Gadget news
Rode X XDM-100 review – The definitive USB microphone
4:00 pm | March 16, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , | Comments: Off

The Rode X XDM-100 is the latest leading dynamic microphone from the Australian audio brand, redefining what was previously thought possible from USB microphones. With its included preamp and processing, combined with its ease of use, this is the benchmark by which to judge all future premium options. 

The Rode X XDM-100 is one of the best USB microphones around and even gives similarly priced XLR options a run for their money with just how versatile and accurate the sound quality is here. If you’re in the market for an encompassing broadcast solution, the first in Rode’s gaming and streaming series is hard to beat.  

Price and availability

The Rode X XDM-100 is available in regions such as the US, the UK, and Australia for $249 / £249 / $AU359. It was launched in October 2022 and is the flagship of the Australian microphone brand’s new Rode X gaming and streaming brand. You can also buy directly from Rode in all three countries.  

Design and Features

Rode XDM-100 on the PSA1+ stand

(Image credit: Future)

The Rode X XDM-100 is similar in design to the company’s premium XLR models, such as the Procaster and the NT1-A. It’s a cylindrical dynamic microphone that comes in all-black with red accents and features a dedicated pop filter and shock mount for stabilization. You can screw the microphone into any number of stands and boom arms, such as the excellent PSA1+, which I used in my testing. You’ll need to invest in one of these separately, though.

As expected for a USB microphone, you’ve got a headphone monitoring jack through 3.5mm and a gain / volume wheel that lets you control how loud or quiet the Rode X XDM-100 is during recording and monitoring. There’s a decent amount of weight to this microphone, weighing in at 700g / 1.5lbs, and that certainly adds to the premium feel and construction. The pop filter shield that slides over the steel is also a great touch and subtly dampens sound without occupying any additional space. 

The Rode X XDM-100 connects via USB-C to USB-C, which means you’re getting a much faster and more powerful connection of 100w / 20v, as opposed to the 2.5w and 5v of USB-A, which is normally seen on a USB microphone. That extra power is needed for the internal digital signal processor with Aphex voice processing and Revolution preamp, something that’s usually reserved for the company’s XLR offering range. It’s plug-and-play without losing the sophistication of upper-pedigree options similar to the all-star Shure MV7

As with the other Rode X gaming and streaming line-up products, such as the compact but punchy Rode X XCM50, the Rode X XDM-100 is built with the brand’s Unify software in mind. This program essentially acts as a series of virtual devices for different channels, such as the gameplay you’re streaming, the chat, and the microphone itself, which gives you greater control over your audio balancing on the fly. It’s basic in its services, but it gets the job done well, and I found the interaction between this microphone and what I could do easy to understand. 


Back of the Rode X XDM-100 showing the port

(Image credit: Future)

The Rode X XDM-100 is the best USB microphone I’ve ever used. As someone incredibly familiar with the brand’s existing line-up, having used the PodMic and the Procaster for over a year, I’m blown away with the step-up in sound, even going from XLR to USB. It’s a clear sign that USB-C as a platform for audio, owing to that significantly more powerful output, really is a viable alternative to a proper audio interface and chunky XLR cables running through your setup. 

With that said, as a musician who owns a lot of high-end audio interfaces and recording gear, such as the Rodecaster Pro II, the ease of use with the Rode X XDM-100 continues to win me over. The convenience of being able to boot my gaming laptop up and know that my microphone will just work straight out of the box and sound this good is a novelty that I don’t think will wear off anytime soon. 

The included pop filter sleeve does an excellent job of filtering out unwanted popping and clicking noises. I also found that the Revolution preamp combined with the Aphex processing combined for a balanced, warm, and natural account of my speaking voice and various singing voices. I’m impressed by the reproduction's accuracy as someone with a less conventional voice. I also found that the level wheel was just sensitive enough to where I could filter out all background noise, be it from the button presses of my Victrix Pro BFG controller to the fans of the gaming PC in the background for noise reduction, I’ve not seen at this level. 

The zero-latency microphone monitoring is ideal if you’ve got a pair of high-quality studio headphones. In my case, I own the Rode NTH-100M, which sound excellent and pair with the Rode XDM-100 well. With a quick click of the level button, I can hear how loud I am talking while playing Red Dead Redemption 2 and Hotline Miami. Ultimately there’s very little I can fault this microphone on. It excels across the board by making high-end audio more accessible and easy to use with the build quality that ensures longevity. If you’re after a step up from the vintage USB options available, this is a sure-fire hit if you’ve got the cash.  

Rode X XDM-100 controls

(Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the Rode X XDM-100 microphone?

Buy it if... 

You want a microphone that will last

The Rode X XDM-100 is built with all-metal construction and features a good amount of weight with its dedicated shock mount and pop filter. 

You want a plug and play microphone 

Despite appearances, there’s nothing complicated about using the Rode X XDM-100. All you need to do is plug it into a USB-C port, and it’s ready to go. 

Don't buy it if... 

You don’t have any USB-C ports

The Rode X XDM-100 connects only through USB-C, so if you’ve only got USB-A ports, you won’t be able to power it up and use it properly.  

AKG Lyra review: a USB mic with outstanding audio and retro styling
12:32 am |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: | Comments: Off

AKG Lyra USB Microphone: Two-minute review

The AKG Lyra USB microphone is a phenomenal USB microphone for a variety of uses. Whether you’re podcasting, conducting an interview, or recording music, the Lyra USB captures incredible audio regardless of the situation. If you’re interested in a budget-friendly USB condenser microphone from a company with a reputation for excellence, you can't go wrong with the Lyra USB.

AKG has been building microphones for decades, and its products are highly sought after and very respected in recording studios all over the world. With more users recording at home than ever before, AKG decided to offer their professional expertise to more casual users. 

The AKG Lyra features four microphone polar patterns, zero-latency headphone monitoring, adjustable mic gain, and a mute switch. The four mic capsules, utilizing the circuitry within the Lyra, can capture sound at a bit depth and sample rate of 24 bits and 192 kHz. This is absolutely pristine-quality audio, and way better than what you'd get with something like the Blue Yeti. The frequency response of the Lyra spans 20hz to 20kHz, which is the full spectrum of human hearing. 

Don’t let the technical jargon scare you, though, as the Lyra may sound amazing but it is extremely simple to use right out of the box. The Lyra’s plug-and-play functionality makes it easy to start recording right away since there's no need to download drivers to use the microphone in my tests. I simply connected the USB-A to USC-C cable (included with the mic) to a few of my computers, opened up my audio software and started recording. 

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An AKG Lyra on a desk in front of an iMac

(Image credit: Future / Jeffrey Loeffler)
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An AKG Lyra on a desk in front of an iMac

(Image credit: Future / Jeffrey Loeffler)
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An AKG Lyra on a desk in front of an iMac

(Image credit: Future / Jeffrey Loeffler)

The microphone is immediately recognized in Logic, Garageband, or any standard digital audio workstation (DAW) of your choice. The AKG Lyra even comes with a free copy of Ableton Live 10 Lite if you don’t have any recording software installed.

The microphone sits on a detachable desk stand that is included with the mic, which is simple to use and well-constructed. It provides a tremendous amount of maneuverability, but if you’d rather connect the microphone to a boom arm, you have the option of utilizing the ⅜” inch adapter connection included with the mic. 

While we can highly recommend the AKG Lyra USB microphone, it is important to note the sensitive nature of the Lyra’s condenser microphone properties. It's incredibly sensitive to sound. Typically, condenser microphones are used in conjunction with sound-dampening equipment such as diffusers and soundproof booths, so care must be taken if recording in areas with lots of ambient noise like lawnmowers or traffic.

If you utilize the Lyra in the same way as you utilize a dynamic microphone (like the Shure SM7B), you might pick up a lot of ambient noise in your recordings, so the AKG Lyra USB Microphone may actually be too sensitive for users who are unfamiliar with condenser microphones. However, if you know how (or are willing to learn how) to take advantage of the Lyra’s strengths, this microphone will give you near-professional results at a fantastic price.

AKG Lyra USB Microphone: Price & availability

  • How much does it cost?: $149.00 / £149.99 / AU$ 269.00
  • When is it out? It is available now through and major retailers
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US, UK, and Australia

The AKG Lyra USB Microphone has an MSRP of $149 / £149.99 / AU$ 269, but there are often sales that can bring this price even lower. This is a great price for this microphone, especially for the quality. 

