Innovation is usually driven by ideas and demand. And those innovations often give birth to new ideas and even new industries. But what came first, the chicken or the egg? Is it the need for the requirement, in this case, a mic with a USB connection? Or does the mic itself open up the door?
- A Bit of Both
- New Uses
- USB versus XLR and TRS
- It Is For a Specific Purpose
- More Than Just Business
- JLab Talk GO USB Microphone – Overview
- The Build
- The Stand
- The Design
- Where Is It Best Used?
- JLab Talk GO USB Microphone Review – Pros and Cons
- Looking for a Good Microphone?
- JLab Talk GO USB Microphone Review – Final Thoughts
A Bit of Both
The advent of the computer, DAWs, and computer-based music creation had an effect. It made the need for a microphone that plugs straight into the computer something that would be useful.
But in creating a USB mic, other possibilities arose, so it could be considered a bit of both. One situation was driving the other. As we will see in my in-depth JLab Talk GO USB Microphone Review, this is a product of that innovation.
From these possibilities have come online instruction courses, podcasts, blogs, vlogs, etc. The list is almost endless. All is possible now because we have a mic that we can carry around that can be plugged straight into your laptop.
The first consumer USB mics arrived in the early 2000s. Social media channels followed it, and all those industries I mentioned came into existence. Development took two avenues, as it usually does.
Some concentrated on creating a quality mic with a range of other less expensive options. And some aimed squarely at the budget, cost-effective marketplace. The JLab Talk GO USB Microphone falls into the second category.
USB versus XLR and TRS
There will be some manufacturers who will use the phrases “studio quality”, or “professional quality” to describe their USB mics. I beg to differ over that description. Of course, it depends on the quality of the studio you are talking about.
Generally speaking, the USB mic doesn’t come close to the Sennheisers, Neumanns, AKGs, and even the Shure’s of this world. They are not the same product, and they are not made for the same thing.
It Is For a Specific Purpose
The USB mic is of lower quality, and for the foreseeable future, designed for a specific purpose. And that purpose is important. You couldn’t use those expensive studio mics for some things the USB can do. Nor would you want to.
Once you have come to terms with that, then you can start looking around for your USB mic to fulfill that purpose. There are plenty around at a range of price points. This mic we are looking at, the JLab Talk GO USB Microphone, is set at a cost-effective price. But how does it stand up? Before we take a look, who is JLab.
They were established in 2005, so in terms of manufacturing mics, they are very new to the game. Founded in Arizona by Joshua Rosenfield, they operated from there until 2012, when they moved to California after a buyout.
The buyout, a change of CEO, and an effective sales plan led to impressive growth across all their product ranges. Microphones were just one of those. Growth accelerated to 250% in the two years to 2017. In 2021, they were purchased by Noritsu.
More Than Just Business
What is most impressive is their commitment to the society in which they reside. During the recent pandemic, they donated 3,000 sets of headphones to the San Diego community. This enabled students to participate in learning programs while stuck at home. Well done, JLab.
So having established they are a valued manufacturer, how good is this particular mic. Let’s take a look…
JLab Talk GO USB Microphone – Overview
As we have already said, this is a USB microphone that, like most of them, is designed for specific purposes. It is compact and lightweight. Therefore, it is one of the most portable USB microphones on the market. This gives it a variety of potential uses.
It is one of the best USB microphones for podcasts and voice-overs, as well as ASMR and gaming. Having two separate directional polar patterns, Cardioid and Omnidirectional, mean it can be used in different ways for different purposes. More on this later.
Simple to use and basic in its options, it will satisfy those who want a mic that can handle a variety of uses. Let’s take a closer look at what this little mic offers in this JLab Talk GO USB Microphone Review.
As I just mentioned, this is quite a small mic. Even on its tripod stand, it still only measures 6 by 7.5 by 7.5 inches and weighs only just over one pound. The negative side to that is that it is so lightweight it could be insecure in certain environments.
Even a strong wind could move it around if used outdoors. It has a metal chassis, but the body and the grille covering the mic capsules are made of plastic.
Not The Strongest
In your hand, it tends to feel a little vulnerable, probably because it is lightweight, which gives it a cheap feeling. And certainly, the volume dial situated on the bottom of the mic doesn’t feel the strongest. However, this might be unfair.
The mic is made from reasonable quality plastic and isn’t going to fall apart in your hands. You must put it into perspective, given its price point.
It has an internal pop filter made of foam, and besides its USB connection, it has a 3.5mm jack. It is compatible with Windows 7, 8, 10, and Mac 10.10 or higher.
A basic tripod fits the design of the mic perfectly. It has a 90-degree connector that is nickel-plated. When using the Talk GO as a desktop mic in a protected environment inside, there won’t be any problems with the stand.
You will need to be careful where it is located, as a quick tug on the cable might cause a problem. But as long as it is placed securely, the stand will do its job.
Outdoors is a different matter. As I have said, in inclement weather, it may not remain in one position very long if you are recording.
It has a design that makes it suitable for a range of activities. The Cardioid and Omnidirectional polar patterns offer options for a variety of uses. This might include:
- One-on-one interviewing.
