MXL Tempo USB Condenser Microphone Review
The MXL Tempo is a USB condenser microphone that you can connect directly to your computer using the included USB cable without any additional hardware. This can be very helpful in many situations where you just want to record a quick podcast or have a voice call online or just to enhance the audio of your laptop without carrying around a bulk of equipment.
MXL Tempo USB Look and Feel
With its unique bi-color design, the MXL Tempo looks absolutely gorgeous. It is one of the most beautiful microphones out there.
Three color options are available: (WR) white body with red grill, (KR) black body with red grill and (SK) silver body with black grill.
The metal body and grill gives the mic a good quality as it doesn’t feel cheap in the hand and not premium either.
MXL Tempo USB Sound Quality
The idea of a USB mic is that it eliminates the external audio interface from the audio chain as it has a built-in audio interface. Audio sampling and analog to digital conversion all happens inside the mic before it leaves to the computer. This can pose quality issues as these built-in audio interfaces are not always as good as a dedicated external audio interface.
While getting the benefits of a mobile setup that helps you record on the go, you compromise a little or too audio quality.
That said, the MXL Tempo is a good sounding mic. It has a decent sound. However, it seems to focus on the mid range and lacks the presence at the high end which, being good or bad, gives it a little vintage sound.
The MXL Tempo has a cardioid pickup pattern which means it captures audio from the front of the mic and tries to block audio from other directions. It actually does a great job in isolating the sound of keyboard strikes when you are typing while using the mic.
You need to get very close to the mic (about 4 inches) in order for your voice to get picked up clearly.
Another important note to mention is the built in headphone jack which meant to allow you to monitor your voice in real time as you record. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work as expected as it is NOT zero-latency feedback. What it actually does is play back the sound coming from your computer which always has some latency and makes listening while recording a terrible experience that can drive you crazy. If implemented correctly, this should give you a direct sound coming right from the mic itself not from the computer. However, it’s good to have this “high-fidelity” jack just for times when want to plug your headphones in the mic instead of the headphones jack in the back of your PC.
What worries me also about the quality of the audio of the MXL Tempo USB is that it seems it’s a fairly old technology. You can tell this is true from the description of the mic on the official MXL site where it mentions compatibility with USB 1.1 and lists Google Talk as service you can use this mic with. You may or may not know that We are up to USB 3 now and Google Talk has long been discontinued by Google many years ago.
I know, microphones don’t get updated often because ananlog sound capturing technology hasn’t changed much but a USB mic has a built-in digital components like the audio interface, the AD converter and the USB connectors which have greatly improved in the last few years.
MXL Tempo Features
- USB mic that plugs directly into your computer
- Built-in headphone jack for listening back to your audio
- Good for podcast, vocals, voice over and online voice/video calls
MXL Tempo Package
This mic comes in a standard retail package that includes:
- MXL Tempo microphone
- USB cable (about 7 ft.)
- Table-top mic stand
- Plastic mount for mic stand
- Mic stand adapter
- User Manual
- MXL Sticker
- 1-year warranty
The mic stand included is almost useless as it is very short to raise the mic to the speaker’s mouth and if you just put in the table, you get a very low level of your voice while picking up a lot of room noise and echo.
MXL Tempo USB Technical Specs:
|USB condenser microphone|
|40 Hz – 18kHz|
|44.1kHz – 48kHz|
|USB 1.1 and USB 2.0|
|16-bit Delta Sigma with THD%N – 0.01%|
|1/8″ (3.5mm) Headphone Jack / USB|
|-47 dB re 1 v/Pa|
|Windows and Mac® OS|
|1.85″ X 7.5″ / 47mm X 190mm|
|0.65 lbs / 280g|
Final Word: Should you get it?
The MXL Tempo USB is a good plug and play mic for about $70 budget. It’s not the best choice though. In fact, there are many USB mics out there that can beat this mic in all aspects.
You can decide the purpose you want to use a USB mic for. If you want just want to record vocals, the Samson CO1U Pro is a better choice at the same price. On the other hand, if you want to record a podcast, you shouldn’t get this mic because it’s a condenser which means it a lot more sensitive and will pick up all sounds around you. For podcasts, your best type of microphone is a dynamic mic which is purposely has less sensitivity and blocks a lot of background noise. In this case, the Audio-Technica ATR-2100 is your best buy.
If you still, however, want a USB mic that has a warmer sound and not as bright as most condensers get the MXL Tempo. It is not a bad mic but it sounds different from waht most people are used to nowadays.