Razer Seiren Mini – Design and Features
The Razer Seiren Mini looks like a prop you’d incorporate into a diorama of a late-night talk show set. The base is 3.5 inches in diameter and the mic stands all of 6.5 inches high, a full inch higher than the similarly height-challenged Rode NT-USB Mini. It’s available in three colors: black, white, and pink.
The pill-shaped mic is half grille, half enclosure, and apparently 100 percent plastic, from the top to the bottom, including the stem and base. That’s not necessarily a problem, especially since the base is slightly weighted and thanks to the low center of gravity, the whole contraption is as stable as much heavier all-metal microphones in my stable. And despite the plastic construction, there’s nothing flimsy about this mic.
The next thing you’ll notice about the Seiren Mini is how minimalist it is. That description I just gave you? That’s pretty much it, with the exception of a green LED in front that indicates it’s plugged into USB and a micro USB port in back. Any micro USB cable will do, but Razer bundles a custom 6-foot cable that has a specially shaped end that elegantly conforms to the shape of the mic, completing its contour.
You’ll notice a few things are missing: No polar pattern selector, no gain control, no headphone level control – heck, there’s no real-time headphone monitor input at all. And no mute button. It makes sense not to have some of those things in the Seiren Mini. It’s a simple mic trying to hit a $50 price point, and other mics in this price range (like the Blue Snowball iCE) lack these features as well.
No polar pattern selector? Probably not an issue if you’re doing simple streaming or recording – the single supercardioid pattern is all you need. But the lack of a gain control means you’ll have to do that with your recording software. Ditto for mute. That’s frustrating, whether you’re on a budget or not.
On the other hand, the Seiren Mini pivots on its stand – you can angle it forward or back at what looks to be about 15 degrees in either direction.
Under the plastic hood, the mic has a single 14mm condenser capsule tuned to a supercardioid pickup pattern. You probably know cardioid. It is most sensitive to sound in front of the mic, but is pretty forgiving of how you address it; it’ll pick up quite a bit from the sides. A supercardioid pattern has a much tighter focus on the front, rejecting sound from the sides a lot more effectively (at the cost of a more pickup directly behind the mic). The Seiren Mini has a 48 kHz sample rate at 16 bits, which is pretty respectable and more than enough quality for any casual or beginner streamer or podcaster.
Finally, this is kind of cool: The adapter to mount the mic on a boom or mic stand, should you want to do that, is actually the stem that connects the mic to the base. Just unscrew the base and attach it to your 5/8-inch stand, done and done. While I always appreciate when mic manufacturers include a separate adapter, I promptly lose it. This one is part of the design right up until you need it.
Razer Seiren Mini – Performance
Razer’s published specs claim that this mic has a frequency response range of 20 Hz to 20kHz, which is solid, with a maximum sample rate of 48kHz at 16-bits. Razer is positioning this mic as an affordable entry level model that doesn’t skimp on sonic quality, and only the max SPL stands out as a bit modest. The Seiren Mini musters just 110 dB, while other streamers do significantly better. The Blue Yeti achieves an SPL of 120dB and the Elgato Wave:3 boasts 140 dB, so it’s not out of the question you can generate some distortion with this mic if you’re not careful.
Getting up and running with this mic is kid’s play, largely because there’s literally no setup. It’s a plug and play microphone, and Windows recognized it without a hitch the first time I plugged it into the PC. As we already discussed, there’s no gain control on the mic, so there’s nothing to tweak.
I started with some tests to assess the sound quality in normal recording situations. Because the mic is so darned small, I decided to see if this was a feature, not a bug, and recorded a podcast-length audio test while talking straight ahead into my monitor, with the mic poised in front of me, about 12 inches from lips to grille. Ordinarily, I’d never do this – microphones like to be eaten, and tone rolls off quickly with distance. I assumed Razer knew something I didn’t, though, and thought how cool it was that I could broadcast without a big honkin’ mic obscuring half my face, since the mic was well below the camera’s eyeline.
The result, unfortunately, is pretty much what I expected. From 12 inches away, the midtones were thin and the overall level was low. I fixed the second problem with a gain tweak on the desktop, but the first problem persisted – the mic is okay at a distance, but doesn’t live up to its full potential. For comparison, I got up close and personal, recording from just a couple of inches away. At this distance, the Seiren Mini comes alive, with awesome tone and great fidelity. It sounded about as good as my Blue Yeti or my more recent test mic, the HyperX QuadCast S, both of which cost more than three times as much as the Seiren Mini.
If I had to guess, I would say that Razer optimized this mic for spoken word rather than music, because it treated my voice with warmth and authenticity. I really liked the results when I had the opportunity to use the mic at close distance.
That said, this mic has a bit of a plosive problem. It’s not clear if there’s any rudiments of a pop filter under that grille – certainly, Razer doesn’t appear to suggest that there is one – and I easily blew out my consonants when I was too close to the mic. Of course, you could always add a small external pop filter, but that kind of defeats the purpose of having a tiny, inexpensive mic. The better solution? I found I could back away and mitigate the popping pretty effectively. For me, at least, there’s a sweet spot around six inches from the mic where my audio was solid, my polsives didn’t pop, and I didn’t have to crane my neck too hard to talk.
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