Whether you’re recording music, capturing voice for podcasts, or doing live streaming, you need a microphone that’s going to capture sound accurately. Samson’s new G Track Pro USB Studio Microphone (US$171.67, Amazon Affiliate Link) is a professional USB mic with a second audio interface that can be used for most digital recording needs, and it’s meant to compete with other more established USB microphones like the RODE Podcaster and Blue Microphones Spark Digital. How does it stack up to the competition? Read on…
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Let’s look at the physical design of the G Track Pro before moving on to the electronics in the device. It’s a nice looking matte black mic with a mesh grill over the important parts — the dual 1-inch condenser capsules that pick up the sound.
The front of the G Track Pro features an array of controls. To start with, the mic has three pickup patterns. A “Figure 8” for when you’re recording a podcast with someone across from you, a cardioid pattern for those situations where it’s one person speaking into the mic from the front, and an omni pattern for picking up a roomful of sound.
Next, there are level controls for the microphone input, for instrument input, and for monitor volume. That’s right — you can plug in any instrument with a standard 1/4-inch plug, then use the controls on the G Track Pro to do a simple balancing mix of voice and instrument. There’s a mute button for cutting off the mic when you have a coughing fit or background noise to contend with, and a single LED that’s green when the mic is live turns yellow when muted.
In the cases where you’re using the G Track Pro without an instrument attached, a switch lets you select a Mono mode. Add the instrument, and flipping the switch to 2 Track mode ensures that your mix is sent to your Mac.
On the back are a monitor on/off switch, a headphone jack and the 1/4-inch line in jack. A USB cable is included to connect the G Track Pro to your Mac, and to show the attention to detail Samson paid in the design of this mic, it even has a small balun to prevent interference from the instrument line in. The mic sits on a heavy swivel mount with a thick rubber pad on the bottom, or it can be removed to be added to a shock mount or mic arm.
The G Track Pro is very professional-looking, and is small enough to be easily carried to gigs.
To test out the G Track Pro, I’ve been using it for the past week in place of my usual podcasting microphone when recording the Apple World Today News Update podcast. I’m using the standard table mount (although I may move it to my shock mount and microphone arm), and for recording the podcast I have it set up with a cardioid pattern with “mono” recording. This ensures that the same feed goes to both channels in the app I’m using for recording.
The front-mounted mic knob makes it easy to pre-set a level for recording, and the mute button operates without a “click” to shut off recording temporarily.
The sound quality is the best I’ve heard from a Samson product, and I’ve done quite a few reviews of their mics over the years. I’d go so far as to say that it’s on a par with the $299 mic that I have been using to record podcasts, and it’s certainly better looking than that one!
With my other mic, I found that I really needed to be close to the mic pickup to be able to capture my voice well. That meant that plosives (p sounds and the like) had to be filtered out with a pop filter. With the Samson G Track Pro, I’ve been able to move my recording distance back a little bit and still capture the same levels, and it doesn’t appear that I’ll be needing that pop filter anymore. The LED on the mic will glow red if I’m too loud or hitting it with plosives, and I know to either reduce the mic input level or move back a bit when that happens.
The rubber base of the Samson G Track Pro stand does a good job of isolating the microphone when doing nothing but recording at a desk, but if you use a keyboard or are drumming your fingers on the desk it will definitely pick up the noise. This is one case where a shock mount and mounting arm will definitely help out a lot.
Whether you’re a podcaster or a musician, the Samson G Track Pro is a solid and very reasonably priced pro mic. The built-in capability to live-mix voice and instrument should make this very attractive to guitarists and others who need that capability, and the top-notch construction of the mic ensures that it will last for years.