Page 3 - Recording Performance Tests
While a typical user may not always need a dedicated microphone, there are definite use cases for one, especially as working from home becomes more of a norm across industries. In addition, dedicated studio-grade microphones are often the audio input of choice for content creators, streamers, and gaming enthusiasts. We have tested microphones in various contexts in the past, and the result has ranged from barely usable to surprisingly clear. While we could just sit and say, "It picked up my voice loud and clear, 10/10", there are some audio tests we can do to see how it actually performs. Furthermore, we can also test use cases for a microphone, whether it means speaking for recording podcasts or instruments and singing for music recording. A single product may not work for every situation, but this will be a demonstration of the Maono GamerWave's capabilities.
As we have already specified, the Maono GamerWave captures sound with a cardioid polar pattern. This means sound is loudest and captured the most naturally from the front. As you move to the sides and the back, there is a reduction in volume, as well as a change in its characteristics. In our off-axis pickup tests, we recorded how the microphone deals with sounds that are not directly facing the diaphragm to look for any distortion or change in quality. The GamerWave clearly recorded audio that was directed towards the capsule, which was great to hear. Moving to the back and side, you could discern the change with a more distant feel. Interestingly, the captured audio from the back sounded a bit louder than it did from the side. This makes me feel like this is a super-cardioid or hyper-cardioid pickup, rather than a typical cardioid pattern.
As for the more technical tests, we tested the Maono GamerWave for how it handled plosive and background noises. Plosive sounds traditionally refer to a speech sound where the vocal tract is blocked and airflow stops right before the pronunciation of these sounds. If you try making sounds like p, k, t, d, b, or g, you will notice right before you say these letters, your airflow will have stopped. Afterwards, this produces a "puff" or immediate contrast in air pressure. When it comes to microphones, this air pressure change can result in an unpleasant sound. As for background noises, this is affected by the pickup pattern of the microphone as well as the off-axis capturing behavior. We also tested the electronic noise cancellation, or ENC, that is available with the GamerWave.
For plosives, the Maono GamerWave was decently capable of reducing plosive sounds. I think this is in part due to the limited frequency response range of 80Hz to 10kHz. As such, I personally did not really notice a difference between having the screen present or not. At a minimum, the plastic pop filter ensures users do not speak too close to the diaphragm, which removed other undesired sounds from being captured. Otherwise, there was not much air pressure recorded on the hard "p" sounds, which is a good thing regardless of the reason.
As for background noises, the Maono GamerWave picked up a bit of the background noises, including my keyboard and mouse clicks. These sounds were quieter compared to other microphones like the Creative Live! Mic M3, but you can still hear a deep resonant sound that comes from the vibration between the table and the peripheral. It was not as pronounced, but it was still present. With the ENC turned on, there were a few more changes. First of all, the quality of the recorded sound, including my voice, was both more condensed and robotic. By design, the ENC reduces and increases the gain to remove unwanted noises. However, when I was talking with the keyboard presses, you could hear the recording would increase in volume and still pick up the background noises. When I stopped talking, the keyboard presses and mouse clicks were notably quieter. This is functioning as expected, but it also did not remove unwanted noises when I was talking, and it made my voice sound artificial.
One thing that is added to our arsenal of tests is checking how well the stand and base work to reduce vibrations. As such, this recording tested the Maono GamerWave by tapping on different surfaces on and around the microphone, to hear what was rejected and kept. I fully expect all microphones to capture the knocking, but there should be as little resonant noise as possible. As noted, the GamerWave, with the base attached, weighs in at 273g. When tapping on the table, you could hear the same thumps accompanied by a slightly higher pitched ping. The base taps were where you could hear a louder high-pitched ping, which could be showing more of the capsule moving. This was confirmed when we knocked on the supporting ring around the capsule, as the sound was more of the higher pitched sounds. Unfortunately, these higher pitched resonant sounds should normally be reduced as much as possible and the Maono GamerWave could be improved in this regard.
As with all recordings, a good microphone should capture the source in a natural way. For the spoken word test, I recorded an excerpt from the Maono GamerWave's retail box. From the recording, all of my different speaking articulations were captured while reading the box information. My voice sounded a bit more closed off and even nasally at some points. Again, this is in part due to the limited frequency response, which is reduced on both ends of the spectrum. Due to the lower frequency range of my own speaking voice, it felt like the GamerWave cut me off at the bottom. The overall captured sound sounded restricted and not as natural, but I still think it is an improvement over most gaming headsets.
The next recordings were of me strumming on an acoustic guitar, then overlaying the recording with me singing into the Maono GamerWave. I placed the microphone about 10cm near the 14th fret on my guitar, away from the sound hole. Thanks to its tilting mount, I could easily direct the microphone down to where my guitar was without needing to use extra equipment. As I realized I did not really have a lot of songs to sing, I decided to write my own song for microphone testing, which I will use in the future.
Overall, the guitar was recorded well, although the overall detail was somewhat messy, and we lost a bit in the high end. This is similar to the characteristics we heard in the spoken word test. With my singing on top, you can hear my voice was similar with a loss in the bottom end and a resulting slightly nasally sound. There were no signs of distortion recorded in these tests, which is great to see. Unfortunately, the microphone did not remove me singing slightly flat in some areas, but the blame for this is clearly on my shoulders. Even so, I do not necessarily recommend the Maono GamerWave for all purposes, especially for capturing instruments or singing, as the limited captured frequency range will affect its recording capabilities. On the other hand, it is adequate for calls, gaming, and voice recording needs.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware
3. Recording Performance Tests