Neat Worker 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. 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 results have 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 recording 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 Worker Bee II's capabilities. As for today's microphone, the Neat Worker 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 Worker 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. The Neat Worker Bee II was clear from the front of the microphone and felt natural. As expected, there was no stereo effect from the first recording. As for off-axis, the recorded sound felt more distant than other microphones, indicating an even tighter and focused cardioid pattern. This is not too surprising considering the use case for the Worker Bee II. As noted in the specifications, there are no other polar patterns available.

As for the more technical tests, you can hear how the Neat Worker 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 Worker Bee II was a bit more susceptible to capturing plosive sounds, especially as there is no pop filter here. It is not too distracting, but it definitely was noticeable. Even in other recordings, I noticed the plosives in my other recordings, such as in other voiceover work I did. I think the plosive rejection could be improved with the Worker Bee II. As for background noises, this is a condenser microphone, so it is no surprise it picked up my keyboard and mouse clicks. Unfortunately, the Worker Bee II also picked up desk reverberations as I clicked and typed with a deep resonant sound in the recording. The lack of a shock mount hampered the Worker Bee II in this regard, even when I did not intentionally tap on the microphone. During my gaming sessions on Discord, my friends did not hear my clicks or keyboard typing as much, although Discord also has its own algorithms built in to prevent and suppress these noises.

As with all recordings, a good microphone should capture the source in a natural way. I first recorded a reading of the Neat Worker Bee II's retail container. 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 clean with no distortion or artifacts. Compared to the King Bee II, the Worker Bee II has a bit more emphasis in the midrange, as my voice felt less bassy. Even so, it did not struggle to capture the full range of my voice, but the midrange was a bit more prominent. Alternatively, the Neat Bumblebee II felt a bit more compressed in its sound with a hollow and more distant nature. Thankfully, all of these microphones, including the Worker Bee II, were a notable improvement on most gaming headsets and captured my voice without any nasally qualities.

The next two recordings were of me strumming on an acoustic guitar then overlaying the recording with me singing into the Neat Worker Bee II. I placed the microphone about 10cm near the 14th fret on my guitar, away from the sound hole. The song I recorded was the first verse of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, a song that I really only knew because of the movie Shrek. These similar qualities heard in the spoken word test translated to a very clean pick up of my acoustic guitar. As we noted the emphasis in the midrange already, the same thing could be said for how the acoustic guitar was picked up. Its sound was still full, natural, resonant, and clean, with a brighter sound than the King Bee II recording. As for my own singing, other than my own lacking abilities, the Worker Bee II was more than capable. It easily captured me, with all my flaws, and accurately recorded what I was singing. The midrange again was more emphasized despite my lower voice. There were no signs of distortion while doing these recordings, which is great to see. From these tests, you can see that the Worker Bee II is a versatile microphone, but its bump in the midrange and polar pattern will probably narrow down its use cases slightly.

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