These days, practically all of us have computers, and since COVID, we have engaged in online activities and events like Zoom meetings, on-demand learning, live streaming, etc.
We also want to be part of these online conversations without the annoying echo and low quality of the built-in computer mic. Where does that leave us?
In today’s tech-driven world, we have numerous options. But we don’t want to make cheap purchases; we want to make intelligent choices.
In my case, I’m a musician and producer. So, I had an audio interface and expensive microphones at my disposal.
As the world began to get more comfortable with moving business presentations and practices online, I would receive compliments regarding the big and natural sound of my voice over the computer.
But this meant I was chained to my workstation, where my audio interface and microphone were plugged in. Indeed, I needed a solution for the laptop. I used my Apple Air Pods Pro briefly before finding a better solution.
The solution came in the form of an email. The good people at Maono contacted me to review the PD400X—their XLR/USB microphone.
In full disclosure, they sent me the microphone with the accompanying boom arm. This is not a paid promotion by Maono, but I get to keep the microphone. This does not influence my review. The words and opinions are mine; I stand by everything I’ve written below.
In this review, I’ll cover the features of the Maono PD400X and the Maono Link App, how I use the microphone, pros and cons, other alternatives, and frequently asked questions. Let’s get started.
Bottom Line Up Front
The versatility of USB and XLR connectivity with feature accessibility directly on the microphone or through the free Maono Link app makes the Maono PD400X an excellent investment in your podcast studio or online meetings.
Also, using the free Maono Link app or controls directly on the mic allows you to tweak the sound of the PD400X. This will enable you to capture a ‘produced’ high-quality audio sound.
I use the USB to connect to my laptop for online meetings or via XLR to my audio interface or Tascam Mixcast for online lessons and content creation (more about this below).
At the time of this writing, the microphone’s street price is around $150 plus $80 for the boom arm. I highly recommend the boom arm.
What Is the Maono PD400X?
The Maono PD400X is a dynamic microphone with XLR and USB connectivity. The company website states that it’s a top pick by podcasters and perfect for gaming, live streaming, and more.
The microphone itself is easy to set up and does not require the download and installation of drivers. You can easily plug and play right out of the box. I began using it immediately, which I don’t suggest as the mic is relatively flat sounding out of the box.
Please download the Maono Link app. It’s easy to download, install, and use. Play with the app and dial in your own customized vocal sound. The mic and app’s UI and UX are easy to understand and fun to use.
Once I dialed in my vocal sound, I have not looked back and continue to use the PD400X as my primary utility mic.
- Capsule Type: Dynamic Microphone
- Polar Pattern: Cardioid
- Audio Output: XLR and USB-C
- Mic Gain Range: 0 to +42dB
- Sampling Rate: 48kHz / 24bit
- Sensitivity: XLR:-51dBV / USB:-8.5dBFS/Pa (Max)
- SPL: ＞130dB SPL
Features of the Maono PD400X
Dual USB/XLR output allows digital or analog recording. This will enable you to use it anywhere in your workflow process. I commonly switch between recording, podcast, and online meeting setups. I’m a big fan of the USB/XLR connectivity.
Standard Threaded Connection
Grip the mount easily with two ⅜-inch connection choices. This attaches securely to the standalone base (included with the mic) and easily attaches to the boom arm. I switch back and forth regularly and find it quick and easy to switch. Both the base and the boom arm feel sturdy and secure.
The built-in cardioid pattern provides excellent off-axis noise suppression performance. This keeps background noise (i.e., the wife, kids, dogs, neighbors, etc.) at a minimum during a meeting or podcast interview.
3-in-1 Multi-Function Compound Knob
You can control many functions directly from the microphone. The smart knob provides quick access to mic gain, headphone volume, and monitor mix. Press the knob and feel it click. The mic icon shines green for microphone gain, and the headphone icon shines blue for headphone volume. When both are lit, you can adjust the monitor mix.
Tap to Mute
The tap-to-mute feature is easily accessible and located just above the multi-function knob. I love this feature for online meetings, as I can mute my mic with a simple, easy-to-reach click. The mic icon shines green for a live mic and red for a muted mic.
Maono Link App
The app is available as a free download from the Maono website and provides control of more functions. The app is easy to download, install, and use. I quickly dialed in a high-quality sound suitable for voiceovers and/or narration.
How I Use the Maono PD400X
I use the Maono PD400X for various tasks in my workflow. Let’s take a closer look at them one at a time.
The PD400X via XLR into the Tascam Mixcast 4 (Track 1). Although the Tascam provides voice processing options, I have the Maono mic tweaked via the Maono Link app. My guitar is plugged into a short pedalboard and then into Track 2 on the Tascam.
