The Samson Q2U and the Shure SM58 are two of the most commonly recommended microphones to beginners who are just getting their foot in the door, and for very good reason. In fact, I’ve recommended the SM58 before as well as the Samson Q2U in two separate articles, however, a result of this is that some people are confused. Should they get the Samson Q2U or the Shure SM58? Which one is better?
The Samson Q2U is a better microphone than the Shure SM58 in terms of price, compatibility, convenience, and overall value, for a couple of reasons. The Samson Q2U sounds great via USB connection and it doesn’t require an audio interface, whereas the Shure SM58 does.
Obviously, I’m biased toward the Samson Q2U but I genuinely believe it’s the superior mic after using both of them many, many times. The Samson Q2, which you can find here on Amazon, is actually the go-to mic that I use for almost everything these days, simply because it’s always sitting on my boom-arm ready to go, connected to my laptop, and not needing much work to set up.
Why the Samson Q2U is a Better Mic to Get Than the Shure SM58
1) The USB Connection
All of the reasons why the Samson Q2U are better than the Shure SM58 are listed from the most important to the least important, which is why the USB connection comes first. I’m sure an audiophile or an audio engineer has many perfectly legitimate and scientific-sounding reasons why a USB connection isn’t as good as an XLR connection.
But at the end of the day, the USB connection still sounds great to my ears, and it’s extraordinarily convenient. While I do have my audio interface on my desk ready to go, I still opt for the USB microphone just because it’s so easy to use.
Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if manufacturers began making all of their microphones with a USB or a Thunderbolt connection or something similar to accommodate for all of the computer musicians that have come out of the woodwork over the last decade or so. The fact of the matter is, I don’t do live shows, and I rarely need an XLR cable to connect any of my gear unless I’m micing up an acoustic guitar with my Audio Technica AT2021 (also on Amazon) or recording vocals with another condenser mic.
Most of the equipment that I use is either for a DAW or for my guitar, so I tend to use a lot of USB cables and 1/4″ cables, but as far as using an XLR cable to connect my mics into an audio interface, it’s just not something that I do nearly as much, and USB mics like the Samson Q2U have made that possible.
If you watched my comparison video between the Samson Q2U and the other mics that I own, you’ll notice that the Q2U measures up to all of them, and even out-performs a couple of them with the exception of the AT2021 from Audio Technica. Regardless, the USB connection of this mic is a big part of why I use it so much; it’s just so convenient and the mic sounds just as good as the other ones I own, so why I wouldn’t I use it?
2) The Samson Q2U Comes with A Lot of Add-Ons
Another great aspect of the Samson Q2U purchase is that it comes with so many great little add-ons and extra pieces of equipment. For example, in my article here which is more of an in-depth guide on the Samson Q2U, I took a picture of all the things that the Samson Q2U includes in the box, which is where I got the picture you can see above. The Q2U includes a few things, including a USB and an XLR cable, a stand, and a foam guard.
The fact the Samson Q2U is such a great microphone in terms of its sound, while at the same time coming with a ton of free stuff makes it a winner to me. And I used most of the included products for almost a year, at least until I bought a boom arm and a pop filter which I now use it for instead. You can grab that boom arm set here from Amazon.
For the price that you pay for the Samson Q2U in comparison to the Shure SM58, I’d say it’s clear that the Samson Q2U is the more affordable option, especially considering all of the free stuff that it comes with. I think at the end of the day, I paid a bit more for the Shure SM58 than I did for the Samson Q2U.
One other difference I noticed between the Samson Q2U and the Shure SM58 is that the Shure needs to be boosted with more gain in order to reach the same volume level. You can see that in the comparison video I made. This isn’t a huge deal, because you just have to turn up the volume on the audio interface, but the fact the Samson Q2U is kind of just set and ready when you start using it makes it the most useful mic.
|Samson Q2U||Shure SM58|
|Dimensions||7.5” x 2.2” – |
190mm x 55mm
|Dimensions||162 mm – 6 & 3/8″ |
23 mm – 0.90″
|Weight||0.7 lbs -- 0.32 kg||Weight||0.66lbs – 0.29 kg|
|Mounting Style||Microphone Clip and Table Stand||Mounting Style||Comes with no mount or stand|
5) Overall Value
All-in-all, I know that the Samson Q2U is going to impress people a lot more than the Shure SM58 will, even though I recommended the Shure SM58 as the perfect microphone for beginners. The Samson Q2U is better in terms of what you pay for, everything that’s included, and the convenience of using it.
With all that said, however, I still stand behind my assertion that the SM58 is the best microphone to purchase first, simply because it can be used for absolutely everything, assuming you have an audio interface. The same thing, which we’ll explore later, by the way, can’t be said about the Samson Q2U which isn’t meant for performances. What mic a person should get comes down to what they’re going to use it for.
If a person plans on never, ever, doing a performance, then the Samson Q2U is where it’s at, but if you think you’re going to need a mic someday for band practice, or a collaboration of some kind, then the Shure SM58 is better. Additionally, no one is going to look at you funny if you bring an SM58 – it’s an accepted standard at this point. More on this in the following section.
When the Shure SM58 is a Better Microphone Than the Samson Q2U
If you need a microphone for not only recordings but also performances, there is simply no question that the Shure SM58 is what you should get for a couple of different reasons. One reason is that there isn’t going to be a place for you to hook up your USB microphone at a live venue, everything is run via XLR cables in these places, and using a USB microphone just isn’t going to work.
Additionally, I’m not even sure there exists a USB cable that is long enough to run from some computer in the back and to the front of the stage. That would have to be a 20-foot USB cable, and I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen anything like that before. They probably exist, I could be wrong, but I’ve never seen one.
As an added point, if you’ve read my article on why the Shure SM58 is still a great mic in spite of what I’ve said here, you’d know that the Shure SM58 is incredibly durable and reliable. You can drop the Shure SM58 over and over again and it’s going to be just fine. The same thing can’t be said for the Samson Q2U which is technically a condenser mic, by the way, because all USB microphones are condenser mics which I explained more here.
Important Differences Between the Shure SM58 and the Samson Q2U
1) The Shure SM58 Requires More Processing
When using the Shure SM58 for a home studio, I find it needs more processing to get it loud enough. As I pointed out in the YouTube video down below, I had to increase the gain on the audio interface to around 3/4 to almost all the way in order to get it loud enough, compared to the Samson Q2U which sounds great right away.
I imagine this is done on purpose because the SM58 is meant more for performances, but regardless, that’s something that’s worth mentioning about the two mics. The idea of what they’re meant for is also something I should talk about as well.
2) The Q2U and SM58 are Designed for Different Purposes
The Samson Q2U is meant for Zoom meetings, conference calls, YouTube videos, and other things like that. I find it just so happens to be a great mic for singing and recording acoustic guitars as well, compared to the Shure SM58 which is meant more for performances. You could probably say that comparing these two mics is an “apple versus oranges”-type of scenario, and I wouldn’t disagree with that.
Ultimately, what it comes down to is this: do you need a microphone for performances? If the answer is no, then get the Samson Q2U. If you do need one later on for live performances or collaborations with a band/another artist, then get the Shure SM58 instead, however, owning both of these mics isn’t a terrible idea either. It honestly seems like there’s no such thing as owning too many microphones.
YouTube Video Comparison – Shure SM58 and Samson Q2U
All of the links here take you to Amazon.
1) Samson Q2U
2) Shure SM58