When it comes to podcasting, you shouldn’t have to be an audio expert like Dan Benjamin or Dave Hamilton. Audio equipment, mixers, those damn XLR cables — for someone who just wants to jump into garageband and hit record, there’s no need to buy $500 in equipment. You should, however, invest in an easy solution that’ll improve your game ten fold. Today, I’m looking at the Samson Meteor Mic, a $99 cardioid condenser microphone that’s perfect for podcasting on a budget.
If I could describe the Meteor Mic in one word, I’d have a hard time choosing between “retro” and “sexy”. Chrome plated and detailed to inspire the broadcaster in you, there isn’t much to be disappointed with in regards to the Meteor’s stylings. As a portable Microphone destined for newcomers who likely don’t have a mic boom to mount their Microphones, three fold-back legs allow for easy positioning on your desk or kitchen table. Rubber feet on each leg keep vibrations to the Mic at a minimum if you have to pound a keyboard or your Magic Trackpad. If you do have a boom, then you’ll be happy to know that a stand adapter is built into the bottom of the Meteor Mic for easy adaption. Just don’t ask me how to remove the legs or what to do with them when mounted.
The Meteor Mic is sold as a “just works” microphone that anybody can pick up. Arguably, this little guy is really amazing. Being a USB microphone, you can plug it into your Mac (or iPad with the Camera Connection Kit), and it does just work out of the box with little setup. I made a quick trip to the sound preferences to turn the input volume down — you’ll end up with some distortion otherwise.
On the topic of distortion, the Meteor Mic has a handy little blue light on the front that monitors gain. When blue, the mic is on and working. If the light turns red when recording, the intelligent LED is warning you of overload. The included drawstring pouch that comes with your Meteor Mic can be used as a quick and dirty pop-filter when draped and tightened over the mic.
You’ll get the amber light when the Meteor Mic is muted, although I’m a little disappointed with how poorly the mute switch itself works. A mute switch can be handy for you or a guest when an advertisement is playing or when someone has to take a phone call, but the implementation is poor. In the middle of the volume knob, the big black button you see is your mute button — pressing it requires a hard push that results in a loud ‘thump’ that’s recorded. Any contact you have with the Meteor Mic while recording is going to cause unwanted feedback, and the mute switch is the worst offender.
While the volume knob feels cheap, it works and functions to control sound output from the 1/8 jack at the rear of the mic. You can dial in just how loud you want your feedback when monitoring, and you get the volume pretty loud when and if you need it. Again, I wouldn’t adjust your headphone volume while recording unless you want unintended noise.
The clarity of the Meteor Mic is what impresses me. Samson promises CD quality audio (16 bit, 44.1/48kHz resolution) and flat frequency response between 20Hz and 20kHz, all through a 25mm diaphragm condenser. The sound recorded by the Meteor Mic is warm, but not overly so. There’s a live quality to it that doesn’t feel compressed or processed; the Meteor Mic has a nice richness that feels appropriate for any live recordings. Just place the microphone six inches from your mouth: the recordings produced are generally very good.
You’re not limited to podcasting, as the you can record any medium of acoustic guitar or live music. While I personally keep the Meteor Mic at hand for audio notes and podcasting, practicing musicians can capture a quick melody via their closest Mac or iPad when inspiration hits. The Meteor Mic is quite versatile, and its size and portability make it an excellent travel companion.
The Samson Meteor Mic is a solid choice for anyone who wants a great sounding microphone without the hassle of an expensive setup or recording rig. It works on any machine with a USB port, and with quick adjustments can be used to capture audio from just about any software. I used GarageBand, which will likely be the most accessible choice for our audience. While I think the volume controls are flawed, these can mediated with post-editing or can be adjusted between recordings. I would look elsewhere if you want to mount the Mic on a boom since you can’t remove the legs (this is really annoying), but for everyone else it’s a fine choice. You can become an instant professional and have a great sounding recording with minimal effort, and a fantastic entry price under a hundred dollars. You can find a video of the Samson Meteor Mic in action at their product page.
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