Living the Stream: Samson Go Mic Connect Review

A Solid, Affordable Performer for Podcasting, Live Streaming and Video Chatting

Samson Go Mic Connect
The Samson Go Mic Connect USB microphone. Samson

Talk about the great equalizer. Thanks to the advent of the internet and easy access to video-making and viewing avenues, the World Wide Web has democratized content delivery and helped turn regular people into bonafide celebrities.

Pewdiepie. Smosh. MatPat. This new breed of video personalities has cultivated a following that can eclipse even the biggest of stars such as Taylor Swift and everyone’s favorite — or least favorite depending on your perspective — stucco-defacing man-child Justin Bieber.

As someone with a piddly 200-plus followers on my “Tabiasobi” gaming and anime YouTube channel, I admittedly don’t come close to the reach that even C-list video celebrities get on YouTube or Twitch. At the same time, dabbling in video and audio recording through the years both as a hobby and my job as a journalist has allowed me to try out all sorts of gadgets for content creation. These include the Canon 6D, JVC Everio Quad Proof Camcorder, the Zoom H1 recorder, iRig Mic Field and Apogee Mic with Zacuto Grip combo for the iPhone.

This brings us to the latest doohickey to grace my gadget-testing presence, the Samson Go Mic Connect. A USB Mic designed to plug into a PC or Mac, the Samson certainly works great for Skype or Google Hangouts. Then again, the boost in audio quality that it provides can be considered a bit of overkill for simple video chat. It’s quite clear that Samson is also targeting additional clientele for the Go Mic Connect such as podcasters, YouTubers, and livestreamers.

Unboxing the Go Mic Connect reveals the actual microphone as well as a USB cable and pouch. The actual mic features a rectangular body with a solid build and a bit of a 1980s vibe with its styling. On top is a mute button for convenience in case you want to quickly cut the audio while video chatting.

There’s also a 3.5-millimeter slot to connect headphones for folks who would like to do direct monitoring of their audio feed.

For placement, the Go Mic Connect has a built-in extending arm that can be adjusted for positioning. This allows you to place it on top of a laptop screen if you wish for that classic computer camera placement. Otherwise, the arm can function as a stand if you need to place it on your desk or other surfaces while recording. Setup is pretty easy and the mic can work right out of the box with whatever software you use. Otherwise, you can download the Samson Sound Deck software for free if you require a basic audio recording program.

Naturally, audio quality is the most important part of any mic and Samson’s Go Mic Connect nicely delivers on this end. Just using the basic Sound Deck software, I was able to calibrate sensitivity to match the natural volume of my speaking voice and get good results without picking up the hum of my gaming laptop. Directionality is also excellent, with the mic doing a great job of focusing its sweet spot on a cone directly in front of it while reducing its recording sensitivity from outlying areas when the Sound Deck’s “Focus” feature is turned on.

Admittedly, it won’t completely negate voice in the background or opening doors so you will still want to record in a fairly quiet environment for the best results. With the Sound Deck software, you can actually further narrow the mic’s cone sensitivity even more by turning on “Focus Plus,” which does an excellent job in ensuring that the mic does not pick up audio from the sides or more than a few meters directly in front of it. However, this lowers the audio quality so I wouldn’t use it unless I’m in a really noisy environment and can’t go anywhere else, especially given how many folks who listen to podcasts or watch videos can get annoyed if sound quality isn’t optimal.

On the other hand, Focus Plus is great for basic Skype calls if you’re at a party or someplace with lots of people and you want to narrow the audio range so it only picks up your voice.

Speaking of sound quality, audio is great at high bit rates. The default setting for the Sound Deck software is mono with a bit rate of 48,000. Recording at that bit rate leads to larger WAV files of a little over 1 megabyte for every 10 seconds — double that if you turn on the stereo. Sound Deck doesn’t have an MP3 option, allowing you instead to lower the bit rate down to 8,000 for significantly smaller files but the audio quality is noticeably less clear. For voice, it’s better to go with mono sound at a high bit rate than stereo sound at a low bit rate. High bit rate stereo is also a nice option for folks who want to record music like their guitar play. Then again, I would recommend using different drivers and audio software over the stock offerings if you decide to use the mic for music, especially for multi-track work.

Overall, I think the Samson Go Mic Connect is a great microphone, especially for the price. It won’t be as good as a $1,000 microphone but sounds as good or even better than some mics at double or triple the price. Suggested retail is about $120 though I’ve seen it at Amazon for just $78. If you’re looking for an affordable USB mic with solid performance, this one’s certainly worth considering.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Jason Hidalgo is About.com’s Portable Electronics expert. Yes, he is easily amused. Follow him on Twitter @jasonhidalgo and be amused, too. Read more of his audio articles and reviews via the Headphones and Portable Speakers hub.

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