TONOR TC-777 USB Microphone Review
Today, I will be looking at the TONOR TC-777 USB Microphone and I’ll be giving me thoughts on setup, usage, and just my overall opinion on the product.
TLDR: Taking all the tests performed, the quality, and just my time with the microphone, I can honestly say I have come away impressed with the TC-777.
I was sent this product by TONOR for review. I was not otherwise compensated, and the opinions expressed in this review are purely and totally my own. Thanks to TONOR for reaching out and providing the TC-777 microphone for review!
The microphone box arrived in a medium sized padded envelope on a rainy day, and I was happy to find everything inside was intact and dry. The box itself is nice and compact, showing off the finished assembly of the TC-777 microphone on the front.
The box itself opens by removing some tape on the bottom and pulling off the top of the box. The inside of the box is nicely padded and everything is easily accessible. The microphone comes already in the included stand and shock mount, with the only assembly required being screwing in the included small pop filter. The amount of padding included in the box is reassuring, as it means the microphone is unlikely to get damaged in transit.
Inside the box is the TC-777 USB microphone; a small plastic stand with a built-in shock mount, goose neck for a pop filter, and nice sturdy metal legs; a small pop filter that screws into the goose neck in the stand; an instruction manual; and a two year service card. All of this in a box that is quite a bit smaller than a shoe box.
I really like the design of the microphone. It has a more squared off shape rather than the cylindrical shape seen on most microphones, and I actually find I prefer the square shape while holding the microphone in my hand. The square shape makes it easier to keep the microphone steady and not rolling in the hand, which is especially important because this microphone uses a cardioid pickup pattern. Essentially, this means that it is optimized to pick up sounds in front of the microphone, and sounds behind the microphone are much more muted. This pattern is great for noise isolation, as often you only want the microphone to pickup what is being said directly at it, not background noise happening behind or around it. This is a very common pickup pattern for microphones, and it is great to see this here with the TC-777.
Another thing I really like with the TC-777 is that it is a USB microphone rather than using an audio jack. Many computers these days have sound cards built-in to their motherboards that can take a audio jack, like the headphone jack but for audio, but these sound cards are often not a priority when these motherboards are designed. These headphone-like inputs take the analog pulses from the microphone and convert it to digital soundwaves that the computer can understand, but the quality of this conversion varies and because it is often not a priority, the finished audio may suffer as a result. USB microphones work around this issue by converting the raw audio input from the microphone internally using integrated electronics. Because microphone producers know how important audio quality is to the product, the integrated chips they use in microphones are often much better than those in common motherboards, leading to much better audio. So all of that is to say, I’m really happy to see that TONOR is using USB here, instead of relying on the audio input jack and motherboard sound cards.
The one thing I do not like with the USB solution is the use of a integrated USB cable. While having the USB cable integrated into the microphone is convenient as you never forget where the cable is, from a durability perspective, I would have liked to a USB slot instead and a USB to USB cable included. Thankfully, the included cable does appear to be nicely integrated into the microphone and has a decently thick cable, so while it is not my preference, I am confident the cable will be durable enough for common use. If something does get damaged, USB cables are relatively easy to fix with a little soldering, assuming you are okay with a DIY solution.
Another thing I should note is that the TC-777 does not come with a XLR output, it only has USB. I would not have expected an XLR output though, and because of the additional setup and hardware required for XLR, I think this is fine. I personally do not have the setup for XLR anyway, so even if it did have an XLR output, I would be unable to test it. Since this microphone is aimed at those looking to increase their audio with a “plug-and-play” solution, accord to the Amazon listing, not having an XLR output makes sense and would have only increased the cost of production.
The included stand is nice and sturdy, especially with the metal legs. There is no height adjustment, but because it is a condenser microphone, it should pick up your voice just fine even if your face is not level and directly pointed at the microphone. I would much rather have nice sturdy feet than height adjustable ones, and I think TONOR made the right call here with the solid metal legs.
Extra Tidbit: Condenser vs. Dynamic
There are two main types of microphone technologies used when it comes to microphones: condenser and dynamic.
