Movo UM300 USB microphone hands-on: A mini microphone with a clear voice
When it comes to USB microphones, the Blue Yeti is often at the top of recommendation lists. Similarly, the Blue Yeti Nano is perhaps the most popular small USB microphone. But what if budding voice performers and recording artists could get a tiny microphone with all the features of the Yeti Nano at a significantly lower price tag?
The Movo UM300 is such a mic. It's a tiny USB microphone that covers all the basics of recording and throws in some nice extra features, and it does all this at just under US$60. I've been using the Movo UM300 over the past six months. Here are my thoughts.
The Movo UM300 bears a striking resemblance to its bigger brother, the UM700. The same matte black finish covers its aluminum body. The UM300's stand connects to the microphone via two screws that can be loosened or tightened with the reasonably-sized knobs. The base of the stand is sturdy and has quite a heft to it. The stand is impressive and holds the UM300 firmly in place. The microphone itself feels premium and well-built despite its small size. It has a satisfying weight. Neither the body nor the microphone grill flex or dent under sustained pressure. Its aesthetic is simple and understated. All said, it feels fantastic and looks professional.
There is a single button and a small knob (which also serves as a button) on the face of the UM300. The back is absent of any inputs. The button on the front switches the UM300 between cardioid and omnidirectional mode. The dial turns with a smooth analog motion. Clicking the dial mutes the mic (indicated by the LED light around the dial turning red). Clicking and holding for three seconds toggles between adjusting the mic's gain (pink LED) and adjusting the volume of connected headphones (blue LED). Compared to the UM700 (which used separate dials for polar pattern, headphone volume, and gain), the UM300 is very simple but easy to use. However, the UM300 is more of a "set it and forget it" microphone as gain and headphone volume cannot simultaneously be adjusted.
The bottom houses a USB-C port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a 5/8" threaded hole for use with third-party mounting systems.
Features and Specs
The Movo UM300 features a tri-capsule array that records a sample rate of 48 kHz at 16 bits. Frequency response is broad, ranging from 20 to 20,000 Hz. These specs are the same as the larger UM700.
However, the UM300 is limited to two polar patterns (compared to the UM700's four). The mini microphone can swap between omnidirectional and cardioid polar patterns, which are likely to cover most use cases. The cardioid pattern is great for single-person use as it focuses on sound in front of the capsules, while omnidirectional is useful in multi-person settings (e.g., a podcast interview or conference room).
Like the UM700, users can connect headphones to the bottom-mounted audio jack, allowing them to monitor recorded volume in real-time. Audio through this jack is clean and clear; it works very well. Headphone volume is adjustable via the knob.
|USB Microphone||Movo UM300||Blue Yeti Nano||Movo UM700||Blue Yeti|
|Sample / Bit Rate||48kHz / 16 Bit||48 kHz / 24 bit||48kHz / 16 Bit||48kHz / 16bit|
|Frequency Response||20 - 20,000Hz||20 - 20,000 Hz||20 - 20,000 Hz||20 - 20,000 Hz|
|Price (in USD)||$59.95||$99||$99||$129|
The Movo UM300 has a great build and high-end specs, but how does it actually sound? In a word, excellent. The UM300 is leaps and bounds above the built-in microphone found in most laptops (and desktops that have one). Vocals come through clearly and loudly.
Compared to the larger UM700, voice volume is a bit quieter. However, I noticed that the UM700 tends to clip on emphasized words. The UM300 also seems to handle plosives ("p" and hard "d" sounds) better than the UM700. The UM700 has the UM300 beat in terms of detail and overall vocal richness, though; the larger mic produces fuller-sounding audio and captures subtleties that fade out with the UM300.
That said, the UM300 is still an excellent option for voice recording, particularly for individual podcasters, particularly those that may travel frequently. Professional voice artists should opt for the wider flexibility and richer capture of the UM700, but the UM300 is a good option for those on the go.
I will point out that both the UM700 and UM300 have trouble cancelling out background noise, even in cardioid mode (which is designed to cancel out background noise). This tends to be a weakness with many USB microphones. Dynamic microphones kill background noise much more effectively.
You can listen to voice recording tests of a built-in microphone, the Movo UM700, and the Movo UM300 below.
The UM300 is, in essence, a compacted version of the UM700, which is an excellent USB microphone in its own right. While it lacks some of the features present in its bigger brother, the UM300 covers the basics in a little more than half the size. At $60, it's a fantastic alternative to the Blue Yeti Nano.
The UM300 shares many of the features of Blue's microphone at two-thirds the price. For those in search of a portable plug-and-play microphone, the Movo UM300 should be at the top of their list.
Disclaimer: The author of this review received the Movo UM300 USB desktop microphone free of charge for the purpose of testing.