Review : Samson Meteor Mic - USB Microphone with Great Retro styling
Doing a podcast is something that we've wanted to do here at EssentialMac for a while now but had a feeling that recording audio from the iPhone headset that's bundled with the device or via the in built microphone wasn't going to be the best way to go about it. When the Samson Samson Meteor Mic dropped on the door mate for review it grabbed our attention and we hoped this wasn't all style over substance. But let's face it, it's a little beauty.
This is my first microphone review, I'm no audiophile, no sound engineer or anything like that and it wasn't until recently I thought that 128k mp3's were good enough. This should give you an idea of where i'm coming from testing the sound quality and as to level of knowledge when starting to review something as complex / mystical as what makes a good microphone for recording a podcast.
So think of this as a psudeo review and learning a little something about microphones for podcasting as things go along.
Unpacking the Samsung Meteor Mic is an Apple Esq encounter in itself. The experience of unboxing a product is perhaps an just as important as going hands on with the product itself. I don't agree with the masses of unboxing video which have since stemmed from rumours based on Apple having dozens of packaging types for each product yet I can appreciate the whole packaging experience, an area which Samsons Meteor microphone does not disappoint.
Everything is held in place with a sense of purpose, like it's meant to be transported around with a form of abandonment. It's job is to ensure the microphone remains intact to do the job in hand.. Rest assured the Samson Meteor microphone is not a flimsy affair and the feeling of presence is backed up by the solid packaging in which it's shipped. Securely held in place with moulded black ploy/plastic the black really sets off the silver and leaves you feeling everything has been kept secure and in place.
Instant Crooning Gratification Instantly I had the desire to pick up the microphone and start crooning like Elvis Presley would into a 60s style microphone. The styling may be a throwback to the 60s style of microphone but the performance is as up-to-date as you can possibly get. More on that in a moment.
The looks are also feature based as well. At the top you can see there is a mesh grill to protect the microphone from spittle, wind nose and s subtle take on a pop filter ( I had to google that as well) Inside the unit itself is a 1" diaphragm microphone. For none techies like me it picks up sound at the front and at the side but not so much at the back.
3 fold-able legs hold the microphone in place and are strong enough to hold its own weight in a number of varying positions. As the best results come from having the microphone pointing to you in a directional placement so I have the back most leg almost flat so the mic points towards my mouth when I’m speaking. This certainly beats having to hunch down and forward all the time.
The feet have rubber mountings on the bottom which do a fair, but not great of masking any vibrations from your desk whilst typing or anything similar. Those with a creaking desk might or thump away at a keyboard may want to look for a stand which is supported at the bottom of the mic.
As you can see on the front there is a LED which glows blue when active and yellow when the microphone is paused. This seem to work with most audio recording apps, especially garageband. The light turns red every time you hit your peak limit when recording which is a nice touch as it means you don't have to keep an eye on your software.
Below the LED the rotational dial controls the microphone throughput so you can hear what you say and pushing the button in the middle mutes your microphone. With the build quality of the microphone being to an exceptional standard it's a shame that the dial and the button feel a little cheap. Also when pressing the button you do get a massive thump from pressing it whilst recording. I guess it's resonating inside the housing but that's a small niggle and pretty much to be expected.
Real World Testing
Having no real-world experience in the field of sound engineering I am going to base its performance on how well it performs when compared to using my mac's built-in microphone and the inline one on Apple headsets. Straight away you realise the differences are galaxies apart (pardon the pun) and even to the untrained ear you notice a world of difference in comparison to the other 2 microphones.
The breadth, depth and spectrum of my voice even with a cold is picked up in minute detail. Whilst testing I had to move to another room as it was picking up any echoes when speaking during several podcast test runs. Lacking the wordage to describe it all any recordings just sounded more complete and all encompassing.
The Speech Recognition Test
Speech recognition software has always been a passing interest of mine and the one thing that any application will recommend is to have an approved or at least a half decent microphone. I've spent a few weeks the Samson Meteor microphone using Nuance Dragon Dictation software (iphone software review here). After the customary training session I was off and running talking to my computer like an old lady talks to her mad cats. Unsurprisingly the recognition rate was up and mistakes were down making a many year-long dream come true, to dictate half of my review.
During the testing period I was using the microphone more and more for things like chatting, reviews and posting on websites etc. so for anyone wondering, like I used to, if a decent microphone makes any difference I can answer that with a great big resounding yes, it does.
Having never tested anything like this before I can't really give it a best in class award because it’s the only student in the room. If, however, you are looking to get into the world of podcasting or recording with a minimum of fuss then I really can't see no reason why shouldn’t consider this an essential buy.
For those of you that like to use your iPad out on the road this makes more than a good accompaniment to your laptop bag but .
This is a solidly-built, conveniently packaged microphone that produces a perfectly decent sound. From podcasting, recording intro's for phone systems or just general chatting, Samson's Meteor microphone represents stellar quality given he price point.
Update - 2 weeks later
Well, it's so far so good on the podcasting front and thanks to this microphone we really are a few days away now from releasing our 1st ever podcast.