Movo UM700 desktop USB microphone hands-on
As streaming explodes in popularity and telecommuting has become a necessary reality for many people, a spotlight has shown on webcams. However, one crucial (and perhaps more important) part of video conferencing/streaming is often overlooked: audio quality. Your co-workers are likely to be listening to your reports in Zoom meetings while working on something else, and scores of people listen to a video in the background while multitasking. As such, upgrading your microphone is perhaps the biggest improvement you can make to your teleconferencing or streaming setup.
But audio setups can be cumbersome, confusing, and expensive. Connecting XLR microphones to mixers and DACs and hooking everything into your computer can get pricey, and managing all those devices can be overwhelming. This is where USB microphones step in.
USB microphones pack all the audio hardware you need to record your voice into a single package that connects to a computer via one of its USB ports. One microphone, one cable, and one simple setup. USB mics have become popular over the past decade for their ease-of-use, and today we will look at the Movo UM700, a higher-end USB microphone that brings a lot to the table.
Those who are familiar with the Blue Yeti (perhaps the most popular USB microphone) will see a lot of similarities. The Movo UM700 places its capsule on the top of the cylindrical unit and houses all the other components in a well-built metal body below. A handy mute button and volume dial (for connected headphones) sit on the front. The back holds a gain control dial and a dial for selecting the microphone's pattern (stereo, cardioid, etc.). We explore these dials below.
The Movo UM700 is encased in metal and feels fantastically robust in the hand. The mic grill (the mesh wire that covers the microphone capsule) is firm. The included metal stand has a weighted and padded bottom that keeps the microphone in place and helps absorb some shock from typing, etc.
The base is pre-installed in the box, but it can be removed for mounting the mic via the 5/8-inch threaded hole on the bottom. The bottom of the microphone unit also houses a micro-USB port and a 3.5 mm headphone jack.
The overall design is simple but elegant with a premium look and feel.
Features and Specs
The Movo UM700 features a single 14 mm (0.55 in) diaphragm with a frequency response from 20 Hz to 20 kHz. The microphone records a sample rate of 48 kHz at 16-bits.
The main draw of the Movo UM700 is its ability to switch polar patterns. These are how the microphone "focuses" on a sound source. The UM700 records with either a stereo, omnidirectional, bidirectional, or cardioid polar pattern. The pattern is selectable via a dial switch on the back.
The UM700 boasts some other handy features as well. Users can connect headphones via the 3.5 mm jack on the bottom of the unit for passthrough audio. Sound quality through this jack is clean and comparable to a smartphone's or PC's headphone jack. The volume dial on the front of the unit is a nice touch.
|USB Microphone||Movo UM700||Blue Yeti||HyperX QuadCast||Rode NT USB|
|Weight||15.4 oz||1.2 lbs||1.5 lbs||1.1 lbs|
|Size (Expanded)||4.4" x 3.8" x 11.6"||4.92" x 4.72" x 11.61"||9.8" x 4" x 5.1"||7.4" x 2.4" x 1.9"|
|Sample / Bit Rate||48kHz / 16 Bit||48kHz / 16bit||48kHz / 16bit||48kHz / 16bit|
|Frequency Response||20 - 20,000Hz||20 - 20,000 Hz||20 - 20,000 Hz||20 - 20,000 Hz|
|Price (in USD)||$99||$129||$139||$169|
Now to the most important part of any microphone: sound quality. The Movo UM700 offers very similar voice quality to other high-end USB microphones like the Blue Yeti. Voices sound warm and full, and vocals are crisp and clear. The Movo UM700 isn't tuned for instrument recording, but it does the job fairly well. There is no noticeable hiss or other electronic noise.
The primary issue is the UM700's inability to cancel out background noise. Users can gain down the microphone via the dial on the back, but background noises are still audible in recordings. As such, a quiet environment is required for teleconferencing or voice recordings. A dynamic microphone like the Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB is significantly better at cutting background sounds. As such, the UM700 is recommended for use in a private office with a door.
The videos below demonstrate audio quality of the microphone in my PC (Beelink GT-R mini desktop) and the Movo UM700.
The Movo UM700 accomplishes what many hunting for a USB microphone desire: It offers all the features of the popular Blue Yeti at a noticeably lower price. The UM700 matches the Yeti blow for blow in most areas. More to the point, the UM700 offers the features that most people will notice and care about for 25% less cash.
The UM700 struggles with background noise cancellation, which can be problematic for some users. However, this is a mark against most USB microphones. Dynamic mics can better eliminate background noise, but they often lack features present on the UM700 (like selectable polar patterns) and may require additional audio equipment (like a sound mixer), greatly increasing cost.
It should also be mentioned that USB microphones limit future upgrades to a sound setup, as they typically cannot be passed through audio mixers. USB mics don't easily blend into multiple microphone setups, either. The UM700 is best suited to individual or small group use cases.
All said, the UM700 is a fantastic option for streamers, telecommuters, budding voice-over artists, podcasters, and others that want a high-quality microphone that is easy to set up and won't break the bank.
The Movo UM700 USB desktop studio microphone is available at Movo's website for US$99.95.
Disclaimer: The author of this review received the Movo UM700 USB desktop studio microphone free of charge for the purpose of testing.