Looking back at when I first started out with Garageband, the number one thing that took my projects to the next level sound wise was when I went from using the in-built mic to a ‘proper’ microphone.
Now, I didn’t start out taking this stuff seriously – to begin with I was using Garageband to sketch song ideas, and as a tool for arrangement ideas and practice, using the inbuilt microphone on my – even then – ancient Apple iBook G4, running Garageband 2.
Those were the days – no Flex Time, no Groove Matching, 16 bit recording…. yeah, actually…. it wasn’t that great.
It wasn’t long before I realized that I could be using Garageband to create ‘proper’ sounding and produced tracks. I knew that the sound quality I was getting from the built in mic really wasn’t going to cut it though (especially for guitars – but we’ll get to that later…).
So began the hunt for a ‘proper’ microphone. I had a few criteria that it had to adhere to :
It would have to be really really easy to use
I was still a bit SuperNoob™ when it came to audio interfaces etc back then, so I needed a mic that was really easy to set up and use.
It should be reasonably priced
I wasn’t what you’d call ‘flush’ at the time – My girlfriend and I had just moved in together, so money was pretty tight. ( plus, i’m Scottish, so yeah – i’m naturally tight fisted…)
It would have to be really flexible
I was only getting one mic, so not only did it have to be able to do everything I needed It to do, it needed to do it WELL.
After much deliberation, sweat, indecision and research, My first Microphone was……
The Samson C01U.
It turned out to be the right choice. Big time.
Surprised? I thought not – over the years it’s become an incredibly popular Mic, especially with beginners – with good reason in my opinion.
So did it meet my requirements?
Is it really easy to use?
This is down to the Samson C01U being a USB microphone, which means that to get it up and running all you have to do is plug it into the USB socket of your Mac.
That’s it. Seriously.
Watch, i’ll show you:
Is it reasonably priced?
It is. Very. You can pick one of these guys up for an incredible price nowadays.
Now, you may come across a certain type of producer or sound engineer who will tell you until they’re blue in the face that you “MUST buy an expensive pre amp with a proper XLR microphone other wise your sound quality is going to be terrible and you’ll never be a proper producer without it and all your friends will never speak to you again and your mother will disown you and blah blah blah blah….”
Look, you probably will want to go for all that stuff at some point – generally a XLR pre amp interface coupled with a proper XLR mic (like this one) will sound better – BUT – it will also cost a lot more than you’d pay for the C01U (triple, at least!) and be a bit more of a pain to set up.
So if – like I was – you’re happy to strike a balance between cost, usability and sound quality, go for the USB option to begin with.
Is it flexible?
The C01U is a cardioid pattern condenser mic, which makes it perfect for recording, vocals and live intruments. It’s also good at cutting out any noise from behind the mic, which worked for me as I was recording in my living room at the time with no noise cancelling foam insulation mcguffins. Rock and roll, huh?
I’ll let you be the judge of how much better it sounds when compared to the Mac’s in built microphone… ( I used the built in mic on my Macbook Air A1369, FYI)
Here’s a vocal comparison between the Samson and the built in mic
And I had to let you in on how much better the Samson is at making your guitars sound fantastic.
Needless to say, the C01U was a huge step up in sound quality and as it’s a condenser microphone, it provides awesome results whatever you’re recording.
I can’t recommend it enough
If you’re a beginner, just getting started with Garageband or even if you’re looking for an inexpensive addition to your studio set up, I can’t recommend the Samson C01U enough.
Yeah, it’s been on the market for a while, but there’s a reason why it’s still top of the class in it’s price range – the thing is a complete workhorse, taking anything you throw at it and making it sound as schweet as can be. In fact, I still use mine to this day, primarily for voiceover stuff and acoustic guitar work – being able to just plug it in and go with no fuss whatsoever is a great time saver.
If you feel that you could give one of these bonny wee microphones a good home, you can grab one for a reasonable price here – Samson C01U
While you’re there, you might want to grab the optional shockmount too – if you’re a bit clumsy like me it could make the difference between owning an awesome mic and a pretty lump of metal. Just sayin… – Shockmount.
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How would you feel about having the Samson C01U as your first microphone? What would you do differently? Share in the comments below!