A great number of brands have focused their efforts on making streaming microphones in the last five years. Thanks in part to the boom of podcasting, content creation, and online gaming, and the simple fact that we spend much more time on virtual meetings post-pandemic, there are more options to choose from than ever.
Whether you’re a serious audiophile or a serious technophobe, the quality of Sennheiser products has always been always dependable, but until recently the company had focused on XLR microphones requiring an audio interface or mixer.
I’ve been lucky enough to try out the Sennheiser Profile USB microphone, a more accessible and affordable option for users who want to plug straight into a PC and go. In this Sennheiser Profile USB microphone review, I’ll cover the ins and outs of this streaming microphone after almost a month of testing. It’s been my daily mic while plugged into my iMac, mini gaming PC, and even my iPhone.
This simple mic is designed to improve the quality of your voice on Zoom calls, recording audio for voiceovers, and podcasting and streaming. While it isn’t designed specifically for gamers (for that look to Logitech, HyperX, and Elgato), and you don’t get elements like RGB lighting, the Profile USB is still well-suited to streaming while gaming.
At just over $100 (109) for the desktop version, it’s similarly priced to the beloved Blue Yeti USB microphone and slightly less expensive than the Elgato Wave:3. You don’t get any added mixing software – you really do just plug it in and start talking – and for most, that approach will be absolutely ideal.
- Strong and sturdy build
- Set up takes minutes
- Brilliant physical controls
- Only has cardioid audio pattern
- No desk stand in streaming package
These are the Sennheiser Profile USB specs:
|Quality||20 to 20,000 Hz frequency
44.1, 48 kHz sample rates
|Compatible devices||Windows 10.0 or higher, Android 9.0 or higher, iPadOS 14 or higher (compatible with USB-C enabled Apple devices), MacOS 10.15 or higher|
|Size||50 x 50 x 152 mm|
Sennheiser is a brand synonymous with quality audio products, and it has a rich history of making microphones. The company’s first shotgun microphone was produced in 1952, its MD 421 dynamic microphone in 1960 (which is still on sale today), and there have been countless iterations and options for consumers since.
As a plug-and-play option and one of Sennheiser’s latest streamer-specific mics, it isn’t laden with features – but that isn’t a bad thing. In terms of software, you don’t get any. This feels like a deliberate decision by Sennheiser to keep the operation simple, and I can use other software to filter my voice if I want to.
The Sennheiser Profile USB also lacks a range of audio pickup patterns. Many streaming microphones today offer up to four polar patterns (which pick up audio in different ways). Stereo records audio on the left and right, omni records in all directions (great for meetings), bidirectional is helpful for interviews, and cardioid patterns capture sounds in front of the microphone.
The Sennheiser USB profile mic is limited to cardioid, which is a shame since it reduces its versatility, but if all you want to do is record your own voice it doesn’t matter anyway. The mic is ideal for podcasting alone, Zoom calls, recording audio for socials like YouTube videos, and game streaming. It’ll record your vocals clearly and easily.
Looking at the competition, the Elgato Wave:3 is a cardioid microphone, the Joby Wavo pod offers both cardioid and omnidirectional polar patterns so that you can switch to interview mode in seconds, while the HyperX Quadcast S and Blue Yeti both have four polar patterns.
You can either buy the Sennheiser Profile USB microphone with a boom arm (this is called the Streaming Set) or on its own with a screw-on table stand. Consider what you plan to use the mic for, as the streaming set costs $199 (£170) against the $129 (£109) tabletop version.
I have the 3-point boom arm, and I’ve been impressed by its sturdiness, versatility of positioning, and cable guide to keep my desk free. I still feel that this kit should come with a base, though. I don’t always want or need the boom arm in place, and I begrudge paying separately for a metal base when it could have come in the box.
In the slimline box, the microphone comes packaged in a drawstring pouch, along with the folded boom arm, and 3-meter USB-C Cable, and a safety guide. One thing I always enjoy about Sennheiser products is their satisfying build quality, and the Profile USB is no different.
The microphone is built from metal, and it feels cool and premium in the hand, compared to the slightly plastic Joby Wavo Pod I’ve used previously. I managed to get the boom arm screwed onto my standing desk in seconds, and the mic is ready to go in about three minutes as it was picked up automatically by my iMac.
On the front of the mic, there are four physical dials; a mute button with an LED ring, a gain control with an LED ring to highlight any audio clipping, a mix control to balance microphone and device levels, and a volume control for headphones. On the back of the mix, there’s a 3.5 mm headphone output and the USB-C cable input. Some mics at this price only have a volume and mute button on the front, so instantly it’s nice to have all of these within reach, especially as the Profile USB doesn’t come with any mixing software.
I tested the Sennheiser Profile USB Microphone in several ways. Firstly, I recorded Voice Memos on my iMac – not the most technical approach, but it allowed for easy comparison between the audio quality of the USB profile to the Joby Wavo Pod, which comes in at around $40 (£40) less, and the Audio Technica AT2040USB at $149 (£129).
The reproduction was clear and undistorted, but it was noticeably quieter than both of the others, which were first used under the same conditions. Even when I tried learning over and speaking more closely to the mic – which wouldn’t be comfortable to do for long periods – the audio level was below what I’d expected. Turning up the gain dial on the Profile USB introduced a very small level of background noise from the air conditioning unit in my garden office, and while an audio cleanup would probably solve this, it’s a little surprising.
Overall, the hum from the air conditioning fan was much less noticeable than with the Joby mic, although my voice quality was slightly less rich than the Audio Technica AT2040USB, which made me feel as if I was in a padded podcasting booth.
In terms of using the mic, there’s little to explain or complain about. The Sennheiser’s mute button is quite small, but I really like that it’s a soft-touch rubber affair compared to the big clicky buttons on both the Joby Wavy Pod and Blue Yeti. That means there’s no chance of it being heard on the recording if you need to quickly turn off the audio to cough or sneeze.
- Yes: You want to plug it in and start recording easily
- Yes: You don’t care about mixing software or apps
- No: It lacks different polar patterns compared to others
Joby Wavo Pod: cheaper, but good audio quality
The Joby Wavo Pod is a fun capsule mic aimed at content creators. It’s priced around $99.95 (£89.95), but often cheaper, and also has an omnidirectional polar pattern which is perfect for interviews.
For more alternatives and different levels and price points, check out our best streaming microphones guide. Find out more about how we test gaming gear and hardware like the Sennheiser USB Profile mic.
The Sennheiser Profile USB Microphone is easy to use, and gives a natural, warm sound, even if it’s quieter than others. If you’re a beginner streamer looking to elevate your vocals from your PC or phone’s built-in mic, I’d say the Sennheiser USB Profile was a winner – both for build and audio quality.