Help me choose a new microphone

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kristin
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Post by kristin » December 19th, 2006, 5:23 pm

I want a new mic, it's Christmas after all, but I'm torn. I really want to get away from noise canceling but I like the convenience of my headset mic, but I don't like all the extra noise it makes, popping, creaking joints, etc. Can I find a usb headset mic without noise canceling? No luck so far. Must it be usb? I'm thinking yes. So that leaves out another headset mic.

I listened to the podcast a few weeks ago with Alan's review of microphones and have to say it's still not entirely clear to me what all of the different types of mics do for your voice. I'd like a richer sound, my voice sounds hollow with my current mic. I'd like something that I can use for singing as well, doesn't have to be perfect for that but it needs to be able to handle high notes. I've been looking at a few of the Samson mics which I know some of you use. I've also been wondering about the Snowball. Does anyone here have anything to say on that, has anyone or is anyone using one?

Other suggestions?

brianlojeck
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Post by brianlojeck » December 20th, 2006, 10:22 am

FWIW, I'm very happy with the samson qu1 USB mic.
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Gesine
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Post by Gesine » December 20th, 2006, 12:16 pm

Hey kristin - I've been wondering the same thing lately. I currently have a Samson CO1U on loan. I think the sound is richer, but it does pick up on external sounds much more (clicks, rustles etc) and I'm having to be much more careful about my positioning than with the USB headset. The Samson takes input from one direction and recordings sound *very* different depending on how you angle the mic, how far you are away from it etc.

The Snowball, from my research, is similar to the Samson but more expensive.

The Samson USB mic comes in two different versions; one is less expensive than the other (jimmowatt uses the less expensive one and is very happy with it).
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kristin
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Post by kristin » December 20th, 2006, 1:29 pm

I don't think I move very much when I'm recording so I hope that won't be too much of a problem. Well, here are the things I'm looking at right now:

Samson Q1U: dynamic mic with ?super cardioid pickup pattern?

Samson CO1U: Condenser mic with ?a hypercardioid polar pattern?

Snowball: has a 3 Pattern Switch - cardoid, cardoid with -1dB pad, & omni
................also (or) 3 position polar pattern - 1 and 2 cardioid, 3 omidirectional
(are they repeating themselves here or is it just me?)

(Don't know if it's dynamic or condenser or well, I just don't know what is apples or oranges here.)

Samson CO3U- bit pricey- Multi-pattern condenser mic.
......................................switchable cardioid, omni & figure-8 pickup patterns
......................................switchable high-pass filter and 10 db pad?
......................................dual 19mm diaphragm elements?

You'll notice all my question marks, I really don't know what is important and what is marketing or what a dual diaphragm element is. I'm sure I'd notice an improvement in the sound quality with any of them but where I'd be willing to take a chance on the Q1U (most reasonably priced) I wonder what the quality vs. cost is for the others. And I don't want to get one then decide something else really is better and just have to buy that as well.

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Post by jimmowatt » December 20th, 2006, 4:17 pm

The C01U and the Snowball are both condenser mics.
That means they're more sensitive and should be capable of a fuller, richer sound. It's a little like buying good hi-fi equipment in that the better you get then potentially the better sound you can get but it also means they will show up any defects in the setup or the rest of the equipment and the worst of condenser mics is that they'll likely pick up a lot of background noise. They're the sort of mic you would find in a recording studio.
The cardoid and super cardoid etc are just which direction the mics pick sound up from so some have a double pattern so you can record two people at the same time. Sorry I can't remember which pattern is which. The funny shape they draw on the polarity charts are a close physical representation of where you can sit in proximity to the mic when you're recording something.
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kristin
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Post by kristin » December 20th, 2006, 4:41 pm

Thanks Jim, that clears a few things up.

sjmarky
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Post by sjmarky » December 20th, 2006, 9:40 pm

I don't know why you don't hear more about them, but the MXL condenser mic looks like a sweet deal:

http://www.guitarcenter.com/shop/product/buy_mxl_mxl_v63mbp_computer_desktop_recording_kit?full_sku=273102

$99 for a real self-powered condenser with stand. Should work if you have a mini-plug in, or with an iMic.

Or for a little more, you can get the M-Audio podcast kit:

http://www.guitarcenter.com/shop/product/buy_maudio_fast_track_studio_usb_bundle?full_sku=703609

Mic, stand, interface and software for $149. I'm a big fan of M-Audio, myself.
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GlassMask
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Post by GlassMask » December 21st, 2006, 12:08 pm

I've got the Samson C01U. I'm happy with it. Once I fiddled with the settings a bit, it did everything I asked of it. But, yes, it definitely picks up everything, including the rustling of my shirt or the click of the headphone cord hitting my desk.

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sjmarky
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Post by sjmarky » December 22nd, 2006, 10:33 am

There's a short review of the Samson and Snowball mics in the November issue of MacWorld. To wit:

"Want to record vocals or instruments with your Mac? Check out Blue Microphone's Snowball or Samson's C01U. The Snowball's design and included stand make it a good choice for recording audio from single and multiple sources. The Samson C01U is a better option for capturing a single voice or instrument; its more-balanced frequency response and included software produce slightly better recordings. But neither provides studio-quality results."

Snowball: 3 1/2 mice
Samson: 4 mice

The Snowball is sold on the Apple site if you want to see more user reviews (somewhat mixed). There are user reviews of the Samson at zZounds.com:

http://www.zzounds.com/item--SAMC01U

Happy hunting!
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kristin
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Post by kristin » December 22nd, 2006, 10:37 am

Hmmm.... Thanks for that. I think I was leaning slightly towards the snowball but maybe not. I wish I could test them out first. :?

brianlojeck
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Post by brianlojeck » December 22nd, 2006, 10:51 am

You could always buy them both and return one...
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jimmowatt
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Post by jimmowatt » December 22nd, 2006, 11:08 am

Try podsqod
They've got some sound samples on this page http://www.podsqod.com/2006/10/
It's the episode 'war of the usb mics'
[url=http://librivox.org/newcatalog/people_public.php?peopleid=75]Jim Mowatt[/url] - [url=http://historyzine.com]Historyzine - The History Podcast[/url]

kristin
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Post by kristin » December 22nd, 2006, 11:17 am

Oooo... Thanks Jim. I'm listening to them now. Hmmm.... I just can't decide which sounds best though. They are quite different. I'm so hopeless.

GordMackenzie
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Post by GordMackenzie » December 22nd, 2006, 12:34 pm

It's a tough call... I was rooting for the Snowball ('cause it just looks so darn cool!), but I think the C03U has the richest sound. The Q1U definitely sounds a little tinny to my ears.

It's very hard to tell from this short samples, though.
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jimmowatt
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Post by jimmowatt » December 22nd, 2006, 12:47 pm

kristin wrote:Oooo... Thanks Jim. I'm listening to them now. Hmmm.... I just can't decide which sounds best though. They are quite different. I'm so hopeless.
You might want to listen to the show that goes with those samples too as I think the c03u has some gadget buttons on it that do something whizzy. Can't remember what it was now tho'
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