USB microphones have grown steadily in popularity in recent years, and with good reason - they've become much better in terms of sound quality, and their plug and play approach makes set up a breeze compared to their XLR siblings, and some are much cheaper too.
**The OMOTON R1 USB Microphone was reviewed using hardware provided and sent to us by OMOTON, but in no way influenced the review.
The OMOTON R1 is a £30.99 USB Condenser Microphone, and as such it does not require any form of pre-amp or external audio interface to operate, simply plug it in.
The R1 is actually a very aesthetically pleasing microphone, looking very similar to the Audio Technica AT2020, only smaller and sporting a blue brushed metal look instead of black. Unlike the AT2020 however, there is also a multi-function dial that allows control of gain, press to toggle mute on/off, and press longer to activate the noise reduction feature.
The R1 also comes as a complete kit, and comes in a very stylish box that adds to the more 'premium' look the R1 is going for, that £30.99 asking price also nets you a box that's full of great extras:
R1 Condenser Microphone
The overall feel and construction of the R1 is very nice, I really like the blue brushed metal look, and there's a decent amount of weight to the microphone, and whilst it's a little small, OMOTON have managed to fit a diaphragm capsule with a sampling rate of 192KHz/24Bit, and a frequency response time of 20Hz-20KHz inside the small body.
There is a ring hinge bracket that you attach to the included tri-pod, which whilst a little on the short side, still gets the job done. The bracket will also attach to a boom arm if you prefer (which I did for the review).
Set up with the R1 is simply a matter of plugging it in, and as such it's a very easy process, Windows picked up the R1 instantly, and both Adobe Audition and Audacity recognised the device straight away.
A note to mention is the R1 at it's default is a quiet device, but by doing a test audio monitoring or a test recording, adjusting the gain via the dial as you talk will allow you to see the waveforms increase on your software of choice, whether this is a hardware or driver issue I'm not sure, and it's not exactly a deal-breaker by any means - just make sure you check before you start recording/streaming.
Speaking of the dial, there's no start/end points, it just keeps going for all eternity, so ensure that you're monitoring the levels when using it to make sure you're at the right peak.
The noise cancellation feature that was mentioned earlier, is a very surprising addition to a £30.99 microphone, and I'm happy to say for the most part it works pretty well. It's not perfect, but nor would I expect it to be on a microphone at this price range - but just the fact it's there and it works is very impressive.
I was rendering a video, and seeing as during a render is one of the only times my PC fans make any noise, I figured it would be a good time to test it out.
Pressing and holding the dial turns on the feature, and a blue led waveform indicates it's turned on. Upon listening back to the audio, I was very impressed that it blocked out my PC fans, but once my dog Rosco decided to walk around the laminate floor, it couldn't block the sounds of him pitter-patting around, but for the most part it works, which just adds to the R1's value.
There aren't many budget microphones that look good, sound great, and have additional features built into the mic, such as gain control, mute functionality and noise cancellation, all on top of the box having everything you need to get up and running without buying additional extras.
The OMOTON R1 is a terrific microphone, providing you're in the market for a budget mic that has great extras like noise cancellation. Those already using a higher end mic won't want to downgrade, but I genuinely hope OMOTON decide to delve into higher end mics, as I think they could bring out something fantatsic.
Check out the OMOTON R1 below: