I recently wrote a review on the Bumblebee 2 USB microphone from Neat. In the review, I mention I prefer an XLR microphone for music. The Bumblebee 2 is a great accessory for basic input and voice work. It crushes standard mic built in mics. However, for those who are looking for advanced quality sound at a great value, the King Bee II condenser microphone takes the crown.
I have to note right off the starting line the King Bee II is an XLR microphone. This means it requires an XLR cable and will not work with your PC without an audio interface (and 48V phantom power). The great news? An interface is completely affordable. I personally use the Presonus Audiobox USB 96. I like it because it comes with some decent software for beginners. Enough about the requirements – let’s check the King out.
I opened my front door to receive the delivery of the King Bee II, and I literally thought they added a brick to the box. Keep in mind I have been checking out some random USB mics, and some are crazy lightweight. This microphone is heavy – 2.47 pounds heavy. I toss the microphone on my cheap boom arm from Amazon, and it’s over. The King Bee knocks it out. I need a new boom arm. When you go to mount this sucker – and you will need to as it does not come with a stand – be sure to check if your mic stand can withstand the weight. Luckily, I have a desktop backup.
Weight doesn’t necessitate quality, but for this microphone it seems to. I feel good knowing there is some weight behind a product. It typically means they didn’t go easy on materials to cheapen the product. If you haven’t already guessed, the King Bee II has a metal body (I don’t think plastic can weigh this much). The actual mic sits in a nice shockmount and also comes with a flat honeycomb cover that hides a built-in pop-filter. I love this feature because it means one less thing in front of my face and makes the mic feel more accessible. I believe the cover and filter are removable, but I saw no need to find out as I like having it attached.
This King Bee is built tough and it gives off a very vintage feel. I feel like I’m using a vintage mic Sinatra would use. It has a nostalgic 50’s/60’s look to it, and when I have it in front of me it stands out like a skyscraper. I just need to find a rat pack suit when I use it and bam I’ll be in good shape.
The King Bee II contains a 36mm condenser capsule and features a wide frequency response range of 16Hz – 20kHz. This range exceeds that of the popular Blue Yeti Pro. What does this mean? Essentially my sound is more rich and lifelike and picks up a lot more detail. On the other hand, silence in a room is that much more important. For example, the dryer a few rooms over is noticeable while running. I did hear rumors of some audible “buzz” happening for a few users (no pun intended). I personally did not face any issues.
In my test, I tried out some basic tracks for music in Studio One (a DAW that comes with most Presonus Audio Interfaces). The electric guitar track (amped) sounded SO much better when compared to a USB mic. Minor gain adjustments help me find the sweet spot depending on the song I’m recording. Vocals were spot on and didn’t need much adjusting. Perhaps someday I’ll share a link to the work. For now, I think I’ll leave the music world intact.
I also ran some basic voiceover tests using audacity. Honestly, it came down to preference for me. I personally think it sounds loads better and picks up more bass tones than say the Bumblebee II USB mic. Others may disagree, but they would be wrong. This thing rocks – it just picks up everything – your location for use will be important.
Is it truly king?
I’m having trouble figuring out why Neat is only charging $169 for this microphone. It feels like a mic that should be more than $200. It sounds like a mic that should be over $200. Yet the price remains…Yeti who? If you are ready to grow up your sound, ditch the USB mic and treat yourself like a king (had to say it).