Those really cheap Chinese mics BM800's and others

rob aylestone

In one of the other current topics, somebody asked about things like youtube mixing tutorials and how useful they were - I did one of my videos on dirt cheap chinese mics because at home I found some chinese cheapies sitting in a box out the back and forgotten. I took them to the studio and decided to do the video without listening to either, so I couldn't give an opinion because the first time I heard them was when I was editing. The edit uses RCF monitors - small but efficient and chunky 6" things - that have a quite neutral response, but as I edited, I had to actually go back and check the studio cabling as the two different mics sounded different - BUT - enough to make me go and check. I had to re-edit the thing because I got them mixed up. The mic I preferred was not the one I expected - the dirt cheap BM800 sounded nicer - the more expensive, far better made one was obviously the best sound, and I got confused when it wasn't. By the end of the edit I'm glad I hadn't said what mic I preferred. Later, I listened on my home TV and my home studio and reversed my option, but then trying it on the studio monitors in the video studio, I reversed it again. I thought of the mixing tutorial again - playing most of my own music products, all I hear are some small tonal differences and differences in bass. The home system goes quite low, but bass is 'neutral'. In the video studio the monitors are bass heavy - I live with this because trying to tame it has been a bit futile - the speakers are larger and sound it. Then - the edit speakers sort of sit in the middle and are a bit bass light. Three setups, all different but I have no issues working in any of them. BUT - in this test, the location changes my perception of the mics. It hasn't happened before - all my other videos happily work on any playback system - my favourites don't change, and those mics I don't like, I don't like on any of them. These two cheapies the BM800 which is everywhere on line and the Lexau, (which isn't - it's still on Aliexpress but I can't find it anywhere else, and Aliexpress have it as a P200, if you want to search) change depending on where I listen.

The first half of the video is just explanation - half way through there is guitar and speech with captions showing what you are hearing. Each guitar is the same video section repeated with the alternate mics - the speaking is just alternate muting. Both, I note don't have the 'body' of my reference SM7B - I prefer that sound on all the listening sources. In my home studio, the Lexau P200 sounds better, but in the video studio and in the edit system, the BM800 is nicer. Never had this difference before?
Giving this one a good listen, the first thing that jumped out at me was the noise level on the BM800. The Lexau was a bit lower in noise. This has been my experience with nearly every BM800 type test I've come across. I heard the same with the Fifine and Neewer versions. It has to be something in the circuit. Plus the failure rate is a horror. I've never purchased a microphone that was DOA.

Of the three, the BM800 was thin sounding, and somewhat shrill and spitty on the top end. The Lexau was a bit thicker in the bottom, but still shrill on the top, especially sibilants. The Samson C01 was much better controlled than either of the other two. The SM7B had a fuller body than any of the others and listening on the Vandersteen stereo speakers upstairs, it sounded the most natural.

If someone has been given one of these mics 60 years ago, amateur recordings would have been much better than what you got out of the typical crystal and cheap dynamic mics that you got with most consumer tape or cassette decks. Plus the electronic noise would be somewhat masked by the tape hiss, as you probably only had Dolby B noise reduction at best on a cassette and none on most tape recorders. For recording a Youtube stream or a quick live recording, they would be adequate with the knowledge that you want to apply a roll off on the top and and a couple of dB boost in the 100-250Hz range.

For use as a "studio microphone", even in a home situation, I don't think either is adequate. I would rather spend $50 on a used AKG P120 or P170 than to buy either of these mics. I have a pair of CAD GXL1200s that run $65 each brand new that are pretty close to the AKG P170. The MXL V67G could be had for $70 and it is very usable to my ears.

There are better options unless you're collecting recycled cans and bottles to finance your studio!
Interesting. I think I said I couldn't imagine me using either of them but wondered if I was a bit harsh on them, based on price. Maybe $15 and $25 dollars-ish just is too cheap to get worthwhile results - On my TV and the edit suite the BM800 does sound better - not so in the studio at home. I'm glad I turned off the battery chargers before doing the recordings - the noise of those was awful - in the first bit. Maybe I got used to it and tuned it out, but it was annoying doing the edit.
"In the ear of the listener". Noise was not a problem for me (well it wouldn't be would it!) and, sorry Rob but you did not leave enough gaps for me to see the 'silent' noise levels. I rely you see on such measurements.

I could not tell any sonic quality difference between the two cheap mics nor in fact those and the CO1. The SM7b on the other hand was rather 'chesty' and less clear to me. Yes! I know they are the dog's bllx talk mic but the extra bass just muddied things up for ME.

Rob, as an old hand you probably balanced the level of each mics the same without thinking about it? I would have liked some audio indication of the relative sensitivities of the 3 capacitor mics. Then level them up for the speech tests.
Was the guitar just on the BM800? If so shame.
My rig: laptop>MOTU M4> Tannoy 5As in a pretty dead living room.

I have had 3 BM8OO and been lucky I guess, all mine worked but I agree, from forum posts, QC is whale ***t!
Not with you on the returns thing? Amazon are really great for sending back stuff. Even, as happened very recently to me, when you don't read the ad properly and get the wrong phone charger! For other suppliers in UK at least the Distance Trading Regs mean you should never be out of pocket.

Lastly, first time I think I have heard you Rob and you sound just like someone on'telly! Cannot pin who down yet but it is BUGGING me!

returns wise - I mean that when you buy from China on sites like aliexpress, yo often get the send it back if you want within so many days of receipt - but you go top the post office with a 1Kg parcel to go to china, and it can be twenty five to thirty quid! return postage is your problem, not theirs - so in most cases, you just keep it!
returns wise - I mean that when you buy from China on sites like aliexpress, yo often get the send it back if you want within so many days of receipt - but you go top the post office with a 1Kg parcel to go to china, and it can be twenty five to thirty quid! return postage is your problem, not theirs - so in most cases, you just keep it!
Ah, so I guess you kept it past the return date?