As a brand, BEACN seemed to pop up out of nowhere. A Canadian upstart aiming to quickly take its place alongside the major players when it comes to top-end gear for streamers. The BEACN Mic is their debut microphone and they aren’t wasting any time, at $279/£286 it’s joining the game alongside some of the best microphones for streaming and gaming.
A broadcast dynamic microphone, the BEACN Mic promises a raft of features designed to help streamers and podcasters sound their best all with the simplicity of a USB connection. A premium price point brings with it premium expectations though, so BEACN has a lot to do to catch the eye of content creators in a crowded market. I tested the BEACN Mic alongside the BEACN Mix Create, its audio controller counterpart, to see how they both fit into my streaming setup.
Design and Features
The design of the BEACN Mic finds a pleasant balance between refined and understated mixed with modern gamer flare. It’s a confident first outing from a new brand and one that avoids falling into the pitfalls some challenger brands do of overdesigning something that’s likely to be off-camera in 90% of setups.
Divided cleanly into two halves, the all-metal matte body feels suitably high end and I’d expect nothing less at this price point. The integrated windshield also feels a nice quality. However, it’s a shame it’s not interchangeable like the ones included with the Logitech Blue Sona which has set the bar for that kind of thing and is almost an identical price.
The BEACN Mic’s flare comes in the form of an RGB LED ring around the middle and while it’s nice enough, you can’t really see it if you’re addressing the mic properly so I actually forgot it was there most of the time. When you do look for it though, the colors are impressively vivid and the effect transitions are smooth. The diffusing ring does a good job of hiding the individual LEDs so it all comes across very cleanly and not gimmicky.
There’s no stand included with the BEACN Mic so you’re limited to a mic arm that you’ll need to supply yourself. The mounting bracket you do get did a good job of letting me find and lock in the perfect angle, though I did find the connection between the bracket and my mic arm oddly confusing. The adapter thread was standard and happily joined up to my Elgato Wave Arm without a fuss. However, there feels like a lot of moving parts that didn’t seem to get involved in anything, I’m sure I was no doubt missing something very obvious about what they’re for, but it feels like an over-engineered solution. Be mindful of which mic arm you choose too because at more than 750g the BEACN Mic is on the heavier end and some cheaper options might not handle the weight comfortably.
While XLR microphones have traditionally ruled the genre, USB microphones like the BEACN Mic have been rapidly closing the gap - especially when you consider the out-of-the-box simplicity you get from something like the Blue Yeti, which is a popular choice. On the whole, BEACN’s offering is capable of producing excellent quality audio at a level on par with some XLR options, though it’s lost some of USB’s simplicity to get there.
When I first test microphones I like to do a pretty raw run straight out of the box, I plug them in, fire up Windows’ built-in Sound Recorder app and chat away. I like to get a sense of what the microphone alone is pumping out before any processing or EQ wizardry takes over. That’s not an option with the BEACN Mic. Without first installing the BEACN App the microphone simply doesn’t exist. And while a lot of the benefit of BEACN’s option over competitors does come from its fairly conclusive software, it just doesn’t sit right with me that I need some software in order to use it.
Once you’ve given in and downloaded the companion app, however, the experience is actually very strong and I was impressed by just how customizable things were. The BEACN App does a great job of laying out your various tweaking options simply and actually providing helpful tooltips that explain what each does along the way. You could get lost for hours making tiny adjustments to each aspect to really fine-tune the perfect sound but I found it also didn’t take a huge amount of work to get to a pretty decent-sounding output.
With a few clicks, I was able to produce audio from the BEACN Mic that was rich and full, my voice sounded nicely rounded without coming across overly processed. The clean, crisp vocal performance here is on par with other premium USB options I’ve tested like the Logitech Blue Sona or RODEX XDM-100.
I did feel I needed to have my mouth closer to the BEACN Mic than competitors in order to achieve this performance though and it was more punishing on poor mic etiquette than others. For podcasters, this is unlikely to be a problem but for particularly animated live streamers or gamers it’s something to consider, the BEACN Mic wants you to give it your attention or it will punish you for it with thin, distant-sounding results pretty quickly.
Even without the app, BEACN has proprietary noise removal technology onboard the mic and I was impressed with its ability to focus in on my voice alone. Distractions from things like the best gaming keyboards clacking didn’t come through into the final mix at any kind of impactful level if you could hear them at all. I did however find the BEACN Mic runs considerably quieter overall than other microphones I’ve tested and I had to crank my gain levels up to compensate. Thankfully this didn’t result in a drop in quality though and everything still sounded clear and sharp even when bumped up.
Should you buy the BEACN Mic?
Despite the company still being in its infancy, BEACN has quickly found its feet, and the BEACN Mic is a strong first attempt in a competitive market. It’s a risky move to make your debut at the very top-end when it comes to price but as a microphone, there’s a lot to like here and little of substance to complain about. The price itself is my main cause for concern. $279/£286 is steep by any measure and puts it on par with quality XLR options like the excellent RODE Procaster XLR & AI-1 interface combo.
While the BEACN App is strong, easy to use, and allows for a lot of customization, I’m not quite sure if it justifies the heavy investment. One thing is clear though, the BEACN Mic is capable of delivering excellent quality vocals for streamers, podcasters, and creators so if you do grit your teeth and bear the expense you’re likely to be pleased with the result.
How we tested the BEACN Mic
I added the BEACN Mic to my Twitch live-streaming setup for a couple of weeks. It was mounted on an Elgato Wave Arm and used for gameplay commentary, Discord calls, and some dedicated audio testing.
The microphone can’t be used without the BEACN App however I tested the BEACN Mic with both default settings in the app as well as playing around with the various customization options to dial in an improved sound. I also used it alongside the BEACN Mix Create to see if the full BEACN package worked cohesively.