Neat may be a newer name in the audio hardware industry, but it is anything but an amateur when making microphones. Now part of Turtle Beach since the start of 2021, the company looks to use its award-winning suite of audio engineers to compete with companies it helped succeed.
That being said, Neat’s Bumblebee II is an excellent choice for newcomers and experienced streamers alike. Made by the original creators of Blue and its famous Yeti microphone, Bumblebee II enters the conversation as a contender for the increasingly crowded chase for the USB mic crown.
Nuts and bolts
Bumblebee II comes with many of the standard features expected of a USB microphone. An LED ring surrounds a pushable adjustment knob on the front of the mic, which changes colors representing its three modes.
The yellow mode adjusts the side-tone (mic monitoring) signal for headphones connected through the 3.5-millimeter jack on the bottom. Blue mode adjusts the signal sent to audio software from the mic, and green adjusts the signal level to a pair of headphones connected through the system.
Unlike other mics like the higher-priced Blue Yeti X or the similarly priced Roccat Torch, gain levels aren’t represented by LEDs. The lack of a visual gain meter on the Bumblebee II means you’ll need to adjust the decibel levels through audio software or by ear, which could be cumbersome while gaming. Ring colors aren’t customizable like on Yeti X. For the price point, however, it is similar to the Blue Yeti Nano, which doesn’t have LED gain monitoring either.
Inside the Bumblebee II is a front-facing, internally shock-mounted 25-millimeter condenser mic. The condenser is permanently polarized in a cardioid pattern, meaning sound picks up from the front of the mic. Like other plug-and-play mics, the front-facing side is the pickup point instead of the flatter top portion.
While it lacks other polar patterns, most users only use cardioid anyway. It’s capable of recording 24-bit signals at a sample rate of 92kHz. Its specs push the Bumblebee II ahead of the Yeti Nano’s 24-bit/48kHz and the HyperX Solocast’s 16-bit/48kHz by delivering a closer recreation of the original sound.
Under the grille of the mic is a built-in pop filter. These inclusions help users get clear audio without additional accessory purchases, making it a budget-friendly option for streamers and content creators.
Packaged with the Bumblebee II is a five-foot USB-C to USB-A cable that connects underneath the mic beside the headphone jack. It doesn’t require additional drivers to download when plugged in, so it’s ready to record from the start. Neat doesn’t have any proprietary software for the mic like Blue Voice, necessitating another program for sound processing and effects.
The form factor
Bumblebee II’s compact works in its favor for placement in audio setups. Without the stand, the mic is eight inches tall by five inches wide—it’s about a foot tall with the stand attached. It weighs 0.88 pounds, lighter than the Yeti Nano but not as light as the Solocast.
The mic rests on a tiltable yoke mount table stand. On the bottom of the stand is a knob that can be removed, allowing the mic to screw onto a standard five-eighths inch threaded boom arm or another mic stand. Bumblebee II’s unique design connects the yoke mount to the microphone, adding to setup flexibility.
Removing the stand on the first attempt was tricky because a pin in the back holds the mic in a front-facing position when clicked into place. It required a little bit of force to try and unlock the knob, which resulted in precariously holding the microphone to twist off the bottom knob. After figuring that out, however, detaching the mount and mic from the stand was much more manageable.
Its small size is a benefit, though. Coming in all black with tasteful logo size and placement, Bumblebee II’s aesthetic is not about standing out but complementing an audio setup. Those looking for flashier microphones to match RGB setups should look elsewhere, however.
Sound quality with the Bumblebee II is exceptional. It matches well against the Yeti X due to its larger condenser capsule—Yeti X has a 14-millimeter capsule array—and faster sampling rate providing clear and crisp playback. Deeper voices may find the warmth of voice slightly lacking compared to Blue mics, but higher-pitches may prefer it.
The internal pop filter helps to block intense “P’s” and “B’s,” with peaking infrequently occurring when very close to the microphone. Users should still swallow their P’s and B’s since it won’t block all of the intensity.
What is slightly disappointing is a lack of an additional polar pattern. For the $100 price point, it’s surprising to see only a cardioid pattern when other microphones like Blue’s Nano or Roccat’s Torch have multiple condenser capsules. Though, it may just come down to Neat focusing on capturing the best solo performance possible instead of multiple sound sources. If that is the case, the manufacturer succeeded in that regard.
Should you buy it?
With the features of the Bumblebee II, it is clear this is a microphone designed for use in a wide variety of audio setups. Streamers and gamers alike should enjoy this microphone because of its ease of setup and audio clarity. Due to a lack of LED gain monitoring and multiple polar patterns, it may not be the best pick if looking for stream-focused features.
Although it may lack aesthetically for some, for $99, not many microphones can match the same value Neat offers here. Those looking for a no-nonsense microphone with excellent sound quality and a small form-factor can trust the Bumblebee II to deliver.
Neat Bumblebee II pros and cons
- Compact size is great for a variety of setups
- Sound quality punches above its weight
- Built-in shock mount and pop filter
- Higher sampling rate than most USB mics at a similar price
- One polar pattern
- No LED gain monitoring