Product Reviews

Samson Q2U Review: An Affordable and Easy to Use Mic for New Podcasters

7 min read

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The Samson Q2U is one of the most popular microphones for new and experienced podcasters. Ask any podcast community for a mic recommendation and someone will mention the Q2U. 

In this Samson Q2U review, we’ll explain what makes this podcasting mic one of the best and help you decide if it’s right for your podcast setup. 

What is the Samson Q2U?

The Q2U is a USB/XLR dynamic microphone by Samson Technologies. They’ve been designing audio equipment for more than 40 years. Today, they are an industry leader in both consumer and professional audio via three brands: Samson Audio, Samson Wireless and Hartke. Their 250 products are sold all over the world. 

Samson Q2U review

The Samson Q2U offers a cardioid pickup pattern. The following image explains what this means. The mic sits at the center of this diagram and picks up sound from within the black upside-down heart-shaped area. This makes it suited to picking up vocals and rejecting sounds around and behind the microphone. 

Samson Q2U review: cardioid pick up pattern

Whereas a condenser microphone is highly sensitive to all sounds (even ambient sounds like your air conditioner or the traffic outside your window), a dynamic microphone is less sensitive, which makes it easier for new podcasters who don’t follow perfect microphone techniques yet.

Samson Q2U specifications

  • Element Type: Dynamic
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid (unidirectional)
  • Frequency Response: 50HZ-15 KHZ
  • Bit Depth: up to 16 bits
  • Sample Rate: 44.1khz/48kHz
  • Digital Output: mini-USB
  • Max. SPL: 148dB SPL
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5″ by 2.2″ diameter
  • Sensitivity: -54dBV/Pa
  • Analog Output: XLR
  • Microphone switch: on/off (USB and XLR)
  • Product weight: 0.7lb (0.32kg)
  • Headphone jack: 3.5 mm

Why We Like the Samson Q2U

First, in this Samson Q2U review, let’s talk about what we like about this microphone.

We like the mic’s versatility. Since it’s a USB/XLR mic, the Samson Q2U can be plugged directly into your computer. You don’t need any additional devices to use the Q2U. Dynamic mics also don’t require phantom power, so you can use them with a variety of interfaces. It’s very plug-and-play. 

Samson Q2U review: features

But since it also offers an XLR connection, you can use sophisticated audio devices like preamplifiers and analog-to-digital converters. Or you can use an audio interface, which contains preamps and a converter in the same unit. (Our favorite interface is the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2.) If you have an audio interface, plug the Q2U into the interface and then plug the interface into your computer. 

Tip

Need an audio mixer for your podcast setup? All the pros use one. Check out our list of the best audio mixers.

Another thing we like about the Q2U during our Samson Q2U review is the lack of hiss. Many USB mics (especially the cheap ones) produce a self-noise hissing sound. This is definitely true for the predecessor of the Q2U, the Q1U. Samson somehow managed to eliminate the hiss in the Q2U. 

Most new podcasters prefer the USB microphone connection because it’s simple and lets you dive right into producing content. We like the Q2U because the XLR connection lets you grow as a podcaster without replacing your microphone right away.

Finally, the Q2U has a solid diecast construction. It won’t break after a fall off your desk. This means it’s also a great mic to carry around with you if you need to record on location. 

Q2U with audio interface

Tip

An audio interface is a key component of a professional podcast setup. Check out our full review of the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2.)

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How Much Does the Samson Q2U Cost?

On its own, the Samson Q2U costs less than $70. However, new podcasters might enjoy Samsons Podcast Pack. It comes with several items most podcasters need:

  • A desktop/table mic stand and boom arm
  • A pop filter and foam windshield
  • A set of stereo headphones
  • XLR and USB cables
  • Accessories cleaning kit
Samson podcast pack

The one thing this podcasting kit doesn’t include is a case to carry everything. If you often find yourself podcasting on-the-go, we recommend picking up some kind of case to protect your gear, especially the microphone.

If you intend to record using the XLR connector to an audio interface/mixer, you’ll need an additional XLR cable.

Tip

Need an audio mixer for your podcast setup? All the pros use one. Check out our list of the best audio mixers.

Samson Q2U Downsides

As we mentioned, this is an affordable mic, so it isn’t going to produce perfect audio every time. We found it to be quite sensitive to plosives (the burst of air produced when you make the sounds of letters like K, P, and T). 

We strongly recommend using a windscreen (such as this On-Stage Foam Windscreen) or a pop filter (such as the PEMOTech Pop Filter) if you decide to go with this microphone. 

Furthermore, there is a noticeable boost in quality when you use the XLR connection. Don’t get us wrong, the USB connection doesn’t sound bad, but the XLR connection is clearly better. However, you need an audio interface for this, which adds to the cost. 

Our last complaint is that the podcasting package doesn’t come with the adapter for smartphones and tablets. We love that you can use this mic while recording with a mobile device, but we wish the adapter to connect to your iPhone, iPad, or other device was included.

Recording with the Samson Q2U

Since the Samson Q2U plugs directly into your computer, you don’t need any other equipment to make a great recording. The cardioid pickup pattern makes it quite forgiving of poor recording conditions. 

That said, you should always record your podcast episodes in a well-designed recording space. You don’t need a professional podcast studio, but you should record in a quiet, sound-dampened room with little background noise or people traffic. 

Surround yourself with soft surfaces that absorb sound, like blankets, pillows, or carpet. Some of the biggest podcasters in the world record in their closets amidst hanging clothes and towels so no sound bounces back during their home recording. 

We also recommend wearing headphones or headset during your recording. This will help you identify ambient sounds that make their way into your recording. If something is too loud (or you think it will be too hard to edit out later), consider pausing and recording that segment again. If you need headphones, we recommend the Sony MDR 7506 or the Sennheiser HD280 Pro.

Other Microphone Options

The Samson Q2U is often referred to as the “Swiss Army Knife” or microphones because it’s simple, versatile, and budget-friendly. That said, it’s not the right mic for everyone. 

If you don’t think the Samson Q2U is right for you, check out our list of the best podcasting microphones or the best live streaming microphones for more options. You might also find our review of the Blue Yeti and our review of the Shure SM7B helpful. 

If you aren’t sure what to buy, we recommend browsing our list of podcast equipment recommendations. Our suggestions are separated by budget, so you can get the right gear for your needs at any price point.

We are also big supporters of the Audio Technica ATR2100x for new creators. The ATR2100 has many of the same features of the Q2U. It’s easy to use, affordable, offers decent sound quality, and connects with both USB and XLR connections. Between the two, we think the Q2U offers a richer, fuller sound, so you get more value for your expense, but the ATR2100x has a USB-C connection, so it plugs into more devices and charges quicker. 

Samson Q2U Review: Our Verdict

For such a low cost, the Samson Q2U is a great introductory microphone that’s perfect for new podcasters. It offers lots of functionality and good audio quality for its range. The USB/XLR connections give podcasters plenty of flexibility. You can plug it into your computer until you decide to invest in an audio interface. 

Is it the best microphone available? No. If you want the absolute best sound quality, there are plenty of better choices, but they come at significantly higher price points. Most podcasters decide to upgrade once their show begins generating revenue, typically to something like the Shure SM7B.

Ultimately, after our Samson Q2U review,  we can recommend the Samson Q2U to any new podcaster. It’s flexible and easy to use. It offers great sound quality at an affordable price.

Pick up your own Samson Q2U on Amazon.

What microphone do you use? Let us know in the comments!

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Dennis is a content marketer and web developer with years of experience helping startups and small businesses build their online platforms. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and daughter.

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