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TONOR BM-700 XRL to 3.5mm Condenser Microphone Review

I was looking at a microphone setup to improve the quality of my YouTube videos as there was an inconstancy to the levels and output quality. My budget was tight so I decided to opt for a Toner XRL to 3.5mm kit from Amazon, as at the time it was just over £20 and provided not just the microphone but also a host of other accessories to...

In fact the bundle included the following...

1 x Podcasting Condenser Microphone (not multi-directional, so you need your mouth closer to the microphone)
1 x Microphone Suspension Scissor Arm Stand
1 x Table Mounting Clamp
1 x Metal Shock Mount
1 x Microphone Pop Filter
1 x Foam Protective Anti-wind Cap Cover
1x 3.5mm XLR Low Noise Microphone Cable ( 8.2ft/2.5m)
1x USB External Sound Card (for using with Mac.)

You are on your own!

Ton 14

To be honest when I first opened the box I was actually pretty pleased with my purchase, though I need to mention it was delivered in a large outer box with the Tonor's smaller box placed in the corner. So a lot of package is wasted here.

With that aside, you will find all of the above mentioned accessories and on first impressions they looked good. The Tonor microphone has a brushed blue aluminium finish and a chrome top half that gives it a professional look. However I need to point out that the microphone has no volume, gain or balance controls, so everything is done through the source and this is one of its problems (more on this later).

Underneath the microphone is the XRL port that the supplied XRL/3.5mm (2.5m) adaptor plugs into. I wouldn’t say it clips in smoothly, but it does attach with a bit of force and the cable is fairly substantial.

You also get a foam anti-wind cap cover for the microphone, but this had some small damage to the foam part as the clamp must have come in contact with it during transit. Luckily it was not ripped!

However the big problem with the kit is there is no real instructions in the box, you just have a small pamphlet with Chinese writing on one side and a English Translation on the other, but this is more about the specifications of the device rather than how to assemble the kit.  

As a result you have to piece this kit together yourself. The actual mounting arm reminded me of those old table top lamps with the springs inside, so you had some control over the vertical alignment. Yet, the clamp, while rubberised to a certain degree at the top, could have done with some extra padding underneath so you did not mark the table.

There is some swivel to the mount but only if you loosen the clamp catch a touch. It’s not really designed to move freely.

You then have to attach the shock mount which is reasonably weighty and has a metal finish with budgie style cords to the side. The shock mount connects using a gold plated screw attachment that mounts to what I believe is a thin piece of metal on the top of the stand. The machine threading is not that great to be honest.

The shock mount however is not that bad, initially it has two clips that you push together to slot in the microphone and then you release them to lock it in place. The inside is also padded so it helps to grip the microphone without marking it in the process.

Note: I tried to attach the cable into the microphone next and it's best fitted before the shock mount is added. The clip does not go in that comfortably in this position, so it was more of a chore if the mount is connected.

Pop Filter!

Ton 18

Next up was the Pop filter and this felt substantially weighty and has a lot of play thanks to the articulating arm. Note: A Pop filter is basically used to reduce or eliminate 'popping' sounds caused by the mechanical impact of fast moving air on the microphone during recorded speech and singing.

The problem with the latter was fitting the part to the stand, mainly because there was no instructions in the box, so you don't really know where this goes! In the end I needed to consult the Amazon product image to work out where it went.

Additionally the Pop Filter, microphone and cable are also really top heavy, so you need to really tighten the back screw on the mount, otherwise you can watch as the microphone dips slowly downward!

I can’t really see this lasting to long if I’m honest with you.

As for the USB Soundcard it was included to allow MAC users to tap into the microphone, but build quality is really poor, a lightweight bit of cheap plastic. At least has 7.1 surround!

In Use

Ton 7

Once you leave the microphone attached to the mount and step back it does look OK, but proof is in the pudding so they say and for me sadly this is where the problem really hits.

With the Tonor it's pretty much a passive mic in that I quote  it needs ‘5v to obtain the best sound quality’ This is where you may need to invest in a optional Phantom Power Supply which is not included.

You can get one for about £20 or so but the problem is I don’t really believe it will make a vast difference to the loudness that is produced from this microphone.

This basically comes from the testing I did from the PC and Laptop I plugged the microphone into.

The results were certainly different to say the least and I put together some of the results in a short video which you can see below.

First of all I tried the microphone with the laptop and using the 3.5mm port on Windows 10 I boosted the level to 100 and it was pretty difficult to hear my voice. I then used gain control and this resulted in an echo chamber effect and it sounded awful.

Ton 19

I also tried using the USB soundcard (even though it was aimed at MAC users) and this improved the quality, but it was so low that I could not hear myself back. To make matters worse there was no gain control to help here either.

I then switched to my PC and did the same tests only to find that unless I boosted the gain to 30% I could not hear my voice properly at all (it was worse with the anti-wind foam cap cover installed). Note: An offset of boosting the gain was that at 30% there was some harsh interference as a result!

It’s here that a Phantom Power supply may help combat this interference, but I just don’t trust the product will deliver! So unless you have a form of gain control on your Phantom Power supply I don't think it would work as a desktop microphone. Getting a Phantom Power supply will of course bump the initial asking price up, so you may as well invest the money more carefully.

Summary

I think what annoyed me the most from my experience with the Tonor kit and something I forgot to mention above, was that the microphone is simply a re-badged model that several other manufacturers sell and at lower prices to. So you definitely get what you pay for!

This is a shame really, as the actual kit looks good and on paper it offers value for money, but when fitted together the results are not so impressive. I think the over-tightening of the screws (to stop the top heavy nature from spiralling the microphone downwards) will eventually make it collapse after a fashion.

You also get poor output from the microphone and yes you may need a Phantom Power supply but I still think gain control is needed on the source to compensate for the microphone's short comings. 

To be honest I have actually returned this product now to Amazon, so kudos for their returns policy, which is just as well really otherwise I would have been left with a £20 door stop!

I think I will save up and get hold of a Blue microphone perhaps and see what that brings to the table. As it stands the Tonor kit looks good, but performs poorly, so I can’t really recommend it!

Editor's rating

5Overall6Design6Features4Ease of use2Performance7Price

Product Purchased from Amazon.co.uk for £22.99

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