With a recent influx of higher end microphones, microphones that are a little easier on the wallet need to be brought back to the forefront so people looking to get into content creation know what their options are. A long-time big name in audio, Creative, has but a single offering in terms of microphones: the Creative Live! Mic M3.
In the box, you get the microphone, a mic stand, a magnetic pop filter, Micro-USB to USB-A cable and quick start guide. On the microphone, you have a headphone volume knob and mute button on the front and a polar pattern selector knob (choose between cardioid and omnidirectional) on the back.
I would call out to all microphone manufacturers and beg that they stop putting knobs on the back of their microphones. They are jutting out for the audience to look at and the only person who can’t see it is the only person who needs to. On the bottom of the Live! Mic M3, you have the Micro USB Port, a 3.55 mm headphone jack and a ¼” thread for mounting on its stand or on a mic arm.
The Live! Mic M3 itself feels very light for my liking. Its plastic casing feels cheap, which for a budget mic isn’t a total dealbreaker, but I have felt more solid mics at similar price points. I will give points to the grill of the mic, however, as it is metal. It is a light metal, but metal nonetheless. The stand is one of the most solid that I have felt from any microphone. It is a nice, heavy base with rubber footing that covers the entire bottom and the stand is adjustable up to 90 degrees. I still always recommend getting your mic up on an arm, but credit where credit is due. It’s a nice stand.
“The price tag of $69.99 USD is similar to a lot of budget microphones that, frankly, outperform the Live! Mic M3.”
The pop filter secures to the Live! Mic M3 easily with three small magnets. Its only drawback is that it can obscure the indicator light on the mic to know if you are muted or not and makes adjusting the headphone volume difficult as it covers the top of the knob. I’d also have liked to see a more discreet pop filter, thinner and shorter, to better contour to the shape of the Live! Mic M3 and not stand out to the audience.
While attempting to mount the Live! Mic M3 on my mic arm (Elgato Wave Mic Arm LP), I wasn’t able to plug the cables into the microphone because the ports were too close to the centre of the mic where it screws into the arm. This was fixed by using the top of the mic stand, which is detachable from the flat base.
The mic quality out of the box was middling at best. High on mid-tones and lacking the presence and bass that I would hope to hear in my own voice, I was a little disappointed. Room noise was another big problem. While it is not a huge surprise for a condenser microphone and is a common problem in general in the room where I test as it is not sound-treated, it was particularly noisy when in the cardioid polar pattern.
When switching to omnidirectional, it became less of a noise and more of a nuisance. I can’t recommend enough that nobody uses the omnidirectional polar pattern on a condenser microphone. The notion that it could be good to use one microphone for a lot of people to sit around and talk into isn’t realistic for people looking for quality sound.
Attempts to clean the audio up with processing in OBS and in post were not particularly inspiring. Using reaper plugins for noise gate, EQ and compression in OBS were not enough to bring it to the level that I would hope for and the excess noise causes a distracting attack when talking into the microphone. The noise that rushes in sounds like a waterfall. You are better served using a decent noise reduction tool (Nvidia broadcast’s noise removal, if you have an RTX graphics card, is a great option). The lowered noise levels are more easily drowned out with background music.
The price tag of $69.99 USD is similar to a lot of budget microphones that, frankly, outperform the Live! Mic M3. What those other mics don’t have, however, are the accessories like the pop filter and better than average stand. Whether that balances things out in terms of value is really up to the person spending the money, but for me, I’d rather have to do less work on the mic out of the box, especially if the mic was my entry into content creation.