For the past few years, I’ve been trying to increase Gear Diary’s presence on YouTube. Sure, we are approaching nine million lifetime views but that’s not enough. But do make a decent video requires a good microphone. I’ve tried a few, but MXL Podcasting APS Bundle promises to make it even easier.
The MXL Podcasting Bundle is an all-in-one solution for podcasting and more. At just south of $300, the bundle isn’t inexpensive, but it is a complete system that not only works with your Mac or PC, but when you add a USB-C to USB-A adapter or USB-C to Lightning adapter, it can also work well with your iPad or iPhone.
The challenge of find a decent microphone to use with you Mac, PC or mobile device is clear; many of the best mics come with an XLR connector. That’s great if you have a real studio for recording but not so good if your device requires a USB, USB-C or Lightning connection. The bundle solved that by including MXL’S BCD-1 Live Broadcast Microphone, MXL’S USB Mic Mate Pro microphone adapter, and an MXL’S BCD Stand. Yes, you will still need an adapter to use the rig with your mobile device, but the kit is enough to do great recordings with your computer and, once you add the adapter, you’ll be able to record on pretty much any device you have.
So let’s run down what you get with the bundle and then take a moment to explore when this might be a great system for anyone looking to start a podcast or a YouTune channel.
Before we dig into it, here’s how the company describes the kit and why you might want it.
The MXL APS Podcasting Bundle offers three standout hardware components for first-time podcasters looking to start. The MXL BCD-1 Live Broadcast Dynamic Microphone is an end address microphone with warm, rich tones and excellent side rejection. The BCD-Stand with articulating hinge arm allows for easy mic placement and provides a professional look and feel for podcasters. The MXL Mic Mate Pro is an XLR-to-USB adapter audio interface with 48V phantom power, gain and headphone volume control, and studio-quality preamp.
Together these products provide the essential hardware components you need to start a high-quality audio podcast.
MXL BCD-1 Live Broadcast Dynamic Mic delivers warm, rich tones with built-in shockmount to negate vibrations and unwanted noise
MXL BCD-Stand with articulating hinged arm makes for easy mic placement and professional look and feel. (Clamp and swivel mount options available).
MXL Mic Mate Pro provides high-quality XLR-to-USB adaption with professional quality mic preamp and control for gain and headphone volume.
First up is the MXL BCD-1 Live Broadcast Dynamic Microphone
The MXL BCD-1 has a bold appearance thanks to its metal construction and deep black color.
It looks like a serious piece of hardware because it is. It is designed to capture vocals with a warmth and richness that will make others want to listen. The microphone ships with a foam windscreen but you may still want to add a screen to prevent the vocal “pops” that are too common when recording speech.
The microphone has a built-in swivel mount that allows you to position the microphone optimally without the need for extra clutter. When paired with the MXL BDC-Stand we will explore further in a moment it makes for a great setup that is clean and lets you position the microphone for a great audio capture.
- Dynamic broadcast mic that delivers a bright sound
- Excellent side rejection that’s great in a noisy room
- Tuned grill that eliminates internal reflections
- Built-in shockmount that prevents unwanted noise
- Also excellent for recording vocals for music
There are no controls on the microphone itself, just the XLR connector at the back.
The microphone ships in a black plastic case that promises to protect it when not in use. Inside the box you get the microphone and a step-down screw insert so you have more connection options when mounting the microphone.
- Dynamic Frequency Response: 40 Hz-15 kHz
- Polar pattern: Cardioid
- Sensitivity: -54 dB re 1 V/Pa
- Impedance: 600 ohms
- Size: 157.5mm x 50.8mm / 6.2 in. x 2.0 in
- Weight: 1.25 lbs / 567g
- Metal Finish: Black
For me, the challenge with the MXL BCD-1 Live Broadcast Dynamic Microphone is the same challenge I have had with a number of other mics that caught my eye. I record using my iPhone, iPad or MacBook. None of them have an XLR connector, and I don’t have an XLR to USB converter. More accurately, I didn’t have an XLR to USB converter until I got this MXL Podcasting bundle. That leads us to the second part of this bundle, the microphone adapter.
MXL USB MIC MATE PRO
The MXL USB Mic Mate Pro is an XLR-to-USB adapter that lets you use a microphone with an XLR connector, such as the one included with the bundle, with a Mac or PC.
A metal cylinder a bit under six inches, the MXL USB Mic Mate Pro has an XLR connection on one end and a USB connection on the other.
The Mic Mate Pro ships with a mini-USB to USB-A cable.