The closest competitor to the AKG Lyra would be the exceptional Blue Yeti USB microphone. Both the Lyra and the Yeti feature almost the same button/dial layout, and the Yeti is a good bit cheaper with an MSRP of $129.99 / £119.99 / AU$199.95. 

While the Yeti is cheaper, the Lyra features a larger sample rate and bit depth than the Yeti (192 kHz/24 bit as opposed to 48 kHz/16 bit). Having tested both, there isn’t much discernible difference between the two. You’d have to be a serious audiophile to hear the difference. For what it’s worth, the AKG Lyra does seem to perform better when recording instruments, so the higher sample rate seems to make a big difference here.

AKG Lyra USB Microphone: Specs

Should you buy the AKG Lyra USB Microphone?

Buy it if...

You are comfortable handling the microphone's sensitivity
This mic provides impeccable audio, but casual users might get too much background noise for their liking.

You want a multipurpose mic
With four polar patterns, you can set this up for work, podcast recording, music, and more.

You don't want to spend a fortune on a USB mic
While not the cheapest mic out there, the quality more than justifies the price.

Don't buy it if...

You're on a tight budget
This mic offers an incredible value, but it's still expensive for a USB mic, so it's not suited for budget shoppers.

You're looking for something modern looking
The AKG Lyra USB Microphone has an incredible retro style to it, but if that's not your thing, HyperX or Razer might be more to your liking.

AKG Lyra USB Microphone: Also consider

First reviewed March 2023

Rode NT1 5th Generation review – the studio gold standard
8:22 pm | March 14, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Redefining a classic signature look and feel of any tried-and-true studio microphone can be tough. Enter the Rode NT1 5th Generation, which adds a few new tricks to a well-established microphone to compete in all digital world. Through the inclusion of USB and XLR, it stands as one of the best options for game streamers, podcasters and broadcasters provided that they've got a setup that accommodates for its sensitivity and power. 

Price and Availability

The Rode NT1 5th Generation is now available worldwide after launching in February 2023. You can pick it up in the US, the UK, and the company’s native Australia for $249 / £249 / AU$399. There’s the choice between silver and black, and you can either buy from online outlets, such as Amazon, or directly from Rode.  

Design and Features

Rode NT1 5th Generation

(Image credit: Future)

At first glance, there’s nothing that immediately sets the Rode NT1 5th Generation apart from its older variants. The microphone line, the first ever developed by the manufacturer back in 1991, has a timeless studio look about it, with little on the surface changing in 30 years. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it, as you’ve got a side-address cardioid (meaning you use it vertically) complete with a dedicated pop shield and shock mount. These are all key staples of what you hope to find in a proper broadcasting microphone for the studio. 

The included Rode NTSM6 Suspension Mount goes a long way to showcase the premium nature of the Rode NT1 5th Generation. The combined pop filter and shock mount are seriously high quality and made of durable plastic and elasticated material for a floating support that completely protects against any unwanted bumps or vibrations. Given how sensitive studio microphones like this one are, it’s an essential inclusion, so it’s good that you’re getting proper support in the full package. There’s also a 10-year warranty here so it’ll last you a very long time. 

Where the Rode NT1 5th Generation sets itself apparent from the older models is in its dual connectivity as you can plug it in via XLR and USB-C. It’s not just the multiple output methods that helps this microphone stand out, though, as there’s also a 32-bit float optimized for audio interfaces for digital recording. Through this inclusion, Rode has claimed this is the “unclippable” microphone which means that no matter how loud or how sensitive the sound inputs get, you’ll still have useable audio tracks when all is said and done. 

The box includes a lengthy red XLR lead and a durable USB-C to USB-C cable for both connection methods. You’ll need to invest in a stand or boom arm for a setup like this, as you don’t get one included. From my time with Rode’s microphones, there’s no better option than the excellent PSA1+ boom arm, which is built with the brand’s suspension mounts in mind and offers a level of versatility needed for streaming and podcasting with how many angles you can get. 


Having used my fair share of studio gear before, I can confidently say that the Rode NT1 5th Generation is the best-sounding microphone I’ve ever used through its native XLR input. Whether you’re running this condenser mic through a dedicated audio interface and mixing board such as the Rode Procaster II or something more humble like the Razer Audio Mixer, the sound quality you’re getting is second to none. That’s not surprising given the 4dBA sensitivity, as the manufacturer claims it’s “the world’s quietest studio condenser microphone”. Everything from the softest whisper to a regular speaking voice and screaming comes across crystal clear. 

You have sampling rates of 48, 96, 192 KHz giving you more precise control over the levels of representation. It’s standard for 48 KHz to be used by your average microphone and more than acceptable in most circumstances, but you can push beyond if you need that extra headroom. As this is a modern Rode microphone with USB connectivity, you’ve also got the option of going plug and play with the company’s line of software, including the classic Rode Connect and the recently launched Rode Unify, the latter of which is more targeted towards gamers and streamers. 

You can adjust just how the DSP (digital signal processing) sounds with the Rode NT1 5th Generation through these programs. The included Aphex processing means you’ve got options for a brighter sound with various effects to tweak the microphone's sound to your liking. I’ve found that the USB connectivity isn’t the full package that it could be compared to the brand’s dedicated USB broadcasting microphone, the recently released Rode X XDM-100. 

Rode NT1 5th Generation

(Image credit: Future)

That’s because the Rode NT1 5th Generation doesn’t feature any on-body controls for tweaking audio and also lacks any gain or monitoring options, as you’ll find with the Rode X XDM-100, which produces a near-identical sound through USB-C. If you’re considering getting the latest NT1 microphone purely for digital sound recording through USB and into audio interfaces, you may be better going with the dedicated USB microphone instead for the plug-and-play nature. It feels like a secondary addition to an already all-star mic that’s more nice than an essential inclusion.

I had to play around a lot more with recording levels and different software, such as Cockos Reaper and several different plugins before I was completely happy with how the Rode NT1 5th Generation sounded through USB. If you’ve got an audio interface with a decent pickup in it and know a little about how to get a crisp and clear sound for your gaming streaming or podcasting setup.

Remember that the Rode NT1 5th Generation is as sensitive as many studio microphones are. I found that the sensitivity, while impressive in the pickup, did tend to pick up the whirling fans of my gaming laptop on my desk and the even the case fans on the gaming PC across the room. The level of sound dampening isn’t quite as thorough as the Rode X XDM-100, which is aimed at gamers and streamers with its noise reduction.

If you’re after a truly top-of-the-line broadcasting option, then the iconic status of the NT1’s latest revision is hard to argue against when plugged into a proper audio interface. As a definitive all-in-one solution, there’s a lot to love here, with a few small caveats that shouldn’t bother the seasoned recording veteran.

Should I buy the Rode NT1 5th Generation?

Buy it if…  

You want a high-end microphone at a competitive rate

You’re getting a lot of microphone for the sticker price, and the 10-year warranty means your investment will last a long time.

You want the freedom of XLR and USB connectivity

Few flagship microphones offer both XLR and USB so competently and offer features through software to make the most of the warm sound profile.  

Don't buy it if... 

You want to record in loud environments

Rode made the Rode NT1 5th Generation for use in whisper-quiet studio settings, so don’t invest in this microphone if your home setup can get noisy. 

You just want a USB microphone

If you don’t own an audio interface and just want to go through USB-C then you’re better served by the Rode X XDM-100 which is built around the connection method with quality of life inclusions that the NT1 5th Generation lacks. 

Razer Audio Mixer review – Control at too great a cost
6:16 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , | Comments: Off

The Razer Audio Mixer is part of the boutique brand’s continued ventures into the streaming world. Aimed primarily at streamers, it sets out to be a solution for balancing sound levels when broadcasting gameplay. While it achieves what it sets out to do, the asking price is so steep that only those firmly invested in the ecosystem are going to get the most out of this. 

Price and availability

You can pick up the Razer Audio Mixer in the US, the UK, and Australia from any big box online retailer or from Razer directly for $249.99 / £249.99 / AU$414. It’s been available for around a year, originally launching in March 2022. While Razer products certainly carry a premium, the price of this compact XLR audio interface and mixing board is steep. 

That’s because for around half the cost you can get the TC Helicon GoXLR Mini which retails for around $177 / £150 / $AU313. Now, Razer is a brand known for its premium price tags that go along with the lifestyle aesthetic of the products, so the markup isn’t too surprising here, but the sticker price is worth bearing in mind. 

