There are no shortage of options these days when it comes to choosing a microphone for podcasting. We've written all about our favourite podcast mics, best USB mics, top budget mics, wireless mics, headset mics… the list goes on. This time around, we're reviewing the Stellar X2 Large Diaphragm Cardioid Condenser by TZ Audio.
What is the Stellar X2 Large Diaphragm Cardioid Condenser?
It might sound a bit like a high-end medical procedure. But, the mic's extended name really just tells us a bit about how it's built, and who it's for. Large Diaphragm Cardioid Condensers are an appealing option for folks who want to capture top quality vocal recordings. Podcasters are the obvious example here, but audiobook narrators and even singers will form up the target audience of a mic like the Stellar X2.
How Much Does it Cost?
If it costs ten grand, then you probably wouldn't care about any of the other details. So, let's look at the price right away. Fortunately, it doesn't cost ten grand, but a respectable $200. I'd consider this slightly above average for a podcast mic, especially if you're just starting out, or don't have any other gear.
A quick heads up that our link to the Stellar X2 is an affiliate, which means we may earn a small commission should you choose to buy via it (at no extra cost to yourself!).
The “any other gear” factor is important because the Stellar X2 is an XLR mic, as opposed to a USB model that'll plug directly into your computer. That means you'll need to get yourself a USB audio interface (to record on your computer) or a digital recorder. You'll also need a boom arm or stand to mount it on, and an XLR cable to plug it in with. If you own precisely none of these things, your grand total is going to be a lot more than $200.
If this all seems a bit out of your price range, be sure to check out our Best Budget Mics roundup instead.
What's in the Box?
The mic comes in a great little protective aluminium case. It looks like “flight case” is its official name. Why not try handcuffing it to your arm whilst wearing a black suit and shades for extra impact next time you're at the airport?
In there, you'll also find a spring shockmount to attach the mic to your stand or boom arm, a foam wind cover, and a leather carry case.
Look & Build of the Stellar X2
It's a nice little build with a professional look about it. The main body feels durable enough with its iron jacket. The mesh grill looks like it's made of iron too. Whether or not it would survive a fall isn't something I'm prepared to test. Instead, I'd encourage gentle care and good treatment of any condenser mic like this one. Not every mic is as invincible as the Shure SM58.
The Stellar X2 weighs about 346g, which is equivalent to 3 average-sized avocados, or 2 bananas. On the plus side, it'll sound a lot better than either of those. On the downside, it won't contain nearly as much potassium.
How Does the Stellar X2 Sound?
Now to the all-important question for any mic review – how does the thing actually sound?
I've created 3 versions of the same reading from our Podcast Growth book. Here, you can compare the ‘raw' recording with another one I've polished up in Audition, along with a 3rd that was cleaned and levelled automatically in Alitu: The Podcast Maker.
To get the full benefit from these samples, try listening to them with a pair of over-ear headphones.
Stellar X2 Review: Sound Sample – Intro
No post-processing applied here. I was definitely hearing a slight hum underneath the vocals, and couldn't get to the bottom of it.
Stellar X2 Review: Sound Sample – No Processing
A raw recording of a page from the Podcast Growth book.
Stellar X2 Review: Sound Sample – Processed With Adobe Audition
Stellar X2 Review: Sound Sample – Processed With Alitu
Let Alitu do all of the above (minus the vocal clicks) automatically whilst I explained to my wife why I had 3 avocados and 2 bananas on my desk.
Summary: A Mic Worth Buying?
Hopefully, this review of the Stellar X2 Large Diaphragm Cardioid Condenser has helped you decide whether or not it's the mic you need in your life.
If you're a semi-experienced podcaster who's already got a bit of gear in place (a USB audio interface or digital recorder), and you're looking to upgrade to a high-end vocal mic, then this one's definitely worth your consideration. I'd also check out our reviews of the PreSonus PX-1 and PD70 if you find yourself in this camp.
On the other hand, if you're just starting out, or looking to keep costs down, then the Stellar X2 probably isn't for you. $200 is far from an unreasonable price for this mic and its accessories, but you will need other kit to run it. Have a look at our best budget mics post for a rundown of options that cost less and can function as USB (as well as XLR).
Let Alitu Take Care of Your Podcast Editing
Alitu is a tool that takes your recording, polishes it up, adds your music, and publishes the episode, all automatically.
Learn more about Alitu
Finally, you might've noticed one of the sound samples was cleaned up, boosted, and levelled automatically using Alitu. Alitu is our ‘Podcast Maker' web app that does all of the podcast editing and production heavy lifting for you. You can record, build, and publish your episodes directly from within the Alitu interface. There's a 7-day free trial available, so why not give it a spin and see what you make of it?