I have spent a decent amount of time behind microphones in my life. I enjoy performing and speaking, and it’s hard for me to pass up an opportunity to do so. I’ve worked with many microphone types from low budget (terrible sounding) karaoke brands to the infamously versatile Shure SM58 to starting off with some basic recording on a cardioid condenser AT2020. I certainly wouldn’t call myself an expert, but I have an idea of what sounds good.
With seemingly everyone starting a podcast (don’t worry I’m not) or streaming, microphones have been all the rage. If you are considering your own microphone for gaming or podcasting, or are looking into recording some of your own music, it is hard to know where to begin. I argue Neat’s Bumblebee 2 USB microphone may be an affordable quality way to get started.
In all fairness, I never used the first Bumblebee microphone. Thank goodness. I have seen pictures and it certainly isn’t for me. The original mic looked – well – like a bumblebee – and it wasn’t pretty. The Bumblebee 2 has a much more professional look. It has a black metal chassis that allows the mic to swivel rather nicely. The mic itself isn’t a bold statement by any means and this is a good thing. Instead, it has round edges and a simplistic feel and design.
“Simplistic” shouldn’t be mistaken for cheap though. It feels like a nice solid mic for the price ($99 at time of writing). The Bumblebee 2 comes with a mounting adapter for my boom mic stand. It is easy to remove from the chassis and connecting to the stand is effortless. It looks great in its stand, but I am not a big fan of the sharp angle the USB-C cable has to take to get around the chassis. Cords are always a pain, but I feel like Neat could have taken a different approach with how the cord lies.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, this is a USB microphone. What is great about a USB mic is it doesn’t need an Audio Interface (AI) device with 48v phantom power. An XLR microphone on the other hand typically requires 48v and an AI. After testing out the Bumblebee 2 it is clear to see that USB mics have come a long way. I plug in the microphone, and it just works – no setup required.
What a relief this is. I cannot begin to explain the pains I went through setting up my AI with an XLR microphone (as a newbie). Getting my software to recognize the mic took way too long. Thankfully I have more experience now, and this isn’t such a pain. Again, the new Bumblebee 2 removes that pain and sets up in a heartbeat.
I’m a bit of a nerd, and I’ve recently taken up being a Dungeon Master (or Game Master for those of you playing other tabletop variations) in Dungeons and Dragons. I have typically just been using a gaming headset and microphone to speak. Sure, the sound is alright on those, but I heard gasps from my party once I switched to the Bumblebee 2. This condenser mic isolates the voice and blocks out so much of the background noise that it is hard not to be a tad stunned at the difference.
This was the first opportunity for me to realize how much more I enjoy the experience with a solid microphone. I do a bit of music recording (strictly for fun), and I found I still prefer an XLR microphone for anything other than vocals. While I can’t put my finger on exactly why, I just didn’t feel the heaviness or drive of heavy electric guitar, and therefore I still use my AI for guitar inputs.
Vocals do sound much improved over – obviously- a built in mic on any device and many other cheap USB mics out there. The tones seem well balanced, and unless you compare it with other XLR mics, you will love the sound. Reading a review is great, but for a microphone, I recommend checking out some video reviews to hear the difference between this mic and some others. It is a great way to determine if you like the quality.
The Bumblebee 2 is a fun USB microphone with the potential to make anyone feel like a pro. I can’t tell much of a difference when comparing it to my AT2020 (similar priced XLR) for basic voiceover work. I’d imagine it would work wonderfully for podcasters. Should you use it for music? It depends on what you are trying to do. If you just want to toy around and aren’t looking to create something professional, it is a wonderful way to enjoy your hobby. For $99 the Bumblebee 2 is a great mic to immediately improve quality and the isolation of your voice.