Razer Seiren Mini – Design and Features
The Razer Seiren Mini looks like an accessory you would fit into a diorama of a late night talk show ensemble. The base is 3.5 inches in diameter and the mic is 6.5 inches high, an inch higher than the one with similar height. Rode NT-USB Mini. It is available in three colors: black, white and pink.
The pill-shaped mic is half grid, half casing, and apparently 100% plastic, top to bottom, including stem and base. This is not necessarily a problem, especially since the base is lightly weighted and thanks to the low center of gravity the whole machine is as stable as the much heavier all-metal microphones in my stable. And despite the plastic construction, there’s nothing fragile about this mic.
The next thing you’ll notice about the Seiren Mini is how minimalist it is. This description I just gave you? That’s about it, except for a green LED on the front that indicates it’s plugged into USB and a micro USB port on the back. Any micro USB cable will do, but Razer bundles a custom 6ft cable that has a specially shaped end that elegantly conforms to the shape of the mic, complementing its outline.
You’ll notice a few things are missing: no polar diagram 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 these 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) don’t have these features either.
No polar diagram selector? Probably not a problem if you are just streaming or recording – the only supercardioid pattern is all you need. But the lack of gain control means you’ll have to do it with your recording software. Ditto for mute. It’s frustrating whether you’re on a budget or not.
On the other hand, the Seiren Mini swivels on its stand – you can tilt it forward or backward at what appears to be around 15 degrees in either direction.
Under the plastic cover, the mic has a single 14mm condenser capsule suitable for a supercardioid pickup model. You are probably familiar with cardioid. He’s the most sensitive to sound in front of the mic, but he’s quite forgiving the way you address him; it will pick up a bit on the sides. A supercardioid pattern has a much narrower focus on the front, rejecting sound from the sides much more effectively (at the cost of a mic more directly behind the mic). The Seiren Mini has a 48kHz 16-bit sample rate, which is respectable enough and more than enough quality for any casual or newbie streamer or podcaster.
Finally, it’s pretty cool: the adapter for mounting the mic on a boom or mic stand, if you want to do that, is actually the rod that connects the mic to the base. Simply unscrew the base and attach it to your 5/8 inch bracket, it’s done. While I still appreciate that mic makers include a separate adapter, I quickly lose it. This one is part of the design until you need it.
Razer Seiren Mini – Performance
Specifications released by Razer claim that this mic has a frequency response range of 20Hz to 20kHz which is solid, with a maximum sample rate of 48kHz at 16-bit. Razer positions this mic as an affordable entry-level model that doesn’t skimp on sound quality, and only the maximum SPL stands out as a bit modest. The Seiren Mini only goes over 110dB, while other streamers do much better. The Blue Yeti achieves an SPL of 120dB and the Elgato Wave: 3 shows 140dB, so it’s not out of the question that you could generate some distortion with this mic if you’re not careful.
Getting up and running with this mic is a cinch, in large part because there is 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 mentioned before, there is no gain control on the mic, so there is nothing to change.
I started with a few tests to assess the sound quality in normal recording situations. Because the mic is so small, I decided to see if it was a feature, not a bug, and recorded a podcast-length audio test while speaking straight in front of my monitor, with the mic balanced in front of me, about 12 inches from the lips to the grille. Ordinarily, I would never do that – microphones like to be eaten and the tone comes off quickly with distance. I assumed that Razer knew something that I didn’t, however, and thought how cool it was to be able to stream without a large honkin ‘mic obscuring half of my face, because the mic was well below the camera’s eye line.
The result, unfortunately, is pretty much what I expected. At 12 inches away the midtones were fine and the overall level was low. I solved the second issue with a gain control on the desktop, but the first issue persisted – the mic is working remotely, but not performing to its full potential. For comparison, I got up close and personal, recording just inches away. At this distance, the Seiren Mini comes to life, with impressive tone and great fidelity. It sounded about as good as my Blue Yeti or my newer 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 Razer optimized this mic for speech 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 range.
That said, this mic does have a little plosive problem. It’s unclear if there is any pop filter rudiments under this grille – certainly, Razer doesn’t seem to suggest there is one – and I easily blew out my consonants when I was too close to the microphone. Of course, you can always add a small external pop filter, but that defeats the purpose of having a tiny, inexpensive mic. The best solution? I found that I could step back and ease the popping quite effectively. For me, at least, there’s a sweet spot about six inches from the mic where my audio was solid, my polsives weren’t jumping, and I didn’t have to cringe my neck too hard to speak.