So… the PD200X by Maono. A dynamic mic for $70… to put it lightly I was hugely sceptical. Dynamics tend not to be good for Voice Over as they rarely capture the fullness of the voice needed for nuanced performance. But… could the price and the USB and XLR connectivity make it a worthy option for someone just looking to start out without committing too much money? I decided to compare it to a Blue Yeti because the Yeti is often recommended as the best budget option. There is a big price difference, at the time of writing this article the Yeti sells for $130 and as mentioned the PD200X is $70! So can it compare?! LET’S FIND OUT!
The Maono PD200X Dynamic Microphone packs an array of features tailored for beginners. Its cardioid polar pattern excels at focusing on the source sound, effectively isolating it from surrounding noise. With both XLR and USB-C connectivity options, it accommodates various setups seamlessly, while the Yeti only has USB. The 24-bit depth and 48kHz sample rate ensure high-quality audio capture, while the frequency response of 40Hz-16kHz offers a balanced representation of voices. The inclusion of a shock mount minimizes handling noise, and the 3.5 mm headphone jack monitor output lets you monitor your recordings in real-time. The RGB lighting adds a touch of visual flair but other than that doesn’t add much (although I did have waaay too much fun changing the colours!), while the durable metal construction ensures longevity. The free software further extends your control over the microphone's performance, allowing you to change profiles, and even has a built-in limiter, which could be great for beginners! I reeeeaaaally wish the Gain dial had a measure as to where you are set on the mic, but it doubles as the monitor volume dial too, so I found that to ensure consistency in setup I had to launch the Maono software each time to ensure the gain setting. A small thing, but it would have been nice!
This is where I was really surprised! You know what… its good! The PD200X’s performance shines particularly in less-than-ideal recording spaces, I built a simple ‘Blanket Booth’ set up… I draped a duvet over some mattresses and made a fort… it was fun! In the Blanket Booth I think the PD200X was vastly superior to the Yeti. Its dynamic nature aids in reducing room reflections and external disturbances, a common challenge for beginners, who may not have the budget to acoustically treat their recording space well. Whereas I definitely heard some reflections in the Yeti recording. You can check out the recordings below:
Blue Yeti Blanket Booth Master
PD200X Blanket Booth Master
I then went into my studio to see how it compares in a well-treated environment, and again I felt the sound quality surpasses that of the Yeti. When you plug it in via the XLR, you get an even further improvement. You can listen to the studio recordings here:
Blue Yeti Booth Master
PD200X USB Booth Master
PD200X XLR Booth Master
If you would prefer to listen to the RAW recordings you can check those out too - HERE
I wish Maono had done more to tame the somewhat harsh top end, but it was no worse than the Blue Yeti, so considering the other advantages I still like the PD200X! You do have to be pretty on top of it (whereas with the yeti you can have some distance and still get a good signal), which is just a thing with dynamics, which can increase the danger of plosives and can limit performance, but with some solid mic technique, you should be fine! Despite its affordability (and the fact that it is a dynamic mic!), it captures the nuances of voices remarkably well.
I asked two engineers which they preferred and here is their feedback:
John Tatlock (website HERE), who is my Audiobook Engineer and proofer (he is really good, by the way, defo reach out if you need help there!) said "Overall, from an engineering point of view, I think I'd be happier working with a recording from the Maono." When I asked him if he could think of another mic that might be better for the same price he said "At this price, for all in one, not needing an interface, I can't think of anything."
Matthew Cowell (profile HERE), a wonderful engineer I have worked with a ton on a whole range of projects (again a very talented chap, if you need basically anything audio... go message him!) listened back and forth with me to the tracks and I think he summed it up very nicely. I asked him if he would prefer the PD200X over the Blue Yeti he said "I definitely would! More versatile, better sound."
So there we have it! They both said they preferred the PD200X to the Blue Yeti!
The self-noise of the Maono Dynamic Microphone is commendably managed - Listen HERE. While a slight hiss might be present when using the USB, post-processing can readily address it, and the XLR is wonderfully quiet. Do ensure it is away from all power cords though or you may find some static leaking in.
The microphone's frequency response is generally flat, with a notable bump at the top end. I really wish they had avoided that bump. I am sure it was in the hope of adding some brightness but it does make the mic rather sibilant. However, as I mentioned it is very comparable to other entry-level mics.
Arguably one of its most compelling attributes, the PD200X is priced at a mere $70. In comparison, the Blue Yeti, a prevalent choice for beginners, retails at $130 (at the time of writing). This substantial price difference is not indicative of compromised quality; rather, the Maono delivers superior sound and a plethora of features at an unbeatable price point. This is really impressive!
It's important to acknowledge that if you're committed to pursuing voice over or narration professionally, a higher-tier setup with a quality condenser XLR microphone and audio interface is essential. You will want something better than this.
If you're venturing into this realm for the first time and nervous about spending too much at first or indulging in voice over as a hobby, the Maono PD200X Dynamic Microphone is an excellent starting point. Its versatility accommodates less-than-ideal recording environments, making it ideal for beginners. It works with the USB straight into your computer, and when you are ready to buy more kit and get an Audio Interface it can grow right along with you thanks to the XLR connectivity. Although some adjustments might be needed to refine the top end, the right post-processing techniques can work wonders. For its cost, the Maono microphone stands tall among its competitors, offering a remarkable entry-level experience.
While the microphone might not compete with professional-grade options, it's not designed to. It serves its purpose as an affordable and effective entry-level microphone. The PD200X earns its 4-star rating by delivering exceptional value for its price and catering to the needs of newcomers in the realm of voice over and audiobooks. Bravo Maono!
Buy the PD200X!
Let me know what you think in the comments! Byyyyyyyeeeeeeee!
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The PD200X reviewed in this article was supplied by Maono free of charge, but this did not affect my opinion in any way. Everything expressed is truly how I feel about the product.