There are so few high-quality and affordable digital microphones out there that I could probably count them using my fingers. What's strange about that is the fact that it's the one piece of gear, along with the camera, that makes the world of difference when it comes to creating high-quality audio material.
Today more than ever. With the stratospheric rise of video-game streaming and YouTube video making – you'll want to equip yourself with proper gear before even starting and that's where Thronmax comes in.
This, on-the-rise company based in Hong-Kong, backed by Indiegogo crowdfunding aims to deliver a wholesome solution to all your audio recording needs. Their first offering was a entry level microphone named MDrill Zero whose performance, while great for the price, had some feature gaps that would have made it a home-run.
Their second offering named MDrill One aims to fill in those gaps and deliver one piece of hardware to suit everyone – from podcasters and gamers to musicians and business professionals.
Thronmax MDrill One is available for purchase on Amazon.
THE DESIGN & BUILD QUALITY
MDrill One follows the similar aesthetic of its lower-end model with sleek, modern and minimal design. Even though it's fairly large, it's surprisingly light due to the fact that its stand is made out of plastic instead of metal like in the MDrill Zero model.
Don't worry, it's not one of those cheap plastics that will break with a simple stress test. This is a single piece of high-quality material that is not easily scratched, leaves no fingerprints and still makes the whole microphone quite sturdy. Of course, the bottom is rubberized so it will stand firmly in place wherever you decide to place it.
After a slight curve, you have the two large pieces of plastic protruding upwards where you'll find the screws with which you can tighten the microphone or remove them completely in order to place it on a different mount. Another stand design feature worth mentioning is the concentric circles just under the microphone. Not only do they give it a totally unique look but they are somewhat reflective and help boost the brightness of the awesome looking circular LED light placed on the bottom of the microphone itself.
|Pattern||Cardioid, Omnidirectional, Bidirectional, Stereo, Noise Reduction|
|Frequency||96KHZ 24 BIT|
|Connection Type||USB Type C|
This light itself can be cycled between 7 different colors using the button that's also on the bottom, right next to the USB type-C connector, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a hole used to mount the microphone on stands using the 5/8”-27 threaded screws.
Even without the LED light, the main body of the microphone is the true star of the show. Its face features a small control panel with a small screen and two buttons. The lower one controls the recording modes that are represented by an appropriate icon and a small LED indicator. The upper button is used to mute the microphone. The screen is there to indicate the microphone gain and headphone volume that you can adjust using the two knobs situated at its back. What's great, the MDrill One internally saves the last recording setting so you don't have to worry about losing it when unplugged.
The upper portion, like in the MDrill Zero model, is dominated by the Thronmax's own beautiful grille design called Vertigain which allows the sound waves to move vertically through the mic instead of being scattered by the classic mesh found in other microphones. This allows the sound to pass through the grille more evenly and greatly boosts the sound quality.
The MDrill One will ultimately be available in jet black, slate grey, and carmine red. Each one has a matte coating and while our review unit was black, the available coloring options mean that you'll surely be able to pick a model that will fit right in, no matter the color of your PC or studio setup.
THE SOUND QUALITY
When talking about the sound quality of recordings made by MDrill One – you'll be glad to find out that Thronmax didn't compromise in any regard. While this microphone, like the MDrill Zero, lacks any sort of dedicated software, in all honesty – it doesn't need any. You can just plug it into any of the supported devices and be ready to go.
As mentioned the lower button on the face of the microphone allows you to switch between five options of how MDrill One will pick up sound. Recording modes include cardioid, stereo, bidirectional and. omnidirectional. Each is best suited for a different purpose and they all produce different results depending on the source of the sound and some settings.
The first and obvious one is the "gain" setting which is used to adjust the strength of the input signal. I found that setting this somewhere in the middle works best as higher settings try to boost your audio input to such a degree that it produces some distortion and faint static in the sound output.
The second way you can influence the quality of the recording is where and how close the sound source is located compared to the microphone. In that regard, the MDrill One's cardioid and stereo recording options produce amazing and natural sounding results when the source of the sound is fairly close and directly in front of the microphone. It's best used for streaming, podcasts, and voice-overs. The sound output is clear with no static whatsoever and the internal microphone filter is more than enough to eliminate most unwanted self-noises like pops and whistles.
Problems do rear their ugly head when you lean back in your chair a fair distance away from the microphone since low output levels will require you to speak up a bit. This can somewhat be mitigated by finding an appropriate combination of settings or using additional software.
Omnidirectional and bidirectional options are best used when the sound is coming from multiple sources. This refers to all sorts of events, conference calls, interviews, and multiple instrument setups. While the bidirectional, interview option works pretty well in all conditions, the omnidirectional produces mixed results for its intended purpose.
The recordings done in this mode can still sound great due to the lack of proximity effect, better channel separation and the less sensitivity to handling, wind and pop noises but this only applies when you move in really close. As soon as you move away from the microphone – the sound gets too quiet, featuring a fishbowl tank effect while picking up all sorts of background noises.
Overall, MDrill One is truly a bold step into the grown-up world of professional microphones. Its performance is just a grade below true studio quality equipment which is an amazing feat for a plug-and-play USB microphone.
Like all microphones, it's quality can vary depending on your the purpose of its usage, room acoustics, and settings. Nevertheless, when talking about sound quality, the MDrill One is right up there with some of its more famous competition while it completely beats them when it comes to the design.
While I don't see it being used in conference calls – if you plan on recording some music, doing some streaming or YouTube while sitting at your desk, this, highly versatile offering from Thronmax is everything you could ever wish for at a great, affordable price.
|+ Excellent sound quality||– Omnidirectional mode not appropriate for its intended use|
|+ Number of recording options and settings||– Lower output levels in some recording modes|
|+ Beautiful design|
|+ Ease of use and affordable price|