When many of us think of broadcast microphones, two models come to mind, the Shure SM7B and the Electro-Voice RE20. The Samson Q9U gives a tip of the hat to both in its design while adding a 24-bit, 96kHz capable USB interface without losing the analogue XLR output.
The rear of the mic houses the USB-C socket (USB-C and USB-A cables included), headphone output, low cut filter and mid presence boost switches, with a (digital) mute switch on the top. This near 1kg mic is supported by a robust metal yoke which terminates in a 5/8” stand thread; a 3/8” adapter is not included. The foam windscreen performs well in reducing plosives without eating the high-end and may only need removing for indirect or distant sources.
Dynamic mics have found favour in broadcast studios due to their vocally sympathetic sensitivity range, off-axis rejection and reliable simplicity. The Q9U fits this broadcast bill in several ways. The voicing is well balanced, allowing proximity to be used without the low-end dominating. The low-mid richness that defines quality voice recordings is all there, accompanied by a smooth sibilant response and an appropriate insensitivity to plosives.
The low-cut and mid-presence boost switches provide all the initial adjustment necessary for the majority of uses. It may be no coincidence that these are the two controls found on the Shure SM7B, but they differ in that the Q9U mid-boost could easily remain switched in – it lifts what I would ordinarily EQ later, whereas I rarely use the SM7B version.
The low-cut is not only used to tame external hums/rumbles and point-blank vocalists, but it provides a way to mitigate against stand borne noises, and here we find the Q9U’s Achilles heel. The vibration transmission is audible when a stand is knocked, and the frequency range over which it occurs reaches beyond the knee of the low-cut, behaving more like a condenser mic than a dynamic.
Articulation and rejection
The mid and high-frequency response ably keeps sibilance un-hyped without sacrificing vocal articulation and clarity. There is a softness that comes with dynamics versus their shiny condenser counterparts, so don’t expect airy highs; that’s not what this type of mic is about. The other part of the dynamic cardioid mic character on display here is the high degree of off-axis rejection.
When coupled with a mic preamp, the output level is similar to the SM7B; it can be a touch noisy with quiet sources. The signal-to-noise ratio is lower when recording via USB, plus you get to use the mute button on the top of the mic, which is invaluable when using the headphone (and line) output.
Samson has rolled a lot up into the Q9U: broadcast quality sound, two EQ switches, USB interface with headphone output and mute switch, and all in a rock-solid build. Like the RE20 and SM7B, this mic is at home with sung and rapped vocals, so don’t overlook it just because you don’t podcast or narrate YouTube videos. At around £200/$200 in the shops, it really is hard to ignore.
- Dynamic element with humbucking coil
- Frequency response: 50Hz – 20kHz
- Cardioid polar pattern
- Impedance: 250Ω
- Connections: XLR (analogue out), USB-C (digital out), 3.5mm (16Ω headphone out)
- Digital output: 24-bit, up to 96kHz
- Controls: mute, low cut, mid boost
- Package includes: 2m USB-C to USB-C, 2m USB-C to USB-A, foam windscreen
- Body constructed from zinc alloy with steel grille
- Weight: 970g / 2.13lbs
- Dimensions: 178.5 mm x 60mm (diameter) / 7″ x 2.4″ (diameter)
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Date: 13 May 2021
Author: Robbie Stamp