Design and Features

Razer Audio Mixer sliders

(Image credit: Future)

The Razer Audio Mixer is certainly eye-catching. In true brand fashion, it’s jet black but adorned with the brand’s Chroma RGB software which illuminates everything in a spectrum of color. There are four channel sliders with corresponding mute buttons, a censor / SFX button, and mute. Ports-wise, there’s a single XLR input with the corresponding 48v Phantom Power, line in and out, and optical. 

There are also two 3.5mm jacks for wired headphones and headset mics. Conveniently, a single USB-C cable that can run straight into the USB-C port on your desktop or gaming laptop powers the entire unit. Curiously, there was no input for any of Razer’s USB microphones through the mixer itself as there’s no USB-A port for the likes of the Razer Seiren V2 X or the Razer Seiren Emote here.

Given the high price tag on the Razer Audio Mixer, I’m disappointed the four fader sliders aren’t motorized. While they don’t feel unpleasant to use and have satisfying sliding action, I expected more from the overall build. Though sturdy, something feels incomplete to me about a high-end intimate gallery experience that’s lacking from what could have been great with motorized and programmable channels. The sub-$350 / £350 / AU$420 GoXLR Mini does it, so why can’t Razer?

Inside the Razer Audio Mixer, you’ve got a pre-amp that helps to bring out the best of the XLR microphones you plug into it. Naturally, you do the biggest tweaking through Razer Synapse on PC will, as is the case with every peripheral and accessory put out by the brand. Inside the software, you can manually configure levels for the four channels and apply various effects. It all comes together for a user experience that’s certainly competent but comes across as more style over substance. 


Razer Audio Mixer controls

(Image credit: Future)

The Razer Audio Mixer does what it sets out to do. I tested this compact XLR with several microphones, including the Rode PodMic and the Rode NT1 5th Generation. These are some of the better-sounding microphones that I own, and the board handles them well I got a nice and clear level when recording my voice and setting up streams. 

Getting set up in the Synapse software was also a good way to make more fine-tuned tweaking than relying purely on manually moving the sliders. I particularly appreciate how you can fine-tune the different channels for the gameplay coming through a broadcast alongside how loud the microphones sound. I will say that the censor button isn’t something I got any real use out of. It’s a fun novelty, but not something I feel should have taken up space on an already small unit when an extra USB-A port or XLR could have fit into that gap. 

Overall, the Razer Audio Mixer hasn’t won me over. It’s just too expensive for the limited functionality that it offers, considering you can get essentially the same product for roughly half the price. Moreover, as an audio interface, many cheap alternatives feature preamps and multiple XLR inputs for less. You can get the Behringer U-PHORIA UMC202HD for $99 / £77 / $AU139 which has two microphone inputs, multiple gain knobs, and direct monitoring. 

If you want viable alternatives dedicated purely to game streaming, then you’ve got the choices of either the Elgato Stream Deck+ or the Elgato Wave XLR, which both come in cheaper at $199 / £199 / AU$358 and $159 / £159 / AU$149. You’re better served from a price-to-performance perspective with what these streaming solutions can do considerably cheaper than the Razer Audio Mixer. 

Should I buy the Razer Audio Mixer?

Rear of the Razer Audio Mixer

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if…  

You’re already invested in Razer’s ecosystem

If your streaming setup primarily consists of Razer products, then the Audio Mixer will fit perfectly in and perform well for what it is

You’re considering going from a USB to an XLR microphone setup

The Razer Audio Mixer doesn’t take up much space and only requires a USB-C cable for power making it a good jumping off point for an XLR microphone.  

Don’t buy it if…  

You want good value for money

There’s no getting over the fact that the Razer Audio Mixer is overpriced for what it is.  

Elgato Wave:3 review: fabulous retro-looking USB mic for content creation
11:34 pm | March 10, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: | Comments: Off

Elgato Wave:3: Two-minute review

USB mics are rarely a thing of beauty, which is why the Elgato Wave:3 already has an edge over the competition without even trying. This stunner has a retro-esque air about it, with its rounded rectangular design suspended on an elegant yoke and alloy grille as if it just popped into existence from the 60s. My review unit is even more unique, as it’s a special edition one from Corsair’s 10th anniversary collection.

But, it takes more than good looks to be one of the best USB mics on the market, and being a top content creation peripherals brand, Elgato of course knows this. So, what you’ve got here is a USB microphone that not only looks good but feels and sounds good as well.

Elgato Wave:3 in a desk setup

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

While the competitor mics can sometimes feel flimsy, Corsair’s sister company seems to have spared no expense in producing a top-quality product in the Elgato Wave:3. That yoke, stand and mount are made of solid steel then beautifully painted with matte paint to give in a refined yet still industrial finish. 

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Elgato Wave:3 in a desk setup

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)
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Elgato Wave:3 in a desk setup

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)
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Elgato Wave:3 in a desk setup

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

The grille itself is made of steel as well, and its multifunctional dial feels robust, which likely means it won’t break or fall off anytime soon despite the number of functions it handles. It’s the dial for changing settings like input gain and crossfade between mic and PC mix. 

Elgato, understanding that a chunk of its users find visual cues helpful, also slaps on light indicators here so you know what setting you’re controlling and what level it’s currently on. And, in the back is a 3.5mm headphone jack for direct monitoring so users can get zero latency. To the uninitiated: many users prefer to hear themselves as they’re talking into the mic. However, with external mics, the audio signal that you’re hearing back will always have some amount of latency that results in you hearing an echo of your voice, which can be confusing. Connecting a pair of headphones directly to the Elgato Wave:3 via this headphone jack takes away that delay, allowing you seamless recording.

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Elgato Wave:3 in a desk setup

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)
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Elgato Wave:3 in a desk setup

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

I also appreciate the almost 360-degree articulation that the yoke allows, giving the mic a bit more flexibility. However, the stand is also removable so you can attach it to a more ergonomic stand or a shock mount if you want to really minimize vibrations.

Elgato Wave:3 in a desk setup

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

You’d be surprised at how good the Elgato Wave:3 is at minimzing or stifling vibrations, like someone tapping on the surface it’s on. It’s also pretty effective at reducing sound pickup from the side and back – something that many mid-range cardioid USB mics often fail at – and rejecting background noise, speaking volumes to the mic’s quality of construction.

More importantly, it boasts impressive performance. After a series of recording tests, I have found that the audio quality is very clear and full, making it one of the best-sounding USB mics I’ve had the pleasure of using. I have noticed a tiny bit of distortion when my voice gets loud, but nothing too obvious that it’s a deal-breaker. Just be sure to temper your voice when you’re recording.

Using the Wave Link software adds more functionality to the Elgato Wave:3. It’s a little finicky, especially in the beginning, and it’s not a recording software. However, exercise a bit of patience, and you’ll be rewarded with access to things like the monitor mix gain, stream mix gain, and effects like reverb and pitch shift. 

Elgato Wave:3: Price & availability

  • How much does it cost? $149.99 / ‎£129 / AU$269
  • When is it available? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US, UK, and Australia

With so many budget and mid-range rivals on the market, it might be hard to justify spending $149.99 / ‎£129.00 / AU$269 on a USB mic that only has one polar pattern. But, listen, that’s Elgato for you. The brand may not be cheap, with one of its latest releases, the Elgato Facecam Pro, costing creators a lot more money than they’d expect to pay. However, the quality speaks for itself. 

That’s what you’re getting from Elgato Wave:3. This is a premium investment with premium-quality build and performance. And, if you plan on taking your TikTok, YouTube, or Twitch content to the next level, it’s worth the splurge.

However, if money is really tight, the JBL Quantum Stream Dual Pattern is almost half the price, and the HyperX SoloCast is even cheaper. Neither can compete with the Wave:3 in audio performance, but they will do until you’re making a mint from your videos. 

  •  Value: 4.7 / 5 

Elgato Wave:3: Specs

Elgato Wave:3 in a desk setup

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Should you buy the Elgato Wave:3?

Buy it if...

You want a USB mic that has both style and substance
The Elgato Wave:3 screams quality inside and out, with its elegant retro design and terrific audio performance.

You can afford a pricier USB mic
It may be a little on the pricey side, but it’s actually a terrific value for what it offers. If you’re not penny-pinching, this is the mic to get.

Don't buy it if...

You’re on a tight budget
If you really can’t afford anything above $100 / ‎£100, then there are cheaper options available. Just don’t expect the same level of quality.

You hate good audio recordings
Do you have very clear and full audio? If you do, then look elsewhere. Otherwise, is there really any other choice?

