As a mediocre musician and an even more mediocre comedian, I often like to record myself for both posterity's sake and to learn from my many, many (many) mistakes. The built-in microphones on most smartphones nowadays are decent, but a quality external mic can make the difference between a good recording and a great one. If you're shooting phone video, and shooting in 4K at that, then you should have clear audio to go along with it.
I was offered the opportunity to review Samson's Go Mic Mobile, which has cables to connect to Lightning, Micro-USB, and USB-C, so I jumped on it and started recording.
Bottom line: The Go Mic Mobile is easy to set up and use, but it doesn't come with a charging cable and it's gainy as all get out.
- Very easy setup
- Records directly to whichever recording app you choose (with some caveats)
- Comes with USB-C, Lightning, and Micro-USB connectors
- Great for recording quiet audio
- Couldn't get it to record through USB-C, despite third-party apps and changing settings
- The gain is hot even at the lowest setting, so recordings are noisy
- The handheld microphone is huge
- The phone clip isn't as snug as it could be
Plug in and play
Samson Go Mic Mobile: What I like
I hate fartin' around with instructions at this point. I know how to set up a phone from scratch, can work any gaming console, and can even install most smart home products with no need for directions, so I was a little worried when I took out the receiver pack and the handheld microphone. I was, however, quite pleasantly surprised to learn that I just had to turn on the receiver, turn on the microphone (after inserting two AA batteries — not included), connect my phone, and I was ready to record. BUT I had to do it through the headphone jack connector, not via USB-C to my Galaxy S8, which I could not get to record at all. Lightning worked, however.
Setup is incredibly easy and straightforward, and for something as hobbyist-focused as a microphone that connects to your phone, that's exactly how it should be.
I was also jazzed about the fact that the Go Mic Mobile comes with USB-C, Lightning, and Micro-USB connectors, making it compatible with just about every phone of the last five years. It let me test it on both the iPhone I have hear and my daily Android driver (Galaxy S8), and that means I can loan it to any of my friends.
Headphone compatibility is huge when it comes to recording great audio, so being able to listen live is one of the best features going for the Go Mic Mobile. You can instantly hear if levels aren't what they need to be, and that makes it even better for singing when playing an instrument, since you can hear the mix before you get through a whole song, a perfect take, only to realize you can only hear your guitar and none of your singing.
The handheld mic is huge, but the twist-off system is convenient and cool.
Yeah, the handheld microphone is huge, but it's a cool system: You can twist off the lower half to reveal the gain control, battery slots, as well as a tiny screwdriver for adjusting your gain. The screwdriver snaps in so that you never lose it.
A deal-breaker or two
Samson Go Mic Mobile: What I don't like
Mini-USB has no place on any current device. The fact that the Go Mic Mobile uses this port to charge is archaic, and the one I received was actually missing the Mini-USB charging cable altogether (I luckily still have a PS3 still kicking around and used the controller cable from that), though I've been assured that every unit is supposed to ship with a cable included. Either way, it's just another port to figure out, and should really be Micro-USB at the very least.
Why any company uses Mini-USB in 2018 is beyond me.
I have also mentioned that the Go Mic Mobile is gainy, and that is mightily to its detriment. I work for a magician on the side and he wanted me to record an intro voiceover for a run of theater shows we have coming up, so I figured it'd be the perfect way to test this microphone.
Well, before adjusting any gain, I put on my best announcer voice and blew the waveform to kingdom come — I mean I almost couldn't understand what I had said it was so distorted. So I turned the gain down as far as it would go. The recording ended up sounding pretty good, but there was still an underlying room noise hiss in every recording I tried. In an open room, under a blanket, it didn't matter. Hissy.
That may be due in part to the Go Mic Mobile being connected via USB to my phone, but that hiss appeared with each phone I tried.
Buy it on sale if you can
Samson Go Mic Mobile microphone
The Go Mic Mobile is quite far from perfect. It's bulky, and the gain is high even when the dial is turned all the way down, and I couldn't get it to record over USB-C no matter what I tried. The connectivity, setup, and ease of use (with the headphone jack), however, do push this microphone more towards a buy recommendation than a do not buy warning. It's well-built, you can use it with any app that records audio, you can listen live through headphones, and it's compact enough to travel anywhere (despite being rather large for a handheld microphone anyway).
$200 seems a bit steep given the recording quality, so if you can find this on sale, snatch it up. It'll do the trick for YouTube recordings and whatnot, but mind that hiss. Make sure recording conditions are ideal.
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