Sennheiser Profile USB: a very well-made first microphone for streaming and podcasting

Picture: Sennheiser.

As curious as it may seem, one of the most renowned manufacturers of accessories and audio peripherals in the world had until yesterday no microphone to offer to the amateurs or professionals of streaming and podcasting, whose number nevertheless increased in recent years, and even more since the global pandemic.

Sennheiser, because it is indeed this German company founded in 1945, has carved out a fine reputation for itself by manufacturing, among other things, professional monitoring headphones, as well as microphones used in the studio, but also on stage. However, unlike brands like Blue, Rode, Logi (former Logitech) or even Shure, for example, nothing at Sennheiser for podcasting – an activity that has been established for more than a decade in countries like the United States – and live streaming, or even telework, the practice of which has become widespread since 2022. This Profile USB microphone is the very first product that Sennheiser has intended for content creators.

The Sennheiser Profile USB is a condenser microphone (with electrostatic membranes) of the cardioid type: with such a directivity, the capture of the voice is privileged compared to the surrounding noises. And as its name suggests, the connection is made by USB type C socket (obviously). The Sennheiser Profile USB is compatible with any recent computer, Android smartphone and iPad (the full range now has a USB-C socket).

Technical characteristics

  • Microphone Type: cardioid and condenser
  • Connectors: USB-C, 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Feed : 5V, max. 200mA
  • Frequency range: 20Hz — 20kHz
  • Sampling frequency : 44.1, 48kHz
  • Sampling resolution: 16, 24 bit
  • Diameter : 47mm
  • Weight : 353g
  • OS Compatibility: Windows, macOS, Android, iPadOS
  • Price : 200 €

Strengths and weaknesses

Strong points

  • audio quality;
  • build quality and finish;
  • the solidity of the articulated arm;
  • ease of use;
  • design ;
  • cable length;
  • value for money.

Weak points

  • no USB-C/USB A cable;
  • no 1/4 inch adapter.

Well guided

But before going back to the connectors and the devices with which this microphone is compatible, let’s talk about its aesthetics. The body of the Sennheiser Profile USB is all metal, from one end to the other. Its finish is remarkable! Everything is compact and also seems very solid. On the lower part, in the front, there are four buttons. A push button and, below, three other rotary buttons. The first puts the microphone in mute mode: even if the recording is active on the software used in the device to which the microphone is connected, no sound will be captured. A good point: when the button is in mute mode, it is illuminated by a crown of red light.

Picture: Sennheiser.

The first of the three rotary knobs is used to adjust the sound input level of the microphone. In a way, it’s the “gain” knob. As soon as the microphone is plugged in, it circles with a green light. When the mute button is active, this light also turns red. So, unless really distracted, the person in charge of the podcast or the stream is well notified when the microphone no longer sends sound. We didn’t have the opportunity to see it, but, according to the manufacturer, this light can turn orange to ask to lower the level of the input volume when it is too loud.

Picture: Sennheiser.

Picture: Sennheiser.

The second rotary button adjusts the balance between the listening level of the sounds coming from the microphone and the level of the sounds broadcast by the computer. Typically, this is the button that will be used, for example, by a streamer to adjust the feedback of his voice in relation to the audio ambiance of the video game he is demonstrating. With all this, the last button, the one at the bottom, will adjust the output volume to the headphones. Obviously, there is a standard headphone socket (3.5 mm): it is located on the back of the microphone, above the USB-C socket.

Image: Moctar KANE/Zdnet France.


So back to the USB-C connection. If your computer does not have a USB-C socket, you can still plug the Sennheiser Profile USB into a USB type A socket. You will just need a USB-C/USB-A cable. Sennheiser only provides a USB-C/USB-C cable with its microphone. It’s not a tragedy, but a pity. Because there are cases where you would prefer to connect this microphone to the USB-A port of your computer even if it has a USB-C. The computer used for this test only had one USB-C port. At one point, the battery had to be recharged … which can only be recharged via the USB-C socket and moreover with a powerful charger unit. During a long stream, what do you do if your computer, with only one USB-C port, is out of juice?

Otherwise, we were able to make recordings with this microphone by plugging it into a PC, an iPad, and an Android smartphone. Only the iPhone continues to stand apart with its Lightning socket. We did plug the mic into an iPhone via a USB-C/Lightning plug, but it wasn’t recognized. Sennheiser indicates that the USB Profile is not compatible with iOS

Image: Moctar KANE/Zdnet France.

Sound at the height

We have not yet been able to compare the sound captured with this Sennheiser Profile USB to that of another podcast microphone in the same price category. But the audio files obtained reveal a good level of quality! The sound is clear and well detailed. And the different level modulations that the three buttons allow ensure recording comfort, but also appreciable control. And having all these controls on the front panel is really practical.

For information, with the computer, we made recordings during the test with the Audacity software. We limited the sampling to 44.1 kHz, for a bit rate of 320 kb/s. Knowing that the maximum sampling of the microphone reaches, according to the manufacturer, 48 kHz.

Image: Moctar KANE/Zdnet France.

Image: Moctar KANE/Zdnet France

What an arm!

The Sennheiser Profile USB microphone is marketed through two kits. One includes a table stand. The other contains an articulated arm. And it is this kit that we were able to test. It is more expensive, but this arm is worth the detour. Because, like the microphone itself, its manufacture is clean and neat. And it is sturdy, also made of metal. It has three elbows. And measures, unfolded, almost 82 cm, without the screw at one end and the rod at the other end which sinks into the clamp. Along this arm is a groove where to insert the USB cable. In this kit it has a length of three meters, a rather comfortable length. In the other kit, it is only 1.2m.

The handling of this arm has proven to be generally convenient. And it keeps its position, without weakening, after each modification of its form. And its clamp squeezes so hard that we were able to move a table slightly by pulling on it.

That said, this kit does not include a 3/8 inch to 1/4 inch (or 5/8 inch to 1/4 inch) adapter to screw under the microphone and which could have been used with a standard mini tripod (used in picture). Too bad, because it can be useful, punctually, for example during travel or a temporary change of its place of stream. The small tripod is still less restrictive to move than the articulated arm.

Image: Moctar KANE/Zdnet France.

Image: Moctar KANE/Zdnet France.

In conclusion

Finally, there are few criticisms to address to the Sennheiser Profile USB microphone intended for podcasting and streaming. The sound quality it reproduces is good, the object is well designed, its articulated arm is robust. And all this for a very attractive price.

Get a 1/4 inch adapter if you want to use it with a mini tripod, add a USB-A to USB-C cable. Small supplements for a first microphone which is immediately a very good deal.

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