Samson Q2U and M-Track Solo for Beginner Podcasting and Voiceover

The Samson Q2U microphone and the M-Audio M-Track Solo are affordable entry-level options for podcasting, videos, and voiceovers. Complete your setup with an On-Stage stand and the Knox Microphone Shock Mount along with a DAW like Audacity or Reaper

Choosing a Microphone

When I was looking for my first quality entry-level microphone to improve the audio quality of my YouTube videos, I chose the Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ USB Condenser Microphone.

AT2020USB+ Pros

Condenser microphones are often recommended for voiceovers, podcasting, and singing because they are sensitive and capture more sound than dynamic microphones.

"They deliver clear voice while providing warmth and presence. Condenser microphones are the industry standard for voice actors." 1

Another advantage of this sensitivity is that you don't have to get too close to the mic. If you're planning on making YouTube videos or getting into podcasting or voiceover, a condenser microphone with its clarity and range might seem like the best choice.

AT2020USB+ Disadvantages

That's what I thought when I bought the AT2020USB+. Unfortunately, that sensitivity also picks up a lot of noise. I live in a densely populated area and when I'm recording, I often have to stop because of the noise going on outside. To remove unwanted noise, I used the ReaFIR plugin in Reaper to build a noise profile and reduce noise from the signal. But when there is a lot of noise in the recording, the vocal quality may deteriorate as the noise is removed. Some clarity and warmth can be removed in the process.

Different Types of Microphones

Condenser Microphone

Condenser mics are great for people who can set up a studio or booth with lots of silencers. When you're starting out with recording, you may want to avoid making big investments until you see how things work out. And soundproofing options can get expensive if you live in a noisy area. Of course, this can also vary by model. Some condensers may pick up more unwanted noise than others. If you prefer to use a condenser microphone, be sure to thoroughly research the noise levels yourself and how much external noise they receive.

Dynamic Microphone

If you need to record in your home office, living room, or bedroom, a dynamic microphone might be a better choice.

This microphone primarily picks up sound close to the microphone itself, which means you have to be very close. And by close, I mean inches. The upside is that if your neighbor's kids are playing outside, there's a high chance that the fuss they're making won't end up on your record.

With dynamic microphones, you sacrifice quality for convenience. However, you can record high-quality audio with a nice dynamic microphone that works well for video, podcasting, and basic voiceover work.

While this microphone doesn't pick up much external noise, you should still record in a quiet environment. A very loud sound, like a leaf blower walking right outside your house, will be heard. If possible, keep the air conditioner off and on and do not run the equipment around. While the dynamic microphone picks up some noise in your immediate environment, you may not be forced to end a recording session based on what's happening outside.

Both are Better

I use my condenser mic when conditions allow and if possible I recommend getting both types. When there's nothing outside, I'll pull out my AT2020USB+ because I prefer how the audio sounds. But if I need to record something and there is low level noise outside, I use my dynamic microphone.

Start Recording

To start recording, you'll need a microphone, a digital audio interface, a good boom mount or arm, and a shock mount. It's tempting to use a USB microphone because we're all used to using USB, but it's better to choose a microphone with an XLR cable. XLR microphones require a digital audio interface.

"USB microphones usually have a pre-amp built into the microphone itself. This means you're pretty much stuck with the sound. If you have an XLR microphone, you have the option of upgrading the audio interface or pre-amp to get an even, better tone. different." 2

The Samson Technologies Q2U USB/XLR Dynamic Microphone and M-Audio M-Track Solo or Duo USB Audio Interface can get you started without spending a fortune. The Q2U costs around $70. It can be used as a USB mic but you will get better sound quality using an XLR cable.

Using XLR requires a digital audio interface. There are two affordable entry-level options that cost around $50. One of them was made by Behringer.

What I use is M-Audio M-Track Solo. If you plan to record with other people, pay a little more to get the M-Audio M-Track Duo, which has two microphone inputs.

The Knox Microphone Shock Mount works on stands compatible with Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB and Samson Q2U microphones

Overview of Samson Technologies Q2U

The Samson Technologies Q2U is an entry-level dynamic microphone that minimizes "ambient and other room noise for podcasting, home recording, or voiceover work." It comes with a USB and XLR cable. It has a 3.5mm headphone jack, so you can listen to yourself while you record.

However, if you are using a digital audio interface, you are plugging headphones into the headphone jack on the interface, not the microphone. Q2U also includes a "pop filter to reduce p-pop."

The stand on the Q2U is a small tripod mount that may not be sturdy or practical enough for the casual user. You can get a boom arm or a sturdy stand with a 5/8" connector.

I am using the DS7200B On-Stage Mic Mount. The only shock mounts I know of that work with the Samson Technologies Q2U and stands like the On-Stage are the Knox Microphone Shock Mount for the Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB and the Samson Q2U.

M-Audio M-Track Solo Overview

The M-Audio M-Track Solo is less than half the price of a similar budget digital audio interface. In comparison, the Focusrite Scarlett Solo is around $120. The M-Track Solo is lighter and smoother than its more expensive entry-level counterparts. It's made of plastic and feels cheap.

The gain knob makes a huge jump in sound from 9 to 10, which is an odd design choice. I had to keep it at 9.5 to get loud enough audio. If I go past 9.5, the sound suddenly becomes very distorted. When I keep it at 9.5, I get clean, hiss-free footage.

Check Your Clip Signal/Light

The signal/clip light under the gain knob turns green when vocals are loud enough to pick up and red when sound is cut off. Controlling the volume is much easier using the gain knob on the digital audio interface than trying to control the volume for a USB microphone using either the Windows sound control or the slider in the DAW.

Check Your Driver

I have no problem setting up my M-Track Solo. According to the prompts, the driver must be downloaded and installed before plugging in the device. When I installed the driver on Windows 10 and connected to the device, it recognized immediately. I did a test recording in Audacity with a Samson Q2U and it worked from the start. I mostly use it with Reaper.

USB Cable Power

The M-track Solo is powered via a USB cable, so you don't need an external power supply.

Podcast, record, live stream—this portable audio interface has it all. The USB sound card for Mac or PC delivers 48 kHz audio resolution for pristine recording every time.

The M-Audio M-Track Solo has one XLR microphone input

Everything You Need to Get Started

For less than $200, you can get the Samson Q2U microphone, M-Audio M-Track Solo, On-Stage stand, and Knox Microphone Shock Mount. Here's all the equipment you need to get started. Use blankets to reduce echo and absorb noise in your recording room.

In addition to hardware, you need software. A DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) is required for recording and editing.

M-Track Solo comes with Pro Tools First M-Audio Edition. You can also get Reaper and Audacity for free. Reaper requires a $60 license after 60 days, but if you want to continue testing after that, it will continue to work until you're ready to pay. Audacity is open-source, so it's always free.

Reference

These terms refer to the two different ways microphones are made, and their functions. Here are the potential pros and cons of both.

With most podcasters and musicians producing material from home, it's important to know how to get the most out of your microphone.

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