Neat King Bee II Review (Page 3 of 4)

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, "Yep, 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 various 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 Neat King Bee II's capabilities. As for today's microphone, the Neat King Bee II was connected via XLR to a Focusrite Scarlett Solo, which was connected to my computer via USB. For your reference, it was mounted to my desk with a Samson MBA38 boom arm.

As I have pointed out, the Neat King Bee II captures sounds with a polar cardioid pattern. This means the sound picked up is the most natural from the front and captures audio here at the loudest amplitude. Moving from left to right, there will be no perceived stereo effect, since it captures the same amplitude and feeds it into both channels. However, you can also hear the off-axis pickup in the second recording. Off-axis pickup shows how the microphone deals with sounds that are not directly facing the diaphragm and shows if there is any distortion or change in quality of the captured sound. Generally, the recorded audio from the front was clear and natural. In addition, it sounded a lot more full than other microphones I have tried, as it was able to capture the depth and lower sound of my voice. On the subject of off-axis, the recorded sounds were more distant and felt further away. This aligns with the typical cardioid pattern, although there are no other polar patterns available with the King Bee II.

As for the more technical tests, you can hear how the Neat King Bee II handles 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.

In terms of plosives, the Neat King Bee II was quite good at preventing plosive sounds. I will say in both cases, whether the pop filter was installed or not, the plosives sounds were barely present, which is great to see. However, adding the Honeycomb pop filter added a bit of color to the tone to make the sound feel a bit less full, although I had to really listen for this. As for background noises, the King Bee II is a condenser microphone, so it is no surprise it picked up my keyboard and mouse clicks. With a good microphone stand and the excellent Beekeeper shock mount, the King Bee II did not record any vibration sounds from the table, unless I intentionally tapped on the microphone or its plastic inner ring. During my gaming sessions on Discord, my friends did not hear my keyboard or mouse as much, although Discord has its own algorithm and software to suppress these noises.

As with all recordings, a good microphone should capture the source in a natural way. I first recorded a reading from the Neat King Bee II's start guide. In this test, you could hear all of my different speaking articulations while reading the information. While I got a bit more into my announcer mode of reading, the sound was natural and clean with no distortion or noise artifacts. The King Bee II did not struggle with capturing the full range of my voice even with my lower frequency range of my speaking voice. Compared to the Neat Bumblebee II, this microphone sounded fuller, which is understandable considering its larger frequency response. Some may find this a bit too much in the low end, but I think it generally complements my voice better since I speak in this range. It also captured me without any nasally qualities you may hear from some gaming headsets.

The next two recordings were of me strumming on an acoustic guitar, then overlaying the recording with me singing into the Neat King Bee II. I placed the microphone about 10cm near the 14th fret on my guitar, away from the sound hole. These natural qualities heard in the spoken word test translated to a clean pick up of my acoustic guitar. Once again, I think the sound was full and pleasant. The recorded guitar sound was pretty clean without too much muddiness and a good amount of resonance. There was a decent amount of brightness, but it also captured more of the bottom end in the lower strings. As for my own singing, other than my own lacking abilities, the King Bee II did not get overwhelmed at all. It was easily able to capture me, flaws and all, and accurately record what I was singing. The midrange was a bit more neutral compared to the lows and highs. There were no signs of distortion while doing these recordings, which is great to see. From these tests, you can see that the King Bee II is very usable for different use cases, making it a versatile recording option.

As for the song, I parodied "I Just Can't Wait To Be King" from the animated Lion King. If you are interested, I have put the lyrics below to sing along with me:

It's gonna be a mighty King, so other mics beware!
I've never seen a Neat King Bee
Without its yellow flair
It's gonna cover all music, from top to bottom sounds
It's tightened up in the lows
It's going for the crown

Thus, now a microphone to see
Oh, it truly is a Neat King Bee

All I'm saying "is record this"
No one saying "can't do"
No one saying "stop that"
Everyone can hear
Free to use my microphone my way
Free to use it all the days

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware
3. Recording Performance Tests
4. Conclusion