REVIEW: PreSonus Revelator USB microphone

Is the new PreSonus microphone all the transducer you need to make quality voice recordings? Music technology lecturer and author Stephen Bennett delivers the Audio Media International finds out…

What is it?
The Revelator USB is a multi-pattern condenser microphone that comes with a few software tricks up its metal sleeve.

Whats great?
The loopback feature is fantastic. The multiple polar patterns make the microphone useful in many environments. Great sound quality on voices and a fun and useful effects section.

Whats not?
Short USB cable. It’s not as acoustically isolated from the tabletop as much as I would like.

The bottom line:
If you are podcasting or undertaking any kind on Internet streaming, the PreSonus Revelator is a simple solution that’ll make your voice sound great. It also has enough ingest and monitoring features to create sophisticated radio and video broadcasts.

Although podcasting has seen a great upsurge in popularity in recent times, there are many other areas where a simple-to-use high quality microphone/preamplifier combo makes sense—even if you have a studio full of classic transducers and preamplifiers. Those making live streaming and gameplay videos, doing equipment reviews, producing videocasts and audiobooks or videoconferencing all could make use of an easily portable high-quality microphone. The PreSonus Revelator is such a product.

It’s a USB-powered condenser, about the size of a Coke bottle, and the supplied desktop stand gives it something of the look of a Star Wars Droid. Connectivity is via a USB-C socket on the microphones’ bottom—a short C to A lead is included—and there’s a 3.5mm Headphone monitor output there too. The level for this is controlled by the Volume knob on the front of the microphone, while this same control is also used to set the input level by simply pressing the Monitor button.

The microphone can be set to Cardioid, Figure of Eight or Omnidirectional patterns, making it an extremely flexible device. The Preset button on the front of the microphone hints at the extra features that the Revelator offers, and you’ll not be surprised to find there is a software package you need to download to make use of these.

Equipment: Build quality
The microphone itself sports some decent specifications—up to 96kHz 24 bit recording, a 20 Hz to 20 kHz plus or minus 3dB frequency range, a sensitivity of 1mV/Pa and a maximum SPL of 110 dB <3% THD.  The PreSonus software used to control the Revelator is where you define user presets and check input and output levels—the microphone is actually a fully-fledged USB interface and can provide a monitor output from the computer as well as latency-free input monitoring. Mute and monitor levels are on sliders, while a Pan control places the sound across the stereo field, assuming you’re recording in stereo.

The Loopback audio feature is really useful. It allows you to bring into the monitor stream up to three inputs alongside the mic itself. You could, for example, mix an incoming videoconference call, some added background music and a guest speaker all at the same time, so I could see the Revelator finding a lot of friends in the Internet radio world. Apropos of this, it’s more obvious then why there is an effects section present in the software.

There are fully featured filters, gates, compressors, EQs and Limiters that can be applied to the microphone input in real time. The Voice effect is a section where you can change the incoming pitch, add distortion and mangle the audio in myriads of ways while a nice sounding reverb completes the DSP effects. How much use this section will get really depends on how you plan to use the Revelator—but I did surprise my students by accidentally engaging the ‘Space Overlord’ preset mid-online class!

Equipment: Sound
The microphone itself sounds very good. It reproduced my voice with the gravitas expected from a seasoned academic—with a bit of judicious use of the effects section! I’d say the quality was easily as good as other microphones in a similar price range and better than most. It has advantages in this application over my go-to Jim Williams modded Rode NT1 with its multi pattern abilities and I also preferred the sound of the Revelator to the Aston Origin I had available. If you want to do more than just recording unprocessed voice, the Revelator is more useful than the Audio-Technica AT2020USB PLUS or Rode NT-USB. The Blue Yeti also has multiple polar patterns, but with less flexible software control—but I felt that the Presonus microphone had the edge on the sound.

Equipment: Daily use
Though the desktop stand is weighty and fitted with a soft base, it didn’t sufficiently protect the sound from knocks and bangs on my cardboard table—though it was more successful on a glass and steel one. As it was, I used the supplied adapter and attached it to a microphone stand. Otherwise, the microphone could not have been any easier to use—just plug it in, select it as your input microphone and you are good to go.

Equipment: The Bottom Line
If you are podcasting or engaging in any voice-based Internet shenanigans, the PreSonus Revelator should be high on your shopping list—especially if you’re going portable. The three polar patters will enable you to take advantage of whatever space you are recording in, while the multi-input mixing features and audio effects turn it into a flexible and functional real-time streaming device.

Available now – £169, $231 (with Studio One Artist and Studio Magic Plugins).