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Samson Meteor Mic USB Studio Microphone Review

on April 9, 2012 11:00 am

Most computers and mobile devices have built-in microphones now, and they are fine for phone calls and video calls.  They fall short when you need a higher-quality audio for podcasting or recording music.  There are a variety of microphones on the market, from cheap stalk microphones to studio-quality mics costing hundreds (or thousands) of dollars.  The Meteor Mic USB Studio Microphone from Samson promises to be a “professional, large diaphragm, studio condenser USB microphone” at a reasonable price.  How does it stack up?

The Meteor Mic has a retro look that harkens back to the 1930s.  It folds up into a compact 3.75″ long capsule with an approximately 2″ diameter.  Its chrome-plated body and fold-away legs are sleek, shiny, and beautiful.  The legs have rubber tips to keep the mic from sliding.  When the legs are fully extended, the Meteor stands about 6″ high.  It’s small enough to take with you, and at 9.9 ounces it won’t be too heavy a burden.

It comes with a velveteen storage bag, an approximately 6-ft  USB-to-miniUSB cable, and a manual and booklets.

The Meteor has a dual-stage grill, as seen in the diagram above, to protect the 1″ diaphragm and to reduce wind noise and p-popping (the explosive sound you can get when saying words with “p” in them).

Technical Specifications

  • Large (25mm) diaphragm condenser for rich audio recording
  • Cardioid pickup pattern
  • Smooth, flat frequency response of 20Hz – 20kHz
  • CD quality, 16-bit, 44.1/48kHz resolution
  • Fold-back leg design provides optimal mic positioning
  • Durable chrome-plated body
  • Plugs directly into any computer with a USB input, no drivers required
  • High-quality A/D and D/A converters
  • Compatible with most computer-based digital audio workstation software
  • Stereo 1/8-inch headphone jack for no latency monitoring
  • Headphone volume control with microphone mute switch
  • Microphone mute switch for privacy, and to silence noise during playback
  • Computer-controlled analog Input Gain
  • Power, Peak, and Mute LED indicator

The back of the mic has a miniUSB port.  No external power source or batteries are needed with the Meteor.  There’s also a 3.5mm audio port with volume control for “zero-latency direct monitoring.”

The legs can be adjusted to find just the right angle for your audio source.

Or you can use the standard 5/8″ thread mount to attach the mic to any microphone stand.

The front of the microphone has a black plastic mute button.  The dial surrounding the mute button is the volume adjustment for the headphone output.  The LED shows blue when the microphone is powered, amber when muted, and it flashes red to show when the input signal is too loud and is clipping.

The Meteor works with both Windows and Mac computers, and it required no drivers when used with my MacBook Pro.  It’s also compatible with most computer-based digital audio workstation software.  I have GarageBand on my MBP, so that’s what I used to make some recordings.  I simply plugged in the Meteor Mic, started up GarageBand, and I was ready to record.  Because of the limited formats supported in WordPress, I saved all these files as MP3 files, at the highest quality available.

The microphone is suitable for recording voice (speech or singing) and various acoustic musical instruments.  For voice, you should position the mic so that the center line on the front is pointing to your mouth.  You can rotate the center line away from your mouth a bit to minimize p-popping, or you can use a microphone pop filter.  The closer the microphone to your mouth, the more the bass response increases, according to the user’s guide.

The microphone is short, and you may find it difficult to use it on a tabletop with just the built-in legs and still be able to have it the recommended 6-24 inches away from your mouth.  The legs don’t fold together enough to be used as a handle for the mic, but I still decided I’d use the front leg as a handle for my voice recordings.  I don’t have a microphone stand.

I made two speech recordings.  I made them sitting in the bedroom of my house, with everything as quiet as I could make it in the room.  Because my house is beside a busy, cross-town road (runs within 30 feet behind my house), there was the possibility of traffic noise that I couldn’t control or block.  Both recordings were made with GarageBand, using all standard settings.  I made one recording using the MBP’s built-in microphone and one with the Meteor mic.  When I listened to the recordings, I used my Sony MDR-NC200D headphones.  I turned on the noise-cancelling function so I that could block ambient noise while I was listening.

Voice recorded using the MacBook Pro’s built-in microphone: samson-meteor-mic-speaking-mbp-mic

Voice recorded using the Meteor Mic: samson-meteor-mic-speaking-with-meteor

You can hear a definite difference between the two recordings.  Both recordings seemed to be clear and static-free, but I felt the Meteor recording was richer and fuller, especially when I was holding the mic about 6″ from my face.  The built-in mic recording sounded more like voices sound over the telephone than when you’re talking face-to-face with someone.

