For podcasters, it's all about the microphone. That's why we always go with big honkin' USB mics with shock mounts, multiple pickups, and the works. Me? I use a studio-grade Blue Mic Spark Digital ($199.99 at Amazon, affiliate link) that I love -- it does the best job of picking up my voice and making it sound great. But I'm always on the lookout for a good spare mic, something I can tuck away in a bag or drawer in case something happens to my big microphone. The Samson Meteorite ($39.99 at Amazon, affiliate link) is a tiny, ball-like condenser mic that might just fit the bill as a spare... or for your main microphone.
My first impression when I saw the Meteorite was that it looked like a tiny version of the Blue Mic Snowball. The Meteorite is 2 inches in diameter, a chrome ball that sits on a tiny magnetic base to keep if from rolling away. The base has a rubber bottom to isolate it from sounds like keyboard clicks, and a USB cable. That's it. No special buttons, switches, adjustments, and it doesn't require any special drivers either.
The Meteorite has a cardioid pickup pattern, meaning that it will pick up some side sounds but is focused towards the front. Samson says that it has 16-bit, 44.1/48kHz resolution and a flat frequency response of 20 to 20,000 Hz. There's one tiny LED in the center of the front of the ball to let you know you're connected to your Mac or iPad and ready to roll.
To test the sound pickup capabilities of the Meteorite, I recorded the same 22-second piece on both microphones. Now, you know darn well that a $40 mic isn't going to sound as good as a $200 mic, and the test proves that. The Meteorite emphasizes higher frequencies (like sibilants), while not providing as rich a sound in the lower ranges. Both of the sound bites are unedited.
Here's the Samson Meteorite:
While here's the Spark Digital:
Listening to both sound grabs through a set of good headphones at the same volume setting, I had to say that both actually sounded pretty good. The Meteorite did a surprisingly good job of capturing what my voice actually sounds like, while the Spark Digital sounded more "professional", full, and precise. Depending on what you're recording sound for, the Meteorite may be adequate.
Call me amazed, but the Samson Meteorite did a very good job when recording voice. This may not be the case when recording music; in fact, I can guarantee that a more expensive mic is going to be a requirement for serious music recording. But if you're looking for a portable, inexpensive microphone for recording podcasts, making FaceTime calls or just picking up your voice with better clarity than the internal mics on a MacBook, the Samson Meteorite is a great bargain. It's a keeper for a backup mic, too.