The Mic Mate Pro is USB powered and USB 1.1 and 2.0 compatible. But the Mic Mate Pro isn’t just about bridging the divide between the two connections, it is a powerful device in its own right. It delivers 48V of phantom power, contains a studio-quality microphone preamp, has a 3.5m headphone jack for monitoring, and both headphone and gain controls. As the company explains,
This incredibly versatile and compact universal interface facilitates the connection of microphones directly to your computer via USB, effectively converting your existing microphone into a USB microphone. Instantly start recording without any special driver installations — simply plug-and-play! To further simplify use, the MXL Mic Mate Pro handles microphone gain and headphone volume adjustments with low profile rotary knobs, while the built-in headphone jack allows for zero-latency direct monitoring. Studio-quality computer recording is now within the reach of every aspiring musician and recording enthusiast.
Thanks to the fact that no special drivers are required, whether you are using the Mic Mate Pro with a MAC or a PC, this truly is a plug and play proposition. It’s easy to use and makes it possible to use almost any microphone with your computer.
- Great for overdubbing or playing along with music
- Plug and record with your favorite software
- Works with virtually all microphones
- Supplies 48V phantom power
- Studio-quality microphone preamp
- Zero latency monitoring
- 1/8-inch Stereo headphone jack
- Fully balanced low-noise analog front-end
- Gain and headphone controls
- No special drivers required
- 6′ USB Cable included
- 44.1kHz and 48.0kHz/16-bit
- Free MXL USB Recorder Software for instant 2-Track recording
I mentioned previously that I do most of my video recording using my iPhone or iPad. Obviously, the cable included with the Mic Mate Pro isn’t compatible with iOS devices. Fortunately, there are countless adapters now available that let you make the connection. I tried a USB-to-Lighting adapter, and the microphone worked well with my iPhone. I tried a USB-A to USB-C adapter, and the microphone worked well with my iPad. And because the Mic Mate Pro lets you monitor your audio while recording, I was able to set the right gain for each device.
The third and final part of the MXL Podcasting Bundle is the MXL BCD Stand.
The MXL BCD-Stand is a professional grade studio desktop microphone stand. It ships with a clamp mount, so you can temporarily secure it to almost any horizontal surface. But it also ships with a screw mount. This is, of course, only for use if you are setting up a permanent studio.
I opted to use the clamp mount since I’m not sure if the MXL Podcasting Bundle is ultimately going to reside in my home office or in my work study. The truth is, that unless the surface upon which you are mounting the microphone is too thick, I don’t see any reason to use the screw mount. It reduces your flexibility and permanently leaves holes in your desktop should you ever change your mind and move the microphone.
The microphone stand has a 12’ built-in XLR cable. A short end is long enough to connect to your microphone while the bulk of the cable is at the other end. It feeds through the articulating arms of the microphone mount. Those using a dedicated USB microphone will likely not be happy about the cable since it is useless to them and adds clutter. For this setup, though, it is perfect. I connected the short end of the cable to the microphone and then the long end connected to the Mic Mate Pro. I wrapped the bulk of the cable under the desk so it doesn’t look like a spider’s web of messiness.
The vertical section of the microphone stand is about twenty inches in length. The articulating section is about the same. The small silver section that ultimately holds the microphone is about two inches long. This gives you plenty of clearance so you can position the microphone optimally for recording.
There are heavy-duty springs on both the upper and lower sections of the stand. They are strong enough that even the weight of a heavy microphone, such as the one included with this bundle, won’t cause it to shift positions. At the same time, adjusting the position of the microphone stand or swinging it out of the way when not in use, is easy. In other words, the microphone stand gives you a stable way to hold your microphone that will hold in pretty much any position you place it.
The metal construction makes this a solid piece of kit and it is long enough that you could, if you so chose, Mount it to the wall and still have it reach you with ease. All that noted, I’m not sure if this actually qualifies as a professional mount but, for someone like me, it is perfect.
The only downside I see is the fact that some people purchasing it won’t want the XLR cable and will either have to leave it hanging there or cut one of the ends and pull it out. The option to remove it might have been nice.
The MXL Podcasting Bundle is a great way to have a complete recording system to use with your computer.
Add in an adapter (a separate purchase you will need to make), and you can also use it with mobile devices. The microphone is a solid offering that is certainly more than enough for my purposes. The Mic Mate Pro gives you the flexibility to use pretty much any capture device with the microphone. And the microphone stand not only gives the set-up a professional look, but it does exactly what it promises and lets you position the microphone for optimal voice capture. Sure, you can go out and purchase each of these three components individually. The would allow you to get exactly the microphone, converter and stand you want. But the convenience of this bundle, and the fact that all three parts are designed to work together, makes this a quick and easy way to start capturing audio for podcasts and other purposes. You can learn more about it here and then click the “Find a supplier” button when you are ready to purchase. It is, for example, available from B & H Photo for $295.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample of the MXL APS Podcasting Bundle
What I Like: All-in-one solution for audio capture; Let’s you use your computer as a capture device; All three components are quality products; With an adapter, you can also use a mobile device
What Needs Improvement: XLR cable comes permanently attached to the microphone stand; Adapter, so you can use the microphone with a mobile device, is a separate purchase