It’s time to revisit our Samson Q2U review in 2023. Can this popular entry-level mic still mix it with the modern-era heavyweights? Let’s find out…
Ask any podcasting group or community for microphone recommendations, and you’ll often hear the Samson Q2U being touted.
That’s no surprise, either. There are several good reasons why you might want one. In fact, that’s why the Q2U appears in our Best Podcast Microphones article. It’s also one of our top recommended best value-for-money mics.
In this Samson Q2U review, we’ll take a look at these reasons and see whether they’re relevant to you and your own podcasting setup.
Editor’s Note: The Samson Q2U in 2023?
We first reviewed the Samson Q2U back in 2016. With all the fancy new mics released since then, you’d think the Q2U might’ve been long since forgotten. That isn’t the case!
Samson Q2U Review: Who Would Use It?
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The flexibility of the Samson Q2U throws the doors right open here. Whether you’re a podcaster or the lead singer in a band, this is a durable, affordable, and handy microphone.
Our Rating: 4.6/5
It’s also a mic that you’ll find in the recording setups of podcasting veterans and novices alike. It can be part of the simplest setup, running directly into a computer, or a heavily customised one involving mixers and digital recorders.
What Makes the Q2U Great?
Being a dynamic microphone with a cardioid pickup pattern, it’s ideally suited to picking up vocals whilst rejecting much of the sounds around and behind it. And the Q2U does a better job than most other dynamic-cardioid mics on this front.
It also performs well with handling noise. It’s always preferable to mount your mics in a boom arm or stand, but it might be easier to walk around holding the mic if you’re doing some on-location interviews. The only mic I’ve come across that ‘handles’ better than the Q2U is the Shure SM58.
Where Would You Use It?
Regardless of what microphone you’re using, it’s always good to record your podcasts in a quiet, sound-dampened room – unless you’re going for a field-recorded “in the moment” effect. Nevertheless, the Samson Q2U is pretty forgiving of less-than-ideal recording conditions.
To rephrase the question a bit, there are few places where you couldn’t use it. Just be sure to monitor your recordings at all times by plugging some earbuds into the Q2U’s headphone jack. That way, you can pick up on environmental audio issues the second they happen, as opposed to when you get home and load your audio into your computer.
What Kind Of Recording Setup Suits the Samson Q2U?
This is where the microphone really shines. Whilst most other microphones have either a USB cable to plug into your computer OR an XLR cable to plug into your mixer or recorder, the Q2U has both. This gives you all sorts of flexibility when recording your podcast.
If you intend on using an interface to podcast, and something breaks, you can switch to USB and record directly into your computer. Likewise, if you are on the road and have your microphone with you, there’s more chance of finding a setup to accommodate it if you want to do some recording on the fly.
This is one of the reasons it’s a great beginner microphone. You can get started with the minimum setup, recording via USB. But as you grow, perhaps getting a digital recorder or mixer, this mic will grow with you. Stick this into a high-level audio interface with top-quality preamps, and you’ll find the audio quality ramps up as a result.
Having both a USB and XLR connection means you can even record through both simultaneously. If you’re doing an important interview on location and are scared of something breaking, this is a comforting safety net to have in place. You can also use this dual functionality to assist you when doing a mix-minus remote interview.
The Q2U is a real Swiss army knife of podcasting, fitting just about any context you can throw at it.
What Does It Come With?
That depends on whether you get the mic on its own or as part of a bundle. You can buy the Q2U as part of a ‘Podcast Pack’ and get
- A desktop/table mic stand and boom arm
- A set of stereo headphones
- XLR and USB cables
- A pop filter and foam windshield
- A cleaning kit for the mic and its accessories
How Much Does It Cost?
Samson Q2U Review: How Does It Sound?
Here are a couple of sound samples I’ve recorded for you. They were initially recorded for our Best Budget Mics roundup, and feature segments of a reading from Beatrix Potter’s dark horror classic Peter Rabbit.
Samson Q2U as USB
Samson Q2U as XLR
The XLR version was recorded into a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB audio interface. I’ve applied no post-processing, normalisation, noise-reduction, etc, to the files.
Samson Q2U Alternatives
When thinking of Samson Q2U alternatives, we can look at in different ways.
- Mics that are in the same price range.
- Mics that are similar in look, build, function, and cost.
- Mics that connect via both USB and XLR.
On Price Point Alone
When it comes to cost alone, there aren’t a tonne of mics out there that you can pick up for $70. The Blue Snowball is $20 cheaper but nowhere near as good. The Shure SM58 is $20 dearer but doesn’t have a USB option.
On Look, Build, Function, & Cost
There’s very little in it between the Q2U, the ATR2100, and the Maono AU-HD300T. I go into more detail in the post I’ve linked to there.
XLR/USB Combo Mics
The aforementioned ATR2100 and Maono AU-HD300T do both. Then there’s:
- The Samson Q9U – $150
- The Maono PD400X – $150
- The Shure MV7 – $250
- The Rode NT1 5th Generation – $250
Samson Q2U Review: The Summary
Available for around $70, this mic lets you record via USB or XLR. On top of that, it has as good a sound quality as any in its range. These factors make it hard to look past the Samson Q2U when buying your first podcasting mic.
If you’re starting a podcast, don’t yet have a microphone, and have a limited budget, the Q2U is an excellent option.
Its simplicity, versatility, and accessories make for incredible value. It’s the mic we recommend to people the most here at The Podcast Host, and we use it a lot, too.
It’s worth reiterating that there are a few similar options on the market, from the ATR2100 to the Maono AU-HD300T, and be sure to check our current list of the best podcast microphones on the market if you’re still looking to shop around a bit!