I get it; there are so many microphones out there, and quite frankly, many of them are pretty good. So honing in on the right one for you could be challenging. The Sennheiser Profile Streaming Set gives you everything you need to start your podcasting or streaming journey with a great-sounding microphone and sturdy boom arm combo for less than $200.
The Profile comes in two packages; the standalone microphone for $129 or the Streaming Set (which we're testing out here) for $199. The latter includes a microphone and a desk-mounted boom arm. The mic is the same in the package, so does it really come down to whether you need a boom arm or not? I'm on team boom because it clears desk space and prevents any incidental bumps and thumps from being picked up on the mic during recording.
The Profile has a sturdy metal casing and a more flashy design than I would expect from Sennheiser. Don't get me wrong, Sennheiser makes some of the best audio gear in the world but some of its designs, especially on its headsets, are a little boring.
The Profile is sleek and looks good on camera if you're a streamer, especially when mounted on the boom arm. Overall, it's a good design, and I really like that you have an onboard mix, gain, headphone volume controls, and the mute button on the mic. In a time when microphone makers are scaling back features to keep costs down, it's nice to see that Sennheiser has found a way to do both.
Directional Patterns: Cardioid Polar Pattern
Frequency range: 20 - 18500 Hz
Recording Sample Rate: 16 bit
Controls: Volume, Gain, Mix controls, Mute
As you can hear below, the Profile has a very warm sound, uh, profile that gives my voice a nice, crisp quality. Perfect if the type of content you create involves much talking or you need to sound like a professional on a work call.
I added the HyperX Quadcast S and AT2020+ to the playlist since those are the closest competing mics in both sound and price. The Quadcast S handles plosives a touch better than the Profile, though the quality of my voice sounds nicer on the Sennheiser.
Because of that, you will want to invest in a pop filter to deal with some of the light plosives, which will push the overall price up a little. It's not as bad as on the Audio-Technica AT2020+ as you'll hear below, but still something you'll want to get a handle on.
On the software front, well, there isn't any. The Profile is a plug-and-play microphone with no accompanying software for tweaking sound. So, if you want to apply filters to your voice or anything fun like that, you'll need to use third-party apps. Since all the controls are on the mic, I'm alright with not having to install another app for my accessories.
The only real problem with the Profile is that it lacks some versatility by only having one polar pattern. Unlike other microphones, such as the Quadcast, I can't plop this down on a table and do an interview on location because a cardioid mic is really only suitable for one person. Anyway, it's not like you could set this on a table because the Profile Streaming Set doesn't come with a desktop stand. In other words, it's a very specific single person use case, and not for moving around with.
I find it strange that the Streaming Set doesn't include some sort of a desk stand. You're relegated to using your boom arm, though you could buy the stand on its own for $29. The stand-alone Profile, on the other hand does include a stand, so keep that in mind if you're choosing between just the microphone or the boom arm combo.
Unsurprisingly, Sennheiser makes a quality boom arm that's easy to set up. A decent boom could cost well over $100, so getting one for an essential $70 with 3-point locking and a cable guide is a helluva deal and worth picking up if you don't plan on taking your mic anywhere. It should accommodate most desks, too.
This excellent boom arm will probably last longer than your podcasting career, honestly, and the Sennheiser Profile is does everything a good mic for streamers needs. It's easy to use, and the onboard controls give you much control over your sound.
So there we have it, Sennheiser enters the podcast and streaming space, and shows everyone how it's done.