Customer Reviews: Olympus ME-52W Noise Canceling Microphone
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on May 21, 2010
My first reaction to this microphone was astonishment at is its small size. It's larger than most lapel microphones, but that's because of the physical requirements for noise-cancellation. Still, it's very small, especially for a true "cardioid" (noise-cancelling) microphone.

The performance is superb! As Jim wrote, it is very sensitive. I tested it in a quiet room at distances up to 10 feet away. At about 3 feet, my voice was strong and clear. At 10 feet, it was obviously remote, but the sound was good and very clear, with no echo. Off-axis, the sensitivity drops rapidly. At about 70 degrees, the sound weakens noticeably, and beyond 90 degrees, it is almost inaudible.

M. L. Strickland is correct in warning that the microphone requires external power. The instructions on the box specify 1.5 - 10 volts. Writers who reported that the microphone was very weak were almost certainly using a recorder that does not provide the necessary excitation voltage. This energizer voltage draws negligible power from the recorder's batteries.

However, he is wrong when he writes, '... the noise "cancelation" is only provided by a directional shield. True cancellation is obtained by using a stereo mike with the two pickups wired to cancel noise that arrives at both equally.'

Noise-cancelling microphones have existed almost from the start, long before stereo ever existed. The close-up photo on this page clearly shows a slot ("port") in the side of the microphone's body. There is another on the other side. These ports channel sound to the back of the transducer (the sound-sensitive element) so that it is 180 degrees out of phase with the sound striking the front. These opposing signals cancel each other acoustically, but there is always some sound "leakage" through the case and because of imperfect cancellation, resulting in a weak output.

This microphone is intended for recording sounds at a distance, which is the purpose of all cardioid (unidirectional) microphones. Its output level is higher than on most microphones, so there is a possibility of distortion, especially if the sound source (such as the speaker) is too close. For a normal voice, I suggest it be held 8 to 12 inches from the speaker's mouth.

This microphone was bought to be used on an Olympus DS-330, a six-year-old monophonic digital voice recorder. The internal microphone is sensitive and effective, but because it is omni-directional, recordings in a noisy environment, or at a distance from the speaker, are unclear. The ME-52W mic worked equally well in the "Dictation" (low-sensitivity) and "Conference" (high-sensitivy) modes, but the "Dictation" mode is preferable. It's almost identical in sensitivity to the "Conference" mode, and omits residual background noise, such as radios and air conditioners.

With a rated frequency range of 100 - 15,000 Hz, and depending on your equipment, the ME-52W makes excellent voice recordings, and respectable, but not perfect, music recordings. It essentially eliminates echoes, and strongly reduces background sounds. If it's compatible with your equipment, it should be a winner.

Edit; 16 Jun 2012:
Several inquiries regarding the use of this microphone on stereo recorders prompt me to add this comment.

This microphone is monophonic, and two-channel recording from this mic requires one of two conditions:

1: The recorder has a "mono-input" or "mono-recording" mode, which delivers the signal from the microphone to both recording channels,


2. A mono-to-stereo adaptor must be used. These adaptors are available at Radio Shack stores, and usually in the electronics departments of Wal-Mart and Best Buy stores. The "plug" end of the adaptor will have two contacts: the tip, and a "ring" below it. The plug on this microphone has only the tip contact. These adaptors usually cost about $2 to $3.

Stereo hand-held recorders have become very popular, but most of the less-expensive models do not have cardioid microphones. A couple of notable exceptions:

TASCAM TASCAM DR-07MKII Portable Digital Recorder
Zoom H1 Handy Portable Digital Recorder

Both recorders cost about $100.

When searching for stereo recorders, be sure to look for "cardioid" or "uni-directional" in the descriptions of the microphones

Edit; 19 Jul 2012:
This microphone will not work with the iPad, iPhone, or iPod, as many users have discovered, for two reasons:
1: The jacks on these devices are non-standard
2: The microphone requires power from the device to which it is connected.

While browsing through the comments today, I came across a reference which I immediately checked out, and I learned that these Apple devices do have excitation power available for external electret microphones, but a special adaptor is needed to access the power connection. One supplier of such adaptors is <> Their web-site describes the configuration of the jacks in the Apple devices, and lists a number of adaptors and cables to connect unpowered electret microphones, such as this Olympus ME-52W, to them.
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on May 7, 2009
I did an interview in a noisy restaurant and put the recorder on the table with the mic pointed straight up. The mic picked up both voices very well and cut down the background noise by at least 70%. The interview would have been impossible otherwise.
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on February 13, 2012
The audio comparisons start at 2m 05s.

For this review we are in my office with many ambient noises: office banter, HVAC fan, etc. There are 8 voice tests after the video review. "Shotgun" style: 2 camcorder, 2 voice recorder. Lapel style: 2 camcorder, 2 voice recorder. Per recording device, the sensitivity levels are changed (high/normal and low).

