sE Electronics Neom USB: What is it?
Okay, we get it, XLR is for geeky pros and USB is for consumers and hobbyists. Well, judging by its Neom USB mic, it seems sE Electronics didn’t read the memo. True, there’s a few things USB can’t do, such as long cable runs, but for straightforward solo recordings it’s so darned convenient. So much so, that up until now it’s puzzled us why so few brands have developed a pro-level USB mic instead of all the flimsy gear we’re used to seeing.
Bucking the trend, sE’s Neom USB is a premium cardioid condenser mic that, as its name suggests, is USB only. Its true calling is voice applications – for podcasters, vloggers, creators – but there’s no reason why it can’t be employed for a host of other uses provided you don’t need to run a cable longer than 5m.
Why is a USB mic potentially so cool? Well, the preamp and interface are built in, which means that if you’re a podcaster on the move you don’t need to buy, or drag around, a bag load of additional gear. The Neom USB is particularly convenient because it’s class compliant, making it plug and play with everything from desktop PCs to smartphones. In short, this means that you can hook it up to your PC in your home studio, but when out on location you just need to pack it with your smartphone.
sE Electronics Neom USB: Performance and verdict
This mic is a solid beast. The all metal construction looks and feels like it’ll last eons (well, longer than the USB standard anyway) and though both chunky and weighty, it’s not too large or heavy to stick into a small bag. It’s a relatively tall mic, which is a good thing. Mount it on the included mic stand and, at typical table-top height, the front address capsule will be directly in front of your mouth. Just where you want it.
The front of the mic features a mute button plus three rotary encoders for gain, mic level and playback level. sE’s product designers have playfully incorporated the company’s logo into the mute button, and marked the gain dial in increments up to 11. Nice touches.
The mute button flashes red when muted and illuminates white when recording, while the gain knob is surrounded by an LED ring that’ll display green for a decent level and red when clipping. The mic level and playback level work in conjunction as monitor controls, letting you manage how much of the mic’s signal vs how much of your PC’s playback you hear through your headphones. A single headphone socket is on the back.
The Neom USB has a custom-designed capsule that features a decent-sized 2/3” diaphragm and will record up to 24-bit/192kHz resolution. Its frequency range is plenty wide enough at 20Hz-20kHz and its frequency response is flat other than a slight boost from 70Hz to 200Hz and a more pronounced boost at the top end from 5kHz to 15kHz. There’s oodles of gain on tap – the 11 mark is justified!
It sounds very flattering. The top boost is of little consequence to voice recordings, but the combination of that low end boost and the sizeable diaphragm is probably responsible for the warm, rich tones that characterised our tests. If you like your voice to sound full but with zero muddiness (who doesn’t?) then this is the mic for you. One caveat though – get too close and the proximity effect is very prominent. The clarity is still there, but the results are very dark.
We don’t believe the proximity issue is a flaw worth worrying about. After all, those using this mic with a boom arm are likely to know what they’re doing, while any amateurs using the included tabletop stand will be far enough away anyway.
MusicRadar verdict: What a joy it is to use a USB microphone that performs every bit as well as many XLR mics in this price range. A game changer.
sE Electronics Neom USB: The web says
"While well‑suited to podcasting and, because of its stylish looks, also to video presentations, sE’s Neom USB also works well for general music recording purposes — not just vocals but also acoustic guitars, hand percussion and so on."
Sound on Sound
sE Electronics Neom USB: Hands-on demos
sE Electronics Neom USB: Specifications
- KEY FEATURES: USB microphone with 2/3” back-electret condenser capsule and cardioid polar pattern.
- FREQ RANGE: 20Hz-20kHz.
- BIT RESOLUTION: ADC 24-bit/DAC 24-bit. Class compliant compatibility with MacOS, Windows, iOS and Android.
- WEIGHT: 445g. Mic stand and USB-C to USB-A cable included.
- CONTACT: sE Electronics