Dark or Light
logo
Logo

512 Audio Tempest Microphone Review

Taking USB Microphones To The Next Level

Matthew Keith Posted:
Category:
Hardware Reviews 0

I’ve used a lot of different audio setups over the years. Everything from Blue Yeti to Rode has come across my desk. I’ve used condenser mics with every polar pattern imaginable and hooked up hundreds of feet worth of XLR cable into multiple Dynamic Mics. After years of testing, I was convinced that the best setup for capturing audio for streaming or podcasting was a solid XLR Dynamic mic with a powerful preamp to drive it. Nothing else came out quite as nice when it was all said and done. 

However, I was recently introduced to 512 Audio. Designed and developed by the same folks as at Warm Audio, 512 Audio pushes to bring high-end recording products to creators. They sent along one of their newest entries, the USB-C-powered Tempest, which is presented as a professional, studio-quality condenser mic, powered by USB. Call me skeptical but I just couldn’t see how a USB-powered mic was going to compare to an XLR, preamp setup. Was I right to doubt or was I dead wrong in my assessment? Grab that coffee, kick back and find out in our review of the Tempest Large-diaphragm Studio Condenser USB microphone from 512 Audio. 

Specifications

  • Current Price: $159.99USD (Amazon)
  • Microphone
    • Capsules: 34mm Large-Diaphragm Gold Plated Capsule
    • Sample Rates: 48kHz
    • Bit Rate: 24 - bit
    • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
    • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
    • Microphone Gain: 45dB max
    • Direct Monitoring: Zero Latency
    • Interface / Output Cable: USB-C to USB-A
  • Headphone Output
    • 3.5mm Stereo Jack: Zer-latency monitoring
    • Bit Rate: 24-bit
    • Sample Rate: 48kHz

Built To Be Brilliant

Everything about the design and build of the Tempest projects brilliance. Professional to the core, the tempest all-metal case has a matte black finish with the 512 logo stamped in contrasting white paint just below the capsule housing. It's sleek and professional looking. The onboard mic gain and monitoring volume control sit nestled inline with the mute switch and 3.55mm headphone jack creating a symmetrical sightline that draws you to the logo above. 

The protective grill that covers the 34mm Large-Diaphragm Gold Plated Capsule tops off the design bringing it all together. A hidden LED light tucked inside the grill illuminates the capsule with 512’s signature blue hue when powered on. This adds an extra level of finesse to the microphone’s visual appeal. The Tempest also comes with a compact desktop stand, standard microphone mount, and a premium metal shock stand, for extra protection for the unit. The included USB-C cable measures 6ft, meaning you’ll have some room to feed the cable to your computer.  

I was thoroughly impressed with the whole package. 512 Audios’ promise of professional quality gear stands true. The Tempest is a well-designed and constructed piece of equipment and is functionally everything you need in a box to get started with a recording or streaming. 

Setup for Success

I had mentioned previously that my ideal setup for capturing audio has been a nice XLR-powered Dynamic mic with a preamp for driving it. I stand by that. However, with this type of setup, you do run into a few issues when it comes to the actual setup. 

For starters, there is the issue of finding the right mic and preamp. That alone can be a nightmare if you have never had to do it. There is also the process of getting proper drivers installed for your preamp of choice. In some cases, you’ll run into compatibility issues or OS issues. Then there is the reality that you’ll have to carry all of this tech around any time you need to move locations or reconfigure your setup. 

The Tempest removes all of that. It doesn’t require any special drivers or setup instructions. It works on Mac and PC and it took me longer to unbox it all than it did to actually connect it to OBS and Reaper. It is the cleanest plug-and-play experience I’ve had with a microphone, ever. The built-in monitoring supports any standard 3.55 headphones. Being powered by USB-C the Tempest actually had enough power to support my Byerdynamic DT 990 Pros, which themselves need a fairly powerful preamp to work properly. Not to mention that there actually is zero-latency monitoring on the Tempest. It is such a nice experience to monitor in real-time without audio delay. 

The design and build of the Tempest communicate to me that 512 Audio is a brand on a mission: a mission to create professional gear for creators at affordable prices. The whole setup process is specifically designed to be as quick and painless as possible, leaving you more time to create. This is a complete package and one really built for creators.  

But How Does It Sound?