Elgato Wave:3: Also consider

How I tested the Elgato Wave:3

  • Tested the Elgato Wave:3 for a couple of days
  • Used it for recording and chatting
  • I talked, tapped, and made background noises then I listened to recordings

Using the Elgato Wave:3 for a couple of days to talk to people and record myself was the best way to test its audio performance. During recordings, I spoke from the front, as well as from the back, from the sides and from different distances. I also checked how it handled things like vibrations and background noise by tapping on the surface it was on and on its stand and by making noises in the background during recordings.

After, I listened to those recordings, playing close attention to sound quality and any artefacts it might have picked up. I also made sure to test its control, light indicators, and Wave Link software to see how easy it is to use, especially for beginners. 

I’ve been testing devices like computing peripherals for years. Mics are a newer thing for me, having only started testing them last year, my experience with audio devices like gaming headsets, headphones, and speakers made it easy for me to understand USB microphones and what matters most to users during testing.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed March 2023

Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro review: the return of dedicated macro keys
5:00 pm | February 16, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro: One-minute review

If the Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro adheres to any philosophy, it’s that more is more. This is not one of those stripped-down mechanical keyboards that offer up the basics for a straightforward experience – this is a keeb that will do just about everything but play the game for you. 

To start with, the Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro has a polling rate that puts most of the competition to shame, dedicated macro and media keys to go along with its full-size layout, and offers levels of comfort that will make you forget you’ve been using it for the last eight hours. Its brilliant RGB lighting even extends around its wrist rest. If there’s a feature you want from your keyboard, the BlackWidow V4 Pro has it, with one exception: it's lacking the wireless connectivity of its predecessor. 

While it faces plenty of stiff competition, the Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro can go head-to-head with any of the best gaming keyboards and at least keep up. If you’re looking for specific features, such as that wireless connectivity or adjustable actuation, there might be other options that are better for you. Otherwise, this is one of the best keyboards out there right now. 

Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro: Price and availability

  • How much does it cost?  $229 (about £190 / AU$330) 
  • When is it available? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US, the UK, and Australia
Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro: SPECS

Layout: Full
Switch: Razer Linear
Programmable keys: Yes
Dimensions: 466 x 152.5 x 44mm
RGB or backlighting: Yes

It might not be the most expensive keyboard in Razer’s lineup, but the Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro is close. At $229 (about £190 / AU$330), it’s not for the faint of heart. Yet, it’s more than worth the price thanks to its impressive set of features, all-day comfort, and top-of-the-line performance. More importantly, it retains the price tag of its predecessor at a time when everything – including eggs – is getting more expensive.

Frugal gamers may want to pass on the Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro for something like the Roccat Magma, which at around $70 / £50 / AU$90 is more than a serviceable gaming companion, if a little light on features. It also doesn’t have the quality build of this Razer keyboard. 

The serious competition might be a more fully-featured keeb like the Corsair K100 Air Wireless. It’s similarly jam-packed with features, it also has that lofty 8,000Hz polling rate, and it has an attractive low-profile design. However, it is pricier at $279 / £279 / AU$479, is a bit louder to type on, and has fewer dedicated macro keys.

  • Value: 4.5 / 5

Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro on a table

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro: Design

  • Comes with several dedicated, remappable keys
  • RGB lighting is fantastic
  • Plenty of comfort thanks to the magnetic wrist rest

The Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro’s black-on-black look is not going to convert any keyboard DIYers or Instagram influencers. But, that’s okay. This is not a keyboard for social media. This is a full-blown battle-station interface designed to tackle the most challenging of gaming situations – and Razer has put a lot of effort into making sure that it can handle the needs of the most demanding gamer.

That starts with its 8,000Hz polling rate, and choice of either Razer’s green clicky or yellow linear switches. Both offer a 100 million-press lifespan, double the industry standard, and come with speedy actuation – 1.9mm/50g for the green and 1.2mm/45g for the yellow. As Razer uses a premium 5052 aluminum case, the company packed it with PCB foam to quiet down those switches.

Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro on a table

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

The reintroduction of those macro keys that went missing on the BlackWidow V3 Pro is also a huge addition. This newer model has eight macro keys, five of which line the left side of the layout, while the other three sit on the side of the keyboard, and can be used to switch profiles. There are also four dedicated media keys, as well as an infinity edge roller, all of which are remappable. 

Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro on a table

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

There’s even a command dial that can be mapped to all sorts of functions, from mic volume and spreadsheet horizontal scrolling to turbo key pressing (great for spamming spells). Really, there’s a ton of customization on hand with the BlackWidow V4 Pro.

Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro on a table

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

The immersive RGB is just as deep. Not only does the BlackWidow V4 Pro feature a floating key-cap design to allow all that per-key lighting to literally shine, but an RGB underglow lines the entire base, including the sides and front of the magnetic wrist rest for a display that will put your Christmas lights to shame.

To round out the whole package, Razer includes a single USB passthrough (more on that later) and USB connectivity, eschewing the previous version’s wireless and Bluetooth connectivity, presumably in order to hit that 8,000Hz polling rate; the BlackWidow V3 Pro only made it up to 1,000Hz. 

Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro on a table

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Lastly, the company has also magnetized the leatherette wrist rest so that it snaps into place, and stays where it should during heavy gaming sessions. It's plush, and it’s as comfortable as it is ergonomic.

  • Design: 5 / 5

Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro on a table

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro: Performance

  • Has a ridiculous 8,000Hz polling rate
  • Quieter than most mechanical keyboards
  • USB passthrough is disappointing

With its 8,000Hz polling rate, you would have to be superhuman to stump the Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro. It’s fast, accurate, and easy to use. Since the keycaps are concave and textured, they do a great job of keeping my fingers on the keys I intend to press. They’re also spaced out so as not to feel cramped or crowded. Having used this keyboard not only for fast-paced gaming but furious typing, I haven’t experienced any latency issues, missed presses, or any other performance-related issues.

While that’s not uncommon for higher-end gaming keyboards, I was especially impressed by the switches. The review unit I tested came with the yellow variants, which are billed as smooth and silent. Indeed they are. They only require a light amount of pressure to actuate in a very even fashion. 

On top of that, they’re much quieter than I expected. Regardless of whether it’s the switches themselves or that foam padding, the Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro makes less noise than most mechanical keyboards while still providing a little bit of that satisfying clack.

Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro on a table

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

As with most Razer keyboards, there’s a ton of customization on hand. Not only does it have all those dedicated macro and media keys, but it’s fully customizable via the Razer Synapse app. In fact, you need that app to fully unlock all this keyboard can do from remapping to adjusting the RGB lighting key by key.

Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro on a table

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

If there’s any place for complaint, it would be in Razer’s implementation of that USB passthrough. To use the one USB passthrough port the BlackWidow V4 Pro comes with, you have to connect a second USB-C to USB cable from the keyboard to the computer. Considering that almost all computers of the last few years come with USB-C, it’s strange that Razer didn’t just allow you to use a single USB-C cable to cover both the keyboard’s functionality as well as the use of a USB-A port.

  • Performance: 4.5 / 5

Should I buy the Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro?

Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro on a table

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

If our Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro review has you considering other options, here are two more to consider...  

Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro: Report card

  • First reviewed February 2023

How I tested the Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro

To properly test the Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro, I used it as my primary keyboard every day for two weeks to compose all my work emails as well as write my articles and buying guide updates. I also used it on quite a few gaming sessions to see if it can keep up with more rigorous use.

We pride ourselves on our independence and our rigorous review-testing process, offering up long-term attention to the products we review and making sure our reviews are updated and maintained. Regardless of when a device was released, if you can still buy it, it's on our radar.

Read more about how we test

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal review
1:33 pm | February 8, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Two-minute review

Those people and businesses that are protective of their liquid assets will probably exclude the Danish luxury brand Bang & Olufsen from their product choices.

Bang & Olufsen has a long and impressive history of delivering excellent audio technology for those that care more about quality than price, and its new Beocom Portal headphones haven’t strayed from that path.

However, compared with gaming-orientated or audiophile-luring headphones, these have been designed more with hybrid workers in mind. And are being promoted by Bang & Olufsen as “the next big step in our efforts to grow our business-to-business portfolio which is an important strategic focus area for Bang & Olufsen”, according to John Howard, Head of Enterprise at Bang & Olufsen.

In service to those objectives, these Bluetooth-connected headphones are Zoom-certified out of the box and come with support for all the commonly used communication platforms.

Therefore, irrespective of the particular standardisation of the purchasing business, these should be suitable.

One caveat of deploying these types of devices away from the office is resolving technical issues without onsite support. The Beocom Portal headphones come with Beocom link USB wireless Bluetooth adapters (with aptX Adaptive Codec), pre-paired for use and supporting both USB Type-A and USB Type-C ports on the host device.