Condenser microphones are generally much more sensitive to sounds, pickup sounds better, and the audio produced is generally on the warmer side. Part of this is thanks to condenser microphones having a nice wide range and several different pickup patterns they can utilize. On a whole, condenser microphones are used for picking up rich, full bodied audio, and because of this they are used for all sorts of applications.
However, that is not to say condenser microphones do not have their downsides. Condenser microphones are typically more fragile than dynamic microphones, so in situations where the microphone may be damaged (like weather reports, for example) dynamic microphones are preferred due to their higher durability. Additionally, because condenser microphones pickup a wider range and are more sensitive, they also better at picking up background noise. This makes good noise isolation important when using condenser microphones, as otherwise it will pickup unwanted sounds. If you live an a noise environment, this could become an issue, though you can work around many of these issues with post processing.
On the other hand, there are dynamic microphones. These microphones are very durable, have a much more narrow range, and have a stronger noise falloff. Dynamic microphones tend to sound colder when compared to condenser microphones, giving a more “radio-like” sound. Dynamic microphones are excellent at discarding background noise though, and combined with their increased durability, this makes them useful for a variety of cases. Dynamic microphones are often used in news broadcasting, in live performances, and in live events or podcasts, all situations that strive to minimize background noise.
Dynamic microphones have disadvantages as well, the first and foremost being that they require the audio source to be pointed directly at the microphone input, with very little distance. This means you have to get nice and close to the microphone for it to pickup your voice clearly. This limits what you can do while recording, and for some, the lack of distance can make it feel like you have to “eat” the microphone for it to pick up your voice. Another downside of dynamic microphones are the previously mentioned tendency to sound cold. Vocals don’t sound quite as warm or full, which is why in studio recordings, condenser microphones are often used instead for audio quality reasons.
There is a lot of discussion about the differences between condenser and dynamic microphones, and I am by no means an audio expert, so I would highly recommend you do additional research if you are interested in learning more.
That said, hopefully this has helped a bit on explaining the difference between the two technologies and the applications they may have. For most people, it doesn’t matter too much which type of microphone you use, as the home environment is relatively quiet anyway. If you live in a noisy environment, you may want to consider looking into dynamic microphones or learning the post processing steps to remove background noise when using a condenser microphone, while if you live in a quiet environment, the audio benefits of using a condenser microphone may be more appealing.
One final thing I should note though: the “colder vs warmer” issue around microphones also depends on the listener. Some people like how dynamic microphones sound over condenser microphones and vice versa. It really depends on the individual. When looking into microphones, I would suggest listening to audio samples and seeing which you prefer.
The rubber feet on the stand help not only keep the microphone in place, but also help dampen vibrations a bit. Combined with the included shock mount, the stand included with the TC-777 does a decent job at eliminating vibration sounds while recording. Reducing vibrations is important because otherwise these vibrations will be caught by the microphone and be part of the outputted audio. The included shock mount is quite small but it holds the microphone nicely in the air. I found rotating the microphone so the TONOR label was facing the side, rather than facing the goose neck, made a more snug fit and also made it easier to adjust the pop filter into position.
Speaking of the goose neck and pop filter, I have mixed feelings about it. The goose neck itself is attached to the shock mount that holds the microphone, and this is a mixed blessing. One one hand, it keeps the pop filter in place even when adjusting the microphone, which is a huge plus. On the other hand, it also limits the adjusting you can do with the pop filter and its position around the microphone. I haven’t decided if I like it or not, but regardless, it does take some getting used to. I certainly do not think it is a bad thing though. Once you get it in place, it is quite convenient, but it can be fiddly to get it into a nice position. Including a pop filter does make creating content faster, especially if you did not have a pop-filter prior, and the pop filter does seem to be decent quality, so I cannot complain too much.
The microphone itself is made of metal and has a nice blue finish. It has a nice matte finish rather than gloss, which I appreciate because then it doesn’t pick up as many finger prints. It is small enough to be easily held in the hand and, as I mentioned early, it has a nice square shape that makes it easy to hold. The microphone comes with an already pulled-over black foam windscreen. Mine came a little deformed, but a quick massage fixed it and it looks great.
