Hardware Review: Andrea Sound Max Stereo Array Mic
Superb voice solution... iffffffffff you never hibernate~!
I recently purchased this mic bundle from Mp3car. You get exactly whats shown in the picture... a nice stereo mic with a standard pink mic connector, a usb device that says its a sound adapter (more on that later), and the driver CD. Installation was pretty straight forward. First, you install the drivers and the sound management application, then plug in your handy USB sound adapter. The drivers should be found automatically. Lastly, plug in the mic into the sound adapter. Done!
The software package in the bundle is also very simple. The application has its own wizard, similar to the windows sound wizard, where you speak and it adjusts the mic volume based on your volume. The tasty part of the application and the main selling point IMHO is the noise filter selection. I was a bit surprised at there being only 2 real filter options, and i honestly cant tell the difference between them. Both do a really excellent job of eliminating most of the noises while traveling in a vehicle. The sound while standing still is practically the same as driving 60mph on the highway. I was able to make several hands free calls via the RR Plugin and no one could honestly tell i was using a computer mic versus a bluetooth headset. High quality stuff!
That is... until you hibernate. Upon resume, your andrea mic comes back to life as "Device AK#####" (numbers are completely random). The mic is still functions, but none of the voice filters remain available. The ONLY way i was able to get them back was to unplug, restart the computer, then reinsert. This of course is a serious setback for anyone that puts there car PC to sleep rather than shutting down.
One other quibble I've noticed is the sound mixer application conflicts with other mixer applications. On my intel dg45fc motherboard with "High-Definition Audio", the andrea mixer will reset my values anytime it takes focus. Not a huge problem, but it is something worth noting.
Design isn't really a huge concern given its just a mic... but the Andrea is pretty sleek! Its practically made to sit behind the steering wheel on the steering column due to its lip placement.
All in all, i am happy with my purchase being that the only real grief will come when i take the time to find a way to overcome hibernation issues (Relay? Devcon?). Overall, I'm giving the device 4/5 stars. Save the hibernation problem, its really the best mic I've tried since joining the hobby half a decade ago.
Pics and sample .wav files coming soon!