Thursday, September 09, 2010

Behringer Podcastudio USB Review

Regular readers will know that last week I received the Technical Pro PM-22 podcast kit I ordered from BHphotovideo.com

It was a piece of crap. I mean, a really terrible product incapable of doing what it's designed to do. Not only did it generate a ridiculous amount of noise (I compared it to what you'd hear if you were recording using a cell-phone's speakerphone while driving in heavy traffic with all the windows rolled down) but it was so badly shielded it even started picking up a Spanish-language radio station.

Well, I called the good people at BHphotovideo (who I can't praise enough for their outstanding customer service) and exchanged the piece of shit PM-22 for the Behringer Podcastudio USB bundle. They also paid for shipping both ways, even though I also ordered an extra mic, stand and cable as the Podcastudio is a single-mix setup.

First good point: Even though I had to buy the extra mic, etc. separately, all this kit cost about ten bucks less than the PM-22. The only thing I'm missing is an extra set of headphones…however, the headphones that come with the podcastudio are actually decent and work, unlike the plasticy pieces of crap that came with the PM-22.

So is it worth the money?

In a word: Absolutely. The mixer is just all round better quality than the PM-22. (Although, technically a brick with 'mixer' written on it in crayon would be better than the PM-22) Nothing looks or feels cheap and tacky, in fact, the opposite is true. It looks and feels like a piece of professional audio equipment. Also, and this is a huge plus point…it actually works.

The sound quality is excellent, with no hiss, noise or distortion and setup is a breeze. The included USB interface was pure plug and play with no need to install the bundled drivers…and this was on my Windows 7 Starter Edition netbook, which tends to be quite finicky with what software or hardware it will recognize.

The only downside to this kit, and I'm nitpicking here, is if you want to use 2 mics, the second mic is significantly quieter as there is only one XLR mic input, meaning the second has to go through a 'line in' input which doesn't have a dedicated gain control. This is an easy fix, however. I got around it by lowering the volume of the first mic and turning up the volume on the second to balance them out, then getting the overall volume I needed by turning up the volume on the main mix control.

The mic that comes with the kit is a Behringer Ultravoice XM8500, which I was absolutely astounded by. I ordered an extra one of these for a whopping $17 and I wasn't expecting much…but I was very pleasantly surprised. It's heavy, solidly built and the sound quality was outstanding, and not just for a mic of this price, but for dynamic mics in general. I'm not a mic expert but in researching it, most people, including professional musicians, compare this mic favorably (including a lot who say they like it better) to a Shure SM58… a mic which retails for around a hundred dollars, and after playing with mine, I can believe it.

The headphones that come with the kit aren't great, but they're not bad either. They do the job and they have plenty of bass and overall good frequency response. They're not $250, studio-grade headphones, but when the Pocastudio costs around $90 total, you don't expect them to be.

In closing, if you're looking for an affordable entry-level mixer for a podcast or even recording your band or DJing, I can highly recommend this kit. I'd also recommend your steer clear of Technical Pro.

In fact, I contacted Technical Pro shortly after receiving their mixer last week and still haven't heard from them. They're a terrible company. In fact, I posted a comment on their Youtube 'review' of the PM-22, explaining the problems I had with their product, and not only did they not respond, they deleted my comment and blocked me from commenting on any of their videos. Given that their video has received nearly 8000 views, and there are only two comments on it, both from people saying how much they want to buy one…it would appear that removing and blocking users who post unfavorable reviews is a policy.

8000 views and only two comments? If you do the math you can easily see what their customer satisfaction rate is.

Basically, if you want a good, professional podcast bundle, buy Behringer…and avoid Technical Pro like the plague.

3 comments:

MC Etcher said...

Good info! I'll be in the market for equipment here soon, and you present a good case.

afinefellow718 said...

Paulius,

Thank you for your kind mention of B&H Photo. On behalf of all of us at B&H Photo, please accept our warm thanks and deep gratitude for your patronage. We look forward to earning your trust and continued business for many years to come. I invite you and your readers to check out our new informative and entertaining blog at www.bhinsights.com

Hershel K. Waldner
Supervisor,
Online Marketing Department
B&H Photo-Video-Audio
212-239-7500 ext. 2893

Sentinal Lissimo said...

I'm in the market for a little mixer, saw the Behringer Podcasting Kit,, saw you webpage ( laughed my head off at the name).But surprised to find in these times that a product "Does What It Says On The Tin" - to quote an old english saying. I'll be buying one of the kits tomorrow. Cheers, Stuart from Sydney, Australia.