It’s always exciting when a new company enters the audio world. 512 Audio from Austin, Texas has released their first microphones – Limelight, and Skylight. Never before has there been such a wide range of options for affordable entry-level microphones that also sound great. It can be overwhelming, but if you’ve read any of my other microphone reviews, I’ll walk you through what matters for microphone performance. This will be a comparative review of both the Limelight and Skylight XLR microphones. Read on to learn how these microphones stack up.
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Who or What Is Limelight and Skylight?
Limelight is a dynamic XLR microphone that features a built-in pop filter and a high pass. My initial impressions were “wow, this looks sturdy” and “is a nice-looking mic”. In the box, for a $199.99USD price tag, you get the microphone, a zipper pouch for storage, and a VERY sturdy mic clip. Many of the clips I had for other dynamic mics didn’t hug the mic very well. With this one, you really need to give it a good yank to get on and off. Cosmetics and goodies aside, I was very impressed with the performance – more on that below.
Skylight is a condenser XLR microphone. For $199.99 USD you get the microphone, a zipper pouch, shock mount, and a metal mesh pop filter that fastens to the microphone itself. The build is just as sturdy as its counterpart, Limelight. It’s quite heavy, so ensure you have everything securely fastened to your stand or boom arm.
I once received an audiobook recording where the mic was set up backward throughout the entire recording! Fear not, 512 Audio makes it easy to avoid such a mistake with their simply written start-up guide. They make it very clear which way to point the mics!
Plosives Test: Limelight
Here is another microphone that advertises a built-in pop filter. There were some popping plosives. After some mic positioning adjustments, anything problematic ceased. I have reviewed a handful of mics that boast of having a built-in pop filter. The Limelight is the only one that I can say truly got this feature right, once you find optimal positioning.
Plosives Test: Skylight
The results were very similar to the Limelight. The pop shield was attached, and the mic was six inches away in slightly angled positioning, resulting in no plosive issues.
Noise Test: Limelight
The Limelight used slightly less gain than the Rode PodMic and Shure MV7. The noise rejection also outperformed both mics at -71.74dB RMS. The Podmic was -63.30dB RMS and the MV7 measured -60.00dB RMS for room tone levels, all of which were recorded during a windstorm.
Note: I didn’t conduct a noise test for the Skylight since, with condenser microphones, if you can hear the noise the mic can too. These mics typically perform better in a quiet, well-treated room.
The Tone: Limelight
This is a warm-sounding microphone and not in a muddy-proximity-effect kind of way. You get a touch of warmth, but a crisp richness for clarity as well. That’s a win-win for tone.
The Tone: Skylight
The Skylight has the same crisp clarity as to the Limelight. The difference is that the tone is a touch of brightness. Listen below to some samples to compare the two:
Off-Axis Test: Limelight
The Limelight is a hypercardioid polar pattern. In theory, this should narrow the pickup sensitivity at the front. However, I found this microphone to be very forgiving moving side to side. Below, you can listen for yourself.
Off-Axis Test: Skylight
Skylight is less forgiving than its counterpart, Limelight, in this regard. There is a noticeable drop in perceived volume and the tone thins a bit without any drastic movements. Take a listen below to hear the difference:
Pros and Cons Summary for the Limelight:
- Excellent noise rejection capabilities
- Forgiving off-axis pickup
- Warm but clear tone
- Excellent price and quality
- Sturdy build
- Built-in high pass filter
- Might need a cloud lifter, or something similar, for an extra boost to get a clean, healthy signal depending on interface used
Pros and Cons Summary for the Skylight:
- Excellent quality for a condenser microphone at its price point
- Clear crisp tone
- Comes with shock mount and pop screen at no extra cost
- Sturdy build
- Off-axis pickup is unforgiving
I didn’t find anything that made me dislike either mic. Both the Limelight and Skylight sell for $199.99USD and are excellent at this price point. They even outperform, in my opinion, some mics at the $300USD price point.
If you aren’t confident in your room treatment, the Limelight would be a great choice. Or, if you or a guest tends to be more animated with movement during interviews, the Limelight would probably work best for you.
The Skylight is a great entry point to using condenser microphones. You don’t need to worry about getting extra accessories for the mic itself (512 Audio also sells a boom arm if you don’t have one or a stand). The crispness and clarity are perfect for the voice for podcasting or voice acting in a fictional podcast.
I can tell a lot of work and passion went into the inside and outside build of both mics. 512 Audio and their productions will definitely be worth watching, based on the quality of Limelight and Skylight.
And if you’d like more help with any and all aspects of podcasting – from recording quality audio to monetization and promotion – be sure to check out The Podcast Host Academy. That’s where you’ll find all of our courses and resources, and we run weekly live Q&A sessions in there too!