If the connecting technology is already Bluetooth enabled, Bang & Olufsen has apps, Apple and Android, that can establish the pairing easily with the minimum of fuss.

These headphones aren’t exclusively Bluetooth, as they include the cables to connect them to both USB and 3.5mm audio systems. The USB-A to USB-C cable also doubles to charge the Portal headphones, although no charger is included for those that don’t have access to a USB-A system.

Once these are connected, the user can experience the “uncompromised Bang Olufsen signature sound”, or clear communication and audio rendering for those who don’t speak PR.

It achieves this by using an array of beamforming microphones to isolate and amplify the voice of the user while cancelling out background noise, though cancelling can be disabled if required. A prerequisite for those that spend their days calling others, along with long-wear comfort, these are things that business headphone designers can no longer ignore.

While these might look very similar to the previous Beoplay 500 design, plenty of business-friendly changes make these more suitable for hybrid workers.

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal

(Image credit: Mark Pickavance)

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal price and availability

The Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal isn’t cheap or even attractively priced, and those expecting otherwise aren’t familiar with this brand.

The only choice here is that they come in Black Anthracite, Navy or Grey Mist colour schemes.

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal

(Image credit: Mark Pickavance)
  • Value score: 3/5

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal design

  • Designed by Jakob Wagner
  • Stylish and lightweight
  • Simple to operate

For those unfamiliar with the name, Jacob Wenger is an American industrial designer and entrepreneur that founded his own design firm, Jacob Wenger Design, LLC, and it specializes in high-end custom furniture and product design.

Therefore, while it might be a leap to suggest that he designed the Beocom Portal headphones, his design team was responsible for their ergonomics and visual styling.

Unsurprisingly, these have all the hallmark deference of a product design exercise where every sharp edge has been eliminated and replaced with a sweeping curve.

What makes these stand out from other headphone makers' products are some simple refinements that elevate the user experience.

Where most headbands have a notched connection to the driver covers, on the Beocom Portal, they move smoothly, allowing for a great degree of positioning. It’s a tiny thing, but it makes for even greater comfort. The breathable fabric used for the headband is another factor in making these easy to wear throughout a working day.

In other respects, the control mechanisms of the Portal follow a pattern that anyone who has experience with B&O Bluetooth headphones will be familiar with.

Each of the metal surfaces on the cup faces operates as a touch input, but the subtle nuances of this design are that strictly what gestures do entirely depends on the mode of operation.

For example, if the wearer is taking a call, then tapping on the left cup will end the call. But the same action will pause a track playing over Bluetooth. Some actions overlap, and some are entirely different. These peculiarities might take some learning by the user, but it’s logical.

However, the controls assume oddly that music lovers never repeat tracks or fast forward.

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal

(Image credit: Mark Pickavance)

What the designers avoided was using touch on the cups for volume controls, instead using a rocker/slider on the left cup to control noise cancellation and one on the right side to adjust volume levels.

Each side also has a single pressable button, with the right one doubling as the power and Bluetooth pairing control and the left side mute.

The physical controls have their limits, and we’d strongly recommend installing the Bang & Olufsen Beocom app on your phone, as this allows you to easily switch between different modes and levels of noise cancellation. And, this tool can also update the onboard firmware should the makers release updates.

Both the USB-C connection and 3.5mm audio jack is placed on the right side, assuming that the computer will be on that side of the user if they’re using wired technology.

Bang & Olufsen opted for a design that doesn’t have a boom microphone, instead a beamforming array to identify the wearer from other sounds and focus exclusively on that source. The quality is more than acceptable and well within the spec required for making and receiving calls, but it isn’t the clarity needed for broadcast work, like a podcast.

Overall, these are exceptionally classy headphones that work well in a business context, although some audiophiles might take exception to the inability to reverse skip tracks and move through audio accurately.

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal

(Image credit: Mark Pickavance)

Design score: 4/5

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal features

  • AAC and aptX Adaptive
  • Google Fast Pair and Microsoft Swift Pair
  • Good battery life

The Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal that was sent to us for review came with the following hardware:
Frequency range: 20 – 22,000Hz
ANC: Adaptive ANC with Transparency Mode plus Dolby Atmos
Drivers: Electro-dynamic driver w/ Neodymium magnets
Drive diameter: 40mm
Driver sensitivity: 95dB @ 1kHz / 1mW
EQ: Presets and custom settings via Bang & Olufsen App
Designer: Jakob Wagner, LLC
Fit: Circumaural
Dimensions (WxHxD): 167.3 x 178.7 x 92.6mm

The Bluetooth technology in the Portal is version 5.1, which goes beyond the standard ABC codec with both AAC and aptX Adaptive.

Due to the audio compression used, variable between 5:1 and 10:1, the aptX Adaptive is the preferred method of connection for best audio fidelity, as it offers up to 420 kBits of data at 48 kHz.

That’s for a single source, but it is possible to have multipoint connections for those transitioning from a PC to mobile phone use.

By default, the headset will automatically try to connect to the last device that was paired, and it supports both Google Fast Pair and Microsoft Swift Pair technologies.

Ironically, the best audio quality available is undoubtedly over USB. When connected using the provided cable, these will be seen by the connected PC as rated for Dolby Atmos playback.

Another high-quality sound option is the audio jack mode, but it has a few limitations since it won’t work if the Portal isn’t powered by the battery or through USB. But with power available, even when using audio jack input, the noise cancelling and some controls will work as expected.

Noise cancelling on these is good, but not quite as amazing as we’ve experienced on some of the more expensive options from Sony. The effect is that low-frequency rumbles are all but eliminated, but higher ranges are muffled. This allows you to realise someone alongside is speaking to you in person but removes most unwanted background sounds that you might experience in an office. There are five levels of ANC, enabling the user to find the one that makes them less distracted by those around them while not entirely deaf while wearing them.

You can also adjust the level of your own voice feeding back into the headphones, which can be helpful if you are raising that to cope with a bustling environment.

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal

The B&O Android application provides full control over the features of these headphones (Image credit: Mark Pickavance)

The similarities between the Beocom Portal and Beoplay 500 series headphones might lead some to think they are the same product, but some distinct differences exist, especially in respect of the battery.

Where the Beoplay 500 offer 19 hours of talk time with Active Noise Cancellation, the Portal has extended that to 23 hours and listening to music at a moderate volume level offers 47 hours with Active noise cancellation (connected to the Beocom Link A or C dongle).

That extra time should make the Portal last through at least three working days, as they turn off after 15 minutes without an active audio stream.

The quoted times are dependent on the sound being relayed through the headphones, as high-impact audio, like rock music, will use more power to output compared to a flute solo.

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal

Both USB-A to USB-C and 3.5mm audio cables are included (Image credit: Mark Pickavance)
  • Features score: 4/5

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal Sound

  • Best over USB
  • Balanced soundscape

When phones get more than 10,000 mAh, they’ve got enough battery for extended use without a recharge, and this one has 10800 mAh of battery inside.

According to Doogee, the V30 should operate for more than three days of typical use without needing a recharge, and it might make it to a fourth.

The included 66W charger can recover 50% of its battery capacity from empty in around 30 minutes, although if you use the 15W wireless charging, it will take four hours to reach the same level.

There are rugged designs that offer more battery, but they trade weight for that advantage, and the physical mass of the V30 isn’t so great that it becomes impractical.

The available capacity is enough for a camping holiday, and the power efficiency of the platform makes the most of it.

  • Sound score: 4/5

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal

(Image credit: Bang & Olufsen)

I could wax lyrical about the balanced frequency response, how they feel after you’ve been wearing them for hours and the generally wonderful build quality, but none of these things obscures the fiscal elephant in this room.

If you want some high-quality headphones that are equally impressive user for work or play and carry this logo, then be prepared to open your wallet wide.

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal score card

Should I buy a Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider 

Neat Bumblebee II review: solid if flawed USB mic for novice streamers
9:30 pm | February 7, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: | Comments: Off

Neat Bumblebee II: One-minute review

The Neat Bumblebee II is proof that there are many options our there for those looking to get into streaming. It’s not a budget model but is quite affordable at around $100 / £100. Unfortunately, there’s also enough competition out there, making this solid but flawed USB mic hard to recommend. If I were to recommend it though, it would be strictly for streamers.

It’s not a bad mic. It’s very easy to use and doesn’t come with a steep learning curve that more fully-featured mics have. And, it can sound good as long as you keep the mic volume on low. But, with its one polar pattern and tendency to distort when the mic volume is up, podcasters and musicians should look elsewhere.

