YPA MM1 REVIEW March 21 2014

YPA omnidirectional headset microphone review 

Please note that all of the comments below must be kept in perspective: This microphone costs $39.99 (inlcuding tax and shipping), which is 10-20 times less than its current mainstream competition.

If you have never heard of the YPA microphone brand, do not feel bad - neither have I, until recently. As more and more microphones are manufactured in China, it was only a matter of time for a Chinese OEM microphone manufacturer to emerge with low-cost alternatives to name-brand models. YPA makes an omnidirectional, headset microphone that is compatible with the most common wireless standards, including Shure and Sennheiser. Luckily, with a phantom power adaptor, such microphones can also be used in a wired configuration, provided phantom power is supplied by a microphone pre-amplifier or field recorder.

The microphone has respectable specifications, but because nothing is known of the manufacturer's track record, one needs to take these with a grain of salt. The microphone costs $23 including shipping, which makes it the least expensive omnidirectional headset microphone available today. I tested the Shure version because I already have the Shure RPM626 phantom power adapter. I did not know what to expect because it appears to be a typical OEM model that is probably sold under several other brands.

Mic

Figure 1. YPA omnidirectional headset microphone

Specifications

  • Frequency response: 20 Hz to 20 kHz
  • SPL: max. 130 dB
  • Supply voltage: 1.5 to 10 V
  • Impedance: 1 kΩ
  • Sensitivity: -42 dB

What I like

The microphone has good electrical and acoustic performance, certainly better than the price sticker might indicate. The microphone is quite useable. It has high sensitivity and low self-noise. The frequency response in the speech-specific part of the spectrum is good, with no indication of any particular bias. Transient response and phase response are both very good, as well. The microphone sounds good. I would not hesitate to use it for a non-critical speech gathering project or for recording interviews or podcasts. The microphone boom is detachable and is extremely lightweight, thus making it easy to implement in a DIY headset. You can use the supplied neckband, but it is not my favorite way of using such microphones. Finally, the microphone is compatible with the Shure system, and I have reason to believe that the models with Sennheiser and Audio-Technica connectors would work just as well.

What I don't like

The microphone has a slight tendency to pop. It does come with a pop filter, but you must be careful to place it off to the side of the mouth to prevent popping as much as possible. Also, the neckband is flimsy, though, admittedly, you can adjust it for your own neck size and shape so it should be comfortable to wear.

Audio tests

In my tests, the microphone performed well. It is not as good as the Beyerdynamic Opus 55 MkII, but it costs ten times less. The self-noise was low, the low-end was perhaps just a little bit biased. If you can prevent popping, you should get decent recordings. The spectrogram in Figure 2 and FFT in Figure 3 show good spectral detail and a realistic spectral envelope.

Spec

Figure 2. Spectrogram of the phrase "czarna krowa"

FFT

Figure 3. FFT of /a/ in "czarna"

With Shure MX1BP battery power module

The microphone works very well with the MX1BP battery module. The module supplies just the right amount of power to the microphone, and the integration is seemless. This is, in my view, the best way to use the YPA microphone in a wired configuration. The Shure MX1BP adapter has a mini XLR input (for the mic cable) and a permanently attached professional XLR microphone cable. This not only provides adequate power to the mic (and eliminates the need for phantom power), but also provides enough cable lenght to eliminate the need for an XLR extension cable. For a $23 microphone, the YPA performs surprisingly well. Figure 4 shows an FFT and superimposed LPC graphs of the vowel /a/ in "trawe." There's ample spectral detail and a very natural spectral envelope.

Figure 5. FFT and LPC of /a/ in "trawe"

The spectrogram (Figure 6) looks really good, indeed. The spectral detail is exceptional, again, keep in mind it is a $23 microphone. The mic and the power module are a great, inexpensive combo.

Figure 6. Spectrogram of "czarna krowa" with the YPA omnidirectional microphone and the Shure MX1BP power module.

Figure 5 below shows the YPA microphone with my DIY headband and the Shure MX1BP battery module. The module comes with a high-quality microphone cable terminated with a standard XLR connector, thus making it compatible with most professional equipment and obiating the need for an extra microphone cord or extension. I make my own headbands because the original wire headband is not particularly easy to use. The headband is easy to use, comfortable to wear, and allows precise microphone placement. If you're interested in getting a headband for your microphone, please, send me an email and I will make one for you.

Figure 5. The YPA microphone with my own DIY headband and the Shure MX1BP battery module

Self-noise

The YPA microphone has very low self-noise, at least for such an inexpensive microphone. It is a medium-sensitivity mic (about 8 mV/Pa) so it does not require as much gain from the pre-amplifier. In the example below, there's a hint of the 60 Hz hum, probably picked up via induction from the power lines in the house. The microphone does not seem to be particularly prone to picking up hum, though. Hum, whether from ground loops or induction, is a constant problem of a field recordist. You can read more about hum in my post on noise. Figure 5 shows a spectrum of the YPA's self noise, with the pre-amp gain set the level of speech recording of around -12 dBFS.

Figure 5. FFT of YPA's self noise

Download original files

  Description Quality Comments
Download YPA omnidirectional headset microphone 48,000 Hz; 24-bit; mono USBPre; in a quiet room, signal at around -12 dBFS
Download YPA omnidirectional headset microphone with Shure MX1BP power module 48,000 Hz; 24-bit; mono USBPre; in a quiet room, signal at around -12 dBFS
Download YPA omnidirectional headset microphone 48,000 Hz; 24-bit; mono Fostex FR-2LE in a quiet room, signal at around -12 dBFS