There are many types of microphones out there, so choosing the right one can be quite daunting.
The Samson Q2U USB-XLR is one of the best USB microphones for Garageband users who are just getting started and need a cost-effective microphone.
Due to some of the pros and cons of using a USB microphone, I would recommend getting an actual XLR-connected microphone such as the Audio Technica 2035 or a Shure SM58, however, if you don’t want to grab an audio interface and just need a simple USB mic, the Samson Q2U is a fantastic choice.
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This particular microphone is loved by users because of its versatility, including the fact that it has both options: USB capability as well as an XLR connection. This makes it a versatile microphone that can serve both needs. In other words, if you so choose, you won’t actually need to get an audio interface to hook this up to your computer.
What I like most about this microphone is that I don’t need to grab my audio interface to set it up, in addition to the handy microphone stand it comes with.
As long as I have the microphone handy and my USB to USB-C adaptor (like this one from Amazon), I can just plug this in and have a way to get good-sounding quality audio with minimal gear.
Most users argue that this thing actually sounds the best when you use the USB connectivity jack, as well. The Samson Q2U comes with a solid starter pack, including a few key items and accessories.
Eventually, however, there will come a time when you’ll want a more serious set-up, so just note that this microphone won’t serve your recording needs for forever, but it will certainly be sufficient in the meantime as you get used to recording and audio production.
What It Comes With
As I mentioned above, the Samson Q2U comes with a variety of accessories that are actually pretty decent quality including the following items:
- A foam cover
- Guide book
- Desktop Tripod Microphone Stand
- Microphone Clip
- 3m XLR-XLR cable
- 2.25 USB Cable
- And of course, the microphone itself.
It’s important to note, however, that all of these items come with the microphone if you use the link that I showed above.
I can’t guarantee that you’ll get all of the aforementioned products if you purchase the microphone somewhere else.
How It Looks and Feels
Even though the Samson Q2U isn’t the most beautiful microphone on the market, it’s still not a bad looking microphone.
It has a standard aluminum grey look to it, which is an interesting choice because usually, microphones come in all black.
If you’ve ever read my review of the iRig HD 2 (which I still love by the way), you’ll know that I’m not a huge fan of plastic gear, so thankfully, this thing is made almost entirely out of metal along with a hard plastic gray grille to protect the microphone’s components.
All-in-all, when it comes to the design of the microphone, there isn’t much to complain or write home about.
However, when it comes to music production and recording, the design isn’t the most important thing anyway.
Regarding the size, you can compare and contrast the Samson Q2U to the Shure SM58 in the image below (and I have a whole other guide that compares these two mics by the way):
You can see that the Samson Q2U is actually a bit bigger than the Shure SM58.
Features of the Samson Q2U USB-XLR
USB and XLR Connectivity
Like I was saying before, the fact this thing has both kinds of connectivity, USB and XLR, makes it a great USB microphone to use for your home studio.
In the case that you’re very new to audio, and don’t have a lot of gear, this mic will serve your needs well, whether you want to record a podcast, create audio along to your YouTube videos, or for a conference call with employees.
The bottom of the microphone is where you’ll find the USB and XLR connection, with the USB connection on the side of the mic and the XLR right in the middle.
You can see what this looks in the image below:
While I’ve never used it in this way, you can hook up this microphone through its USB and XLR connection at the same time if you need to.
The Samson QU2 comes with a green-LED light as well, to determine whether it’s on or not.
While something like this is of secondary importance, I find that it’s kind of nice to have it, because there’s no confusion as to whether the mic is working, similar to the LED light of the iRig HD 2 (from Amazon).
Just below the LED light, there is the toggle switch which some users have described as fragile, but I don’t see any problems with it all. It’s not shaky or loose. It seems pretty solid to me.
Volume Knob and Headphone Jack
In the case that you want to hook up headphones to the microphone, you also have this option, and it also comes with the volume if you want to control how it sounds directly at the source.
It’s worth mentioning that if you’re using an audio interface, it will bypass the feature.
You can also use this microphone for FaceTime calls on your computer if needed, and the volume switch will control how long your microphone is.
If you want to use it this way, you just have to go down into the System Preferences. Select Audio, and then change the Input to Samson Q2U and then the output to the internal speakers.
The computer will automatically detect the microphone.
According to the manufacturer and other reviewers, the Samson QU2 has a frequency response between 20Hz and 18,000 Hz, which is quite wide and versatile, but not as wide as other mics like the Shure SM58 or the AT2035.
