When you’re the new kid on the block, you have to do something big to get noticed. Neat Microphones, formed by the co-founders and several other employees of Blue Microphones, is very much that new kid, and they’ve come out the box swinging with their unique King Bee microphone. The King Bee is their flagship high-end XLR mic designed to handle anything you throw at it, from podcast vocals to electric and acoustic guitars to drums. So how does the new kid compare against the established veterans of the microphone world?
Design and Durability
The King Bee is solid as a rock. Weighing 785 grams, it can definitely take a beating, which is great news for those of us who like to throw our mics in a bag to take to gigs or a friend’s house. I do wish the neck of the microphone was a little thicker – while it’s made of metal, I’m a little worried it could become damaged in a bad fall.
In case the name wasn’t obvious, the King Bee really leans into the whole bee aesthetic. From the striped black and yellow color scheme and honeycomb-shaped pop filter, it’s not exactly subtle about its inspiration. Even the manual is themed like a beekeeping guide. If you’re big into bees, or the Pittsburgh Steelers for that matter, you’re gonna love it. Everyone else will probably be able to tolerate it, at the bare minimum.
Features and Performance
The King Bee is a cardioid condenser XLR microphone, making it ideal for recording a single instrument or voice. Note that since the King Bee only offers XLR inputs, you’ll need your own mixing board in order to record.
The King Bee comes with a pop filter and shock mount. The pop filter is easy to install – you just snap it on the capsule part of the mic. It doesn’t protrude and keeps the King Bee slim and portable. The shock mount is similarly easy to use and a welcome addition to the package – I’d be complaining about the King Bee’s odd square shape a lot more if Neat didn’t throw in a shock mount of their own. That being said, if you don’t like their shock mount for whatever reason, you’re out of luck, as the King Bee won’t fit into a third-party shock mount.
Two features notably absent from the King Bee are a -10dB pad and a hi-pass filter. I was shocked not to find them on the microphone, as most other mics at this price range include them. As I understand it from doing a little research, Neat declined to add a pad and hi-pass filter because they felt most mixing boards already have these options, and because it allows the King Bee to have a more natural sound.
I’d be far more critical of Neat for the lack of a pad and hi-pass filter if the King Bee didn’t sound absolutely incredible. I recorded both vocals and bass on it and, in both cases, the King Bee delivered a very bright, rounded sound, with a heck of a lot of oomph and tremendous low-end presence. I was pleased to learn that the King Bee can handle up to 140 dB, making it great for louder instruments. The King Bee is a pretty sensitive mic, however, and will pick up a lot of background noise if you’re just planning on using it for, say, a podcast. Speaking of which, while you can definitely use the King Bee to record podcasts, it’s probably overkill – you’re not going to appreciate the mic’s ability to accurately capture a whole bevy of sonic frequencies.
Bottom line, the King Bee is an excellent microphone that is perfect for those with premium recording needs and a realistic budget. As long as you don’t absolutely detest the color scheme, or have a severe bee phobia, you’ll be thrilled to own the King Bee.
Hail to the King Bee, baby.