Picking a single mic to help get your podcast off of the ground is no small feat.
Not only do you need to know what exactly you are looking for in a good piece of equipment, but you also need to know how to sift through the extensive catalog of high-quality options that are available to you.
Not a small feat, that’s for sure.
This is especially the case if you are new to recording software in general, where many of the features and stats that many products proudly wear in their description seem like technobabble straight out of Star Trek.
Fortunately, we can help explain some of these factors to you, as well as help narrow down your choices, by showing you two popular microphones and comparing them to each other.
Not only will you know a little more about these items, but you may also be able to see what qualities you are looking for in your product hunting.
Here, we are going to take a look at the Samson Q2U microphone, and the Audio Technica ATR2100.
Starting off this guide is the Samson Q2U.
Folks who have already dabbled in searching for the best microphone with great sound quality, or who have been around audio equipment-oriented friends, will know that Samson produces models as part of their line of products, with the Q line being one of the most successful.
And, among those most successful products, the Q2U is one of the most popular.
The Q2U is prized for its ability to drown out background noises from an audio recording, and to give a recorded voice the clarity that it needs to come across as smoothly as possible.
This makes it a perfect mic to use both in a home studio, where the sounds of home life might interrupt a good take, or in a crowded hall or stadium, where background noise and feedback can be a real issue for performers.
The Samson Q2U has up down buttons that make it easy to adjust the microphone’s gain level with a single touch. It also has a switchable polar pattern option, giving you control over the type of sound you’re capturing. The Q2U is designed to be used in any situation and can easily handle loud sources without distortion.
Add to that a comfortable handheld chassis, and you have a product that is perfect for holding and using for long periods, both at a desk or on stage.
With user-friendly features like this, it’s not hard to see why the Samson Q2U has stayed popular for over 17 years since it was first released in 2006.
Even if you have never picked up a microphone before, there is a decent chance that you have at least heard the brand name Audio Technica being dropped in conversations around microphones and audio equipment.
Audio Technica is a respected name in the business, with many of their products being simple to use, but having plenty of versatility for different settings that they can be used in.
Take the ATR2100, for example. At a first glance, this microphone looks like a typical handheld model.
However, once you start to use it for different purposes, you start to see just how much use you can get out of this humble little piece of equipment.
For one thing, the microphone has input compatibility with both USB and XLR cables, meaning that this mic can be used with traditional audio interface equipment, as well as through recording systems used for laptops and other computer devices.
Using the XLR cable connection, you can use the ATR2100 to record music or other sounds with a variety of sound cards and sound recording software.
The XLR input also allows for increased dynamic range, which is great for capturing a more accurate representation of your recordings.
Using the USB port, you can plug it into your computer and begin to record right away — no additional setup required! You can even connect the microphone directly to an iPhone or iPad for on-the-go recordings.
When you use the USB connection, the ATR2100 has a blue light that flashes to show when it’s in use. The microphone also has a direct monitor button that allows you to hear exactly what you are recording and adjust the sound accordingly.
Plus, with a headphone jack that allows your voice to be directly fed back to you, so you can better control your gain and audio levels for fine-tuning.
Plus, many models even come standard with a desk stand!
Comparing These Mics
So, we have a microphone from the old guard and a mic from the new.
How exactly do these pieces of generationally separated hardware fair against each other?
This is a feature that most good microphones need to have.
However. Past that initial hurdle of ‘mic good’, there is a lot of variety when it comes to what makes a microphone sound good for your particular needs.
The Samson Q2U is designed to create a nice, even sound from a vocal performance, without necessarily sacrificing any richness of sound that goes with it.
It’s what makes this item such a popular microphone for musicians to use on stage. Being a dynamic microphone, it doesn’t need phantom power.
Dynamic mics are perfect for live performances as they can handle louder sound levels without sacrificing audio quality.
This is especially true for the Samson Q2U, which offers excellent gain with minimal feedback. The microphone’s cardioid pattern helps it to focus on the sound coming directly in front of it while rejecting any sounds coming from other directions.
By contrast, the ATR2100 is a superior microphone for quieter tones, as it tends to slightly muffle the sound that it picks up, thanks to its pop filter.
This might seem like a negative at first, but it comes with its advantages, as the mic is less likely to pick up air currents or breathe through the mic, keeping the conversational tone you are keeping clear to listen to.
This also frees you of the most annoying issues with catching brief breaths that can ruin a vocal performance.
Outside of audio performance, having the right extras when you purchase it can be a defining feature that makes a piece of equipment easy to work with.
In this regard, the Samson Q2U is a great kit for podcasters to start with, coming with an extendable desktop stand, so you don’t have to hold it constantly, a mic clip, and a pop filter to help muffle out that picking up breathing issue that we mentioned before.
The ATR2100 doesn’t come with quite as many extras, just a collapsible stand for transporting and using at desks.
However, the in-built pop filter does mean that this mic doesn’t need one as much as its competitor.
This is a factor that will decide how long your mic stays of good quality and usable.
Given that the Samson has been used for the longer side of 15 years, it’s safe to say that this mic is of a very high quality, which has helped it stay popular.
However, the ATR2100 is no slouch in this field either, and also comes with several adjustment features for volume and gain on the main body.
Overall, both these mics will serve you well in starting your podcast. You may be able to find a Q2U for cheaper, as it has been on the market for much longer, but you can’t go wrong with either.