The USB cable is a USB 2 cable. It is nice and long, so it can reach your computer’s USB ports. It is 150cm long according to TONOR, and if you need additional length, USB extensions should work great for getting the USB wherever you need it. The microphone is compatible with all major desktop platforms, including Windows, MacOS, and Linux. I actually initially tested the microphone with Ubuntu Linux, 20.04, and it worked out of the box with no additional drivers or software. TONOR states it also works with the PlayStation 4, though I do not have one so I cannot test this claim. One final thing to note is that this microphone is not compatible with iOS devices, nor the Xbox.
When looking at a microphone, something everyone understandably wants to know is how it sounds. Now, I should say right off that everyone has their own preferences and opinions when it comes to audio and audio quality, and I am no different. I will be giving my opinion on the audio tests, but please keep in mind that everyone has different preferences, so your millage may vary.
With that out of the way, let’s look at some samples.
The first thing I wanted to test is how it picks up sounds, especially when left on my desk. This is because, at least for me, the majority of what I use a microphone for is conversing with others via the internet. Being able to place the microphone on my desk is important, as then I can use my hands for other things, like typing, playing games, or even streaming.
So, for this reason, I wanted to do two tests at the same time. The first thing I wanted to test is how it picks up my voice and what it sounds like, while also testing how my voice changes with distance. To test this, I jumped onto the Wikipedia page for Pangram and read the eight listed short pangrams aloud.
The recordings were all performed with the TC-777 at 80% sensitivity, which in my testing seems to be the sweet spot between not picking up any background noise (I live in a noisy environment) while still catching what I am saying clearly. Additionally, to help with consistency, I tried to read the pangrams simply as they are written for consistency when comparing the recordings. Also, its because it was late at night when I did these recordings, I spoke perhaps a tad quieter than I may otherwise, simply because I didn’t want to wake anyone. That said, I was speaking at the volume I normally speak at when conversing to friends at say, a nice small gathering. The included pop filter, windscreen, and stand were used in these recordings.
Here are the eight sentences I read out:
- “Waltz, bad nymph, for quick jigs vex”
- “Jived fox nymph grabs quick waltz”
- “Glib jocks quiz nymph to vex dwarf”
- “Sphinx of black quartz, judge my vow” (which I have to say, is a badass pangram)
- “How vexingly quick daft zebras jump!”
- “The five boxing wizards jump quickly”
- “Jackdaws love my big sphinx of quartz”
- “Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs”
First, here’s the raw recording of me saying the above sentences from my desk, about a foot and a half away form the mic, which is roughly where my chair sits when typing:
Here’s the same recording, but normalized to -6db:
Next, here’s the raw recording of me saying the eight sentences with the microphone very close, about an inch, to my face.
Finally, here’s the same recording normalized to -6db:
Now, it can be hard to determine the quality from these recordings alone, so I wanted to share my thoughts based on these recordings, before moving to a simple comparison with some other microphones I own.
Honestly, I can say that the TC-777 picks up my voice really well, even when I am not necessarily projecting my voice towards the microphone. With a little post processing, like the normalizing, it sounds crisp even when I am speaking regularly. I am honestly quite pleased with how well it picks up my voice and how my voice sounds. The quality of the recording is just as good, if not better, than the microphone I have been using (an AudioTechnica ATR2100), but unlike my old microphone, I do not have to practically eat the microphone for it to hear me. It does pick up a bit more background noise, but not as much as I had feared. Based on my tests during daylight hours and speaking normally, the TC-777 does a great job and sounds even better. Here’s a sample (normalized to -6db) of my saying the pangrams aloud, during daylight hours with normal activity going on around me:
Like the other samples, I used the pop filter, stand, and windscreen. The microphone was about, give or take, an inch or so away from my face. While recording, the door to the room was open and the windows, of which there are two about three-ish feet away, had the curtains drawn. Outside there was someone mowing or something. As you can hear, the TC-777 didn’t pick anything expect my voice up, despite these conditions.
