Laptop Mag Verdict
The JLab Talk offers excellent recording quality in a compact form factor and it does so at a low price.
Excellent recording quality
Lightweight and travel friendly
Sturdy and stylish design Multiple mounting options
Partially plastic construction
Controls are clunky
Why you can trust Laptop Mag
The JLab Talk is aimed at the Blue Yeti but it's more similar in size to one of my favorite USB microphones, the Blue Yeti Nano, a prestigious member of our Best USB microphone list. Will the JLab Talk make our list as well? We’re about to find out.
The JLab Talk is similar to its sibling, the JLab Talk Pro. The Talk, however, is smaller and chubbier. Like the Pro model, it has a satin black finish with a mix of plastic and metal materials, RGB lighting, and features four polar patterns, two more than the Nano and on par with the Blue Yeti. It looks like the smaller, thicker baby brother of the Talk Pro.
While there are similarities to Blue mics, the difference is in price, with the JLab Talk costing $59.40. The Blue Yeti costs $50 more, at $109.99, and the Nano costs $99.99. Although JLab markets the Talk as a rival to the Blue Yeti, it is most similar to the Nano in size.
JLab Talk design
The JLab Talk is a stubby mini-me version of the JLab Talk Pro that we recently reviewed. The unit is twinning in every way, with partial metal and plastic construction and a unique metal grill. The plastic doesn’t feel cheap or breakable, and like the Pro, it had me wondering if it’s really plastic. The unit itself is cylindrical with a neon-blue accent circle at the top of the grill.
On the mic center, you will find a large knob that sits within an indication ring light. The light turns red when depressed and muted, and blue when selecting polar patterns or raising the volume with the smaller knob that sits below.
To adjust the gain, you depress the smaller knob and it will turn the ring light green, indicating that you’re changing the microphone’s gain level. The controls are clunky and take a few seconds to get used to, but overall, you get a similar user experience as the Talk Pro.
The JLab Talk weighs in at just under a pound when in its stand and 0.4 pounds when the stand is removed. It measures 9.5 x 6.6 x 4.2 inches which is lightweight compared to the Blue Yeti Nano, which comes in at 1.3 pounds and measures 4.3 x 3.7 x 8.3 inches. The weight difference has to do with the Talk Pro’s partial plastic construction. Included with the JLab Talk Pro is a 9-foot USB-C-to-USB-A braided cable.
JLab Talk microphone quality
The squat JLab Talk is good-looking and easy to use, but how well does it record audio? To answer this, I made several recordings, calls and an appearance on a radio program, all while using the Jlab Talk. The stubby stylish microphone packs three condenser mics behind its grill. With that trio, you can choose from several polar patterns to record in cardioid, omnidirectional, stereo, and bidirectional. Support for 24 bits of depth, a sample rate of 96kHz, and 120 decibels of MAX SPL, allowed me to record some excellent audio.
I made several recordings with the JLabs Talk in Audacity and different environments. The recordings I made in my home office were very clear, with excellent timbre reproduction. The JLab Talk is sensitive to capturing quiet background noises like my laptop's fan and other ambient sounds. I lowered the gain and switched polar patterns, and the adjustments worked well as I recorded clearer audio with fewer background elements.
No matter which recording environment or situation, vocals were crystal clear; the bass and timbre of my voice were reproduced beautifully; the host of the radio show said my voice sounded very clear. Next, I hopped into a Google Meet with my daughter so she could ask for another raise in allowance. While I was busy saying no to her request, she said I sounded terrific and thought the chubby JLab Talk was cute, so she got the extra money (don’t judge me).
After my Google Meet, I moved out into my backyard to record. And like its sibling, the Talk Pro, I was impressed with how omnidirectional and bidirectional patterns picked up my voice even when I was sitting two to three feet away from the microphone. The similarities between the two microphones are endless. Overall, the recording quality of the JLab Talk is on equal footing with most professional microphones I’ve used in studios over the years. I give credit to the JLab team for tuning its mic to handle all the nuances of my voice, no matter how loud I spoke. I just wonder about the goal of selling both microphones, given how many similarities they share.
Like the JLab Talk Pro, the Talk is compatible with Mac and Windows 10 systems and is truly plug-and-play. Once mounted to your desk or connected to a boom arm, just plug it into your laptop’s USB port. From there, go into settings and select the unit in your audio and locations, and you’re good to start recording. There is no proprietary software, and you can use the JLab Pro with any audio recording app you own.
The JLab Talk is a pro-level microphone recommended to budget shoppers looking to step up their podcast or streaming game. To be quite frank, it’s so similar to the Pro that I would buy the Talk over the Talk Pro, especially if I were on a tight budget and wanted to save $90. The only significant difference is that the controls can feel clunky, but it doesn't take long to get used to.
For just $59.40, you’re getting a microphone that is equal to its more expensive relative and on par with the Blue Yeti Nano and Blue Yeti.
That said, if you’re in the market for a new USB microphone, the JLab Talk is a chunky choice worth considering.
Mark has spent 20 years headlining comedy shows around the country and made appearances on ABC, MTV, Comedy Central, Howard Stern, Food Network, and Sirius XM Radio. He has written about every topic imaginable, from dating, family, politics, social issues, and tech. He wrote his first tech articles for the now-defunct Dads On Tech 10 years ago, and his passion for combining humor and tech has grown under the tutelage of the Laptop Mag team. His penchant for tearing things down and rebuilding them did not make Mark popular at home, however, when he got his hands on the legendary Commodore 64, his passion for all things tech deepened. These days, when he is not filming, editing footage, tinkering with cameras and laptops, or on stage, he can be found at his desk snacking, writing about everything tech, new jokes, or scripts he dreams of filming.