The PD400X from Maono is a dynamic microphone. It works in both XLR and USB form, which means it’s also what’s known as a “combo” mic. In this review, my rigorous testing will include:
- How it Performs as an XLR mic with an audio interface
- How it performs as a USB mic
- Plosive test
- Off-Axis test
- And more!
How will the PD400X from Maono stack up, and is it a genuine contender to the many other popular podcasting microphones out there today? Read on to find out…
The PD400X was provided by Maono for review purposes. Our link to the mic is an affiliate, so we may earn a small commission should you choose to buy via it. This is at no extra cost to yourself.
What is the Maono PD400X?
To reiterate, the Maono PD400X is a dynamic USB-XLR combo microphone. It’s of a sturdy build, having a full metal body that sits in a swing. Out of the box, you get:
- The microphone
- Stand base
- Foam shield
- USB C to USB A cable
- XLR cable
- User manual
The microphone is plug-and-play when used as a USB mic. However, if your computer doesn’t recognise it, Maono provides a simple, yet detailed, user manual to assist. The stand, to which the swing connects, is sturdy – no mic wiggling about to create movement noise!
The Maono PD400X as an XLR Mic
This microphone will most likely need a cloud lifter to help get healthy recording levels, or an interface with powerful preamps like the Rodecaster Pro II.
There was a bit more noise from the recording environment than I would have liked. This wasn’t surprising, since my recording levels weren’t high enough using an SSL 2+ cloud lifter at a notch before the maximum gain level. Dynamic mics are notorious for requiring a lot of input gain to get healthy recording levels. However, what’s not typical of dynamic mics is to have the level of noise heard in the recording. I did a test with another dynamic mic (the SM58) with the same settings and cable. This test was to ensure no noise was being introduced via the interface preamps or mic cable. The noise from my environment was significantly tamed down with the SM58, and no hiss could be heard, unlike with the PD400X.
My levels were sitting at -30.73dB RMS with a true peak of -11.71dB.
The initial recording had a ceiling fan running to test the background noise rejection. Quite a bit of noise still came through, so, even though it’s a dynamic mic, you’ll want to still ensure your recording environment is relatively quiet.
The onboard features do not work when the mic is plugged in via XLR. They only become active when the mic is used as an USB mic.
Secondary Interface Recording
I used the Zoom F3 for a second test. Though it didn’t improve the recording level issue, I was able to cleanly boost the recording level a bit more, post-recording, thanks to the 32 bit-float technology.
PD400X Off-Axis Test
The polar pattern is cardioid. This means, in theory, that the mic rejects sound from behind it. However, if you move off-center from the mic capsule, you can hear a drop in level and a tonal change. The PD400X had a slight dip in level and tonal change when leaning to the left. There was a more noticeable difference, however, when leaning slightly to the right.
I noticed during this test that if I really projected my voice and hugged the mic with the foam on, it was possible to get a healthier raw recording level of -25dB RMS.
PD400X Interface Plosive Test
The provided foam does help to alleviate most low-end bursts, but the click on the plosive is still there. Since it already suffers from low recording levels, doing any mic techniques to lessen the instances of plosives, pops, and clicks only made the low recording level issue worse. Removing the foam to lessen the level “droppage” was able to get me healthier recording levels, but, even with manual mic techniques, the plosive pops were harsh.
The PD400X as a USB Mic
The recording levels were able to reach a healthy amount at -24dB RMS – the sweet spot for raw levels. Overall, this mic works much better as a USB mic! I didn’t need to force myself to project my voice to achieve this level.
It was easier to alleviate plosives at the recording stage with mic placement techniques as a USB mic since I was able to achieve better recording levels.
Stronger preamps or access to a cloud lifter will make for a much better experience when used as an XLR Mic
The PD400X Onboard EQ Settings
The USB functionality sports the following modes:
- High-pass Filter
- Presence Boost
- High-Pass Filter & Presence Boost combo
The onboard high pass filter does a fairly good job with plosive protection in combination with the foam. The Presence Boost made my voice nice and clear without being tinny/thin. Having the two active together gave the best results for my voice. Maono has software, Maono Link, which helps the user shape the tone a bit further at the recording stage. There is a simple and advanced mode, which are great for all user proficiency levels. This software only works when the PD400X is used as a USB mic.
You can’t change these tonal effects once you record. It will be “glued” to the recording.
Conclusion and Overall Thoughts of the PD400X
The PD400X from Maono comes with a $149.99 price tag. My overall impression of the PD400X is that it’s an “okay” mic. I still prefer the Shure MV7 for a USB/XLR combo. For an XLR-only option, I prefer the Shure SM58 or PodMic from Rode.
The results of the PD400X aren’t mind-blowing, but they are in no way terrible. It’s more budget-friendly than the MV7, with similar features. However, what Maono does well with the PD400X are three things that stick out:
- It’s a solid build. None of the outer components included in the box feel cheap.
- The onboard EQ features do a good job and are also easy to use.
- Monitoring via the microphone produces very little latency (in USB mic feature only).
As an honourable mention, it is still a portable option (though a tad on the heavy side) for the podcaster on the go when used as a USB mic with a laptop or mobile device. The stand is small but the mic still sits at a good height to the mouth when placed on a table.
However, the lack of background noise rejection and the hiss introduced when used as a XLR mic is problematic. You want your raw recordings to be as clean as possible.
Who Would Benefit From Its Use?
In summary, then, if you fall into one of these categories, then you might be interested in picking one up.
- Streamers looking for their first mic
- Solo podcaster on a budget
- First mic for VO/voice acting on a budget
Alternatively, if you’d still like to shop around some more, be sure to check out our best podcast microphones roundup.
Our Rating: 3.6/5
- Features for Price: 4.0/5
- Build Quality: 4.0/5
- Tone of Microphone for Price: 3.5/5
- Overall Performance of Mic: 3.0/5.0