|Submited By: KR Silkenvoice on 06/28/2010|
For years I ve been working with traditional XLR cardioid condenser mics (love my Neumann TLM) but I ve had to travel a lot lately, and humping the XLR cables, pre-amp, and heavy mics through airports and hotels has gotten to be a real bother, so I started The Hunt for a Great USB Mic.
Now, there are good USB mics out there for under $100, and Blue s Snowball is adequate. At ~$70 you get what you pay for. It is ok for podcasting, if you aren t too picky about sound quality. I had one shipped to me, didn t like that background hum, sent it back thinking it was a problem with the mic, and got another one that sounded exactly the same. (And yes, I read all the instructions and advice and made all the adjustments. I even tried it on Mac, Laptop, and PC--so spare me the "oh did you try this, and you re an idiot because you didn t try that" Snowball fanboy snarkiness ;).
So, when I returned the Snowball, I considered getting Blue s Yeti, but it s sheer size disqualified it -- the mic is way too big and heavy to be considered remotely portable, and since I like to record standing-up instead of sitting down, I worried that it would be too heavy for my boom.
Having eliminated Blue s mics, I tried the Samson G Track at ~$120 and the AudioTechnica AT2020 at ~$110. I like that the Samson has the headphone output and the gain controls (which the AT does not) and better recording quality versus the AT2020 at 48kHz versus 44.1kHz. However, the Sampson weighs a half-pound more. For both mics the sound quality is great for podcasting, and while vastly superior to the Blue Snowball, and certainly adequate for most vocals that will be supported with background music, neither mic produces recordings clean enough and of high enough quality (limited to 16bit) for pure narration (IMHO).
So I upped my price-point again. And found THE perfect USB mic for voice-overs at ~$275. The MXL USB.009. It records at 24Bit/96kHz -- a huge improvement over the 16Bit/44.1kHz of all the other mics. It has the benefits of a mic jack and knobs for gain control like the Samson G Track, and is Plug and Play. I don t have to tweak anything on my Mac or my PC. It is lightweight, so I m not worried about my boom tipping, and there is no background hum. I like the steel carrying case -- it weighs about 6 pounds with the mic and USB cable -- and makes it easy to carry through airport security.
Yes, the MXL USB.009 is 4x the cost of the Blue Snowball and 2.5x the cost of the Samson G Track and the AT2020, but for me, it is worth it. I not only do podcasting, but I do professional voice-over work, and I need something that will give me the convenience of direct USB recording with near-studio quality.