So, in my opinion, the quality the audio the TC-777 produces is great. Compared to the microphones included on web-cameras and even some phones, the TC-777 sounds notably better in my opinion. It doesn’t pick up too much background noise, which is great for home environments where you may not have good noise isolation. Additionally, the TC-777 works great with Audacity, my audio editing program of choice, allowing for quick cleanup if needed. Here’s the recording above, but with various filters and effects applied to give it a totally different, radio-like recording sound that you might use with an abandoned radio in a horror game:
The audio produced by the TC-777 worked just fine when editing and I didn’t have any issues with it. While the sample above is not terribly useful for game development, with the proper lyrics, not just reading pangrams, I am positive the TC-777 would do a great job for game development recordings.
In my testing, I didn’t have any issues with the audio clipping out with the sensitivity at 80%, even when speaking loudly directly into the microphone. I didn’t try shouting or screaming, but I expect that in 96% or more of use cases you’d have when speaking with the microphone, the TC-777 isn’t going to have any problem.
I’m not a musician, so I cannot assess how well it picks up live instruments or how suitable it would be for singing, so if you are interested in either pursuit, I would suggest looking at other TC-777 reviews from those who are more experienced with these pursuits. That said, for what I need a microphone for, the TC-777 does a fantastic job.
Other Microphone Comparison Test
Next, let’s compare the TONOR TC-777 to some other microphones all listening to the exact same source, at the exact same volume, at the same distance. This should give an idea of the audio output from the microphone sounds. For this test, we’ll be comparing the TC-777 to the following microphones: an AudioTechnica ATR2100-USB and an iPhone 6 Plus. These are the other microphones I own and have on hand, so they’re what we’ll be using for this test.
That said, please note that this is NOT an apples to apples comparison. The ATR2100 is a dynamic USB microphone and the iPhone is a condenser microphone, but its small and intended to be used for recording audio to talk on the phone. This comparison is just to get an idea of how the TC-777 sounds when compared to some other microphones, so you can kinda get a feel for what it might sound like. All of the microphones are different and have different intended use cases, so please keep that in mind when listening to the audio samples.
With that out of the way, let’s cover what we’ll be playing. We will be playing a 20 second sample from Epic Song by BoxCat games, which you can find on the FreeMusicArchive right HERE. Here’s the sample we’ll be playing, which the only thing I’ve done is fade the audio in and out.
And this is the same audio, but normalized to -6db, which is what I normalized several of the microphone samples to.
To keep the audio consistent, the audio is being played by a single speaker, at the same volume and distance. The speakers are playing the audio at 12% volume, which for these speakers is about talking volume, and the microphones are placed as close to the speaker as possible without touching it. The audio is being sent to these speakers via the headphone jack on my computer. The input sensitivity for the TC-777 was left at 80%, the iPhone at its default, and the ATR-2100 at 100%.
One other thing to remember: the microphones are recording this from a speaker, not the true source. There will always be some quality loss just because of the speakers themselves, however, for this test, all three microphones will experience the same quality loss because they are using the same speakers. That said, if you are listening to the original source above on good speakers, the original source may sound way better simply because of the speakers you are using are higher quality than the ones I used. The original source is given just as a reference and shouldn’t be directly used to determine the microphone quality. Instead, the microphone outputs should be used when comparing, as they all are given the exact same audio input from the same speakers.
First, here’s what the iPhone 6 sounds like:
The only post processing applied was a normalization to -6db, but honestly this wasn’t really necessary as it didn’t really change anything. Because of that, the raw audio recording is not included simply because it is so subtle of a difference in the wave form, that it doesn’t really change anything.
Next, here’s the ATR-2100. The first clip is the raw audio, the second is the audio normalized to -6db. Remember, this is at 100% sensitivity!
Finally, here is the TC-777. The first clip is the raw audio, and the second is the audio normalized to -6db.
However, this sounded a bit muted in my opinion, and since this was just 80 percent, I decide to record the audio on the TC-777 again at 90%. This was sensitive enough that it was just starting to pick up the sound of my (rather loud) computer fans. The audio clip below was normalized to -6db.
