Neat Microphones became part of Gibson Brands last year, and their first two products—the “Worker Bee” and “King Bee” mics—have just hit the world. Neat created these two mics specifically to complement each other so between the two of them, musicians could cover just about any studio recording scenario.

The two mics do have a lot in common. Both use Class-A, discrete electronics for extremely low distortion and noise. They both come with the “Beekeeper” shock mount and “Honeycomb” pop filter; the pop filter snaps right on the front—no jiggling around with mic stand arms and set screws. They’re both condenser mics that require phantom power, and both have Neat’s eye-catching, bee-themed look. However, there are the some significant differences.

NEAT microphones: King Bee
King Bee microphone with included Honeycomb pop filter and Beekeeper shock mount (Beeline cable and stand not included).

The King Bee has a large diaphragm mic element, so it’s quite sensitive to air pressure changes and has extremely low noise levels. This makes it ideal for vocals, acoustic instruments, and other signal sources that hit moderate volume levels as well as room miking. It has a gentle high-end “lift” to bring out the sparkle of vocals and acoustic instruments, but does this without electronics—the secret is in the diaphragm’s construction, and the way that alloys are sputtered on the microphone element to “tune” it. There’s also an audio output transformer, which adds some “body” to the sound and increases the output level without adding noise.

The Worker Bee has a medium diaphragm element, so it can accept high signal levels from guitar amps, brass, close-miked acoustic guitars, drums, and the like. Its frequency response is very natural, with a satisfying low end and neutral highs. Aside from instruments, the Worker Bee is a good choice for vocalists who may sound “screechy” with other mics. With drums, close-miking the drums with a Worker Bee while using a King Bee as a room mic is one way to take advantage of what each mic does well.

NEAT microphones: Worker Bee
Worker Bee microphone with included Honeycomb pop filter and Beekeeper shock mount (Beeline cable and stand not included).

The Worker Bee is very much “plug and play”—stick it in front of an instrument, and it just plain sounds good. It requires less EQ than some mics because the high end doesn’t need to be hyped, and the low end has a solid presence. The King Bee is a little more neutral, and because it works with a wide variety of voices, it’s expected that you’ll need to add a little EQ here and there to optimize the sound…or maybe not. With some vocalists, the “raw” King Bee does the job.

So yes, the individual mics are very cool—but Neat is on to something with how they’ve implemented the complementary mic concept, because they’ve done it effectively.