Review: Samson Meteor Mic

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Short version: An attractive and portable mic for when you want to capture a little more depth and warmth than the one built into your laptop, webcam, or headset.

Features:

  • 25mm diaphragm condenser mic
  • 20Hz – 20kHz response at 16-bit, 44.1/48kHz
  • Driverless USB operation
  • Chrome-plated retro design with foldable legs
  • MSRP:$99

Pros:

  • Great retro/futuristic look
  • Easy setup
  • As expected, sounds better than average computer mics

Cons:

  • Not necessarily superior in terms of clarity to headset mics
  • You can get a “real” mic like an SM58 for less

Full review:

We saw the Meteor Mic make its debut at CES, and looked forward to checking it out; there’s no shortage of microphones out there, but this compact and nice-looking gadget seemed to stand out from the crowd.

The look is a cross between an old-school chrome microphone and a modern device. It has fold-out legs that let you stand it at any position you like, or fold them up completely to make it a little portable silver pellet. It’s really made of metal (well, it’s chrome-plated, anyway), which is reassuring when it’s going in your bag. Too often audio gear for computers (headsets and such) feels chintzy. Not this thing.

There’s a 1/8″ out in the back so you can attach headphones and monitor your sound. Volume is controlled by a knob on the front, and there’s a mute button as well that saves you the trouble of turning off the mic in software. It’s a tidy little package, though it does look a little odd with the thick black USB cord coming out the back. As long as you’re doing things stylishly, Samson, why not a custom USB cord that’s a little more petite?

It also works seamlessly with your iPad; no setup necessary, just plug it in and go. Note that when you plug it in, it counts as the iPad’s audio out as well as the audio in, so you’ll need to have some headphones plugged into the mic if you want to hear what you’ve recorded.

The most important thing is the sound, of course, and the Meteor Mic doesn’t disappoint there. It’s a far richer sound than you’d get from your webcam or built-in mic. Here’s a little sample, compared to some other devices:
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I’m sure you hear the difference. If you’re recording a podcast or video with lots of voice (as our video reviews generally have), it’s just better to use a mic that captures more range. Your voice sounds more natural, you can adjust it more easily, and so on. I detected a little bit of reverb that came along with too much gain, and I’d say the sound is just a little warm, though that’s easily adjustable.

That said, a headset mic like that on the G35 headset I use produces perfectly usable sound for chatting or using in games. If all you need to do is make yourself understood, built-in mics and headsets work just fine.

The question is why should you buy the Meteor Mic over cheaper options from Audio Technica, Behringer, or Blue, among others? Well, the design is part of it — the Meteor Mic really is a very convenient package, even coming with its own little sack. There are no drivers, and it works instantly on Windows, OS X, and iOS. Not having the other mics around me to test, I can’t speak to quality, which I realize takes some of the wind out of the comparison, but the Samson does its job well. Chances are different people will prefer the sounds of different mics, and if you can’t decide based on specs, it might be worth ordering two and returning one.

It’s also worth noting that if you’re considering buying a microphone for music, it’s worth looking at a traditional XLR mic as well. You can get a classic Shure SM58 and a few adapters for the same price.

Conclusion

Since I don’t have the Meteor Mic’s competition here to test it against, I can’t say anything like “buy this over that one,” but I can say that this is a solidly-built, convenient microphone that produces a perfectly decent sound. If you’re a podcaster or use Skype or another chatting service often, put this one on your list to check out. Also, If you’re an iPad-centric worker, and I know some of you out there, this makes for a nice accessory.

Product page: Samson Meteor Mic