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I had the first chance to use my new Samson C01U USB Studio Condenser microphone in anger for the first time the other day when recording piano and voice for a short film proposal.
Appearances matter, and the rigid shrink wrap style of blister packaging the Samson C01U had arrived in didn’t do it justice. It’s usually only cheap audio/video leads masquerading as expensive ones and factory made cheeses that find themselves in clear, bubble packages, not studio quality condenser microphones.
Once unwrapped however, the weight (nearly half a kilo), size and obvious quality of design and manufacture combined to negate this first appearance. It is a lovely looking, feel-good bit of kit.
There is a mic stand mount included, which is fairly sturdy looking and well designed but worryingly I’m pretty sure it’s made of plastic. This means taking it off the stand for safety before slinging the stand in the back of your car.
The only other useful item included in the bubble was a middling long usb cable which I have just measured at 2.9mts.
This is a little bit on the stingy side when supplying just 5mts would have given the maximum reach for a single high speed usb cable and I immediately found myself having to move my MacBook closer to the mic stand. The usb cable length can be seen in a slightly more reasonable light bearing in mind the very prominent sticker on the front of the C01U which reads ‘Ideal for PODCASTING’ (their capitals) and of course the name of the mic – Studio. I was on location and recording a piano.
It is entirely possible to use the C01U as it is with your Mac straight out of the box, I checked and it does work. But this would mean missing out on the added versatility of Samson’s SoftPre applet software which needs downloading for free from their site. SoftPre adds the possibility of an Input Level Meter, Volume control, High-pass filter and Phase Switch to the functionality of the C01U.
I struggled with getting this to work for a little while as it means reading the notes…but the order of service goes like this: connect usb cable to mic, plug in to any free usb port on your Mac, fire up Garageband (with Logic you need to alter settings in the system Audio/Midi but full instructions are available from Samson’s site), go to Preferences, Audio/Midi, Audio Input & choose the Samson. When prompted to change drivers click yes. The SoftPre gui can be made to float on top of everything else which helps when switching back and forth between it and Garageband.
I loved the quality of the recordings achieved with the C01U straight away. I’m no professional at this but their clarity and quality was instantly noticeable. The speed and ease of set-up was fantastic. It worked exactly as it should have and none of the other musicians present so much as commented on the presence of a usb cable or lack of an audio interface box. Recording with the Samson C01U was one of those computer experiences which stand-out by being almost completely transparent.
This is a very capable, easy to use, all round microphone which gives great results simply and easily and sits really comfortably next to your Mac in almost any situation. If you are into podcasting or need to record a piano, the Samson C01U will work for you.