Seems like everyone and their dog are diving into the world of microphones, and I feel like we’ve seen them all. But companies surprise me, and this time it’s Creative. They’re generally known for their amazing audio products, from PC speakers to Bluetooth/Wireless speakers and everything in between, they’re giving USB microphones a go, with their newly released LIVE! Mic M3, a small form factor USB condenser microphone.
The Creative LIVE! Mic M3 is one of the smaller mics we’ve had the chance to test. The body only measures at just under 13 centimetres tall and five centimetres wide. The pedestal only really adds an extra seven centimetres or so which is incredible. It’s coloured in all black, with a couple of silver accents for the Creative logo and the graphics for the buttons. There’s a status LED that shows if the microphone is muted or not too, which is very bright. The microphone is very light, which shouldn’t give any issues to smaller sized boom arms, and although the majority is made from plastic, it feels very tough and survive a knock or two. The grill is metal and didn’t collapse when I squeezed it.
The front IO consists of a volume knob and a mute button, while around the back is the knob for changing polar patterns of which there is a front-facing cardioid polar pattern and an omnidirectional pattern too. For most of my testing, I kept it set to forward facing, as I was going to be using this for streaming, but if you’re in an interview situation, it’s more than capable of picking up audio from guests sitting around a table. On the bottom you can find a micro USB input, which is bizarre for a new product. Why they didn’t go USB-C is anyone’s guess, and a headphone jack for sidetone, which actually does quite a nice job of giving you enough volume to monitor your audio while gaming. It won’t help you with mixing your audio, but it will give an idea on whether you’re peaking or not.
The desk stand is a chunk of weight, with a ball head attached to it. It’s a very simple setup, and then added weight means that if the microphone is knocked, you’ve got to give it some force to actually tip it over. The ball head aids in aiming the microphone closer to your subjects, and the microphone can bend down to a 45-degree angle to the stand.
You have to speak into the front of this microphone to work, as that’s where the microphone is facing. It consists of dual 14mm condenser capsules for its omnidirectional pattern, and it did a great job of picking up my voice when it was placed in front of my keyboard while playing games. Check out this example.
Now, vocal quality is pretty decent, it’s not a real viable option if you’re wanting that podcast, deep bass kind of tone to your voice, but if you’re wanting to level up your Zoom and Teams calls, it’s way above the quality you’re going to get from a webcam or built-in microphone from a laptop. It offers a very nice clarity and when it’s set to its cardioid pattern, it does a great job of reducing background noise from key clicks on a keyboard, or PC fans buzzing on the desk. One thing I would say though is that the microphone isn’t the most sensitive in the world, and if you’re able to do so, some post-processing effects or even some real-time effects to boost the gain somewhat might work in your favour. This of course comes down to the type of speaking voice you have. If you have a soft voice, you could use this, but if you’re like me who has a bit of boom to their voice, it wasn’t really needed.
For £80, the Creative LIVE! Mic M3 is a steal. And if you’re stuck working from home, and find yourself on a daily Zoom call with your colleagues, this microphone will impress those listening to you. If you’re also thinking about getting into streaming, on Twitch YouTube, it’s a good starter microphone for sure, to get you used to speaking on camera and not really having to break the bank to get a decent quality. It’s built very nice, and the plug and play factor really impresses me, so you’re not faffing around with drivers or software unless of course, you apply some real-time effects on OBS. But if not, you’re good to go with this microphone.