Field Report: Samson Q2U

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Samson Q2U mic

Nick is a sports reporter on the run. He faces stiff deadlines. Typically, he is required to upload one-minute sports roundups to several stations that use his reports on the next day's morning show. Nick only carries a laptop with Wi-fi connectivity and his favorite recording software. Luckily for Nick, it's all he needs. He no longer carries an extra sound mixer case, audio cables and power supplies. Nick uses the Q2U USB microphone package from Samson. Complete with a dynamic handheld microphone and headphones, he'll have his reports completed and uploaded long before the lights go out at the arena.

At a glance, the Q2U looks like a regular handheld dynamic microphone. It has an on/off switch, dual-stage silver grille, cardioid pickup pattern, an XLR output and a gray body. What's unique though, is the USB I/O jack, the 3.5mm headphone jack, the green USB LED indicator and the headphone volume control. Inside the microphone is a 16-bit/48kHz A/D converter that allows the unit to become an external I/O audio device for a PC or Mac. The XLR and USB can be used simultaneously for connection to a live sound console and computer for recording. The no-latency 3.5mm headphone jack makes monitoring during recording a snap. The Q2U package ships with Samson HP20 studio headphones, which deliver accurate audio and are very comfortable. Also in the package are a standard microphone stand clip, tripod-style desk stand, USB cable, 10' XLR to ¼" cable and Cakewalk audio editing software.

Performance at a glance
Dynamic cardioid pickup pattern
16-bit/48kHz A/D converter
Works with any editing software
USB connectivity
3.5mm headphone jack
No software or drivers to install
XLR output and USB I/O can be used simultaneously
Sturdy diecast steel construction
HP-20 headphones offer quality monitoring

Real use

The story about Nick is true. He's a colleague who took great interest in the Q2U, so I let him take it for a week to try. Upon connecting the USB cable to his laptop and the HP20 headphones to the bottom of the actual microphone, he was able to instantly record his voice-over material. In addition, he could monitor himself using the headphone output on the microphone, plus he could hear the multitrack editing playback on his software. The unit effectively becomes a handheld external soundcard. I too gave the Q2U a whirl in the radio studio, on a laptop in the field and at my personal studio. Each computer recognized the device and loaded the drivers immediately without having to load any software or firmware. The only adjustments we had to make involved telling the editing software to use the Q2U as the primary I/O device. This did not require a reboot. The Q2U is the epitome of plug and play.

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