It seems like, in the last few years, new audio gear companies have been springing up like crazy. Either that or companies typically not associated with audio are trying to get in on the explosion of podcasting. It can be a lot to take in if you are newer to the audio world as a consumer looking to jump in too.
In this review, I’ll be looking at a sound card-style interface/condenser microphone combo kit known as the LiveMix Duet. This kit is made by Synido, a newer company that came into existence in 2021 under the motto “Record Your Colorful Life”.
Sound interesting? Here’s the plan:
- Test the build quality of both the mic and interface
- Test the strength and cleanliness of the signal from the preamps of the LiveMix Duet
- Test the built-in headphone amp of the interface
- Rigorously test the MS1 condenser microphone
Read on to see how the LiveMix Duet and MS1 microphone perform!
Synido provided me with this kit for review purposes.
What is the LiveMix Duet?
This kit comes with:
- LiveMix Duet Sound Card style interface
- Condenser microphone MS1
- XLR cable
- USB C to A cable for interface
- Foam shield for the mic
- User manual
This interface is a sound card-style interface. This means there is no dedicated ASIO driver for Windows users, and it piggybacks off of Windows Audio. Typically, using ASIO drivers helps to lower the amount of latency you will hear when monitoring during recording. Out-of-box, during recording, there was enough of a noticeable amount of latency for the human ear to pick up. Most people find it distracting to hear their voice with a slight delay, and it might cause folks to fumble when speaking. The latency issue is more concerning when you need to match a performance, for example, music overdubbing to other instruments or dubbing to a visual. So this was a definitely early downside of the kit.
The First Impressions of the LiveMix Duet
The interface is super light, which makes its portability useful, but the body feels a bit cheap. I would handle with care if you plan to travel with it. However, the knobs and switches do have some resistance to them to prevent accidental change of settings.
This interface/mic combo kit has a price tag of $99, which is on the low end. Yet, I couldn’t write off the LiveMix Duet once I got further into my testing.
Connections/Features for the LiveMix Duet
- 2 XLR combo ¼ inch inputs for either a mic or instrument cable
- Switches for channels 1 and 2 to swap between line level and instrument
- One ¼ inch headphone jack
- Two ¼ inch jacks for speaker output
- 48V Phantom Power for channels 1 and 2
- The ability to connect to a computer or mobile device
The Installation Process of the LiveMix Duet
This interface is NOT plug-and-play. You must head over to the Synido website download page. There you can grab the LiveMix Duet software for either Mac or Windows.
This will install a driver for your computer to recognize the device and software that contains EQ settings. Once installed, it shows up as “Synido”, with a number representing the software version.
The Recording Quality of the LiveMix Duet
The interface didn’t have any interference issues from the USB port (hums). The preamps are relatively clean, with the tone being much better than I had anticipated.
I used the dynamic mic, Shure SM58. Dynamic mics are “gain hungry”, meaning they require more input gain to achieve healthy recording levels, which makes it perfect for a preamp test (input gain). I was able to achieve healthy levels of -25dB RMS. The gain knob was turned almost all the way up, but I didn’t hear any notable self-noise or distortion introduced with the preamps being pushed to the max.
This was a pleasant surprise considering the price tag.
Your room can have a big effect on the tone and recording quality. Treat your recording space as much as possible!
The Headphone Amp of the LiveMix Duet
The headphone amp is good for this price range. I used the headphones DT990 Pro 250 ohm. These headphones require a fair amount of amplification to achieve adequate volume. I was able to achieve a “good enough volume” at the 11 o’clock position, but, after that, there was some noticeable hiss from the amp. Headphones like the NTH-100s worked much better as these require less amplification to achieve adequate volume before reaching hissy territory.
Initial Recording for the MS1
The initial recording came out nice and clean. There was no device noise from the microphone or interference of any kind. The tone wasn’t as clear as I would have liked, but it’s nothing a little EQ can’t fix.
Later on in my testing, I discovered it was the software’s EQ features interfering with the tone.
You can pair the MS1 mic with the LiveMix Duet software, which has some EQ settings. However, I found the EQ bands too wide. Aside from boosting or attenuating certain frequencies, you can mute the mic and playback from the software. Currently, the software is a bit lacklustre, and I would do any EQ tweaks in the mix stage post-recording.
MS1 Off-Axis Test
There is a slight drop in volume when you lean to either side by an amount possible sitting in a chair with arms. However, there was no major change in tone, so any “volume” loss can be edited afterwards if you happen to be slightly off-center of the mic capsule.
MS1 Plosive Test
I used the foam shield that comes with the mic, but mic placement technique will still be required to lessen plosives at the recording stage. It would be wise to also additionally use a pop filter with the foam shield. One thing to note is that the stand for the mic is flimsy. It had trouble propping up the mic’s weight, so I was unable to angle the mic since it would fall over. I also noticed the threads for screwing the pieces weren’t the best quality, as they wouldn’t catch or unscrew easily.
Using the LiveMix Duet with a Mobile Device
There is a braided cable provided that has two USB C male to USB A Male connectors. The USB C’s are clearly labelled for a cell phone and for the interface. You must have access to a powered USB outlet/hub to supply enough power to the interface.
There is no specific app from Synido to record via a cellphone, so you will need to source your own app. However, it is plug-and-play once everything is connected with the cable.
The tone of the MS1 became clearer using a cellphone app as the recording software. This is most likely due to the EQ settings from the computer software not interfering. At this time, I haven’t found a way to bypass the EQ to the mic from the software, which is a bit annoying. The instructions from Synido are a bit lacking.
There was no interference (hums) that is usually associated with mobile device recording. My cell service, Bluetooth, and Wifi were active at the time of the recording.
A spectrogram of the cell phone test for the MS1 and LiveMix Duet
Overall Thoughts and Conclusion for the LiveMix Duet
Despite the cheaper feel of the interface, the LiveMix Duet is comparable to a Scarlet interface from Focusrite for its performance. In my opinion, it does some things slightly better, such as with the preamps and headphone amp. Latency can be an issue, and the stand is the biggest drawback, though you can swap that out. However, for its $99 price tag, you get a decent introductory interface and mic that works via a computer or cell phone. The software is a bit annoying to deal with as it affects the tone of the mic greatly, but fine for people who don’t mind playing around with the settings to find what works with your voice.
Who this kit is for:
- A parent to purchase for their child to start recording
- A solo individual just starting out podcasting on a budget
- Someone who would like to gift a recording starter kit
The LiveMix Duet paired with the MS1 isn’t going to give you high-end studio results, but the important thing is that it can give you a clean signal which can be polished up a bit easier in post-recording.
Our Rating: 3.5/5
- Build Quality: 3/5
- Recording Quality for Price Range: 4.5/5
- Interface Performance for Price Range: 4/5
- Microphone performance for Price Range: 4/5
- Included Accessory Quality: 2/5