Maonocaster E2: A budget audio studio for streamers and podcasters

maonocaster e2 single mic bundle

As podcasting and live streaming is taking the world by storm, more people are looking for the necessary equipment that delivers professional quality. Maono is among the few brands making a lot of noise, delivering a long list of products including microphones, headphones, audio interfaces, and studio accessories.

Most, if not all, podcasters, YouTubers, and gamers will find all their needs in the Maono line of products, including a newly launched podcast bundle taking the market head-on: the Maonocaster E2 A TikMic Kit, also known as the Maonocaster E2 Single Mic Bundle.

This roughly 2-kilogram, metal/ABS material, solid userbase provides an all-in-one package consisting of what you need to begin your work as a pro or looking to upgrade the quality of your live-streaming or content-creation audio and presenting the excellent sound quality necessary in today’s world of stiff competition. And you won’t need to buy anything else!

After launching their self-developed sound card, having the user in mind, and gathering feedback from across the globe, Maono has recapitulated the E2 to provide you with more integrating interfaces, a convenient platform through which you can deliver your work with more efficiency, and experience a practical method of work to render extra creativity. The Maonocaster is quite user-friendly, even for those who have never used such an audio device.

Let’s unbox

Maonocaster AME2 box

A specially designed Maono compact cardboard case brings to you your bundle, delivering an intriguing set of goodies in an impressively small-sized package. You will receive a Maono E2 audio interface and a PM320T microphone along with a stand. Accessories include an XLR cable, an op filter, earphones, a shock mount, and a number of other ordinary cables that are necessary for your daily usage.

The mic stand is easy to put together, height-adjustable, and the angle of the mic can also be adjusted based on your needs.

Don’t be overwhelmed at all as the items are Plug-and-Play with the necessary drivers easily found and installed, excellent for novices (like me). And finally, a full-blown music guide along with an easily understandable user manual are also provided.

Maonocaster AME2 box open

Starting with the interface

The E2 bundle core can be summarized in the sound interface where most of your functioning takes place. The interface is equipped with an XLR input, 3.5mm mic input, quarter-inch instrument able, an Aux input, a speaker monitor output, and two headphone jack inputs on the front side of the interface. You will have at your disposal three microphone settings for each of your mic inputs, which include 40 dB, 50 dB, and 60 dB gain options. These preamps are a major improvement over the E2’s predecessor, thus giving a lot of power audio power to work with and making it pretty much any microphone safe to use with this interface.

A USB port is incorporated in the interface allowing you to connect to other devices, such as a laptop, PC desktop, or a Mac. There is also a 5V DC charging socket. One drawback of the interface is that it does not automatically charge when connected to one of your abovementioned devices.

Keep in mind that the E2 needs to be fully charged and will be running on battery when in use, even when connected to your computer. One down point is the fact that the battery and computer connections are separate. Why is a fair question that Maono should answer. You’ll also need to recharge the interface even if you were docked into a computer.

maonocaster ame 2 side

Interface features

The E2 sound interface provides you with six knobs, three of which are allocated to EQ: one is for instrument volume, the second for adjusting pitch, and the third is used to monitor the output volume. The two large dials located on either sides of the E2 sound interface are associated to AUX input and the output volume.

The interface panel has four buttons, three of which are used for recording up to one-minute-long samples, leaving the last to function as a looping button for recorded samples. There are another eight buttons also used to record samples, which are up to 20 seconds in duration. These buttons can be very useful when streaming on platforms, including Twitch, that allows you to loop instruments for your intro, along with loading a number of samples to create various effects, made possible in the interface’s eight different knobs.

The interface has two faders on the left side that are used to adjust the input levels of two microphone inputs. This is extremely useful during podcasts, providing you the ability to adjust the two microphones separately based on the level and tone of your guest and yourself with ease.

The Maonocaster E2 interface is also able to pair via Bluetooth with other devices. If you look at the right side of the face you will see three knobs designed to control the Pad Volume, Depth, and Decay Time. The Bluetooth capability makes it easier for musicians to play music while they sing over it. The amount of control musicians enjoy with the E2 to adjust their various sounds is truly praised.

maonocaster e2 front panel

Pad Volume controls the volumes of the present three plus eight buttons. The two knobs of Depth and Decay Time are used to reverb presents. And next to it you will find the sidechain button, being a highly useful feature able to duck the playing music volume when you begin speaking into the microphone.

There is a quite interesting music-only button used to remove the background track’s vocal noises. Moving on, we have the dry-wet button that, when activated, is used to filter out purely the dry signal for the microphone input and outputs. And system sounds are recorded with the loopback button and the connection is through a USB-C cable. Last but not least, background noise is filtered out through the denoise button.

However, keep in mind this denoise button will not be able to keep out the screams of four-year-old niece running into your podcast session, with your neighbor’s dog right on her tail. Believe me, talking from experience here.

Sound quality

Decent sound quality is an understatement, especially for listening back and checking. As far as listening while you’re speaking, this may take some practice as a somewhat half-a-second delay in live recording/listening might trip you off at first.

