For the last few weeks, I’ve been testing the Samson C01U USB Studio Condenser mic. It’s a solid, professional looking device that plugs directly into your USB port. No Mbox required. You can use the Sound Preference Pane to control the audio, or better yet, use the free applet software written exclusively for Mac OS X (there’s a Windows version coming soon.) And considering that you can find this mic online for about $80, I’m thinking it’s in contention to be crowned “the ultimate podcasting microphone” for the portable studio.
The Samson C01U mic looks as good as it sounds.
The microphone also comes with a holder that attaches to a stand or boom. I’ve had good success with repurposing one of my light stand booms for the C01U. Samson recommends that you position the
microphone as close as possible to the source, up to about three or four inches away. This helps reduce any unwanted background noise. Having said that, be sure you’re comfortable with where the mic is set. You need to live with it for the 20 minutes or so that your show runs.
A profession tip that’s been used for years (and passed along to me from Samson engineer Mike Ketchell) is to position the microphone at a 10-40 degree angle from the sound source. This works really well, since the worst p-popping occurs from wind blasts that hit the microphone capsule straight on. Try it!
Software-wise, I like using the applet available on the samsontech site. You can adjust its level sliders to control the gain of the C01U’s internal mic preamplifier. You can also change your settings with the Sound Preference Pane, as I mentioned earlier. The last controller you use — preference pane or applet — is what controls the mic. So you can switch between them if you want.
I’ve used the device with GarageBand and Soundtrack Pro, but have had the must fun plugging it into Audio Hijack Pro. With the trio of my PowerBook, Audio Hijack Pro, and the C01U mic, I’ve captured some great sounding audio.
If you haven’t found the perfect mic for your audio-to-Mac recording, and don’t feel like spending the bucks for a Mbox setup, take a look at the Samson C01U. I think you’ll like what you hear.