Great build quality and smartly implemented setup are important but how well does the Tempest actually capture audio? That’s the question that really matters at the end of the day. As previously noted, the Tempest is driven by a 34mm gold-plated condenser capsule and has a 24-bit / 48kHz resolution. 

What I haven’t mentioned yet is that the Tempest is actually inspired by and built based on Warm Audio’s WA-47jr Studio Condenser Mic. Known for its reimagining of a vintage U47 tube microphone, the 34mm capsule of the WA-47j is specifically designed to capture the analog warmth of a classic capsule while delivering pristine clarity of modern pickup. The Tempest is 512 Audio’s attempt to recreate that 34mm capsule in a USB-C format, delivering the same analog warmth and pristine clarity as the WA-47jr. 

That reads quite impressively on paper but how does it actually work in real-world tests? To answer this question I ran a series of tests on the microphone. I, unfortunately, didn’t have the WA-47jr on hand to compare to but I did have my Rode PodMic and Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen preamp to work with. In the two audio clips below, one captured on the Rode PodMic (an XLR dynamic) and the other on the Tempest( a USB-C Condenser), I ran a quick voice-over test to see how the two faired. 

Now before you grab pitch forks and torches because I’m comparing apples and oranges, that's actually what I wanted to test. I walked into these tests expecting my Rode PodMic to far outclass the Tempest. I assumed because I don’t have a recording studio and rely on the short pickup range of the Rode that it would have cleaner audio. The results though surprised me. 

The Tempest did an exceptional job and filtering out background noise in the room while still managing to capture a clean presentation of my audio. When compared to the PodMic, The Tempest actually handled some of the sound and annunciation better, reducing some of the ‘pop’ sounds in my voice. It also gave a clean, full sound to the voice-over, all while isolating my voice from the sound of two computers running in the background. For these recordings, I didn’t apply any EQ or filtering either so what you heard is straight from the mic to your speakers. 

I ran another test to see how well the Tempest handled instrumental audio. I was curious to see how well it could capture a more complex audio sample. The below recordings were both taken with the Tempest. Again there was no recording studio or special setup. It was simply the mic, a laptop, and a friend of mine with a guitar. Check out these samples. 

In the recordings above I was impressed at just how warm and clear the audio is. If you’ve spent any time ever trying to EQ an audio sample it is always a struggle to EQ for warmth while maintaining a clean, clear audio sample. The Tempest does an excellent job maintaining both of those characteristics in the capture. 

In the latest episodes of one of the podcasts that I am a part of I actually swapped out my Rode PodMic for the Tempest. Since I’m also the editor and production manager on this particular podcast I can get away with that kind of shenanigans. I was a little hesitant that the final product wouldn’t hold up to my usual recording. I will admit that the audio quality had a bit more of a room feel to it but honestly, it was really clean considering that it was capturing my audio in a room where I was also managing a live stream with two computers running, podcasting with two other virtual hosts and recording the audio on the Tempest. 

At the end of the day, I’m really impressed with how well the Tempest has handled capturing audio. Despite everything I have thrown at it over the past two weeks, the Tempest just keeps capturing great audio. It really does manage to capture a warm yet clean audio sample with its 34mm capsule. It's an impressive feat to accomplish with a USB-powered microphone.   

Final Thoughts

To answer the question I posed at the beginning of this review, the short answer is that I was dead wrong, and I've never been happier about it. The Tempest is not just a solid condenser mic, it's an excellent option for creators looking to setup up a recording or a live stream. More importantly, it has restored my faith in what a USB condenser mic can accomplish. If you are looking to update your existing setup or want to start creating something new, the Tempest USB microphone will help you get there. The Tempest Large-diaphragm Studio Condenser USB microphone from 512 Audio offers a professional high-quality microphone solution at a reasonable price of $159.99 USD and is one that I would highly recommend.  

The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.

9.0Amazing
Pros
  • Excellent design and build quality
  • Everything you need to get started is in the box
  • Amazing audio capture and monitoring
  • Easy setup means more time creating
Cons
  • Limited to black


Nexfury

Matthew Keith

Hailing from the Great White North, Matt's been playing games since the Sega Master System was new. About 20 minutes after picking up his first controller he discovered he had an opinion on the matter. Ever since he has been looking for ways to share it with others! Matt's a pastor, gamer, writer, geek, co-host of @Rollthelevel podcast, husband, father, and loving every minute of it!