At 90% the TC, in my opinion, it sounds much better and gets a much fuller recording.
So, based on these findings, how does the TC-777 hold up? In my opinion, after listening to the normalized recordings back to back, the TC-777 does a great job at getting the deeper, bass tones of the recording. The iPhone 6 plus recording sounds a little tinny, and the AudioTechnica ATR2100 sounds a bit hollow. Especially when comparing the TONOR TC-777 at 90% to the other samples, I think the recording it makes sounds clearer and is more pleasing to the ears.
That said, I do feel the TONOR TC-777 and the ATR2100 both didn’t pick up the high notes quite as well as the iPhone. However, the iPhone recording really doesn’t have the same bass as the either of the other two.
Something else to remember is that the TC-777 was just at 90% sensitivity. This could be increased again to 100%, and because of the increased sensitivity, I am sure it would have picked up the sound better. However, because of the noisy environment I am in, I didn’t want to crank it up that high, simply because I couldn’t ensure a quiet enough environment to get a quality, relatively noise free recording.
Finally, another thing to consider is the price. The iPhone 6 Plus is definately more expensive than the TC-777, and the ATR2100 was almost twice the price and didn’t come with anything beyond the microphone and a plastic stand. Compare that to the TC-777, which is an affordable 40$ (on Amazon as of when this was written), comes with a plastic stand with an included shockmount, includes a goose neck pop filter and windscreen, and sounds pretty great. I would say the TC-777 holds up really well against the other microphones I tested and I am honestly quite pleased with the audio output. I have no doubt that with just a bit of audio post processing knowledge, the TC-777 could be made to sound even better! I am really impressed.
Taking all the tests above, the quality, and just my time with the microphone, I can honestly say I have come away impressed. It isn’t without its short comings, but the TC-777 by TONOR is an impressive microphone that has a lot going for it. On Amazon, as of then this was written, it is listed as the #1 Best Seller in the Computer Microphones category and I can see why. It has great sounding audio at a reasonable price and the included extras really help you hit the ground quickly when producing audio.
I am impressed enough with the TC-777 that I will be using it for my own audio recordings moving forward, replacing the ATR2100 I bought. The small form factor of the TC-777 and the fact that it can pick up my voice while sitting on my desk are huge advantages and time savers. With my old microphone, I would have to hold it close to my face, but having the freedom to do things with my hands and have the mic on the desk is a huge boon. It does pick up a bit more background noise, though less than I would have thought going into this review. With a little work in Audacity, the little bits of background noise can easily be removed from recordings and for live recordings, I doubt anyone would even notice. The fact that it sounds just as good (if not better!) than my old microphone, makes the choice of the TC-777 for my current microphone that much easier.
For game development, like recording vocals for video game characters or noises to use in-game, the TC-777 should work great for this. Its small size is quite helpful for this purpose, as it is easier to move around and take with you when you need to record audio at different locations. I even found the TC-777 sounds pretty great when held in the hand with the included windscreen, just talking into it normally. If you needed, you could probably get away with leaving the stand behind, just be sure to keep it protected when moving it around so it doesn’t break.
I would say for anyone looking for a great USB condenser microphone for a reasonable price, the TC-777 is definitely a microphone to consider. Especially with the pandemic happening around the world, having an affordable option that sounds great and allows you to be heard by those online is really appealing. The included stand and other accessories work great for home offices (like mine!) and even in semi-noisy environments, at 80% sensitivity the TC-777 does a great job only picking up what I need it to. I think the TC-777 is has a lot going for it, and I can honestly recommend it to anyone looking for an affordable microphone.
If you’d like to buy this product for yourself, you can find links here:
- Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07WLWN2ZT
- TONOR site link: https://www.tonormic.com/products/tonor-tc-777-usb-microphone
Neither of these links are affiliate links and RandomMomentania does NOT get any benefits from your interaction with the links, nor purchases of the TC-777. These are just links to the product, kindly provided by TONOR, so you can check the TC-777 out if you want based on this review.
Thanks again to TONOR for providing the TC-777 Microphone for this review!
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