Neat Microphones King Bee II XLR Mic Review
A perfect choice for vocals
Neat Microphones rolled out an overhaul of their entire mic lineup over the last few months, showcasing new industrial designs and improved audio performance.
I’ve already had the pleasure of checking out the Skyline and the phenomenal Bumblebee II, both USB-based microphones designed to bridge the gap between the home and pro audio spaces. They offered great recording performance in designs that fit well on a desk.
The King Bee II, in contrast, is a pro mic first. It uses an XLR connection exclusively, and you’ll need to have several other pieces of gear in order to use it. That said, it still offers excellent value for the money, and it’s a wonderful choice if you’re looking to enter the world of high-end audio recording without blowing your whole budget on a microphone.
Note: Neat Microphones kindly sent me a final retail unit of this microphone to review. I wasn’t paid to do so, and I don’t receive any sort of kick back or compensation if you decide to buy one. I had full editorial control over this article. You can read my full reviews policy here.
The King Bee II sells for $169.99 (official site here). It comes in a black colorway, and Neat includes both a pop filter and a shock mount in the box. Alongside those, there’s a nice manual with a full spec breakdown and plenty of tips about how to best set up the microphone. I loved this bonus on the Bumblebee II and I love it here as well. Finally, there’s a small adapter threaded into the bottom of the mic for compatibility with different stands.
You’ll need to have your own XLR cable, an audio interface with 48v phantom power, and a stand in order to use the microphone. I’d recommend a robust floor stand or boom arm, since the mic weighs about two and a half pounds or just over a kilogram. You can cut the weight a little bit by taking off the included shock mount, but I’d recommend using it.
The first thing you’ll notice when taking the King Bee II out of the box is how well-built it is. It’s a solid and dense product, with an excellent finish that should stand up to the rigors of daily audio production. The body has a sleek and cool new design that’s closer to a modern studio aesthetic than the bright, loud, bulky look of the original King Bee. It’ll be right at home alongside any other pro/studio gear in your setup. The top houses a 34mm cardioid condenser capsule, and it has a wonderful sound to it that’s just a little warmer than “neutral,” but in a way I find pleasant.
I recorded a short sample of the mic you can hear by clicking this link. I fed it into a basic 8-channel mixer, and recorded it in Audacity with the gain at about 75 percent and no other audio manipulation. The mic has plenty of sensitivity and should sound great paired with any device that supplies the required 48v phantom power. That power is a must; just for fun I tried it on a small portable mic mixer that has 18v power, and the mic sounded too thin and underwhelming.
I think this is a perfect microphone for vocal production of any kind. Whether you’re making a podcast or recoding a singer, you’ll get beautiful, natural, inviting audio with the King Bee II. It has a classic “broadcast” tone that I think is great. It’s a solid mic for all types of recording, but I think that vocals show off its capabilities the best.
The included “Honeycomb” pop filter is nice, and although it’s easy to remove I’d recommend just leaving it on as it does a good job filtering out plosive noises. The “Beekeeper” shock mount uses an interesting design where it only contacts the mic in one main area near the bottom of the body. However, it’s well-balanced and still provides a good bit of vibration protection, and it matches the industrial design of the microphone.
I’ve enjoyed the look of every other new Neat mic in this refreshed lineup, and the King Bee II carries on that tradition. It’s smooth and subtle and looks great. The flat front on the rounded capsule makes it easy to tell where to speak into the mic, and the design is eye-catching without being overbearing.
If you’re looking to get into the world of pro audio production, this is a perfect choice. You will need to obtain some other gear, but I love that the King Bee II includes a decent pop filter and shock mount right in the box. Although the price and relative value might seem to suggest that this is more of an entry-level product, I think it’s excellent for anyone looking for a solid XLR mic with a sensitive and enjoyable-sounding capsule.
The King Bee II proudly continues Neat’s reputation for packing in lots of audio performance for the money. The new industrial design makes it an easy recommendation for any setup. The original King Bee launched at a street price of $349 years ago, and it’s awesome to see this competitive price point for the new version. It performs at the level you’d expect from a more expensive mic, and it’s hard to beat the package at this price.