The Sennheiser Profile USB Microphone Review – A Premium Podcasting Option
- This is a solid USB microphone and for the price, you can't go wrong. I'm annoyed I couldn't buy this 10 years ago when I was broke and really needed a good microphone.
I’ve spent thousands of hours recording audio. I’ve worked out of top recording studios in New York, Chicago, and LA and voiced brands like Mcdonald’s, Disney, Verizon, Pokemon, and Random House, on projects that ranged from audiobooks to international commercials to animated feature films. In those settings, Sennheiser has been a consistent presence and a reliable tool.
Straight out of college, I went into the entertainment business, and for over a decade, 5-days-a-week, I was in a different recording studio working for different brands telling their audio stories. Often times the shotgun Sennheiser MKH 416 was a microphone that was always present alongside a Neumann U 87, M 149, or a Shure KSM 353.
So, when I came to Worship Leader and was offered the opportunity to review a new Sennheiser microphone that’s only $129 and is built for streaming and podcasting, I jumped at the chance. Obviously, we have our own podcast, so the use-case was very relevant to us, but I also remember when I got into voice-over how daunting the initial investment was of a studio microphone, quality tube pre-amp, booth, computer, recording software, etc. The cost was overwhelming. It was difficult to really be taken seriously as a voice talent if you didn’t have a home studio, so the cost was necessary, but then that home studio had to be of good enough quality to enable your clients to use the audio you recorded at home in their broadcast commercial or audiobook. That meant spending $10,000 or more.
When I saw the price of the Sennheiser Profile USB Microphone, I thought, “There’s no way that will be of high enough quality to use on our current podcast.” Well, I can say without a doubt that this $129 microphone has a solid sound and most listeners won’t be able to tell the difference between this and any other studio microphone that will likely be 5 times the price.
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Microphones for Podcasters
In my opinion, podcasters should be focused on the following attributes when shopping for the right microphone.
- Directionality: A microphone with a directional pickup pattern, such as a cardioid or super-cardioid pattern, is ideal for podcasting as it captures sound from the front while rejecting sound from the sides and back, which helps to reduce unwanted noise and improve audio quality. The Sennheiser Profile is a Cardioid microphone.
- Frequency response: The microphone should have a flat frequency response or a response that is tailored to the human voice, with a slight boost in the mid-range frequencies to help make the voice sound clear and natural. The Sennheiser Profile has a frequency response range of 20 HZ – 20 kHz. Humans can easily detect frequencies ranging between 20 Hz to 20 kHz. Hence the sounds within this range are known as audible sounds.
- Additionally, the Profile USB Microphone has a sound pressure level of 125 dB – – to give that some context, a jet plane at 100 feet gives off 140 dB of sound. Unless you are screaming directly into the microphone, this Sennheiser will be able to handle your sound levels.
- Sensitivity: A microphone with high sensitivity will pick up even the quietest sounds, which can be beneficial in a quiet recording environment. However, in a noisy environment, it may be better to use a less sensitive microphone to reduce background noise. I recorded the sample episode in a walk-in closet full of clothes, don’t judge, and found the microphone to have less sensitivity than the studio microphones I normally record on. This is a good thing for home recording.
- Low self-noise: The microphone should have low self-noise, which is the amount of noise generated by the microphone itself. This ensures the microphone doesn’t add any unwanted noise to the recording. I found the Sennheiser to be silent. The premium materials they used, including solid metal, likely contributed to this.
- Compatibility: The microphone should be compatible with the recording device or computer used, and should ideally connect easily through USB or XLR. This is a USB-C microphone compatible with both MAC and PC devices.
- Durability: A durable microphone that can withstand regular use and occasional travel is important for podcasters who may need to record on the go or transport their equipment to different locations. The petite size of the microphone and solid manufacturing using metals makes this an ideal traveling microphone. Also, with a price of $129, there’s little risk if the microphone does end up getting damaged. Contrast that with your ultra-sensitive tube microphones like a U 87 and the replacement cost could be more than the airfare, hotel, and rental car of your trip.
- It has a cardioid polar pattern, which means it picks up sound primarily from the front of the mic while rejecting sound from the sides and back. This helps to reduce unwanted noise and improve audio clarity.
- It has a built-in headphone jack that allows for low-latency monitoring of your audio.
- The microphone comes with an optional desk stand and a boom arm that can be adjusted for optimal positioning.
- The microphone also features a mute button and a volume control knob for easy adjustments.
In conclusion, this is a solid USB microphone and for the price, you can’t go wrong. I’m annoyed I couldn’t buy this 10 years ago when I was broke and really needed a good microphone.
Other Great USB Microphones For Less Than $1000
There are many great microphones available for under $500 that are ideal for podcasting. Here are some options:
- $699 – Audio-Technica AT4053B: This is a hyper-cardioid condenser microphone that is highly versatile and great for capturing speech. It has a smooth frequency response and low self-noise, making it ideal for studio or location recording.
- $599 – Rode NT2000: This is a large diaphragm condenser microphone that is highly versatile and well-suited for a wide range of recording applications, including podcasting. It has a switchable polar pattern, a low self-noise level, and a warm, natural sound.
- $449 – Electro-Voice RE20: This is another dynamic microphone that is popular among podcasters for its warm, natural sound and excellent noise rejection. It has a cardioid polar pattern and a low proximity effect, making it ideal for close-up use.
- $399 – Shure SM7B: This is a dynamic microphone that is highly regarded in the podcasting community for its warm, natural sound and excellent noise rejection. It has a cardioid polar pattern and a low self-noise level, making it great for use in noisy environments.
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Joshua Swanson is the Editor-in-Chief of Worship Leader. He's also the Co-founder and Managing Partner of Authentic Media, Worship Leader's parent company, and the former CEO and Co-founder of the creative agency GTMA. His proudest achievement is his marriage to Rachael Joy and partnering with her in founding New Hope Children. As a performer and speaker, he’s appeared on TV networks like ABC, NBC, Lifetime, and Hallmark. His companies have worked with major brands like Sprint, Pokemon Go (he was also in a Pokemon movie), Pepsi, The Latin Grammys, the Billboard Awards, Corona and over 75 national developers. He’s narrated over a hundred audiobooks and was awarded Best YA Voice twice. His companies have been Inc. 5000 three different times.