The mic performs best when paired with a voice recorder and placed on the subject. It works as a "shotgun" mic using a camcorder on its normal microphone sensitivity, keeping the microphone at least a foot away. But it's very sensitive on a camcorder. Listen for the HVAC fan, especially.

Good value for money.
Small, like most lavalier mics.
Works well with voice recorder.
Removes ambient noises.
Can be used as shotgun-type mic.

Alligator clip is big.
Audio level relatively loud on camcorder.
Omits mono-to-stereo adapter (included with similar Olympus product)

FYI: The audio for the first portion of the review was taped using a digital voice recorder with its on-board mic, not the product because I wanted to handle it while doing the review.
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on September 19, 2012
If you are computer gamer looking for quality sound chances are you have tried gaming headsets before. Now for most people if these headsets play sound decently and transmit your voice audibly then that is all they are looking for. However, chances are you are not one of those people if you are looking at a $16 lavaliere mic.

Your obsession with audio quality has probably led you to various audiophile-oriented internet forums ( seeking out information about what headset/headphone + mic setup would be optimal. By and large most forums will point you away from "gamer" oriented headsets, deriding them for their poor return on value on sound quality, instead recommending increasingly audiophile-oriented (read: expensive) headphones that do not come with built-in mics. Thus begins the search for a separate microphone that will allow you to use your headphones without losing the quality/convenience you are used to with a headset.

This is where a product like the Olympus ME-52W may have come to your attention -- the other more common choices for those with headphones are probably: the Zalman ZM-MIC1, the AntLion ModMic, Logitech USB desk mic and a gaming headset.
ZALMAN ZM-MIC1:I passed on the Zalman mainly because I was worried that its omni-directional microphone would pick up the sound from my mechanical keyboard, also the thin wire did not look terribly durable, a concern when I tend to snag my wires on various objects at an alarming rate.
ANTLION MODMIC: For the AntLion ModMic, the price at $40 was prohibitive for a microphone simply intended for talking to my friends on skype or guild on ventrilo. My headphones of choice are only the lowly $30 Superlux HD 681 (which are quite excellent for the price) so I flinched at the thought of paying more than that for a mic.
DESK MIC: With a desk microphone, I liked the idea of avoiding another wire around my neck with a desk mic but I was too concerned with the sound quality of the microphone if I leaned back into my chair and also the sound coming from my aforementioned mechanical keyboard on the same desk.
GAMING HEADSET: The allure of a one device/one line setup is hard to miss. With gaming headsets I have tried: Plantronics Gamecom 367 and the Creative Fatal1ty Gaming Headset. Both of these headphones used some felt material which rubbed against my ears constantly because of their small can size (or conversely, my large ear size) and became uncomfortably warm after playing for awhile because they were closed headphones as well. Their sound quality was about the same as a basic $5-10 dollar set of headphones for songs, perhaps a bit better with positional audio for gaming. The mic quality was actually fairly good, but they definitely not as clear nor as good at ignoring background noise as the Olympus ME-52W. More worrisome about gaming headsets to me is their cheap build quality; I had the Plantronics Gamecom go dead on me in less than a year of use which was surprising because they actually looked fairly durable. The Creative Fatal1ty have held up better in that regard but were just too uncomfortable for me for daily use. I was seriously considering the SteelSeries Siberia V2 for a time but for the price point (~$90) you headphones from audio-oriented companies such as Sennheiser, Audio Technica and Grado that are simply superior in sound.

With these other options carefully examined and explained, I will now enter the part of the review where I actually review the Olympus ME-52W.

SETUP: As far as setup goes, this should have been simple but was not because there was serious interference when I used the wire included with the mic. It was probably not thick/shielded enough so the microphone emitted a very audible hum/buzz no matter what options I chose, although this is understandable and I do not blame Olympus for this because this is a mic for an audio recorder that would presumably not have the interference my computer setup has from other wires. It was also very silent no matter what setting I used and if I dared turn up mic boost the buzzing/hum would overpower my voice. I used a 6' stereo extension cable that did the job and the mic has worked flawless since. One other concerning thing is that this mic is mono and if you playback your sound from the windows sound menu it will only come out of one ear, but skype/ventrilo was smart enough to auto-correct this so my voice plays over both channels. The clip is very handy and clips permanently onto my headset cord which makes it very simple: I just wear my headphones and I am ready to go.

SOUND QUALITY: The clarity of my voice with this mic over skype/ventrilo has increased dramatically. I think it sounds as good as a lapel mic a lecturer might use for a sermon and certainly makes my voice sound more life-like and less like I am in a fish tank than the mics I have used before. My voice is deep and it seems like my old headset would just crush the sound at times so I had to repeat words. Also my breathing doesn't produce the pop/boom anymore like with a headset.

