Maono Maonocaster C2 Neo review: small mixer, great features

Maono Maonocaster C2 Neo review

Everyone’s a streamer or a podcaster these days – or, at the very least, wants to play online or needs to work from home. All of these situations demand the use of a microphone of decent quality in order to be heard. In comes the Maono Maonocaster C2 Neo, an audio interface meant specifically to make using a microphone and various effects easier.

Disclaimer: Maono sent me a unit directly for the purpose of this review. The C2 Neo sells for $59.99. Additional info on the official product page.

Buy from Amazon

TL;DR: recap

+ Very affordable

+ Good selection of inputs and outputs

+ Battery powered

+ Noise cancelling feature works very well

– High self-noise in headphone output

– 48 V phantom power setting is not retained

Rating: 7.5/10

Packaging & Accessories

The package contains the device itself, a USB to USB-C cable and a manual. Since there is only one USB-C cable, you will have to provide your own in order to use the device and charge it at the same time. A cover would be a useful accessory to shield the Maonocaster C2 Neo from dust when not in use.

Design & Build

The Maonocaster C2 Neo is relatively simple, but it puts a variety of features at your disposal. All the controls are on the top, which makes them easy to access. The only button which is on the back is the power button. The back side also hosts the inputs (a combo XLR3 and 6.3 mm jack and a 3.5 mm aux jack) as well as the two outputs (headphones and stream out) and the two USB-C connectors.


The top has the microphone gain, aux and output knobs, two sliders for microphone and headphone volume, two level meters (for the microphone and the output) as well as a variety of buttons to select the various features. There are also a battery and a Bluetooth indicator. The level meters turn on when you change the microphone and the output volume to indicate the level you are in, on top of when you are actually recording something.

The chassis appears to be well-built and, thanks to the fact that it’s made entirely of plastic, it’s incredibly light (just 350 g!). It is also quite small, at 24.5 x 15.7 x 5.5 cm. The buttons, knobs and sliders are all solid enough, although there is a bit of play with the sliders. The buttons are made of rubber and are easily pressed, with good feedback. Overall the build quality is more than satisfactory, especially considering the price the Maonocaster C2 Neo is sold at.

Features & Specs

Maono Maonocaster C2 Neo

Connections USB-C, Bluetooth 4.2
Inputs 1x combo XL3 and 6.3 mm jack
1x 3.5 mm jack, aux
Outputs 3.5 mm jack, headphones
3.5 mm jack, stream out
Frequency response 20 – 20,000 Hz
THD < 0.05%
Sample rate and bit depth 48,000 Hz, 16 bit
Gain 60 dB
Phantom power Yes


The Maono Maonocaster C2 Neo offers very decent specifications for a device in its price class, although the bit depth stops at 16 bit which can be limiting when doing post-processing.

The Maonocaster C2 Neo is officially compatible with both Windows and macOS, but I can attest it works perfectly well with Linux, too, which means it will also work with devices like the Steam Deck. It also works with mobile devices using Bluetooth.


When testing the unit I noticed how it looks like the Maonocaster C2 Neo does not save some settings when it is powered on, so if you use a condenser microphone you will need to remember to enable phantom power every time you turn on the interface. Other settings, such as direct monitoring and noise reduction, are kept across reboots, so I wondered if this is an intentional design choice or a bug in the firmware. I asked Maono and they told me that phantom power is indeed the only setting which is not applied across reboots; their reasoning is that if you replace the microphone and use a dynamic one, there will be no damage from applying phantom power. However, I wonder who constantly switches between multiple microphones of different types outside of reviewers, so in my opinion this is a bit of an anti-feature.

One other thing to note is that it can be hard to tell if the device is powered on or off when it is connected to a power source. If you are not using any effects and you are not using phantom power, there is no specific indicator that tells you whether the Maonocaster C2 Neo is turned on. This has led me more than one time to power it off instead of on as I thought it was not active. While a minor inconvenience, it is something which could be improved upon.

All the features on the Maonocaster C2 Neo are accessible through the rubber buttons on the top.

Noise reduction offers two levels, low and high, which work really well. The low setting can remove the mild noises like cars passing on the street, while the maximum setting is able to remove most sounds including relatively loud ones, while leaving only your voice audible.

Direct monitoring is useful, but it has a slight delay which is easy to hear and which may be excessive to some. It does come in handy to check whether the effects you are applying are working as intended, but its usability is otherwise limited due to the lag. Loopback (which you can enable by long-pressing the “direct monitor” button) allows you to send back the audio coming from the source via USB, though this can introduce echoes.

The soundpad feature allows you to record a clip and then play it back when you press the corresponding button. While this is very useful, you can only use clips which you recorded through the Maonocaster, which can be limiting in case you want to use a pre-recorded sound effect or a music clip, or if you want to edit the clip you recorded.

The “side chain” functionality lowers the volume of music automatically as you speak, which comes in handy for streamers or podcasters. The feature works well, but it is maybe a little bit too responsive and it would be good if there was a little more delay for music to kick back in.

The reverb presets include karaoke, church, hall, valley and room. It is possible to change your voice by using the pitch presets: you can choose between woman, man and baby and robot. It takes a couple of seconds for the effect to kick in, so it’s not instantaneous.

Battery Life

The Maonocaster C2 Neo integrates a battery, so you can use it with devices such as your phone or a laptop while you are not at your desk. This makes it really easy to record while out and about. The battery lasts for about 4 hours when using phantom power, which seems a decent result. This is a lot shorter than the 7 hours figure provided by Maono, but it is consistent with the elevated power consumption caused by phantom power. If you plan on using the Maonocaster C2 Neo continuously while at your desk, connecting it to a USB power source appears necessary.


The Maonocaster C2 Neo has live level meters.

I tested the Maonocaster C2 Neo using both a Maono PM500T and a RØDE PodMic.

It is inherently difficult to judge the sound of a device like the Maonocaster C2 Neo, but what I can say is that the recordings are clear and clean, and that there seem to be no deviations from neutrality.

As for the headphones output, the Maonocaster C2 Neo offer 20 mW of power at 32 Ω – it is just the very basics and nothing more. It should be noted that the C2 NEO has self noise levels which are quite high; in other words, you are going to hear a lot of white noise when monitoring, even when there is no ambient noise. This seems to stem from the amplification stage being especially noisy, as this noise is not recorded. It seems to be a specific quirk of the headphone amplifier, which is quite inconvenient but not insurmountable (you can use any other device to drive your headphones, although it’s not ideal as you lose the ability to monitor directly unless you do that in software, with all the limitations this entails). It should also be noted that the white noise is audible with earphones and headphones up until ~50 Ω; going up to 60 Ω seems to fix the issue, as headphones like the AKG K7XX require you to crank up the volume to full level before you can start to hear something.

Final Thoughts

The Maono Maonocaster C2 Neo is an entry-level device which can serve a variety of purposes. While it is primarily aimed at streamers and podcasters, thanks to a variety of features specifically aimed to them like the pitch-altering presets or the soundpads, it offers features anyone who wants to use a microphone will find useful, including noise cancelling which works astoundingly well. The minimalistic aesthetic is neutral and can fit on both a gamer’s battlestation and a work desk.

All in all, the Maonocaster C2 Neo is a valid device which serves its purpose well and at a very affordable price. There a few shortcomings to take into consideration, like the high noise when using low-impedance headphones, but overall it offers a great compromise between functionality and price, with impressive features for the money.

About Riccardo Robecchi

Living in Glasgow, Scotland but born and raised near Milan, Italy, I got the passion for music listening as a legacy from my father and my grandfather. I have reported on technology for major Italian publications since 2011.

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