HyperX QuadCast USB Microphone Review: A New Contender
HyperX Enters the USB Microphone Arena
HyperX has released the Quadcast USB microphone today and we had a chance to test it out early for this launch-day review. Introduced at CES in January, this new condenser mic offers four selectable polar patterns (stereo, omnidirectional, cardioid, and bidirectional) and offers real-time monitoring via an onboard 3.5mm headphone jack. The mic also ships with a shock mount and desktop stand, and can be mounted to your choice of mic stands and boom arms with an included adapter that fits 3/8” and 5/8” threads.
Other features of the QuadCast are the large gain control on the bottom of the mic and the touch-controlled mute switch on the top, with mic status instantly evident via the integrated red lighting which is illumiated when you are "live", and turns off when you have muted the mic.
- Power consumption: 5V 125mA
- Sample/bit rate: 48kHz/16-bit
- Element: Electret condenser microphone
- Condenser type: Three 14mm condensers
- Polar patterns: Stereo, Omnidirectional, Cardioid, Bidirectional
- Frequency response: 20Hz - 20kHz
- Sensitivity: -36dB (1V/Pa at 1kHz)
- Cable length: 3m
- Microphone: 254g
- Shock mount and stand: 364g
- Total with USB cable: 710g
- Impedance: 32 Ω
- Frequency response: 20Hz - 20kHz
- Maximum power output: 7mW
- THD: ≤ 0.05% (1kHz/0dBFS)
- SNR: ≥ 90dB (1kHZ, RL=∞)
- Pricing and Availability: $139.99, Amazon.com
Packaging and Contents
The QuadCast ships with a custom shock mount and desk stand already attached and is well protected within the dense foam insert.
Also included in the box is a USB cable and adapter for attaching the shock mount to any standard mic stand or arm.
Design and Features
There are gain and pickup pattern knobs onboard, with the gain a large rotary control located on the bottom of the mic:
And the polar pattern selector located on the rear of the mic, above the 3.5 mm audio jack and mini-USB port on the back of the unit:
There is no physical volume control for the live monitor function via the 3.5 mm output, so volume needs to be controlled via Windows.
A unique aspect of the design is the tap-to-mute function, in which a touch-activated switch toggles mute on the top of the mic.
When the mic is active the grill glows red to indicate that you are "on the air", and when you tap mute the light goes out. Simple, and effective.
Overall the build quality is excellent and this feels like a premium product. The metal stand is sufficiently heavy to keep the mic stable, and I had no trouble attaching the QuadCast to my mic stand's boom arm with the included adapter.
While up on my stand the included USB cable was quite adequate at 3 meters in length, providing plenty of length to attach it to my streaming PC on the floor a few feet away.
Setup requires no additional software, with Windows 10 immediately picking up the new device and setting it to its default 16-bit, 48 kHz mode. Other than the minor inconvenience of having to control the 3.5 mm audio output via Windows the QuadCast was very intuitive to operate, with the tap-to-mute function a nice alternative to pressing a physical button.
Sound quality is top-notch, with a rich, clear audio that provides a noticable bass emphasis and seems to add some compression for that "radio" voice - depending on the pickup pattern selected. I found the cardioid pattern to be ideally suited to podcasting and recording, and in addition to providing the richest sound it offers very good background noise rejection. Omnidirectional and bidirectional settings are also available, with the omni setting in particular sounding very neutral, and stereo option is available to provide a spacious - and very positionally-sensitive - alternative.
I had to be careful not to address the mic too closely when facing it directly, as the built-in pop filter did little to control plosives when close-miking. Most microphones need a screen filter in such situations, so this was actually expected behavior and was of course not an issue when it was slightly further away using its desk stand.
With its excellent audio quality and mix of features the QuadCast is an impressive first effort in the USB microphone space from HyperX. It offers a similar set of specs to the popular Blue Yeti (triple 14 mm condensers, four pickup patterns, etc), and with a list price of $139.99 it is $10 more than a Blue Yeti mic, but includes a shock mount which more than mitigates the difference (the official Blue shock mounts start at $49.99). The only thing I missed with this design was a physical volume control for headphones (this is controlled as an output device via the OS), and while the built-in pop filter was not very effective a good screen filter is always a needed accessory in a close-miking situation.
Bottom line, the HyperX QuadCast enters a competitive USB microphone market with a solid effort that combines useful features with excellent sound quality. It faces stiff competition from the likes of Blue Microphones, but the inclusion of a shock mount and unique tap-to-mute functionality help add value at its $139 price point. It's definitely worth considering for your streaming and podcasting needs.