The Perfect Budget Mic
If money’s tight or if you’re just looking for a reliable backup microphone, the Xm8500 is your answer.
Down to the details
The Behringer Ultravoice XM8500 comes in a hard plastic carrying case containing the microphone and a clip. If I was going to carry these mics around with me, I'd lose the box and place the mic in a leather or PVC pouch. However, the plastic box is robust and keeps them safe!
The first thing you notice when you take them out of the box is that they feel nice and heavy in the hand. I like a mic to feel robust and the XM8500 oozes quality. It's similar in style to a Shure SM58, but if you're going to push me on it then I'd say the XM8500 feels nicer.
When I get a new mic to play with, the first thing I do is check out it's handling noise. With cheap and budget mics, one thing that always causes problems is sound transmitted by your hand through the body of the mic that can sound like a herd of rhinos charging across the African bush. However, the XM8500 sounded, well, like nothing, because it doesn't suffer from handling noise hardly at all. So far so good!
How does it sound?
I tested the XM8500 running through a Behringer UB1204FX-PRO mixer and straight into my Mackie SRM450s. Even with the Mackies cranked up, there was little or no background noise. Where was the hiss? Was someone playing tricks on me?
With the EQ flat and no FX, the mic sounded great. It was warm (but not too warm) - a lot of mics suffer from too much bottom end - and I instantly enjoyed beatboxing with it.
Xm8500 vs SM58 vs Beta58
After testing it out, the XM8500 definitely had a little more bottom end and perhaps wasn't quite as bright as the SM58. I would say that the XM8500 has a flatter frequency response than the SM58. The SM58 rolls off a bit of the bottom end and has a little presence boost. The XM8500 was also slightly louder and needed less gain on the mixer than the SM58.
After comparing it with the Shure SM58, I pulled out my Shure Beta58 - my usual stage mic. The Beta58 was brighter (as I would have expected) but one didn't sound better than the other - they were just different. The crowd was divided between which sounded better. I guess it's just down to personal preference!
The final test was to have four XM8500s plugged in simultaneously. I ran the whole workshop on the Behringer mics. One thing I noticed was that they didn't feedback easily - certainly less than the SM58s I use. This mic was surely too good to be true!
So now the tough question
Would I trade my Shure SM58 or my Shure Beta58 for a Behringer XM8500? Well, to compare the Behringer mic with the Beta58 is a little unfair. They are different mics with different polar patterns. Certainly, there is not $100 worth of difference between them. I think I would hold onto the Beta58 - but I'm wondering if I'm just being a snob!
Now, would I swap my Shure SM58 for a Behringer XM8500? Well, they sound different and I have them both so I don't need to swap. But put it this way, over the past few weeks, I've been using the Behringer and I've given my Shure SM58 to someone else to play with!
- Price: $20.00 MSRP
- Bandwidth: 50Hz - 15kHz
- Polar Pattern: Cardioid
- Impedance: 150 ohms
- Sensitivity: -70dB Weight: 8oz
The Behringer XM8500 is a stunning mic at a stunning price. Can it really only be $20? It feels good in the hand, it has low noise handling, it sounds smooth, it's robust. I guess only time will tell if this mic will still work in ten years time. But for now, I've bought five of them to use in my workshops and a Behringer mixer to go with them. If someone drops one of these mics in a vat of boiling lava, then I guess I'll have to fork out another $20 to replace it!
Tl;dr: You won’t find any microphone with better sound quality at this price. After a few tests, the Xm8500 puts up a really good fight against microphones four times its price (Sm58 and Beta58).
Don't just take my word for it!
We've heard great things from seasoned beatboxers like Fat Tony, Hobbit, and Mr. Wobbles! Check it out, and let us know what you think.
"Good mic that, very good - got it for £18! I definitely recommend this to anyone who has £19 spare and who wants a very, very good microphone." - Hobbit