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BEHRINGER TUBE ULTRAGAIN MIC500USB
|Price:||$59.99 & FREE Shipping|
- High-end pre-amplification for all microphone, instrument and line-level sources. Specifically designed for studio-grade condenser mics
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|Item Dimensions||5.2 x 5.31 x 2.44 in||—||—||—||8.54 x 19.02 x 1.75 in||6.7 x 10.6 x 2.7 in|
Behringer MIC500USB audiophile vacuum tube preamplifier with preamp modeling technology and USB/audio interface
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The MIC500USB is basically it's little brother, the MIC200, only with a USB audio interface stuffed inside. It does OK as a basic mic amp, with respectably low noise and decent sound. Using the USB interface to record to a computer also works well, though it suffers a little by topping out at 16bit/48khz. The build quality is great, and the design is attractive, albeit a little large.
The MIC500USB has worked well for my Shure SM27 mics, as well as an Antlion Modmic passed through a phantom-to-bias adapter from Naiant Studios.
And then, the bad:
The USB interface allows you to output audio from your computer through the headphone amp, but while it technically works, in reality it's complete garbage. The USB audio system puts out a tremendously hot signal, so that even when the output fader knob is all the way down at negative infinity, your headphones are still at a comfortable listening level. Bump the fader up even a little, and it immediately becomes overwhelmingly loud. There's a noticeable amount of hiss on the headphone out port, but it's hard to tell if that's the headphone amp, or just the USB audio always running.
Also, when using "Direct Monitor" to pipe the mic preamp right into the headphones, you cannot adjust the relative volume of the mic vs the USB audio, so you cannot listen to both at the same time. The direct monitor of the mic is a reasonable volume as you'd expect, but the USB audio is so much louder that they'll never be close to the same level.
In short, for a simple USB mic interface with 48v phantom, this'll work great. If you don't need a USB interface, just get the MIC200. If you want a USB interface, but need either a) high bit rate and depth, or b) a usable headphone amp, go for something like the UMC202HD (although the UM2 might work). If you want to be able to adjust the headphones balance between mic monitor and USB audio, you probably have to pony up for the UMC404HD.
Keep in mind that the UM2, UMC202HD, and UMC404HD have some competitors in the Focusrite Scarlett line, so make sure you look those over before settling on a Behringer.