruments than the other microphones here (which are all condenser mics).

Either way, the microphone still sounds pretty good for the mid-range price point, so if you want the ability to switch connector types at will, it’s an inexpensive way to do so.


Audio-Technica AT2005USB

An XLR/USB microphone that performs better when recording loud sounds and instruments.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Eric Schoon

Skullcandy Dime Earbuds Review: Worth More Than What You Paid

Skullcandy’s latest pair of true wireless earbuds are quite the attention grabber. Not for any notable features or accomplishments, but rather the price—$25 is quite the bargain. But while you may expect these to be low-end earbuds that barely function, they are much, much more than that.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Eric Schoon

Best noise-cancelling headphones


Noise-cancelling headphones are one of the most popular types of cans, and for good reason. They block out ambient noise that can distract from you enjoying your favorite tunes. While they’re particularly useful for air travel and daily commutes—especially via mass transit—they’re also great at isolating you from at-home noise pollution, whether that be the whoosh of your HVAC system, than whir of your computer’s cooling fans, or your neighbor’s lawn mower.

Noise cancellation can be accomplished in two ways: Through active or passive measures. Our focus here is on the former. The latter isn’t isn’t a technology per se; rather, it refers to how much ambient noise a headphone will physically block. Closed-back over-ear headphones and in-ear headphones with memory-foam tips and offer the best passive noise cancellation. You’ll find our reviews of all types of headphones here.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Theo Nicolakis,

TechHive staff

How to Connect AirPods to an Apple TV

The Apple TV can send audio directly to your AirPods, AirPods Pro, or AirPods Max wireless headphones, letting you watch videos, play games, or work out with Apple Fitness+ without disturbing anyone else in the room. Here’s how.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Tim Brookes

Creative’s Sound Blaster USB-C DAC Can Fix Your Coworker’s Annoying Zoom Audio

When you buy something that claims to have noise cancellation features, it generally means either isolating the audio you hear, or isolating the audio other people hear from your microphone. But Creative Sound Blaster’s PLAY! 4 DAC can take it one step further: cleaning up other people’s crappy microphone audio for your discerning ears.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Michael Crider

Beats Flex Review: Best Budget Buds

The Beats Flex in black on a black backgroundCameron Summerson

I’ve reviewed a lot of true wireless earbuds over the last year, but it’s been a hot minute since I took a set of neckbuds for a whirl. The Beats Flex have been an excellent reminder that this type of earbud is still such a great choice if you want a solid set of ‘buds that won’t break the bank. They’re excellent for just $50.

Don’t get me wrong—there’s nothing amazing or standout about these earbuds. You don’t get ambient mode or ANC. There’s no ear detection. There is, however, automatic play/pause thanks to the magnets that keep the buds together when they’re not in your ears. But otherwise, they’re just a very standard set of wireless earbuds.

The simplicity and low price are what makes the Flex so appealing in the first place, though. They’re a great upgrade from the normal wired earbuds that ship with many phones, like the standard EarPods that used to come with iPhones. If you’re still using an old set of wired buds, this is the best upgrade path for you (assuming you’re not willing to drop at least double the price on a set of true wireless buds, of course). They sound pretty good, are incredibly comfortable, and last about 12 hours on average. That’s a lot of ticked boxes for $50.

Sound Quality: Better Than Basic

The Beats Flex in black on a black matte background, one earbud and the Beats logo in focusCameron Summerson

There was a time when the name “Beats” meant “these headphones have way too much bass.” That time has come and gone (despite the common misconceptions that I still hear about this subject), with the Flex going lighter on bass than most other Beats I’ve heard recently.

That’s not to say they’re missing a defined low end. It’s still very much present, though you may be underwhelmed if you’re the “give me all the bass you can stuff into my brain” type of listener. I find the balance to be very good for most listening purposes, but I personally prefer a bit more low end in music than what the Flex offers. That said, it’s not something I’ve noticed myself missing after just a few minutes of listening to the Flex.

As for treble and midrange, that’s really where these ‘buds have the biggest impact. The balance between the two is very good, with chimey highs and a very well-balanced midrange that leads to an excellent overall listening experience—especially if you like podcasts or watch a lot of videos with earbuds in.

Overall, the Flex sound good. They may be lacking in low end for users who prefer bassier headphones, but the “average” listener can appreciate the overall balance offered here. The cost to sound quality ratio is very good with the Flex.

Comfort: I Forgot How Comfy Neckbuds Can Be

One of the best things about neckbuds is that the actual buds are quite light, which makes for a pretty comfortable fit. True wireless buds have a lot going on under the hood, so they’re often weightier than non-TW earbuds, which leads to more ear fatigue and discomfort.

The Flex are no different here. The buds are light, there’s plenty of length to the connected cord so it doesn’t constantly pull on the buds, and even the controls on either side are lightweight enough that I don’t even notice them. Overall, these are probably some of the most comfortable neckbuds I’ve worn in … well, as long as I can remember, really. A+.

The USB-C charging portCameron Summerson

Speaking of the controls, let’s take a quick look at those. Like pretty much everything else about these, they’re pretty simple. The power button is on the right side, and … that’s literally it. The left side houses the USB-C charging port—a nice departure from other Beats, which rely on Apple’s Lightning cable for charging—the volume rocker and multifunction button. The multifunction button is play/pause with a single press, track forward with a double press, track back with a triple press, and calls up your device’s digital assistant with a long press.

Highlighting the mic, volume rocker, and multifunction button on the left side.The mic, volume rocker, and multifunction button on the left side. Cameron Summerson

Once you get used to wearing the buds, finding the controls becomes second nature. It took me a bit of time to get accustomed to how high up the controls are, but once I figured it out, it was smooth sailing from then on out.

The most bothersome thing I encountered with the controls was turning the buds on. There’s no “powered on” sound, so you have to hold the button for a couple of seconds and hope they turn on. There is, however, a connected tone, so at least you’ll know when they connect. There’s just a weird disconnect between turning them on and waiting for them to connect where it’s not clear if they’re actually on.

Also, there’s an app for Android. (This isn’t really about comfort, but whatever.) It’s also a simple sort of app—there’s no EQ or customizable controls, really. You can toggle the automatic play/pause feature, which also applies to calls. You can also rename the buds if you want. And that’s pretty much all there is to the app. Still, it’s worth having installed—you can use it to quickly see the remaining battery percentage of the buds if nothing else.

As an aside, I also noticed that the buds connected much faster to my Pixel 5 with the app installed, which helps cut down on the previously mentioned power on/connection tone delay. There’s no app for iOS because the features offered here are native on iOS thanks to the M1 chip in the Flex.

Conclusion: Excellent Earbuds for a Fiddy Spot

Highlighting the Beats logo on both earbudsCameron Summerson

I think the best customer for the Beats Flex is anyone looking to replace a set of wired earbuds with something wireless that won’t break the bank doing it. The target audience here isn’t the person looking at AirPods or other true wireless earbuds that are more than twice the cost of the Flex, and the audio quality/features reflect that.

But if you’re in the market for some reliable, comfortable earbuds that sound pretty good and will easily get you through a day, the Beats Flex are your huckleberry.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Cameron Summerson

Samsung Wins the Wireless Earbuds War with Retro Clamshell Cellphone Charging Cases


It turns out the big news from last week wasn’t that Samsung finally ditched the bizarre bean design for its wireless earbuds, it’s that the company plans to dominate the ‘kids of the late ‘90s’ demographic with a charging case cover that camouflages the Galaxy Buds Pro as a retro clamshell cellphone.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Andrew Liszewski

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