Samson USB Meteor Mic review
- Looks awesome
- Sounds great
- Built-in legs function poorly
- Could mislead amateur podcasters
- No XLR output
In an ever-widening sea of USB microphones, the differentiating aspect of this diminutive device is its form factor. Three rounded, hinged legs fold up to conform perfectly to the contours of the mic itself, making the whole package slightly smaller than a standard desktop mouse. The foam-padded legs can be adjusted to have the 1-inch cardioid capsule face a (rather limited) range of directions.
Audio-wise, the Meteor's internals perform fine. If you're speaking within 4 to 8 inches of the grill, you'll get good frequency response and a nice built-in p-pop blocking effect, with solid 16-bit / 48kHz recording. The built-in 1/8" headphone monitor, mute button, and headphone volume control all perform exactly as they should.
But these things are kind of givens in the modern world of USB microphones: if you didn't have them, you'd have a failed product, and there are tons of mics out there that deliver these features for less than the $99 Samson is asking for the Meteor. Back to the differentiating point, then: the folding legs, which theoretically function as as an adjustable stand, are kind of useless. We put them on the table next to our laptop -- which we presume would be the most popular location to place it for podcasting -- and were way too far away from the capsule to get good results. In order to use our laptop and the microphone at the same time, we had to lean waaaay in, and the hunchback / craned-neck look isn't quite "in" with our podcast team yet. It also picked up a lot of noise from our laptop fan and typing sounds.
In order for the mic to really function usefully, then, you're going to need a desk- or floor-based stand, which will work just fine with the built-in 5/8" thread mount. But that kind of defeats the point of the differentiating aspect of this microphone... right? We're also actually a little worried that this built-in legs might encourage amateur laptop recorders to NOT buy a stand, place the mics on their desks, and just live with perpetually low-quality recordings without even knowing they're doing anything wrong, which makes us kind of squeamish.
Don't get us wrong: we like the Meteor and would be super-stoked if it could use those sexy legs as wings and fly 4 - 8 inches from our mouths all day long, but unfortunately we don't think that's in the cards 'til at least version 3.0. You could use it to mic other stuff, too, like drums, guitars, or your killer flute jam, but if you're interested in doing a serious recording you won't be using a USB mic anyway, you'd be using a couple XLR microphones and a USB audio interface, probably. Or, if you're looking for a one-device / quick n' dirty recording solution and are going to be mounting it on a stand anyway, you might as well go with something like Samson's own Zoom H2 Handy Recorder, a long-time favorite of ours that has four mics, a built-in display, and memory to record on for less than $150. While the H2 and its ilk aren't as handsome as the Meteor mic, they do a lot more.
As x-treme nerds, we're more comfortable hanging out with those who have more going on inside than outside, which the Meteor certainly doesn't. But! When we're looking for a perfectly competent, seriously flawed, drop-dead knockout to take on the town for the evening, it'll probably be the Meteor.