- Blogs and vlogs.
- Voice-overs and video commentary.
- Business phone calls.
- Very basic music recording.
It will give you a fairly standard frequency response of 20Hz – 20kHz and a maximum SPL of 118dB, which is quite acceptable. The bit sample rate is 24-bit/96kHz.
On The Bottom of The Mic
Control elements are located out of the way on the bottom of the mic. These are:
- Quick Mute button.
- 3.5mm aux input direct monitoring with zero latency in real-time listening.
- Volume control.
- A toggle switch for changing polar patterns.
Another nice feature is the LED light which outlines the bottom of the mic. This will glow blue when you are using the Cardioid pattern and green when you are using Omnidirectional. If you use the mute, it will glow red.
As usual, with a USB mic, it is easy to get started. The mic comes with a five-foot-long USB to USB-C input cable. Just plug-and-play, as they say. You won’t need any extra software or drivers, and it will connect up to Skype, other video packages, or your digital workstation. Meaning this is one of the easiest to use USB microphones you can buy.
Where Is It Best Used?
I have already touched on this a little, but it is worth mentioning again. If you are someone that needs to carry a mic with you for podcasts or capturing external sounds or voice-overs, this mic is ideal.
On The Road
Lightweight and compact so you can put it in your bag, and away you go. You will need to ensure that it is well-packed in case the bag takes any knocks. As I have already said, being predominantly made of plastic, it could be vulnerable.
You may find it works better in an enclosed, controlled environment. Those who work with interviews or podcasts conducted in a small studio will see benefits. They will not have some of the problems working outdoors can bring. Gamers, too, will see the benefits of this mic, especially with a mute button.
This is a budget range mic, so users need to be aware they are not using something that costs twenty times the price. The performance will be related to a certain extent to how much a mic costs. That said, it’s one of the most versatile budget USB microphones on the market.
And given this is a USB mic, the performance needs to be considered with that in mind. It has two polar patterns, so let’s consider both.
This pattern records sounds directly in front of the mic. Ideal for delivering a voice-over or even for someone speaking solo in an interview, or any situation where you need to capture sound from the front.
The sound quality using this pattern is quite good and acceptable for its price point. It especially does a good job with a speaking voice. However, it is possibly not so good at rejecting off-axis sound. That is, it can collect a small amount of sound from around and behind the mic when it shouldn’t.
This polar pattern collects sound from all around the mic equally. It is, therefore, very good for meetings or interviews where two or more people are speaking. Also, it is useful if you want to record the ambient noise in a room or outside.
The recording is passable without being exceptional. It sounds a little hollow, but that is quite common with this type of polar pattern, although less so on the expensive versions.
Perhaps you shouldn’t compare the result for the two different patterns. But the Cardioid does tend to produce a better quality sound. There is a button on the bottom of the mic which will allow you to switch between the polar patterns just by holding it down. The same button also operates as mute.
Up to this point, the performance of this mic has been quite good, but the direct monitoring option does let it down a bit. Let’s quickly consider an issue it seems to have.
The Volume Control
This is meant to give you control over the output of the headphones. Unfortunately, this control doesn’t adjust the volume of the monitoring or the volume of the playback from your DAW. Although, it does change the master volume, which is output from the computer into your headphones.
As the volume of the monitoring can only be adjusted by changing your levels on the DAW, this would not make it suitable for mixing music. The big plus is that this is one of the best zero latency direct monitoring USB microphones out there.
JLab Talk GO USB Microphone Review – Pros and Cons
- Compact and lightweight.
- Convenient tripod design.
- Two Polar Patterns offer a range of recording activities.
- Good frequency response of 20Hz – 20kHz.
- SPL of 118dB.
- Controls are located on the bottom of the mic.
- Indicator lights on the bottom show the current status.
- A 3.5mm aux input.
- Quick Mute control.
- Good zero latency.
- Very competitive price point.
- Could be vulnerable if used outside.
- Care needs to be taken when carrying it around.
- Direct monitoring is not so good.
- Not suitable for recording music vocals.
Looking for a Good Microphone?
We can help. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best USB Microphones, the Best Wireless Microphones, the Best Microphones For YouTube, the Best Computer Microphones, and the Best Cheap Microphone Under $50 you can buy in 2022.
Also, take a look at our detailed reviews of the Best Dynamic Microphones, the Best Condenser Microphones, the Best XLR Microphones, the Best Live Vocal Mics, the Best Vintage Microphones, the Best Microphones For Recording Vocals, and the Best Microphones For Recording Electric Guitar currently on the market.
JLab Talk GO USB Microphone Review – Final Thoughts
This mic from JLab doesn’t have the quality of a mic that you would find in a studio. USB mics never do. But, for its price point, it performs well. If you are looking for a mic for a music studio or one that performs at a high level, then this probably isn’t for you.
But if what you want is a very cost effective USB microphone for recording basic podcasting, voiceovers, interviews, blogs, and similar, then it will do the job. In that case, I would recommend you take a look at it.
Until next time, make yourself heard.