A trio of controls set conveniently on the Profile’s front side lets you easily dial in levels on the fly. There’s a knob at the top for mic input; a headphone volume knob at the bottom; and in between, a mixer knob to adjust the balance between the mic’s direct output and your computer output. That last inclusion is great for video calls, letting you fine-tune the mix between you and your caller to perfection.
Maybe the handiest feature for calls is the Profile’s onboard mute key, which glows a deep red when you’re muted or a friendly green when you’re not, assuring that other callers only hear you when you want them to. The LED also lights up orange if you push the Profile’s cardioid diaphragm to distortion, though you’ll really have to belt to get there. You’re more likely to distort on the digital side, especially if you’re using direct monitoring.
The only time I had to use any software settings was when I wanted to bypass the headphone output for my speakers. Of course, the lack of software means there are no extra effects or EQ, but that’s fine by me. Any decent digital audio workstation offers plug-in options built in, and you’ll likely find there’s no need to EQ the Profile anyway.
It’s worth pointing out that there’s no way to change the mic’s polar pattern, but unless you’re hoping to share it with a colleague or use it as a room mic, this shouldn’t matter much.
To start things with a bang, I recorded what may well be the silliest fake podcast intro in the genre’s short history. My goals were twofold: to evaluate the mic’s overall sound signature and to see how much pop and proximity effect (extra bass when you’re close to the mic) the Profile incurs at different distances. Making my wife roll her eyes was just a bonus.
I did most of my recording at the basic 44.1 kHz and a 16-bit depth, which produces smaller files for basic setups, but you can step up to 44.8 kHz at 24 bits.
The primary takeaway is that the Profile sounds phenomenal for spoken recordings. My silly little monologs, which absolutely included a run of Peter Piper’s peppers, sounded wonderfully smooth, clear, and balanced. I listened over headphones, monitors, and my Mac’s onboard speakers, the latter of which are less forgiving for poor recordings than you might think.
You can probably get away without a pop filter if you back off the Profile and speak carefully, but if you’re serious about your craft, you’ll more than likely have a heavy breath or a hard-popped consonant to try and fix later. Your safest bet is just to filter them out to begin with.
I also did some basic vocal and guitar recording, including both simultaneously, and the Profile stepped up nicely. Centering the mic between instruments, it picked up great definition with a remarkably steady output for a piece of hardware that starts comfortably close to $100. If you’re doing much more than song demos, I’d still recommend considering a standard microphone and interface, but the Profile did a swell job for a stand-alone setup at this price.
I took multiple video calls with the Profile over a couple of weeks, and again the results pleased my ears as well as those of my callers. One colleague told me I sounded like I was “in the room,” and WIRED editor Parker Hall said the Profile sounded like a Shure SM7B, a legendary studio and radio standby. On my side, I found myself really enjoying the dulcet tones the Profile produced, which probably made me a more willing and happy participant.
While I wish Sennheiser would have included a couple more accessories in the Stream Set, the Profile is a fantastic microphone for multiple use cases. Whether you’re building an entry-level studio, getting into podcasting or live-streaming, or simply looking to spruce up your video chats, Sennheiser’s entry-level option is a killer way to raise your game without breaking the bank.