The microphone included is a Cardioid polar pattern mic, which looks to pick up sound from the front of the microphone, whilst minimizing any sound coming from behind it. Cardioid and its variations are known as ‘directional’ patterns because they can be pointed in the direction of sound sources. The mic comes with a stand, but you can install it on a microphone arm if you prefer.

maono pm320 xlr microphone

If you already have a professional microphone, you might prefer using that over the $75 mic provided in the Bundle. Of course, the provided PM320T XLR condenser mic is ideal for those on tight budgets. This might not be considered the best-built mic, but the sound is adequate and sensitive enough that you won’t be needing to increase the E2’s gain to take full advance of it.

Singers might take a better look at the microphone quality—and maybe even the E2 in general—and prefer a more professional type. For podcasters and streamers, this will work out just fine. A professional friend of mine recommends the Maono PM325 or PM360 microphones.

The power of the XLR microphone is extremely powerful and despite having an eight-hour battery life, the sound quality is not altered at all, and the delivery is quite true. By the way, considering the high quality of XLR mics, the fact that the E2 comes with only one XLR input was a bummer for me. Although, adding another XLR input would make the entire board significantly larger than its current dimensions. However, one option be for Maono to replace their current instrument jack with an XLR combo jack. This way you can have the best of both worlds, allowing you to add either a second XLR mic or an instrument.

Into more detail

An autotune button is also featured in the audio interface, allowing users to tune their voice in any of the labeled 12 keys. Singers live streaming on any social media platform will find this feature quite useful.

The included earphones are not perfect, but still deliver acceptable quality along with hybrid ANC, being active noise-cancellation: using small mics to seek out ambient noises and cancelling them out. While struggling to perform a good bass response, the earphones do balance the mids and highs quite well. The earphones’ structural build is, to be honest, merely average considering the fact that the wires cannot cope with rough handling due to their poor durability.

One already mentioned good feature is the Plug-and-Play style of the sound driver. Maonocaster E2 is automatically paired with your system as the sound driver is detected routinely after the interface is plugged. You are able to use any audio process or streaming software, such as Adobe Audition and OBS, following the automatic detection process.

maonocaster e2 front panel

Digital signal transmission and customizable special effect sound make the E2 interface all the more user-friendly, especially once you get into the groove of live streaming music. Ten-level digital reverb allows you to create different programs emulating natural or unnatural spaces and save presets for later recall to save vital time. And finally, human voice can be adjusted with the E2’s electronic sound function.

If you specialize in storytelling voiceovers, you could use the reverb settings to add some depth to the characters’ dialogue or take it one step further by creating an entire scene based off them.

A major plus in the E2 is the loop-back feature. This essentially allows you to record every bit of audio entering your device onto your track in your recording device or recording software. Therefore, all your mics, your PC, and any other connected device will go straight into the track, whereas usually anything from the PC wouldn’t get recorded.

On a negative note, the sound pad of the interface can be a bit finicky and doesn’t seem to respond all the time when trying to record something new. They work most of the time when pressing them to replay the sound, but it can become a process to actually record something. If the sound pad could also enjoy the loop capability as the A-B-C inputs do, it would be a major addition to the E2 in general. And, I don’t mean to be grinch, but I didn’t figure out why the volume of the sound pad was generally very low, even with the pad volume all the up. Furthermore, it would have been nice if Maono had also incorporated a micro SD card slot for recording as the device is portable.

The interface, while having a major plus in being very light and portable, does not come with a traveling case. For some users, especially a few that I know, this leaves the interface vulnerable during commuting.

What’s the cost?

maonocaster e2 unboxed

The Maonocaster E2 Single Mic Bundle can be purchased at around $170. At this price range you will not find any other podcasting bundle device that delivers the features found in the E2.

For those looking to their podcast, online streams, and/or radio shows up and running, the Maonocaster E2 A TikMic Kit provides what you need in one package. This interface is very user-friendly and allows you to get off the ground into your desired activities within a matter of minutes. You save valuable time and effort, are freed to focus on escalating content value for your audience, and engaging them rather than being annoyed by glitches and confusing operations.

At $170 it is a smart buy as the E2 interface provides four audio mixing channels along with easy connections to various devices, including microphones, smartphones, and others. This package, thanks to its advanced engineering features, provides users with the ability to easily control sound levels in smooth fashion and add place vocal and sound effects in live manner. This is all made possible thanks to a comprehensive tools package relieving you from the stress of post-production and editing duties.

By the way, Maono could consider a pro-version of the E2 in which the abovementioned shortcomings can be resolved. This would be ideal for those who are willing to pay an extra $50 or $100. All the while, for those on a budget, this current E2 version is quite something in and of itself!

All in all, the Maonocaster E2 A TikMic Kit is easy to set up, super-compact, portable, user friendly, not all that expensive, and an ideal mixing station that can help those of you music creators capture ideas very quickly. This is a great entry-level audio interface with features fitting everyone, especially for those who want to livestream or upload audio on YouTube or other content-creation platforms.

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