Backing tracks are accessed via the sound pads on the Tascam (Track 8), and the drum app on my iPhone is also connected to the Tascam (Track 3). Lastly, I use the boom arm to allow for more comfort as I run the Tascam board and play guitar.
I’m happy with this setup; the result is a quality recording. If I save the session, minimal editing is required as the audio quality is top-notch. I record into the Tascam’s Podcast Editor and adjust volume levels as needed. For the video, I drop the video file into Final Cut Pro to crop and edit the visuals.
Podcast Interviews and Online Meetings
The PD400X via USB into the desktop or laptop. I’ll download the Maono Link on the computer and tweak the sound quality if necessary.
But, I haven’t had any issues as, once the sound has been set, the PD400X remembers the previous setting and sounds fine. I also plug headphones into the mic’s headphones out jack to monitor the sound, which works perfectly.
For interviews, I record using the TASCAM Podcast Editor and do some minor tweaking in post-production. I also monitor using headphones via the mic’s headphones jack.
The PD400X via XLR into the Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 audio interface into Logic Pro. Every now and again, I get voiceover work. But it’s really my wife who’s the voiceover artist.
She gets contracted to provide voiceovers for commercials and podcasts. So, we decided to try the Maono PD400X for one of the commercials, and it worked nicely.
How Does the Maono PD400X Perform
This microphone pleasantly surprised me. I love the connectivity, allowing me to use it anywhere in my workflow. I initially used the XLR as that’s how I used my AKG condenser microphone. But, as I started using the USB connection to move from computer to computer, the PD400X became my ‘mic of choice’ for all uses.
The Maono PD400X dynamic microphone is a great all-around microphone that punches above its weight class. The mic replaced my $500 all-around mic solution, and I continue using it daily. It feels incredibly sturdy (like a Boss pedal) that has performed consistently and reliably since I began throwing it into my daily workflow.
The sound experience is much better than much of the competition at the same price point, and I’m also a fan of the UI/UX experience.
Pros and Cons
- Easy to use
- High sound quality
- Reliable noise reduction
- Intuitive operation
- Powerful app
- Sturdy design
- Flat-sounding out of the box
- More headroom is required for singing
- A bit heavy and bulky for portability
A word about the cons: These are not dealbreakers for me and do not negatively reflect oversights by the company. They’ve made a great product. The “flat-sounding out of the box” comment was my experience and eagerness to use the microphone.
While “more headroom required for singing,” I do stand behind. I tried using the PD400X to record my singing and prefer it as a spoken word microphone. For singing, it’s a bit thin sounding and needs more warmth to my ears.
Alternatives to the Maono PD400X
- Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB ($80): This dynamic microphone offers excellent sound quality at an affordable price. It has USB and XLR outputs, making it versatile for various recording setups.
- Blue Yeti ($130): The Blue Yeti is a popular USB microphone known for its versatility and ease of use. It offers multiple pickup patterns, allowing you to adjust the microphone’s directionality based on your recording environment.
- Shure SM58 ($100): This dynamic microphone is widely used in professional settings due to its durability and reliable performance. While primarily designed for live vocals, it can also be an excellent choice for podcasting.
- Rode NT1 ($250): If you’re looking for studio-quality sound, the Rode NT1 is a condenser microphone known for its low self-noise and clarity. It requires phantom power but delivers exceptional audio reproduction.
- Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ ($130): Another USB option from Audio-Technica, this condenser microphone provides clear audio capture with a wide frequency response range suitable for vocals or instruments during podcast recordings.
Question: Is the Maono PD400X a good microphone for Podcasting?
Answer: The Maono PD400X is a perfect podcasting mic that outperforms its competition at the same price point.
Question: Where can I buy the Maono PD400X?
Answer: You can purchase the Maono PD400X directly from their website. Also, some Maono products are available through Amazon.
Question: Can I use the Maono PD400X to record vocals?
Answer: Yes, you can record vocals with the Maono PD400X. The microphone excels at spoken word, narration, voiceovers, and conversation. If you are recording singing, you should experiment with the microphone and adjust the parameters via the Maono Link.
Question: Can I use the Maono PD400X to teach online guitar lessons?
Answer: I have used the Maono PD400X for online one-to-one guitar lessons and one-to-many online master classes and seminars. The microphone performs perfectly.
Finding a podcast mic that suits your needs and meets your expectations without breaking the bank can be overwhelming. There are so many choices and microphones available. Some provide only a few features, while others offer too many options.
The Maono PD400X is the perfect all-around mic solution for your podcast studio while tackling other situations with relative ease. I’ve used it as my Swiss Army Knife microphone, from online meetings and guitar lessons to podcast interviews and recording sessions.
I’m thrilled with the Maono 400X and highly recommend it.
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