I asked my husband, Butch, who is an amateur musician (trained pianist and a guitarist), to also listen to these recordings to see what he could hear.  He also used the noise-cancelling headphones for playback.  He agreed that both recordings were clear and static-free.  He said he could hear some background noise in the recording made with the built-in mic, and my voice sounded flat.  With the Meteor mic held six inches from my face, he said the recording sounded like my actual voice, and he said the recording was fuller and had a presence that sounds that of a radio announcer recorded in a studio.  When the Meteor was pulled away from my mouth, he said he could hear some background noises, but the Meteor recording still sounded better than the built-in mic.

I asked Butch to play some music for me to record so I could test how well the Meteor mic works for acoustic music.  We followed the instructions for placement of the meteor mic, and we set the MacBook Pro in the same position when we recorded with its built-in microphone.

Acoustic guitar recorded using the MacBook Pro’s built-in microphone:  samson-meteor-mic-acoustic-guitar-mbp-mic

Acoustic guitar recorded using the Meteor Mic: samson-meteor-mic-acoustic-guitar-meteor

Again, I listened to these files with my Sony headphones with the noise-cancellation turned on.  The guitar recorded with the MBP’s built-in microphone sounded too bright and harsh.  The guitar recorded with the Meteor Mic sounded more like the way it sounded when I listened as we made the recording.  I could still hear the highs, but the bass was fuller and warmer sounding.  Butch says in both cases, he could tell he “was playing an acoustic guitar”.  But with the Meteor Mic recording, he could tell he “was playing Rachel’s 3/4-sized guitar with the buzzing fret.”  With the built-in mic, he said the treble is artifically bright.  He says the Meteor Mic doesn’t lose any of the bass, and the recording sounds to his ears just as it sounded as he recorded it.

Butch also tried out the monitoring feature as he recorded the guitar tracks.  He used the same Sony headphones plugged into the jack on the back of the Meteor Mic.  He said there was no lag or delay in the sound through the headphones.

The Meteor Mic can also be used with an iPad.  You have to use Apple’s iPad camera connection kit to connect the mic’s USB cable to the iPad, and I happened to already have a connection kit.  I also already had GarageBand for my iPad.  I plugged the microphone into the iPad, as shown in the picture above, and I was ready to record.  I was talking as I took the photo, and you can see the needled is blurred because it was in motion as the photo was taken (click for a larger view).

I used all the standard settings and made all the same recordings on the iPad that I had made on the MacBook Pro.  GarageBand on the iPad has more-limited file format selections for saving, so I saved the recordings as M4a files.  These are supported by WordPress, but they may not play for all of you.  I’m including only one file recorded on the iPad.

Acoustic guitar recorded on the iPad using the Meteor Mic: samson-meteor-mic-acoustic-guitar-meteor

Butch and I both used the Sony headphones to listen to the files recorded on the iPad, some using the built-in mic and some using the Meteor mic.  We both agreed that there’s not a lot of difference in the recordings using the iPad’s built-in mic and the MBP’s built-in mic.  The Meteor mic files sounded very similar, regardless of whether they were recorded on the iPad or MBP, and in both cases, they sounded much better than the built-in mic recordings.  I remember saying during one of the voice recordings using the Meteor mic that the recording level needle was in the red zone, but we didn’t hear any distortion in any of the recordings.

Just one note about playback:  On the MacBook Pro, I could select the output source for monitoring/playback.  I could use either the MBP or the Meteor for playback.  On the iPad, I couldn’t find a way to change that, and only the headphone jack on the Meteor could be used for playback while the mic was connected to the iPad.

Whether you want to record vocals or acoustic instruments for music, voice for podcasts, or you just want to sound better for Skype or Face Time, you can’t go wrong with the Meteor Mic.  At a list price of $150, it’s a high-quality, moderately-priced microphone that will improve any recording or VoIP call you make.

 

Product Information

Price:$99
Manufacturer:Samson
Retailer:Various local and online retailers
Pros:
  • Much higher-quality recordings than built-in mic on MBP or iPad
  • Doesn't require external power source
  • Small enough to take with you
  • Works with standard microphone mounts
  • May be shallow to say, but it's beautiful!
Cons:
  • Short, so you may need to find a way to elevate it or you'll have to hunch over it for voice recordings

Comments

  1. 1
    jpdanzig says:

    Is this a mono or stereo mike? Does it record one channel or two? It is unclear from this review…

  2. 2
    Steven Lue says:

    Thank you for a good review. I only wish you could have found a way to post the audio samples without requiring Abode Flash. Especially on a device that might be used with an iPad.

  3. 3
    Julie says:

    I loved acoustic guitar clips! That’s the style of music I like to play :)

  4. 4
    thsu says:

    @jpdanzig, it’s a mono mic. Nearly all high end mics are mono mics. If you want a stereo mic, you buy two of them and record to separate tracks.

