Neat Skyline: Two Minute Review
The Neat Skyline is a USB conference microphone that looks and sounds great, with an effective, simple and intuitive design. However, it’s certainly all business, no matter what the packaging tells you.
Ideal for the business or home user, the sensitive condenser microphone capsule achieves fantastic sound quality, and the Skyline integrates seamlessly with video conferencing software such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and FaceTime.
A quick setup in your computer’s sound settings is all you need to get started, making it one of the best USB mics for remote workers, business travelers, or maybe anyone streaming audio online.
Unfortunately, the Skyline does have shortcomings, namely as a podcasting or audio production microphone. The Skyline has no input gain control and no headphone output, which is an essential feature of content-producing microphones.
And relatively speaking, other mics reasonably within Skyline’s price range to do feature input gain control and output monitoring, so it’s disappointing that the Neat Skyline doesn’t have these options. Readers looking for those more production-level features will have to look elsewhere.
Neat Skyline: Price and Availability
- How much is it? MSRP is $69 / £59 / AU$99
- When can you get it? The Neat Skyline USB Microphone is now available
- Where can you buy it? You can get it in US, UK and Australia
The Neat Skyline USB Microphone costs $69 / £59 / AU$99 and is available in the US, UK and Australia. It’s competitively priced, but there are other great values for USB mics in this price range, especially if you’re willing to pay a little more.
If you’re really interested in podcasting or creating content, you can spend $30 more for the Neat Bumblebee II, which does include input amplification and a headphone output.
Neat skyline: design
- Very intuitive, easy to use
- Very professional aesthetics
- Comes in white or black
The Neat Skyline USB Microphone is well built and designed for the business environment. Professional users probably don’t need a colorful, eye-catching microphone, and the Skyline is built to blend in, not stand out.
Form follows function, as one of the key features of the design is a well-lit and easy-to-use “MUTE” button. This may sound like a somewhat basic point, but there are some real life examples of expensive, professional push-to-talk and changeable microphones that don’t clearly show how to access the talk or mute functions. The company Neat Microphone has done an admirable job of designing an easy-to-use button function that takes the guesswork out of operation.
The Neat Skyline microphone is not detachable from the base, so it won’t work with an extendable arm. The base of the Skyline is robust and well constructed using four small rubber feet to hold its place on surfaces. Although there is an internal shock absorber, the considerable sensitivity of the microphone capsule can still pick up low-end and unwanted noise.
Neat skyline: features
- Connects via USB-C to USB-A cable (included)
- Clearly visible “Mute” button functionality
The Neat Skyline USB Microphone comes with a USB-C to USB-A connection cable approximately 6 feet long. This means you have a lot of agility at your next Zoom meeting. Attention Apple fans, if you are one of those MacBook Pro or MacBook Air users who only have USB-C ports on their laptops, you may need to purchase an adapter or USB-C to USB-C cable separately .
We didn’t expect the Neat Skyline’s rubber “Mute” button to demand a lot of attention during testing, but it’s really pleasant to use during a video conference. With a rubberized texture and LED lighting, it is easy to see and feel in different lighting conditions. The Neat Skyline comes in a white or black finish, so whatever the office environment, there’s a Skyline to match the aesthetic.
Neat Skyline: Achievements
- Condenser microphone is excellent
- Cardioid Polar Pattern Only
- Be aware of driver issues
Link: USB Type-C
Polar pattern: cardiode
Sample Rate: 96 kHz
Bit depth: 24-bit
Dimensions: 7.75 x 4.75 x 2in / 196.85 x 120.65 x 50.8mm
The Neat Skyline Microphone includes a condenser microphone capsule that is incredibly sensitive. The Skyline has a sample rate of 96kHz and a bit depth of 24 bits. This is impressive sound quality for the price, and you could say it’s a little too sensitive for its intended use.
While a user’s voice sounds great over an internet connection, the microphone is also sensitive enough to pick up the lightest keystrokes on your keyboard. be careful not to place the microphone too close to your keyboard or set your input gain too high.
The Neat Skyline has a cardioid polar pattern that reduces audio pickup from the back of the microphone. The lack of other polar patterns makes the Neat Skyline a poor choice for interviews and roundtables, but that’s fine, considering the Skyline is really just for personal use. The Skyline has an internal shock mount, but the sensitivity of the microphone’s condenser capsule can overwhelm these features and is likely to pick up unwanted noise and possible low rumble in a noisy environment.
The Skyline mic doesn’t have a headphone output, so you’ll need to hear your audio through another output device (such as your computer’s speakers). There’s also no input gain control on the microphone itself, so you’ll have to make all the adjustments to your input and output levels through the sound settings on your computer.
Any audio adjustments made while using the Skyline while recording will be cumbersome for most, and the lack of dedicated input/output controls makes for an overly complicated content creation workflow. Compared to the other USB mics in this price range, you can find USB mics that do offer headphone output monitoring and input gain control on their devices.
Finally, recording on one of the many digital audio workstations used by content producers today can lead to great frustration. Easy-to-use workstations such as the open source Audacity, Apple’s Garageband, and Logic Pro X allow for easy routing from the Skyline microphone to the inputs of these programs. No problem here!
Things get complicated when you use programs like Studio One or Pro Tools as your workstation. Certain professional recording software programs require the appropriate drivers on your computer for the Skyline to connect to the input channel and, to be honest, this can turn into a huge headache.
All this is to say that the Skyline is an excellent microphone for video conferencing, but not a suitable option for serious podcasting or content creation. If you’re looking for the former, be sure to check out the Neat Skyline; otherwise you’re much better off looking elsewhere.