Samson Q2U Review: Best Entry-Level Mic for Podcasters
Searching for the right podcast mic can be a confusing process and might leave you thinking you need the most expensive option to get quality audio.
Thankfully this isn't true, and a good mic doesn't have to cost a fortune.
The Samson Q2U is a popular entry-level microphone among podcasters and Buzzsprout's top recommendation for new podcasters.
In this review, we'll show you what makes the Q2U one of the best mics in its category and help you decide if it's a good fit for your own setup!
Disclosure: Some of these product links are affiliate links, which means Buzzsprout might receive a small commission if you decide to purchase them.
What makes the Samson Q2U a great mic?
Don't let "entry-level" throw you; the Q2U is a versatile mic used by seasoned and novice podcasters alike and rivals other higher-priced options.
The mic costs $59.99 and has several built-in efficiencies that make it an excellent option — especially for beginner podcasters. Let's take a look at its top three features.
#1. It's a dynamic microphone
The Q2U is a dynamic mic with a cardioid pickup pattern, making it able to ignore ambient noise and focus on picking up the vocals of a live recording. This is opposed to condenser microphones (like the Blue Yeti) which tend to be trickier to setup, pricier, and more sensitive to background noise.
Dynamic mics also don't require phantom power, allowing you to use them with various audio interfaces.
#2. Has versatile outputs
In addition to sound quality, the Q2U has both micro USB and XLR connectors, making it simple to use with a basic computer setup or more complex mixers and audio interfaces (more on this later.)
Having the option between a USB microphone and an XLR mic is convenient for podcasters who aren't yet ready to invest in an XLR mic and also serves as a built-in "plan B."
If you're using the mic's XLR functionality to record to a mixer and something stops working, you can easily attach the USB cables and record directly to your computer instead.
USB mics are typically more conducive to recording outside of a studio, too, which is convenient if you often record on-the-go. You can also use both outputs to record simultaneously, so you'll have a backup in case something happens to one of your recordings.
The mic's headphone jack allows you to use a headset to monitor the sound levels and prevent echoes or delays in your audio.
#3. Comes with quality accessories
One of the best parts about the Q2U is the amount and quality of its accessories. You can purchase the Q2U for $59.99 on B&H Photo Video or opt for the complete podcasting pack for $99 on Amazon. Here's what you can expect when you open the box:
- XLR cables
- USB cables
- Mic stand
- Windscreen (in complete podcasting pack)
- Pop filter
- Mic clip
- Samson HPO headphones (in complete podcasting pack)
The Q2U podcasting package has just about about everything you need, but it is missing a storage case. But if you want a dedicated case for your mic, you can purchase one on Amazon for under $15.
In terms of sound quality, some users feel the Q2U is sensitive to plosives. In our experience, any unwanted sensitivity is easily corrected with a pop-filter.
Samson Q2U vs. Audio Technica's ATR2100x
The Samson Q2U is comparable to Audio Technica's ATR2100x (formerly the ATR2100), which has many of the same features: ease-of-use, reasonable price point, good sound quality, and both XLR/USB connections.
Both mics capture quality audio that can stand up to more expensive mics, but we think the Q2U produces a slightly more resonant, fuller sound than audio from an ATR2100x and a better tonal quality – especially for the value.
So, what's the difference between the mics? The ATR2100x has a USB-C output instead of the micro USB on the Q2U, making it easier to plug into your device and a bit faster to charge.
The ATR2100x is a great mic we often recommend, but we think the Samson Q2U gives podcasters a little more for their buck.
Sample Q2U recording:
Here's a sample of our podcast recorded with a Q2U through an interface. You can compare the sample audio to the ATR2100x in this YouTube video.
Q2U Setup & best practices
Before recording with any mic, we suggest following some basic guidelines to optimize your home recording studio's acoustics and dampen unwanted noise. The more you preemptively prep your space, the less work you'll have to do in post-production to clean up echoes, unwanted background noise, etc.
You can attach the Q2U onto a boom arm, mic stand or use it hand-held for on-the-go interviews. From there, you can set up your mic using either the USB or XLR connector cables. Here's a brief breakdown of how to use either output.
Note: The Samson Q2U is compatible with Mac, PC, iOS, Android, Zoom digital recorders, and any interface or mixer with an XLR connection.
USB setup (for computers)
This simple plug-and-play setup is well-suited for most podcasters when recording onto a computer, iPad, or iPhone (although we don't recommend recording on a smartphone.) Just attach the USB cable to the mic and plug the other end into your device.
Open up your recording software and select the mic as your input. It should automatically show up in your software's input options.
XLR setup (for mixers and interfaces)
XLR connections let you plug into a sound system that applies your preamp effects and feeds into your computer. Let's say you have the Focusrite Scarlet 2i2 audio interface. To use the Q2U with this device, you'd plug in the XLR cable to the mic and plug the interface into your computer via USB.
Now your mic's audio will run through your interface and into your computer's recording software.
The Samson Q2U microphone is often called the Swiss Army knife of podcast mics because of its versatility and budget price point. We tend to agree, and in our opinion, it's the best value out there.
Not sure if the Q2U is right for you? Check out our reviews on other highly-recommended mics. Once you settle on a mic, these resources can help you complete your recording setup.