While I don’t think the Neat Bumblebee II is going to give the best USB mics a run for their money, it is worth a look for novice streamers, especially when there’s a sale.  

Neat Bumblebee II: Price and availability

  • How much does it cost?  $99.99 / £89.99 / about AU$141.04 
  • When is it available? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US and the UK
Neat Bumblebee II: SPECS

Polar pattern: Cardioid
Sample rate: 24-bit/96kHz
Connection Type: USB
Weight: 0.88lbs 

The Neat Bumblebee II, which goes for a reasonable $99.99 / £89.99 / about AU$141.04, is reasonably affordable. While there are more budget options like the JLab Go Talk, which at $49 / £49 (about AU$70) is just half the price, the real alternatives are similarly-priced USB mics such as the JBL Quantum Stream and the AKG Ara

Unfortunately, they’re pretty stiff competitors. The JBL mic covers a lot of the same ground performance-wise but adds a polar pattern and has an LED that dims or brightens when you adjust the controls. Meanwhile, the AKG Ara is the better sounding mic of the bunch, even if it’s a bit more traditional in its presentation and controls. On top of that, the Bumblebee II isn’t available in Australia.

That said, it’s still competent enough that if it’s your only option. If there’s a deal to be had, it’s worth it for novice streamers.

  • Value: 3.5 / 5

Neat Bumblebee II on a desk

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Neat Bumblebee II: Design

  • One control dial to rule them all
  • Hard to tell setting levels
  • Yolk-mounted stand is mountable

Though I don’t find the Neat Bumblebee II to be particularly striking, looks-wise, it’s still somewhat sleek in a utilitarian kind of way. This all-black USB mic has a half grill, half aluminum enclosure with just two controls and a logo forming a column down the middle. It’s held in place by a yolk-mounted stand with a U-shaped plastic base. All together, it’s not going to turn any heads. But, for the price, it comes across as well-built and well thought out.

Neat Bumblebee II on a desk

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

In particular, I appreciate how Neat managed to pack all the necessary controls into just a physical control dial and a mic mute button. That dial can do quite a lot. By pressing on it, you can switch between headphone volume, mic volume, and chat mix, and then turning the dial lets you adjust to the level that you want. When plugged in, an LED ring surrounding this dial lights up and changes color depending on the setting you’re on. 

The only thing that I wish Neat would improve on here is that there’s no way to know your level just by looking at the mic. The JBL Quantum Stream does something very similar control-wise, but it also has an LED indicator ring that dims or brightens as you adjust the settings. On the Bumblebee II, you’ll have to rely on your software to give you that information.

To maintain its minimal look, the ports are hidden on the bottom of the mic body. While that does keep things a little cleaner, there’s not a lot of clearance if you’re using headphones with a large or stiff input jack. This was also a problem when I reviewed the JBL Quantum Stream. The Neat Bumblebee II does make its ports a little more accessible since the mounting thread is not next to the ports, unlike on the JBL.

Neat Bumblebee II on a desk

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

In fact, if you want to mount the Neat Bumblebee II, you’ll only remove the base to do so. The yolk-mounted stand is permanently attached to the mic body so you won’t be able to use a shock mount. However, it does come with a mount adapter so you’ll be able to use most boom arms or mic stands with it.

  • Design: 4 / 5

Neat Bumblebee II on a desk

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Neat Bumblebee II: Performance

  • Only has one polar pattern
  • Sounds good as long as you keep the mic volume low
  • Susceptible to bumps and vibrations

Since the Neat Bumblebee II is a plug-n-play affair, getting started is straightforward. There’s no app for fine-tuning as you might find with some other mics. However, since there’s only one polar pattern, it’s not really necessary. The only difficult part of using this mic is knowing your levels, particularly that chat mix.

In terms of audio quality, the Bumblebee II is a somewhat mixed bag. Yes, it can reach a bit and sample rate of 24 bit/96 kHz, but I find this mic only appropriate for certain situations. The mic has a lot of gain on tap, so I have to turn it down to about 30% to avoid voice distortion. That’s especially true as I get closer to it as it’s very susceptible to proximity effect. Because of that, I wouldn’t recommend using it for recording instruments outside of just sketching some ideas for later use. Since it only has the one polar pattern, it’s not ideal for podcasting, either.

Neat Bumblebee II on a desk

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

The good news is that I didn’t find it too noisy. While cheaper mics may come with similar features, they can have a high noise floor whereas the Neat Bumblebee II isn’t too bad. There’s no background noise rejection or any processing to minimize background sounds, but the mic itself operates quietly enough that using it is not an issue unless you’re in a noisy environment.

The Neat Bumblebee II unfortunately does too good of a job picking up vibrations and bumps, whether it’s on the desk or the stand. The capsule is supposedly internally shock-mounted while the mic body is yolk-mounted; yet neither does much to minimize those sounds. If you move around a lot while streaming, I would suggest investing in a boom arm to use with it.

  • Performance: 3 / 5

Should I buy the Neat Bumblebee II?

Neat Bumblebee II on a desk

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

If our Neat Bumblebee II review has you considering other options, here are two more to consider...  

Neat Bumblebee II: Report card

  • First reviewed February 2023

How I tested the Neat Bumblebee II

I started my testing of the Neat Bumblebee II by checking out the controls to see how easy or difficult it is to navigate through the different settings. I then recorded myself on each side of the mic from various distances and at various volumes so I could hear what the end product was. Finally, I recorded myself tapping on the desk, mic stand, and mic itself to see how it registered vibrations and bumps against the desk.

We pride ourselves on our independence and our rigorous review-testing process, offering up long-term attention to the products we review and making sure our reviews are updated and maintained - regardless of when a device was released, if you can still buy it, it's on our radar.

Read more about how we test

DrayTek Vigor2865ax review
8:31 am | February 1, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: | Comments: Off

DrayTek Vigor2865ax: Two-minute review

DrayTek continues to impress us with its wide range of business-focused networking options, as well as a commitment to ongoing improvement with the latest features and upgraded performance. Today we're testing the DrayTek Vigor2865ax, which is the highest-end model in the larger Vigor2865 series.

These DrayTek routers are aimed at small to medium businesses, with VDSL2 modem, WAN port, and in some models, Wi-Fi support. The higher-end Vigor2865ax is equipped with Wi-Fi 6, but there are also models without wireless, others with VoIP options, or even built-in LTE connectivity. The Vigor2865 series is a multi-WAN router, so a key ingredient is its ability to maintain multiple internet connections for improved performance and/or redundancy.

All models include a VDSL2 modem, which supports 35b Supervectoring, as well as being backwards compatible with ADSL2+.  With a suitable VDSL2 connection, the 2865 series can handle speeds up to 300Mbps. Of course you can also use a non-VDSL option via the Gigabit WAN port, or even configure Wi-Fi WAN connections. You also get five Gigabit LAN ports, and further connectivity is available via the USB ports, which can support 4G modems.

The 2865ax model includes ultra-fast AX3000-spec Wi-Fi 6. This is provided by 2x2 MU-MIMO radios and 2402Mbps of bandwidth on the 5GHz band, while the 2.4GHz band can do up to 574Mbps. While not the very fastest Wi-Fi available, this still offers excellent performance. For those not needing quite so much wireless bandwidth, or wanting to use the Vigor2865 series with existing Wi-FI APs, there is an AC1300-spec model, as well as one with no Wi-Fi at all.

Multiple high-speed WAN connections are not much use without enough performance to actually share it out over a wider network, so importantly the Vigor2865 includes hardware acceleration options. It can be configured in different ways, but makes for a big improvement in overall throughput – especially when running multiple WANs. For companies that use SSL-VPN tunnels for remote access, hardware acceleration can give a huge 2.8x boost to throughput.

Some key Vigor2865-series features are support for up to 32 VPN tunnels, 16 VLANs, the ability to handle 1,022 IP addresses, eight LAN subnets, a robust firewall, filtering and QoS options, failover and load balancing management and Wi-Fi hotspot options. The 2865 also supports managing up to 20 Vigor Access Points, and 10 Vigor switches. Management can be done via the 2865 interface itself, or using the DrayTek VigorACS network management software. With the latest VigorACS 3, the 2865 even supports SD WAN.

