Samson Meteor Review

The Samson Meteor Microphone is a cute and affordable little All-In-One recording device. I’ve had it for two months now and used it on acoustic guitars, grand piano and vocals and I like it. It’s not a miracle machine, it has it’s sonic flaws but it also has a few striking features not found in any other microphones i’ve seen so far:

The superb

The little Meteor is super-small and adaptable. It comes with it’s own little stand so you can use any table, desk, ladder, rock or whatever as a makeshift music stand and adjust the three flexible legs to your convenience. For recording guitars I achieved good results by placing a pillow on a table top (against sonic reflections from the plain table top) and putting the Meteor on that pillow right in front of my guitar. Sounds odd, but works and who (or whose spouse) wants a mike stand in their living room?

The good

Like so many devices these days the Meteor features an in built USB-Audio interface. You can plug your headphones in and adjust the headphone level on the little dial. This will not only give you the PC signal but also latency-free monitoring, which works great. The built-in preamp can be adjusted in your PC’s level control which is a bit fiddly in windows 7 / windows 8. I can’t tell you about Mac. Recording level control works very well on Linux due to ALSA Mixer. The Meteor doesn’t come with an ASIO driver for windows but you can get decent results with ASIO4ALL (which is also great if you already have an audio interface because it let’s you add the Meteor as another channel to record simultaneously).

The bad

It’s affordable and you can hear that. The Diaphragm is large but there are better microphones on the market that don’t cost so much more. The noise floor is rather high and low as well as high frequencies lack definition. You can gain a lot with EQ and gating but you can’t do miracles here.

The verdict

This is not a pro mic but it can give you good results when recording tracks that are not too prominent: It will do fine an vocals for a heavy rock song, but will need some tweaking. You shoud probably look for a better Mike if you want to record romantic harp music or light folk vocals. The noise floor and 16bit resolution won’t give you extremely high-end results. However, if you want to record quickly and without having to wrestle with the technical aspects of recording it can’t get any more convenient. That’s why I like it.

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Best Daw for Guerrilla Dad Recording

I tried a few DAWs for my recording-adventures (Samplitude Silver, Podium, LMMS, Mixbus, Ardour, Qtractor…) and then stumbled upon an old friend: Audacity. It’s incredibly easy to setup and use, multi-platform, fast, reliable plus it can even do some editing. Best of all, it’s free! I use at least three PCs for recording (Windows 7, Windows 8, AV-Linux) and at least two of my contributing friends are using their Macs. It’s quite impressive, how easily you can exchange files without having to worry about formats and such. Audacity lacks non-destructive editing and a decent mixer – otherwise I could even be tempted to use it for mixing;)

Mixing advice from the band

I’m currently mixing my band’s new EP. Two songs mixed, two more songs tracked, one’s still in the recording phase. When I reach the final mixing stage the songs go onto Dropbox for the band to listen and evaluate the mixes. This is mostly helpful.

Pros:
they have good music taste
They see things where I have my blind spots

Cons:
They know and like the songs, so they’ll probably have some blind spots too.
Every player listens to their instrument first. The guitarist wants the guitar loud and the drummer wants to hear more of the drums. They’re probably not the best candidates for seeing the big picture.

How i start – guide track fun!

from the recording revolution by Graham Cochrane I learned about recording a guide track as a way to start recording . Basically you need a recording of the whole song, giving you timing, chords and vocals that give you a basis to start recording individual tracks. Once you have the rhythm instruments tracked, you trash the guide track but up until then it guides you through the recording process. Now that I’m out of my studio I find recording a guide track much more fun. All I do is put my laptop or cell phone on the piano, get a click track running, plug in earphones and the built in microphone does the job. This way ten minutes are enough to kick off any recording. What I really like about this is the fact that it feels so natural. I simply perform the song I want to record. I will also try this with friends who want to help me record their material. They can record their own guide tracks without any fancy equipment. This doesn’t help me with mixing my unfinished projects but this way I can get some songs started that I’d like to finish in the next months.

why this blog?

i really like recording music. i started as a kid using cassette recorders. as a teenager i bought a soundcard from my birthday money and started recording and mixing midi. while studying i got into daw software and bought a condensor mike and a usb audio interface. then i got my first job and i started to build a nice home studio. nothing fancy, but really nice compared to anything i used before. I got married, my job got pretty busy and my spare time gradually went down and down, but i still went into my nice basement studio quite often. three months ago our first baby arrived. it’s wonderful, i love him and it’s really great to be dad. my little studio is collecting a lot of dust now. i still like recording and i had to stop one or two projects three months ago. i could cancel the projects or just try to pick up where i left and use those occasional 15 minutes of time. i’ll try to go for the second option and i thought i’d blog about this experience, maybe it’ll be helpful to others…