    The rare high end stereo mics are sold as a pair of mono mics. That is, a high end stereo mic is really two mono mics that happen to be made at the same time, to guarantee identical components during manufacture.

  5. 5
    Janet Cloninger says:

    @thsu Thanks for answering jpdanzig’s question.

    @Julie Butch says thanks!

  6. 6
    Janet Cloninger says:

    @Steven Lue Thanks for the kind words. Sorry about the Flash, but I was trying to work with WordPress.

  7. 7
    Fran Smith says:

    How would this unit work for “live talk” messenger converstions? I understand it is a little expensive
    for just that purpose but I believe people who use Facebook on a regular basis would love to add a quality sound device to their arsenal, for a more personal touch without
    going video, especially we prefer to only be heard and not seen.

  8. 8
    thsu says:

    @Fran Smith, practically any good USB microphone from an established audio company, like Samson or Blue, is going to work incredibly well.

    I use Samson mics at home and at work, different styles, and they all pick up conversations even 10-15 feet away. Our remote offices said the mics were the best purchases we’ve ever made.

  9. 9
    Fran Smith says:

    Good news. Have you ever used it while on FB for enhanced conversation? That is the most practical application in my case. Do you expect the price to be reduced anytime in the near future? Thanks for showing this item. I find it really wakes up the DJ side of my personality!

  10. 10
    Al says:

    Just got this mic today. Worked for a little bit using GarageBand with IPAD, but then stopped working. It’s just displaying a red light now. Bottom line, it doesn’t work. I understand sometimes things don’t work and that’s fine. But Samson doesn’t have any customer support to try and resolve the issue or any guidance on what is specifically happening to cause this error. Their user manual is nowhere near sufficient on info and they don’t even have a FAQ section on this product. Ridiculous.

  11. 11
    Todd E. says:

    This is one of the best product reviews I have read in a long time, perhaps ever. Your in-depth review of this mic is very much appreciated.

  12. 12
    tria says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience with samson meteor, Now i have no doubt to buy it!

  13. 13
    Ward says:

    Excellent review, thanks! I purchased one a week ago, am very happy with it. I use it for conferencing with co-workers. This mic is probably overkill for that purpose, but I’m glad that I got it. I use it every day, so to me it was worth it. Beats the company-issued headset!

  14. 14
    adithya yagnik says:

    Hello

    Your reviews were really helpful to me. I am beginners; basically a linguist having various assignments on Voice over. I am planing to buy SHURE PG 42 for my home recording so that i can minimize the cost for studio recording. However; i want to deliver professional sound. Would you please guide me further? what all accessories do i need beyond just a microphone?

    Looking forward to hear you soon!

  15. 15
    cchy says:

    May i ask if im able to use the meteor on the samsung galaxy tab ? I want to be able to record and edit it on the tab .

    Plnning to buy it if it allows the use on tablets

  16. 16
    Baileyyy says:

    Soo..I didn’t really get what I expected to get with this microphone. You see, I am and singer and I play acoustic guitar. Well, I know know to make music videos also. So I thought it would sound like something Tiffany Alvord would make or something after going back with some music software. Something professional. Ya know, sounds like it was recorded in a studio. On this microphone, I came to find out that you can absolutely tell that it was recorded in a home. Not a studio. My phone can record the same way as this can. I do not like this mic, and I do not recommend it. Sorry to be so negative!

  17. 17
    Paulina Sjoberg says:

    This is a perfect review of this product, thank you!!!

  18. 18
    Janet Cloninger says:

    @Baileyyy I think you’re going to sound like you recorded in a home when you record in a home. Mics capture the sound around them, and they aren’t magic.

  19. 19
    Alejandro says:

    Great review, I found it very useful as well as informative, I’m just about to buy a mic and I think I’ve already found the perfect choice. Thanks

  20. 20
    farhat says:

    Great review. I am having trouble with mic muting my speakers when I plug it in. Strange. But overall a great review. I recommend you do a youtube video as well.

  21. 21

    An Excellent and Not pre-opinionated review at last, thank you very much!!!
    I can hardly wait for the delivery of my iPad camera connection kit to start trying it out on my iPad. I am slightly worried though, it seems that, or there are “rumours” on the internet that apparently, due to a power-limitation in the latest iPad O/S, the mic may not work on an iPad 2 as the mic requires too much power apparently, so Hopefully, fingers crossed, this is not the case, and I will soon be on my way using this mic on my iPad 2.
    Many thanks again!

  22. 22
    Russell says:

    Does anyone know if this will work with Android tablets? If so, is there an adapter that is needed? Thanks in advance for any help you can provide. It (black version) is on sale today for $39.99 at Amazon.com.

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