Getting the Vigor2865ax set up and managing our network of other DrayTek devices was fast and easy. Performance of the wired side was top notch, and while exact Wi-Fi speed will of course depend on the connecting device, we managed 549Mbps at close range, which dropped off to a respectable 399Mbps at 10 meter range. Importantly, the 2865ax handled multiple high-bandwidth devices at the same time. It will come as no surprise that such a feature-packed modem router has a rather dense interface, but it's generally well laid out and quite intuitive to use.

All in all, we can’t fault the DrayTek Vigor2865ax in any way more than a quibble, and it's a respectable option for a small-to-medium business network.

Front and top view of the DrayTek Vigor2865ax router

Compact and white, the Vigor2865ax hides a lot of functionality under an unassuming shell. (Image credit: Future)

DrayTek Vigor2865ax review: price and availability

  • How much does it cost? $300 / £330 / AU$699
  • When is it available? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Available in most major markets including the US, UK and Australia

It’s especially important to shop around for DrayTek Vigor products, because they tend not to be stocked as widely as residential gear, and pricing can vary a lot. The Vigor2865ax will set you back $300 / £330 / AU$699.

While comparatively easy to find in Australia and the UK, the Vigor2865ax is harder to buy in the US. American buyers may need to resort to sellers willing to ship internationally. Buyers Down Under get the worst of the pricing, while the UK and US, with their larger markets, are a bit more competitive.

There’s not a huge amount of competition in the Wi-Fi 6-capable VDSL2 modem-router space, but generally speaking the Vigor2865ax is fairly price competitive with alternate options.

• Value score: 3.5 / 5

Close-up of the ports on the DrayTek Vigor2865ax

The 2865 series has a VDSL modem built in, but can also connect to the internet via the WAN port. (Image credit: Future)

DrayTek Vigor2865ax review: design and features

  • Feature-packed interface
  • Multi-WAN support
  • Excellent VPN options
  • Mesh network ready

The main drawcard for the Vigor2865ax over similar DrayTek models is the VDSL2 modem. A key feature is that it supports 35b Supervectoring, which allows for faster VDSL speeds up to 300Mbps. While a fiber connection is ideal, many smaller or retail business locations are limited to VDSL for internet, so it’s important to be able to maximise the bandwidth available. For those locations where ADSL2+ is still in operation, the 2865 series is also backwards compatible.

For those who need extra redundancy, handily the 2865 series can also connect to broadband via the WAN port and an external modem, as well as being able to use a (BYO) 4G cellular modem via USB. Importantly, these options are supported by extensive software features such as failover, load balancing, bandwidth limiting and the ability to prioritise specific traffic, such as for VOIP.

The Vigor2865ax we tested includes AX3000-spec Wi-Fi 6, but the models with lesser Wi-Fi, or no Wi-Fi at all, are great for businesses who just want the 2865 as a VDSL modem and network management hub.

DrayTek Vigor2865ax key specs

Networking Ports:  1x 1GbE WAN/LAN, 1x RJ-11, 5x 1GbE LAN
Network Management: 20 Vigor Access Points, 10 Vigor Switches
Total NAT Throughput: 1.3 Gbps
USB: 2x 2.0
Maximum VPN tunnels: 32
Power: 12V, 2.3A
Dimensions: 241x 166 x 46mm
Weight: 0.62 kg
Warranty: 2 year back-to-base

Networking is what DrayTek is all about, so it’s important to acknowledge that many of the most useful features of the 2865 series involve the use of other hardware. The 2865 models with Wi-Fi can be part of a mesh network, or even access the internet via a wireless WAN. You can also use the 2865 to control a wider network of Vigor products, such as wireless access points and switches. This is ideal for growing businesses, as it makes expanding a network relatively easy. The USB ports can be used to add external devices, such as 4G modems or temperature probes.

Performance is key, and compared to the previous generation router, the Vigor2865 series much improved throughput thanks includes hardware acceleration. This can be used to provide increased performance in a range of areas. For example, using hardware acceleration, dual WAN use can avoid bottlenecks, with up to 1.6x the unaccelerated throughput.

The 2865 series also has a long list of other business focused features. For example it can host a quite advanced hotspot web portal, including a customised landing page with loads of template options available. The router also includes a comprehensive firewall, and other security and content options, such as web page filtering.

Overall the Vigor2865ax has a varied but useful mix of features, without going overboard with unnecessary options that would drive up the price. Don’t take our word for it either – Draytek have online demos available for their hardware, and you can log in and look through the interface and features before buying. Check out the 2865 series at

• Design and features score: 4.5 / 5

The DrayTek Vigor2865ax router's web interface

The Vigor2865 web interface is dense but very functional, and there’s an online demo you can try. (Image credit: Future)

DrayTek Vigor2965ax review: performance

  • Multi-WAN failover and bandwidth allocation options
  • App-based wireless management
  • Mesh networking support

It’s hard to do justice to all the ins and outs of the Vigor2865ax with just words on a page. To better understand the router and interface, we highly recommend checking out the excellent DrayTek demo mentioned above, where you can investigate and test the interface and features up front. You can also do the same for other DrayTek devices. The product page is also a good port of call, and makes it easy to check out the manual, guides and other resources.

Getting the 2865ax up and running is straightforward, and can be done completely through the web interface. For more complex configurations the interface can seem quite dense, but DrayTek does an excellent job of providing comprehensive guides, manuals and other help online. There’s also DrayTek phone apps for wireless management, which is much improved from previous versions, and generally works pretty well.

For testing, we added the Vigor2865ax to a network populated with a range of DrayTek access points and switches, as well as other gear, such as a NAS and IP cameras, as well as a bevy of smart devices and computers. We included a 4G USB modem as a backup WAN source.

We didn’t uncover any surprises in testing, and the 2865 was more than capable of handling all the network throughput we could give it. VPN links, bandwidth allocation and WAN failover all worked as described, and the 2865 made it easy to manage other networked Vigor devices. On our Vigor2865ax model, Wi-Fi gave excellent performance up close (maxing out at 549Mbps) and through obstacles such as walls. At longer range performance was decent, but nothing spectacular, due to the relatively low-gain antennas – we achieved 399Mbps at 10m distance. DrayTek does have higher gain and directional patch antennas available as an optional extra for those who want to tweak the Wi-Fi experience. Mesh setup with other DrayTek devices was reasonably quick and easy, and handover between mesh nodes worked well.

Of course getting everything set up just so requires significant time, but that’s a reflection of the depth of features, rather than a failing on the router's behalf.

• Performance score: 4 / 5

The undercarriage of the DrayTek Vigor2865ax

The Vigor2865 series can be easily wall or rack mounted to help make cable management easier. (Image credit: Future)

DrayTek Vigor2865ax: network management

  • Remote management direct from router interface
  • TR-069 remote management compatible
  • SD-WAN supported via VigorACS software

One of the key features of the Vigor routers for business use is the ability to manage a wider network made up of DrayTek devices. The 2865 series can control 20 Vigor wireless access points (seven in a mesh network) and 10 Vigor switches right from the inbuilt interface.

Of course such a setup can start to become unwieldy to manage – often long before hitting a high number of network devices. While you can use existing TR-069 management software options, DrayTek has a paid server-based TR-069 solution called VigorACS. The latest version, VigorACS 3, enables the DrayTek SD-WAN solution on compatible hardware, which includes the Vigor2865 series. This is a great inclusion, as SD-WAN is a fantastic option for businesses with remote workers who need secure, easily configurable access to the company network while at home or on the road.

DrayTek makes it pretty easy to give VigorACS a try, and buying a compatible device means you get a free 30-day trial. There’s also an online demo. While it's not the only option for TR-069 management, VigorACS is a great match for DrayTek hardware, and for many will be worth the cost for the time savings alone. There’s also a large VigorACS knowledge base of articles that make using it much easier.

Dual USB ports and light indicators on the DrayTek Vigor2865ax

The 2865 series has dual USB ports, which support 4G modems, or an optional temperature sensor.  (Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the DrayTek Vigor2865ax?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

DrayTek Vigor2865ax review: final verdict

The Vigor2865ax is a relatively affordable business VDSL modem router, and combines a useful array of features for small to growing businesses. It has a decent amount of flexibility and future-proofing to scale with a business' needs, as well as plenty of options for more advanced functionality such as SD-WAN support.

The inclusion of hardware acceleration is of key importance, and takes the 2865 series from a pretty standard option to one with enough throughput to make it viable to hold off from upgrading to a 2.5GbE or faster solution.

While it is very capable on its own, the Vigor2865 series really performs best when paired with other DrayTek devices, as well as the VigorACS software. The hardware itself is excellent, but it's also important to note the relative abundance of support options to help get the most out of the router. The software side is also top notch, and DrayTek is committed to frequent upgrades and improvements over time.  

