Review: The King Bee II Is My Favorite Home Studio Mic

It’s onerous to make a microphone that stands out as of late. The fundamentals of capturing audio have not modified a lot in a long time, and the most important distinguishing issue is price. If you will have some huge cash to spend, there’s already an ideal mic on the market, however getting one of the best sound at a lower cost could be tougher. That’s the place the King Bee II, from Neat Microphones, excels.

The King Bee II has a comparatively giant 34 mm condenser diaphragm, which makes it a lot better at selecting up low-frequency sounds than quite a lot of condenser mics in its value vary. Combined with nice {hardware} and tremendous low self-noise, you get an impressively clear, correct, and wealthy sound for effectively beneath $200.


The final time I felt such a satisfying heft when pulling a microphone out of a field was the primary time I unboxed a Blue Yeti. Many individuals may discover the King Bee II unnecessarily heavy, and that might be onerous to argue with—particularly in case your mic arm cannot deal with the burden—however I prefer it.

The mic encompasses a tapered cylindrical physique that is subtly paying homage to a bee, with a spherical lollipop-like diaphragm (the membrane that detects audio) protruding of the highest. This second-generation mannequin is an enchancment over the corporate’s earlier design, which was unsubtly bee-like, with stark black and yellow stripes. The King Bee II is likely to be much less visually hanging, however I can consider only a few situations during which the very best design selection is thick and yellow. For me, the brand new physique is a welcome change.

The tapered design does imply that it wants a customized shock mount, which it comes with. In my expertise, the shock mount labored decently, with solely the occasional bump getting by way of. I primarily use my mic for recording voiceover, which permits for a number of takes, however I’d nonetheless really feel comfy utilizing it in a stay broadcast state of affairs. However, the necessity for a customized mount means most third-party mounts will not work fairly as effectively, which is one thing to think about.

It comes with a built-in pop filter, which is good to not have to fret about shopping for individually. In one other refined nod to the bee branding, the filter encompasses a honeycomb sample. In my expertise, the pop filter was efficient at lowering some plosives (assume huge “P” sounds), but it surely wasn’t a miracle employee. If you will have a extra major problem with pops, you may want a third-party filter, or to step again from the mic.

The Sound of Silence

Photograph: Neat Microphones

One of the nicest traits of the King Bee II is low self-noise. Previously, I’d been utilizing the AudioTechnica AT2020—a standard entry-level XLR mic that is first rate sufficient for those who’re simply getting began with voiceover or voice appearing work. However, the AT2020 has a comparatively excessive 20 dBA of self-noise. 

The result’s a hiss that is current on each recording, irrespective of how quiet I make my recording area. Currents working by way of any digital gadget make a small quantity of noise, so to a sure extent that is unavoidable, however the King Bee II brings that noise right down to a mere 6 dBA. This alone is important sufficient that if I have been shopping for as we speak, I’d spend the additional $70 (or $50 when it is on sale) for the King Bee II. Not solely is it lots simpler to get a transparent sign, however my voice sounds richer coming by way of this mic, just because it isn’t getting muddied by the noise the microphone itself is making.

A Solo Experience

Despite excelling at quite a lot of the fundamentals that you just’d count on from general-purpose mics, the King Bee II has some stunning limitations which may exclude some use instances. The greatest disadvantage is that it solely encompasses a single, cardioid polar sample. This means it’ll solely actually be good at selecting up audio instantly in entrance of the microphone. If you are hoping for a mic to report an interview between two topics, you may must look elsewhere or get two mics.

Additionally, whereas this could go with out saying for a studio-focused mic just like the King Bee II, you may want an audio interface that may present phantom energy so as to use it. Check out our information on how to level up your at-home recording studio for more information on this sort of gear, if you do not have it already.

The King Bee II’s comparatively low value for its high quality places it in a singular place the place it feels prefer it ought to sit proper subsequent to USB mics just like the Blue Yeti. However, it’s a pretty studio-focused mic, and for those who do not have already got the interface and associated gear to report higher audio, the worth to entry is greater than the mic itself. Expect to spend at the very least 100 {dollars} on a good interface.

On the opposite hand, for those who do have that gear already and are searching for an inexpensive mic for single-source recording, the King Bee II is hard to beat. It picks up spectacular, correct sound whereas being a lot much less finicky (and loud) than different mics it competes with. At the very least, it has satisfied me that I can do higher than the voice recording setup I already had for comparable cash.

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