Here at MMORPG.com, we are no stranger to the wonderful (and, occasionally, weird) world of microphones. From the USB-based offerings like the PreSonus Revelator or Blue Yeti, to analog, broadcast-quality mics, to the all-in-what-is-that?! of the Marantz Professional Turret, we have seen just about everything. Today, we are going to be reviewing something we’re seen before, but from a different company. This is our review of the Samson Q9U Professional Broadcast Microphone.
- Current Price: $199.99 (Sweetwater Sound)
- Mic Capsule: Dynamic
- Polar Pattern: Cardioid
- Output: XLR and USB-C
- Frequency Response: 50Hz - 20kHz
- Impedance: 250 Ohms
- Sensitivity: -57 dBV/Pa (XLR), -16 dBFS/Pa (USB)
- Bit Rate: 24-bit
- Sample Rate: Up to 96kHz
- Headphone Output: 3.5mm
- Construction: Zinc Allow / Steel Body and Grille
- Included Accessories: USB-C to USB-C cable, USB-C to USB-A cable, foam windscreen
The Samson Q9U is part of a new breed of microphone we are seeing pop up on the market: the XLR / USB hybrids. These are mics that can be used with an audio controller or plugged directly into your system. While the Q9U is not a first for us (the Shure MV7 is among this new breed), it is an option that is becoming more widely available within the microphone space. This type of mic is geared toward the streamers and content creators looking to take steps to enhance their sound without dropping a significant amount of money on extra gear upfront.
While a big deal, the Q9U is more than its versatile connectivity. This microphone is well built. It has a metal chassis and grille with a removable windscreen. This windscreen can help to temper some of your plosives, in case you struggle with that. The mic is attached to a mounting yoke which fits standard microphone mounts. One downside to this part, the Q9U does not come with a thread adapter to take the mounting size from 5/8” to the 3/8” on boom arms like the Blue Compass.
The Samson Q9U has two switches built into the bottom of the mic, one for roll-off lower frequencies and the other to boost the midrange presence. These two microphone voicings sounmd unique and help to tame some of your boomier tones (if you happen to have a lower voice) or to give the mids a friendly hand-up.
All this is fantastic, but let’s let the Samson Q9U speak for itself.
As we are getting into some of our sound samples, I recorded the Q9U in a few configurations. The first sample is the Samson Q9U plugged directly into a PreSonus Studio 26c USB audio interface with the second sample providing a USB-based offering. The third sample is the Samson Q9U plugged into the Cloudlifter CL-1 by Cloud Microphones, then into the PreSonus Studio 26c.
Let’s take a listen:
Samson Q9U - XLR into Studio 26c:
Samson Q9U - USB:
Samson Q9U - XLR into Cloudlifter CL-1, then Studio 26c:
(Note: As you listen to the samples, you will notice a bit of a volume difference between them. We kept each sample unedited to give you the best, out-of-the-box representation. When plugged in via XLR, the gain level without the Cloudlifter CL-1 was at +25 dB and at +0 dB with the CL-1.)
As I was recording these samples, the Samson Q9U impressed me in the overall sound it delivered. While its flat voicing is a bit bass-heavy - which can be a problem if you have a naturally lower voice. However, with the addition of the low-end roll-off and mid presence boost switches, you can get a baseline recording right from the microphone without having to do much (if any) tweaking.
This isn’t pro-audio buzz-speak here - these switches actually make a difference. Since I don’t trust my ears alone to pick out these details, I put a couple of our audio samples into a spectrum analyzer to get a visual representation of what it was that I was hearing. During the segments where the switches are activated, you can “see” the difference that you are hearing. As expected, the mids are more prominent when the presence booster is engaged and the low-end roll-off tempers the lower register.
I was also impressed with how powerful the Q9U sounded on its USB connection. As dynamic microphones go this thing is pretty gain-hungry, so I was expecting a lower volume from the mic. Not so; the Q9U was powerful and clear, albeit still bass-heavy, on its flat settings. Again, the switches help to temper its signal well for my voice.
With so many mics on the market, the Samson Q9U makes a case for itself as a practical option for the streamer or content creator looking to begin their hobby or career. So, what makes it so practical?
Think about it like this: the leap from USB to XLR mics is a pretty daunting one. Outside of the microphone, you are going to need a USB audio interface (such as the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 or PreSonus Studio 26c) and, for a dynamic mic of its caliber, a gain lifter to get the best quality out of your mic at a lower gain threshold. That can easily run you into the $200 - $300 USD range on top of the cost of the microphone itself. So, the good news that the Samson Q9U proposes is this: get your mic first, use it out of the box, and build up from there, but only if you want to.
With all of this praise, it makes you wonder: does the Q9U ever falter? Yes, it has its shortcomings, but none of them are catastrophic. While the Q9U is a well-built microphone, I have some concerns about its mounting yoke. There are two plastic buttons on either side of the mic that covers the three small screws that mount on either side. While these seem stable, this design limits the options, if you needed to replace it.
The other downside to the Samson Q9U is that it lacks some of the onboard controls as well as software support. Its closes rival, the Shure MV7, offers both for $249 USD. The Q9U does, however, come in at $50 USD less than the MV7, so you would have to decide which is more important to you.
If you are looking for a well-built, USB-based microphone that leaves room for later expansion and won’t break the bank, the Samson Q9U does both. As an XLR/USB hybrid, the Q9U offers a microphone that bridges the gap between content creators just dipping their toes into the pro audio pool and those who are looking at enhancing their production quality. It does a good job as a USB mic alone, but its XLR output does give it room to grow with the help of a good audio interface and gain lifter. With on-board voicing options, mute switch, and versatilityThe product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.