It’s hard to fault the Vigor2865ax from a technical perspective, and most of our quibbles are really a wishlist of extra features that would inevitably drive up the price. It’s not perfect, but does what it says on the box with little fuss, at an appropriate price. For those businesses who can make use of its unique set of features, the Vigor2865ax is a great choice.

[First reviewed February 2023]

Razer Leviathan V2 Pro review: wide soundstage, head tracking and a whole lot of rumble
7:05 pm | January 31, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Razer Leviathan V2 Pro: One-minute review

Not that there's a lot riding on the Razer Leviathan V2 Pro. But with blow-you-away computer speakers like the SteelSeries Arena 9, whose true 5.1 system may have changed the way we consume media and play games on our computers, the pressure is certainly on. Especially because Razer is also going for that immersive 5.1 experience — only it’s attempting to do so with just a soundbar and a sub. 

Is it fair to compare it to SteelSeries' 2022 release? Well, yeah. In a lot of ways, Razer is making the argument here that you can experience that same level of immersion without taking up a whole lot of space. With the Razer Leviathan V2 Pro, it's telling gamers that they don't need the hassle of setting up two front and two rear speakers plus a sub to feel like they're in the middle of the action. All they need is this soundbar-and-sub combo, and it's much easier to set up. And to do that, they need a compelling product. 

So, how does the Leviathan V2 Pro fare? Don't get me wrong; I absolutely love the SteelSeries Arena 9. But, for someone who uses a lot of peripherals and doesn’t really have enough space to accommodate them all, I do think that Razer’s offering makes a pretty compelling case.

Razer Leviathan V2 Pro: Price and availability

  • How much does it cost? ‎$399.99 / £399.99 (about AU$600)
  • When is it available? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US, the UK, and Australia
Razer Leviathan V2 Pro: SPECS

Frequency range: 40Hz - 20kHz
Drivers: 5x 2-inch full-range drives, 1x 5.25-inch downward firing sub
Supported Connectivity: Bluetooth
Audio Inputs: USB
Outputs: 3.5mm

The Razer Leviathan V2 Pro might not seem like an affordable proposition. Who wants to spend $399.99 / £399.99 (about AU$600) on a computer speaker set? But, for what you’re getting, I’m actually surprised that it doesn’t cost more. After all, the SteelSeries Arena 9 comes with a $549 / €599 / AU$599 price tag. Even Razer’s own Nommo Pro, which is just a 2.1 system, is pricier at $599.99 / £529.99 / AU$999.95.

That’s without factoring in what you’re getting, which is a fairly space-saving audio solution that delivers a great immersive sound and a whole lot of rumble — just the ticket for your gaming and movie watching needs.

  • Value: 4 / 5

Razer Leviathan V2 Pro on a desk setup

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Razer Leviathan V2 Pro: Design and features

  • Soundbar is fairly compact
  • Nice, accessible controls and RGB lighting
  • Versatile with both USB and Bluetooth

While I prefer the more offbeat designs over traditional ones, I also thought the Razer Leviathan V2 Pro a thing of beauty when I took it out of the box. The grille on the soundbar looks premium, the controls are gloriously accessible and straightforward, and while the subwoofer is on the bigger end, the soundbar itself is fairly compact. Plus, the RGB lighting is a nice little extra.

Razer Leviathan V2 Pro on a desk setup

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

I also love the fact that there’s a decent amount of clearance underneath, thanks to its longer feet. That space underneath allowed me to slide the soundbar over my monitor’s base, saving me even more desk space. As someone who has way too many devices and peripherals on her desk — and I currently have a pretty spacious desk — having the soundbar fit neatly over my monitor’s base while still sitting in front of the panel is extremely satisfying.

Razer Leviathan V2 Pro on a desk setup

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Of course, the sub, being fairly sizable, does take up a bit of space underneath. But, considering it’s out of the way and doesn’t have to be situated directly in front of me, its size is really a non-issue.

Razer Leviathan V2 Pro on a desk setup

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Back to the soundbar, there are four buttons on top flanking the power button-cum-volume dial on either side. There’s the EQ preset button, 3D button that lets you change audio modes, input button, and the RGB on/off button.

In front of these are 10 LED indicator lights, five on each side of the infrared camera that sit right in the middle where they’re best positioned to track your head and make sure you’re experiencing consistent audio (more on that later).

These LED indicator lights are pretty good at keeping you apprised of which setting you're adjusting and at what level that setting is. When you’re pressing the EQ preset button, for example, which allows you to cycle through the five EQ presets, each light essentially represents each preset.

You can’t really see the drivers behind the grill on the soundbar, but Razer says that there are five 2-inch full-range drivers in there and (sadly) no tweeters. Meanwhile, the subwoofer has a 5.25-inch downward firing one.

The Razer Leviathan V2 Pro does have software support, offering decent customizability via the Razer Synapse and Razer Chroma apps. The Razer Synapse app is, of course, the most important one here, offering users a 10-band EQ for fine-tuning the audio, choosing between the different audio modes, and quickly making RGB lighting adjustments.

  • Design: 4.5 / 5

Razer Leviathan V2 Pro on a desk setup

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Razer Leviathan V2 Pro: Performance

  • Power sub that deliver a lot of rumble
  • Very full mid range, high end a little lacking
  • Great sound imaging, wide soundstage

There are a couple of things that I do wish the Razer Leviathan V2 Pro would be better at. For example, the absence of tweeters on the soundbar means that the high end is a little lacking. That’s apparent when I’m playing Kena: Bridge of Spirits, which has a lot of sparkly audio effects like the sounds of chimes, for example. The game still sounds  good, but it also sounds a little dull due to the lack of high end.

I have also found it to be very mid-forward, and there are instances where it sounds a little muddy because of it. When I’m watching Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, for example, the mid range sounded nicely full. However, when I put Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the dialogue in the movie sounds a little muddy due to the mids being almost too full.

Those are the “bad” bits, which aren’t really deal-breakers. I have found that I’m not overly bothered by the lack of high end when I’m watching blockbusters. And being mid-forward isn’t necessarily always a bad thing.

Razer Leviathan V2 Pro on a desk setup

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Plus, the Razer Leviathan V2 Pro makes up for those with its bass performance, great sound imaging, and wide soundstage. Even on Stereo mode with a flat EQ, the sub at 3 out of 7, and the volume set to 50, I have found that the sound imaging in both the Glass Onion and Wakanda Forever is pretty good and the soundstage is wider than the soundbar (extending to about five to six inches further on each side of it).

Razer Leviathan V2 Pro on a desk setup

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Turn that sub up to 5, and the sub delivers a massive uptick in bass and rumble in Glass Onion. That isn’t the case in Wakanda Forever — I’ve found that jumping from 3 to 5 only delivers a slight uptick in sub bass, but I suspect that’s only because there’s already a lot of bass in the movie at 3 so going to 5 doesn’t make a massive difference.

The Razer Leviathan V2 Pro also has a lot of volume on tap — enough, I think, for a small home theater setup. So, use that volume dial with caution.

Two of the four audio modes on hand are excellent. I like Stereo, of course, but the Virtual Speakers mode, which according to Razer beams audio “to seven virtual speakers to deliver a wide soundstage that is always centered around you” and is best for multi-channel sound, is great as well. You’re betting bigger bass, crisp audio, clearer dialogue, and a wide soundstage.

The Virtual Headset mode is impressive in its own right. Described by Razer as audio that “is beamed directly to your ears in an immersive soundstage to deliver an immersive soundscape with pinpoint positional audio traditionally found in headsets,” it‘s a little less detailed. However, it sounds a little wider, the audio extending about eight inches further on each side of the soundbar, and its sound imaging is very accurate.

My head doesn’t have to be completely centered to get the full experience, either. When I sit in front of the soundbar and move from side to side, I always feel like I’m centered in the soundstage, which is pretty impressive.

That’s thanks to its built-in infrared camera that boasts AI tracking, which intelligently detects where you are in relation to the soundbar. It then uses beamforming technology to adjust the audio so that you feel like you’re right in the middle of the action, even if you’re off a little to one side. It does such a good job of it too that I don’t even hear the audio adjusting.

  • Performance: 4.5 / 5

Should I buy the Razer Leviathan V2 Pro?

Razer Leviathan V2 Pro on a desk setup

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

If our Razer Leviathan V2 Pro review has you considering other options, here are two more computer speakers to consider...  

Razer Leviathan V2 Pro: Report card

  • First reviewed January 2023

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