Top positive review
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The Three Amigos
on 11 September 2014
This review is going to be posted to all three products to make it easier for people trying to put together a setup for themselves and to save the 'google time' in looking for compatible equipment.
I purchased the AT2020USB+, a RØDE PSA1 Swivel Mount and Samson SP01 Shock Mount to work together in my endeavours for creating video tutorials.
The stand is sturdy and well sprung. Build quality in my opinion is very good and does not buckle or twist where not intended. Had been 'umming and 'ah-ing' about some of the £20 stands thinking that I could be making a mistake and to be honest - was glad I opted for this stand. I really didn't want to have to worry about it sagging or not supporting the mic or it falling into the desk. It is sturdy and comes with options to use with either a clamp or fitted mount (which requires a bit of DIY on your desk). The clamp section is free from the arm and can easily be attached to your desk and has a thin layer of foam to protect the desk top. The manual does make a point of not fitting it to a desk with a beveled edge or where the underside isn't square to the top face as it won't grip as intended. Once fitted, the arm slides into the top mounting hole, which is then the centre of rotation for the whole arm. The spring loaded arms are sturdy and support the mic and shock mount with ease - even fully extended. In fact, when you get the arm it is wrapped and warns about it springing open, which it will do! Once mounted with the Mic and Shock it is enough to balance it out and stays nicely put. A nice feature is that they also supply Rode branded velcro ties to hold your cable in place along the arm so you don't have to worry about tangled cables. There are two hand tighten nuts at the mic side of things to adjust the swivel of the mic end of things which are easy to operate although you would have all this set up prior to doing any recording. When you move the arms position the actual mic orientation doesn't adjust, so once you have the angle of the mic set - that is where it stays as you extend or move it up and out of the way.
Also supplied with this is a thread converter I guess used for various mic attachments although I didn't need to use it with this combination.
This cage is solid metal cast and sprayed grey. It has the two (the only way I can think of describing these as) 'hair bobbles' (think of rubber bands covered in nylon), which support the inner cage. They appear to be nicely tensioned and each are joined with a black metal grip. In my configuration there is a about 1cm clearance between the inner and outer rings, to which the inner ring is staying level with the outer - so still centred. My intention for this was to have the mic inverted (cable out the top) to give me clearance under the stand. This is one of my main reasons for picking the SP01 as the AT2020USB+ will screw directly into the SP01. I really didn't want to chance something that was friction fitted and have it slip out. (To be fair - I'm new to this myself and hadn't seen any of these other mounts but again, didn't want to chance it). I also found that Rode do their own shock mount for this stand but unfortunately this mic doesn't fit it. This shock also provides enough clearance to be able to get to the controls on the mic and allow you to plug in your headphones (again, setup before recording proper) although I did find that the Jack plug on my Sennheiser headphones sticks out past the outer cage thus limiting how far you can rotate the mic, a simple right angle adaptor will get me past that one though.
Having been recommended this after chatting with Audio Technica over email and a well known broadcaster/ postmaster (and creator of online screen casts (!) over email - this had to be the obvious choice. It has been recommend as a very good value for money starting point in to the world of recording and I have to say I am impressed. This mic is a source of input AND output so can be used as a playback device as well as recording. The controls on the mic allow you to fade between sound output from the computer as well as what is picking up directly from the mic and from my point of view - very nicely done. The sensitivity is very impressive and play back works a treat (yes playback through the mic!). Obviously you need to have headphones plugged up to it to get this, but works very well. Installation (and this was on a Mac with OSX 10.9) was just simply a case of 'plug it in'. Jump in to sound options and select between output devices when you want to record / listen via headphones (you can turn the fader all the way over to just computer output if needed) and you are in a world of your own. Interestingly if you do keep the mic mixed in - if you are using full ear headphones you can still hear if someone wants you in the real world. The mic is supplied with a very lengthy black USB A-B lead - well long enough to go the length of the stand strapped to it with the velcro and down to the floor with quite a length to spare. So unless your computer is well away from the set up, the supplied lead should be long enough. It also comes with its own tripod type desk stand which has a solid feel as well as a mount to screw to the mic. If you didn't feel the need to get the shock mount you could actually just get the Rode and the mic as its supplied mount will connect directly to the arm. My reason for the shock mount was to try and remove any thud picked up by the mic when typing transferred by conduction / transference from the desk -> stand -> mic rather than sound emitted by typing - if you get what I mean . If there was a negative (and its small) the mic has a blue LED to show that it is plugged in - it would have been nice to be able to switch that off. Although my work around is to just angle the mic behind the monitor when not in use - so not big a problem.
All in all - well impressed with this set up and reasoning behind this was to share my learning curve if anyone was looking at going the same way. The combination isn't the cheapest out there - the stand and shock could be cut down but I did want a good start rather than cheap as chips which could lead to disappointment.
I hope someone finds this review of interest and hope you have the same enjoyment.