NOISE CANCELLING: The noise cancelling feature is probably where I am the most disappointing with this mic. Perhaps I was expecting too much but the mic does not isolate so much as deadens down the background noise from my keyboard/mouse clicker/5.1 stereo system. People can definitely still hear the background noise but it sounds very far off in the background compared to my voice so it is not a huge issue -- my voice is still crystal clear and it does not pick up noises that are well into the next room. Even though I expected a bit more from a product that claims to be noise cancelling, it is far better than my old boom mic on the Creative and better than my temporary cheapo desk mic which does no sound-isolation at all.

Overall if you were a gamer looking for a good mic to go with a pair of quality headphones instead of a gaming headset and can get over some of the setup woes you may encounter, I would definitely recommend this mic for its audio clarity, convenience and sound isolating properties because it simply outclasses any of the other available options available without moving several price brackets up.

Disclaimer: This is a review of the Olympus ME-52W used as a gamer's VOIP/skype lapel mic for a PC, even though it is not marketed specifically for that purpose. I am but a simple gamer/computer enthusiast that has a propensity to over-analyze any technologically related purchase for the sole purpose of getting the best deal, not an audiophile or audio professional prepared to back my statements regarding sound quality with mounds of empirical data.
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on July 12, 2007
For a cheapo microphone, I was pleasantly surpised with how well this worked at picking up speakers who were a distance away. You may have to adjust the sensitivity of the recorder, because the sensitivity of this mic is significantly higher than the built-in stereo mic, and recording to 'hot' will result in garbled, distorted sound.

The Olympus recorders seem to select sensitivity with labels like 'dictate' and 'conference', where 'conference' would normally be used in a distant recording situation but if the record bar hits the right side of the screen you want to set it to the lower sensitivity mode 'dictate'. In any case, with this (mono) mic you should change your recording mode to Mono so you can get double the record time.
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VINE VOICEon April 4, 2009
Be careful. This microphone requires power to be applied from your recording device. This is described on the box and in the enclosed spec sheet, but I don't see anything about it on the Amazon site.

Did not work at all with my laptop.

Also the noise "cancelation" is only provided by a directional shield. True cancellation is obtained by using a stereo mike with the two pickups wired to cancel noise that arrives at both equally.
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on September 16, 2009
This microphone has been an excellent addition! I use it to record to my Olympus WS-321M digital recorder, and I LOVE it for capturing my dictation or for capturing presentations/lectures that I give. The lapel clip and cord makes for easy and clear recording, while I keep the recorder in my pocket. This is excellent for audio interviews, as it eliminates much of the ambient noise; however, the cable isn't long enough for a video interview with a camcorder (seems long enough for a webcam interview). Also, when I want to capture comments from around the room, I remove this microphone. I just purchased a stereo omni-directional microphone, so I will try that for conference room discussions.

Note: this is a MONO microphone, which means it doesn't work with equipment that requires stereo inputs -- I found this out when trying to use it with my video camcorder and captured no sound (lost one video presentation!). It seems that this is the same problem some people are having with this microphone for their laptops. Also, that means that podcasts/recordings only come out of one headphone/speaker, which can be frustrating for listeners. If you are recording voice

I also downloaded some simple (and free) audio editing software (called FreeAudioDub) that allows me to cut, rename or save clips, delete extraneous filler.
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on August 24, 2007
I use this mic in conjunction with an iTalk on my iPod. I have only used it 3-4 times, but it makes a huge difference when I compare it to iTalk's mic. I'm not sure if it's bad technology in the iTalk, or good tech. with the mic.
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on September 6, 2008
It doesn't actually cancel out much noise but it is decent on pick up. With a little sound editing you can cut out the background noise and make it work.
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on November 1, 2012
* For this mic to work on an iphone or an android you must purchase a TRRS splitter because both these phones, not to mention the new macbook pros, have a 4 position audio jack instead of a standard 3 position jack. MUYHSMFF 3.5mm 4-Pin to 2x 3-Pin 3.5mm Headset Splitter Adapter - M/F

There was a long but very helpful review which said that this mic will not work on an iphone. This is only partly true. It WILL WORK if you have a a TRRS (4 position splitter). Also the phone WILL supply the power to this mic.

I have an HTC Thunderbolt which I wanted to make hands-free in my car. And so, I purchased this mic, a TRRS splitter, and a male to male extension cable to plug into my aux jack. I now have a fully functional hands free phone that works through the factory system. I mounted this mic to my center console (3 to 4 feet away from my mouth) and made some test calls and the other person could hear me fine.

Thus, I certainly recommend this inexpensive but powerful mic to anyone who wants an external mic on their iphone or android.
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