When it comes to USB condenser microphones, there are a few brands that have stood out: Blue, Rode, Audio-Technica and in more recent years, Razer. Now, Cougar has entered the fray with a microphone of their own called the Screamer-X and it’s possibly one of the most versatile pieces of audio equipment that would be an asset to any content creator’s setup.
Before we dive into the review though, here are the technical specifications:
- Power Consumption: 5V /130mA
- Sample/Bit Rate: 96kHz/24bit
- Drivers: Three COUGAR exclusive 16mm Condensers
- Patterns: Cardioid, Shotgun, Bi-directional, Omni-directional
- Freq. Response: 20Hz-20kHz
- Sensitivity: -45+/-3dB (at 1kHz)
- Max SPL: 120db
- Dimensions: 100x75x193mm (134x136x257mm w/ stand)
- Weight: 310g (799g w/ stand)
- Connection: USB-C to USB-A
- Cable Length: 3m
RGB Stand/USB 3.0 Hub
- Power Consumption: 5V / 280mA at RGB Lighting
- USB Transfer Type: High Speed USB 3.0
- Connection: USB-C to USB-A Cable
- Dimension: 134x136x146mm
- Weight: 489g
- Cable Length: 1.2m
- Connection: 3.5mm Output
- Impedance: 32Ohms
- Freq. Response: 20Hz-20kHz
- Power Output: 120mW
- SNR: 96dB
When unboxing the microphone, you’ll notice that it’s quite an attractive piece of hardware thanks to its use of matte black and silver. Everything in the box is also packaged quite nicely, fitting into a foam mould, keeping everything safe and secure. Another thing that’s actually great is that Cougar has included a pop filter in the package. This clips quite easily onto the body of the microphone and also matches the overall aesthetic. You can attach another pop filter to the Screamer-X, but with how easy it is to install and remove the included one, I’m not sure why you would ever want to. Additionally, there’s a stand included which not only holds your microphone while in use but is also designed to reduce vibration, plus it doubles as a USB 3.0 hub, which makes up for the port that it takes up. It also has built-in RGB lighting, which can be adjusted to suit the aesthetic of your setup.
The Cougar Screamer-X is incredibly easy to set up. Since it features a USB interface, it’s as simple as connecting the included cable to the microphone itself and into to your PC or laptop. Even mounting it on the stand just requires you to slip the microphone into the provided space and the rubber grips will hold it firmly in place. The part of the stand that holds the Screamer-X can also be adjusted to change the angle at which the microphone is positioned. The best part is that no matter the angle it’s adjusted to, the stand is pretty weighty and won’t go tipping over if you happen to bump it while in use. If you’re upgrading your existing setup, the Screamer-X also includes a thread screw adapter so that it can be fitted to an existing microphone stand or boom arm.
Next, let’s talk about the audio quality of the Cougar Screamer-X which is legitimately quite something. This microphone is pretty much ready to go as soon as it’s been installed with no further tweaking needed. With my current microphone, a CAD U37, I’ve set it up using filters from a digital audio workstation software called Reaper in order to apply noise reduction, a compressor and more to deliver better audio quality. It’s a fair amount of tweaking, but it pays off when you hear the difference. As mentioned before, the Screamer-X needs no such tweaking and sounds pretty incredible right out of the box. Sure, you’re welcome to tinker with the filters, if you so please, but for those who are inexperienced with audio filters, it’s perfectly fine right off the bat.
While the Screamer-X offers fantastic audio quality, it’s also rather versatile because of how it can be adjusted on the fly for a range of different uses. There’s a dial on the front of the microphone that changes the polar pattern to pick up audio from various directions and is suited for the kind of recording you may want to do. Cardioid is the first option, which captures audio from the front and is suited for streaming and recording podcasts. Shotgun is the next option and also picks up audio from the front, but the pickup range is narrower; this is best used for voiceovers, solo podcasts and streaming. The last two settings on the dial record from multiple directions; they are the Bi-Directional and Omni-Directional options. The first one is quite self-explanatory as it captures from the front and back of the microphone and is great for recording interviews, instruments and vocal duets. The Omni-Directional setting captures audio from the front and back of the microphone just like the Bi-Directional pattern, but also from the left and right side, which is the perfect setting for recording multi-person podcasts and conferences. The Cougar Screamer-X’s versatility is fantastic, making it incredibly easy to recommend for not just streamers but a host of other types of content creators.
The Screamer-X also features some nice little bonus features, that make it a really amazing package. As mentioned before, it includes a pop filter in the box that can be easily attached and removed, but it also has an internal pop filter, meaning that you can capture your audio without really having to worry about harsh plosives ruining everything. Additionally, you won’t have to wait until you’re done recording to discover any hiccups with your audio since there’s a 3.5mm audio jack that you can plug your headphones into, allowing for real-time monitoring of your audio. There’s even a nifty mute button at the very top of the microphone that audibly clicks when muting and unmuting audio, plus, a red line lights up, which adds a visible indicator that the audio is disabled.
Last but not least, we have the Noise Reduction switch, which can be found at the base of the Screamer-X. This switch will activate the microphone’s onboard algorithm, which will pick up your vocals but will filter out any unwanted environmental noise. It’s quite a nice addition since this is usually achieved by installing a noise gate via software such as Reaper or done post-recording. It does work pretty well, but there is a bit of a caveat: it’s a little aggressive. The Noise Reduction eliminates unwanted noise in recordings, but it also tends to remove some of the beginnings and ends of words, making it sound a little unnatural. It’s quite a small issue though since even without activating Noise Reduction, it manages to capture some outstanding audio.
Overall, the Cougar Screamer-X is incredible. While the Noise Reduction can be a little hit or miss, everything else that this microphone brings to the table is nothing short of amazing. It captures audio with fantastic quality right out of the box and is so versatile, that it can be used in a range of different situations, from streaming to voiceovers and even recording instruments. The Cougar Screamer-X is possibly the best microphone I’ve ever had the pleasure of using, making it ridiculously easy to recommend to anyone in the market for a USB condenser microphone, be it their first one or an upgrade to an existing setup.
Value for Money9/10 Amazing
- Looks stylish
- Outstanding audio quality right out of the box
- Extremely versatile
- RGB base doubles as a USB hub
- Onboard noise reduction can be somewhat aggressive