CAD Audio CAD U1 Review – $25 Desk Microphone
I wanted to do a quick review of a very inexpensive USB microphone that I’ve been using for voice-overs and voice chats for several years now. The microphone is the U1 from CAD Audio, and it is their entry-level USB mic. CAD Audio is known for high-end studio recording equipment, but only have a few inexpensive USB devices. At the price point of $25, or $18 when I bought mine, this mic is hard to pass up.
The U1 is made out of a durable ABS plastic with a rubberized coating and has a 10 foot USB cable. It comes with a sturdy height adjustable desk stand that folds up for portability and has a removable mic clip.
The sound quality is decent and it picks up audio well between 6 inches and 4 feet, which is great for what I’ve used it for: Voice overs, Skype, Google Hangout, and Mumble.
I use the CAD U1 exclusively in the video review below and did not do any noise filtering.
As you can tell, the microphone produces solid audio for the price point. I have access to a Blue Yeti that I’ll be taking a look at later on in the week for a comparison.
The biggest issue with the U1 is the default audio option in the sound settings, AGC (automatic gain control). AGC is enabled by default and is the cause of many users issues with noise and interference. AGC increases the gain on microphone, similar to mic boost, but at the cost of horrible audio quality. The other issue is that the mic picks up interference from everything, including electronics and AC noise. I’ve read multiple consumer reviews that claim their U1 picks up AM radio interference.
There are a few things you can do to prevent these issues with your U1. As explained earlier, disable AGC in the sound settings on your computer. If you are still hearing noise or interference, try relocating to a different USB port. If that doesn’t solve the sound issues, there is a $5 solution that will cut back on the interference likely caused by your machine. If you attach a ferrite core filter towards each end of the USB cable, the interference is reduced significantly. I’ve been recording my voice with two of these attached for about a year and I notice a difference on certain USB ports, such as the rear port on my motherboard near the rear fans.
If you do want to filter out background noise, you can use the free software Audacity.
Conclusion: 8/10 – Great mic for the price
If you are looking for a capable budget desk mic, I highly recommend picking up the CAD U1.