The lavalier is a very underrated microphone, with a compact design that lets you clip a mic onto your subject and record clean dialogue, all without obstructing their face or taking up any desk space. Lavs are common workhorses in theater and film productions, and the Sennheiser XS Lav USB-C brings the technology to the every-person. This is an affordable lavalier that anyone can use—from content creators to desk jockeys working from home.
Who is the Sennheiser XS Lav USB-C for?
- Low-budget filmmakers who need an inexpensive lav mic for low or no-budget narrative and documentary projects.
- YouTubers, vloggers, or any online media content creator can find creative ways to use this mic.
- People working from home who need a good microphone for conference calls.
- Students and teachers looking for a good quality microphone for online classes.
How is the build quality of the Sennheiser XS Lav USB-C?
Sennheiser is no stranger to high-quality lavaliers, and this lav is no exception. A hard plastic shell encases the microphone capsule, and it feels durable enough to withstand repeated handling. An included foam windscreen prevents wind from interfering with your voice, and provides an additional layer of protection from bumps. The windscreen is easy to install and remove, though it might accidentally slip off in a kit full of other supplies.
Start here: What type of microphone do I need?
The microphone also includes a removable plastic clip, so you can quickly and easily attach the mic to clothing. Surprisingly, the clip here is sturdy and comparable to that included with the Sennheiser ME 2-II, a premium lavalier used on professional film sets.
The Sennheiser XS Lav USB-C connects to devices using a USB-C cable. The slim and flexible build lets you re-wrap the cable as many times as you need, without fear of forming major kinks or having it break apart after a month of online calls. The thick-plastic enclosure of the USB-C connector provides adequate protection and doubles as a solid grip point when you connect it to a device.
What’s it like to use the Sennheiser XS Lav USB-C?
The Sennheiser XS Lav USB-C is a simple plug-and-play affair. It’s compatible with any USB-C-equipped Android, Windows, macOS, and iPadOS device.
Unfortunately, iOS devices don’t officially support the Sennheiser XS Lav USB-C. This is largely a consequence of how the iPhone still uses Apple’s Lightning port. However, the company also sells the Sennheiser XS Lav Mobile, which uses a 3.5mm TRRS connection for you to connect it to a dongle adapter. The headphone jack version is also $10 cheaper than the USB-C model, which may appeal to those on tighter budgets.
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Since this lav works with virtually any USB-C device, you can record good audio at a moment’s notice. When I need to record a quick self-tape video for work, or even for a film festival electronic press kit, I reach for the XS Lav USB-C and record directly onto my iPad Air. This is the quickest and easiest solution with few compromises, especially when juggling multiple projects.
Sennheiser is specifically marketing the XS Lav USB-C towards content creators. However, anyone who needs a reliable microphone for online meetings and conference calls (which in this case is most of us nowadays) may be interested in it too, and for good reason: it’s silly simple to use.
Thanks to the microphone’s plug-and-play design, I can set up the microphone and log into a Zoom meeting in less than 30 seconds, and feel confident that everyone can hear me clearly. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that the Sennheiser XS Lav USB-C sounds like a broadcast-quality microphone, but it’s certainly worlds better than what’s built into my MacBook Pro.
How does the Sennheiser XS Lav USB-C sound?
The sound quality of the Sennheiser XS Lav USB-C is surprisingly good, considering how it’s priced well below $100 USD. Vocals come through clearly, making the microphone very useful for professional phone calls, casual content creation, or even a no-to-low-budget film set.
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The microphone’s omnidirectional polar pattern is forgiving. You can turn your head a bit with it on and not worry about the direction change affecting the volume of your voice. Additionally, the windscreen effectively prevents light wind from mucking up the recording.
Recordings with the Sennheiser XS Lav USB-C are a little quiet, though you can easily fix that by adjusting the volume in your recording software or voice chat client. There also seems to be some low-frequency attenuation. While this kind of frequency response has its place, those with low-pitched voices may sound a bit “distant.” Regardless, speech intelligibility is a nonissue.
Again, the XS Lav USB-C is targeted at more casual users and we don’t expect professionals to fawn over its sound quality.
Sennheiser XS Lav USB-C microphone sample:
Sennheiser XS Lav USB-C microphone sample with fan:
Hold up! Something’s missing:
This section is typically where we display a frequency response chart to show you exactly where the audio output shines and where its deficiencies lie. Unfortunately, we’ve hit a technical snag in our testing. To combat this, we have an SCM-3 mic and we’ll be adding a speaker with standardized output samples to update our testing and data collection. It will take a while to reach our office in Canada, but we will update this review (and many others!) once we’re able with improved sound quality measurements and performance plots. These will be made obvious by an announcement explaining the change, and a new chart aesthetic.
Thank you for bearing with us, and we hope to see you again once we’ve sorted everything out.
Should you buy the Sennheiser XS Lav USB-C?
If you’re looking for an affordable lavalier microphone, you’d be hard-pressed to find something better than the Sennheiser XS Lav USB-C.
For roughly $60 USD, Sennheiser’s little lav offers content creators a reliable option that won’t break the bank, or break after everyday use. It’s compatible with your USB-C device of choice, and sounds good enough for low-budget filmmakers and even YouTubers.
The Sennheiser XS Lav USB-C is also a great choice for people who need a good microphone for Zoom calls, especially when virtual classes and meetings are still the norm. Its simple design is foolproof and makes it appealing for anyone who wants to sound good, but doesn’t have the time or care to invest in a more robust mic setup.
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