There are a lot of USB microphones out there for streaming and podcasting. Naturally, big names like Shure and Rode, who generally resided in the pro-sumer side of audio, have expanded into the content creator market by offering top-quality recording gear at somewhat more affordable prices. 512 Audio is one such company that's taking its pro audio know-how and cramming it into the more wallet-friendly Tempest microphone.
I guess the thinking is if you can make a mic good enough for Green Day (opens in new tab), it should be good enough for your true crime podcast.
There's something about the look of the Tempest that I'm vibing with. It's a simple yet sleek design. The cylindrical, all-black, grilled metal casing covers the 34mm large-diaphragm gold-plated capsule and has an old-school studio microphone aesthetic. When connected, a neat blue LED ring appears on the capsule, giving it just enough personality without looking tacky.
As you can hear from the test recording, the Tempest does a really good job at cutting out the background noise in my office, where the hum of my RTX 3090 (opens in new tab)-powered gaming PC, or AC unit, tends to make its way into my work and Discord calls.
My voice was crisp and clear in the recording. In fact, it was so clear you could hear that I'd been fighting off a bit of a cold. Illnesses aside have a listen to how the Tempest sounds compared to some of our favorite mics, particularly the premium mics like the Shute MV7 podcast, a mic nearly double in price but has the same sample rate.
Plosives are handled pretty well without a pop filter. If you're looking for versatility, though, you might be disappointed since the microphone only has one polar pattern (cardioid); we've seen similarly priced mics like the HyperX Quadcast (opens in new tab) mic, which has four polar patterns. More polar patterns give you more recording options if you stream with multiple people in the same room.
Included in the package comes a standard desktop stand and low-profile shock mount, which gives the mic some versatility. The shock mount is handy if you're an excitable type and tend to bang into your desk during a stream. I usually use a boom arm since my desk space is limited, and the setup was pretty painless.
The desktop stand is probably the thing I like the least about the Tempest. Once set up, the Tempest never felt stable. The only way I kept it from tipping over involved angling it in a funky way. This means it's almost impossible to use the desktop stand and shock mount together in any meaningful way since the shock mount would make the microphone too heavy for the desktop stand to support. Invest in a good boom arm to make the most of the microphone.
Directional Patterns: Cardioid Polar Pattern
Controls: Volume dial, mute button, headphone jack
Recording Sample Rate: 48kHz
Bit Depth: 24-bit
Price: $160 (opens in new tab)
For the same price, you could get the Elgato Wave 3 (opens in new tab), which offers a great digital mixer that's super handy for streamers, and it has a pretty solid desktop stand. Again, this isn't necessarily a deal breaker for someone who just wants a good-sounding mic and doesn't care about anything. Though for streamers and other content creators, constantly worrying about if your mic will fall over at any moment can't be good.
512 Audio's Tempest is one of the more impressive sounding USB microphones I've gotten to use in a while. It captures clean, warm audio, which makes it perfect for podcasters or musicians looking for a solid microphone for $160, though don't expect too much from the stand. It doesn't offer the same flexibility and features as other microphones at that price point.