It has a cardioid polar pattern, similar to a Shure SM58. This means that the microphone works best when speaking directly on top of it.
The low-end of the microphone is clear and defined without having too much boom to it, and the high-end doesn’t have annoying hissing sounds or other problems that typically come with high-end frequency response.
When taking the price into consideration, the microphone is quite adept in terms of frequency response.
Most people would argue that the mic is much better for vocals than any other instrument, like a guitar, for instance. With that said, if you do want to use it for a guitar or another instrument, it’ll work just fine.
How It’s Built
As I mentioned earlier in the article, this microphone is made out of all steel, which is a huge plus, but the quality of the construction isn’t as good as the Shure SM58, which is expected though, considering the SM58 is an industry staple and a classic in this regard.
Specifications Of The Samson Q2U USB-XLR
- Cardioid Polar Pattern
- Dynamic Microphone
- 20Hz to 18,000 Hz
- USB Power
- Headphone Jack and Volume Control
- On and Off Switch
- 317 grams or 11.2-ounce weight
- XLR-USB Connectivity
- 3.5 mm Headphone TRS Jack
- 13x4x10 inches in length and width.
The Sound Of The Samson Q2U
Like I was saying before, the Samson Q2U, according to many of its users, has a superior sound when using the USB connectivity in comparison to the XLR connection. I imagine this is up to personal taste, however. Either way, the sound of the microphone is defined and balance, without any shrilling or shrieks in the high-end.
This microphone won’t be ideal for singing during live performances, but when it comes to recording vocals or doing a podcast, it’s going to do just fine (by the way, you should get Singorama from their site if you are a singer, because it’s the next best thing to getting an actual vocal coach).
In fact, I would go so far as to say that this microphone has comparable sound to a Shure SM58 and even my AT2021 (I have a YouTube video showing how it sounds below):
Cons of Using A USB Microphone
In this section, I’ll discuss some of the cons of using a USB microphone that isn’t necessarily specific to the Samson Q2U, but all microphones of this nature collectively.
One At A Time
Typically, you can only use one USB microphone at a time. Audio interfaces almost always allow the connection of several other units at the same time, for instance, a guitar and vocals simultaneously (my guide on audio interfaces).
While not all USB microphones have latency, it’s not uncommon for users to run into this problem.
Latency is the time that it takes for the sound to actually enter the mic and come out of your headphones or speaker system which I’ve explained before.
For instance, it wouldn’t be wise to use this with Bluetooth speakers, but you shouldn’t be using BlueTooth anyway unless you’re using a device with the ability to switch between a wired and wireless connection like the ATH-M50xBT headphones (from Amazon).
Audio interfaces connected to a microphone are typically created so as to eliminate latency right off the bat.
While the Samson Q2U is a great sounding microphone, it’s never going to be as good as a very premium microphone like Audio Technica’s 4050 Stereo mic (also from Amazon). However, as I already stated above, the Samson Q2U does sound great and it has become one of my favorite mics to use for not only its sound but also its convenience.
How To Hook Up The Samson Q2U To Garageband (And Your Computer)
Connecting the Samson Q2U to Garageband and the computer is very simple and straight forward (by the way, this Macbook Pro from Amazon is the one I recommend if you’re in the market for one).
All of the necessary gears comes with it, with the exception of the USB to USB-C adaptor, which I’m sure you own already if you’re using a new Mac. However, if you’re not using a new Mac, you won’t need an adaptor.
1) Connect USB to Micro-USB to the Microphone
2) Plug the USB end into your computer using a USB to USB-C adaptor if you’re using a new computer. If not, the USB will work fine.
4) Go into Garageband’s Preferences and choose “Samson Q2U” as your input device.
If you’re using the microphone for another feature, for example, FaceTime, go into the System Preferences, select Sound, and then change the input to “Samson Q2U.”
YouTube Video Review
The Samson Q2U is easily one of the most popular USB-microphones on the market right now, including many thousands of ratings and a pretty solid rating on Amazon as well. Additionally, It’s been compared positively to other microphones that are in some cases 2-3 times the price of this one.
On account of its versatility and flexibility in conjunction with its price, the Samson Q2U has become one of the most commonly suggested microphones out there, and I can see why. I definitely use this microphone when I don’t want to take the time to hook up my audio interface.