I’ve been hosting a podcast for over 7 years and use the Audio-Technica AT2020 as my primary mic. Since the majority of Stimulated Boredom shows are usually just me hosting solo, the AT2020 has been a perfect mic for capturing a natural and professional sound.
Having guests on the program remotely is also not a problem when using Skype. However, if I ever need to conduct a face-to-face interview, it becomes a little more problematic, as the AT2020 is unidirectional (meaning it only picks up a pattern on the front side of the mic). Therefore, a proper set-up for multiple guests – one that is conducive to conversation – requires a mixer and multiple XLR mics, which can be expensive.
Size Doesn’t Matter…
Enter the “Go Mic” by Samson.
I also own the Samson C01U and had used the Zoom H4N, and have been very pleased with the quality of Samson products, so I knew I was getting a decent microphone. However, this microphone did exceed my expectations.
The first thing you’ll notice about this mic is how small it is. The mic comes neatly folded inside of a well-built and solid metal clamp that can be used to clip it to the monitor of your laptop (Note: it will not clamp to a desktop monitor) and adds a nice balanced weight to it. It can also be mounted to a standard mic stand or boom. But don’t let its diminutive size fool you, as it is an impressive cardioid mic with 3 built-in settings: Uni-Directional, Omni-Directional or -10 db pad…including direct monitoring, which is impressive for such a low cost.
Basically, you would use the unidirectional setting when it is just you and you don’t want the mic picking up any sounds to the left, right or behind the mic. This is the setting that would be used most by most podcasters, as it isolates their voice as the primary source. It is also the ideal setting for vastly improving the audio quality of video recordings or Skype calls, over that of your computer or camera’s internal built-in mic.
Omni-directional will pick up a 360 sound pattern, and is perfect for when you are interviewing people sitting across from you or around the table, in order to pick up everyone who is talking.
The -10 db pad – in which it automatically lowers the mic’s sensitivity – is for when you need to get up close to the mic for voice-overs, narration or any other application in which you need to cancel out ambient noise. The negative db pad helps to eliminate surrounding sound and isolates your voice, but does require you to be much closer to the mic for it to pick you up as the primary source.
The following is an audio sample that I recorded using all three of the Go Mic’s settings (in order): Unidirectional, -10 db pad & Omnidirectional
I tested all of the settings and was very impressed. Unidirectional picked me up very clearly and, although it certainly won’t replace my AT2020 as my primary mic, it did a VERY respectable job and would be a great solution for when I have to podcast on the road, am doing a face-to-face on-location interview or can’t be in my home studio.
The Omni-directional setting clearly picked up both sides of the conversation and really “opened up” the room, creating a nice organic and informal vibe to the conversation, which I personally like. However, those interested in the “Go Mic” for this particular setting should know that it will pick up a lot of ambient noise and sound more hollow than rich. Therefore, if you are near an AC vent, a barking dog, a loud ceiling fan or other people who are moving about the room, this setting will pick much of that up. So, if you are planning to start a podcast with multiple co-hosts, you may want to invest in a mixer and XLR microphone set-up, in order to capture cleaner and more direct audio from all speakers.
The -10 db pad setting was also solid, as I sat within 6 inches of it (using a pop filter) and it did a really nice job of eliminating any surrounding noise and only capturing my voice cleanly, which is nice for tutorials, narrations and voice-overs. You can also make adjustments to the gain, which will affect its sensitivity to your liking (I use Audacity as my DAW).
Lastly, the “Go Mic” allows for direct monitoring. For those unfamiliar, this allows you to plug a pair of headphones directly into the microphone and monitor your recording in real-time. For some, hearing themselves through headphones while they are talking can be distracting; for others it is a way to keep tabs on how they sound and allowing for adjustments to be made in levels or position to the mic during the recording. I tested this feature and experienced zero latency while recording and it is a nice feature that is included.
Other Things to Consider
Obviously the environment in which you record is going to play a big role, therefore you should know that I intentionally recorded in a room in which I expected there to be some “color” due to our voices bouncing off of the walls…as this would be the likely environment that I would be in if I were doing a remote face-to-face interview. There was no distracting sense of echo, but as I stated previously, the omni-directional setting does open up the room to a 360 degree pattern, which allows for the mic to pick up everything in that room (in my case, it was our dogs playing).
Also, I tested it as a replacement for the built-in mic on my laptop…of which it blew its doors off! I recorded two videos using the Go Mic and the internal mic and the difference is absolutely night and day…the Go Mic was exceptionally clear, whereas the built-in mic could sound muddied in comparison. If you record web videos or do a lot of online conferencing, you will love the way this mic sounds compared to your internal or built-in mic.
Now, I am not a musician, therefore I did not do any tests to that effect. I am a podcaster that wants a portable (but highly proficient) microphone that I can easily take with me, set up and use for those times when I do need to do an interview or record a podcast on location. I will also use this mic for when I record my next YouTube video, as it is a nice portable solution that allows me to avoid having my mic boom that holds my AT2020 in the shot. And, as an avid gamer, I would also use this mic for when I am playing games online like SWTOR or Guild Wars 2. 🙂
As I mentioned previously, this mic is intended to be clipped to a laptop screen (fit perfectly and snugly on mine) and will not attach to a desktop monitor. However, thanks to its durable metal base, you can easily place the mic on a desk or table, just remember to angle the mic towards you. Also, I did not have any issue with the mic picking up too much computer fan noise while attached to my laptop. Obviously you will hear some (mostly in omni-directional mode, not so much in unidirectional), but it was not anything that would distract from the recording / conversation.
Another nice feature is how the power indicator light also doubles as a sound monitor, in that it will blink if your levels are spiking…this is especially useful if you do not plan to directly monitor your recordings while wearing a pair of headphones.
For the current price (sub-$40) – and if you have a need for a portable mic – you ABSOLUTELY should be buying this microphone. It can be used for so many applications and its portability and the bevy of functional settings makes it a no-brainer decision. Not to mention the fact that it folds up nicely, feels solid, fits in your palm and comes with a durable storage case, USB cord and the ability to mount it to a mic stand if need be.
I wouldn’t recommend it as a primary mic for podcasting; for that you should be willing to invest more ($100+) in order to improve the quality of your show. But as a compact and portable solution for on-location recordings, Skype calls, video conferencing, web videos or for the occasional interview / guest, it is a recommendation that I am happy to make.
Features, Benefits & Specs:
- Portable USB condenser microphone
- Plug and Play Mac and PC compatible, no drivers required
- Custom compact design that clips to a laptop or sits on a desk
- Perfect for recording music, podcasting and field recording
- Ideal for voice recognition software, iChat, VoIP and web casting
- Transducer Type: condenser, pressure gradient with USB digital output
- Frequency Response: 20Hz – 18kHz
- Polar Pattern: cardioid or omni
- Resolution: 16-bit/44.1kHz
- 1/8-inch headphone output
- Includes USB cable, cable clip, mic stand adapter and zipper carrying pouch
- Includes Cakewalk Music Creator recording software
By: Dana Sciandra