Pan handling

USB mic with muscle

Slideshow-creation programs such as Elements and Photo Story 3.0 allow you to record "audio captions" to go with the images in your slideshow. It's difficult to get high-quality audio results though, especially using a cheap microphone to record annotations. A bad recording makes the presentation sound amateurish.

But the barrier has long been the high price of pro-level microphones, typically starting at $250 and rocketing upwards from there. I'm happy to report that's no longer the case.

I recently invested in the Samson C01U (, which claims to be the world's first USB-based studio-quality microphone. Unlike other microphones of similar quality, the CO1U is a cinch to set up. Reassuringly heavy, it comes with its own pre-amplifier, so there's no need for any intermediate box to boost the sound. To get the microphone working in Windows XP, simply plug the cable into a spare USB slot and it will be automatically recognised and ready to go. Aside from the 3m USB cable - enough to let you walk around a little, or distance yourself from the whirring of your computer - there are no other trailing wires, it is powered straight from the PC.

The Samson is ideal for recording the spoken word - it already has a big following among those recording podcasts. I've joined the fan club, even though I don't claim to be a microphone expert. The sound it produces is remarkably natural, with virtually no background noise. This level of performance is possible because the C01U is a cardioid microphone, which means it concentrates on sounds directly in front of it to the exclusion of noises from the side or in the background.

Of course, there are cheaper models around that can and will be enough for basic narrative, but the sound quality of the Samson puts it in a different league. You may be able to order from overseas to save yourself some money, but if you'd prefer to go local and avoid the wait for delivery, it's available from for $199.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tom Gorham

PC Advisor (UK)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers


This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang


It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries


As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr


The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?