Picking out a microphone is usually a tough choice since you often need to hear the results to decide whether or not it’s worth your money. This isn’t helped by the vast selection of microphones that are available, muddying the waters even further when searching for your perfect sound.
Here’s what we’ll cover in this Samson Q2U vs ATR2100 comparison:
- Sound Quality
- Build Quality
- Ease of Use
- Price & Value For Money
Ready? Let’s jump right in…
1. Sound Quality: Samson Q2U vs ATR2100
Recording quality across these two mics is relatively similar, though there are a few issues that put the Q2U behind the ATR2100, especially when it comes to p-pops.
When both microphones were tested without a separate pop filter, we found that the Q2U was much more susceptible to p-pops that interfered with the quality of the recording. The overall clarity of the recordings was almost identical, with perhaps a slight edge for the ATR2100.
Background noise or hisses can ruin a perfectly good recording, so they need to be nearly non-existent in a microphone, even at this price point.
The Samson Q2U is inconsistent because the background noise varies based on the input. When using USB, the background hiss is rather noticeable, but the XLR input reduces it markedly. The ATR2100’s background noise is negligible regardless of the input method.
With dynamic microphones, recording volume tends to present some issues because they record at a lower level than other kinds of mics.
This issue is particularly noticeable in the ATR2100, where its low range and recording volume come together to make for a particularly unpleasant recording experience. This is one area where the Q2U is superior, as its recording volume is a lot more workable, requiring less editing or gain boost.
Comparison Point Winner: ATR2100
2. Aesthetics: Samson Q2U vs ATR2100
Aesthetics: Samson Q2U
The Samson Q2U looks like a pretty basic microphone, with a smooth, black exterior that your hand won’t slip over, even during the most strenuous recording sessions.
There is an integral black pop filter, and the device’s tripod also features an understated design that doesn’t draw too much of your attention. Overall, the aesthetics of the Q2U are not the reason why you would buy this microphone, as it looks relatively generic, though its performance makes up for it.
The ATR2100 is a better-looking microphone with an accented silver pop filter, the switches are flush with the body of the microphone, and the whole package looks professional.
Much like the Q2U, the Audio-Technica microphone features a black handle and a basic black tripod which don’t draw too much of the viewer’s attention. While the ATR2100 isn’t the best looking microphone on the market, it has a little bit more character than the Samson Q2U.
Comparison Point Winner: ATR2100
3. Accessories: Samson Q2U vs ATR2100
Both of these microphones come included with a set of cables, with the exact types depending on the mic’s compatibility.
The Samson Q2U is compatible with XLR and USB-A cables, and it comes included with one of each. The ATR2100 comes included with two types of USB cables: USB-C and USB-A, as well as an XLR cable. Due to its USB-C compatibility, we have to give the edge to the ATR2100 in this area.
Both of these microphones come included with a tripod, and each of the tripods follows a slightly different design philosophy, so you’ll have to decide what works best for you.
The Samson Q2U is equipped with a more adjustable tripod that offers greater flexibility in positioning the microphone, making it easier for desktop use. On the other hand, the ATR2100’s tripod sacrifices range of motion for a more compact, foldable design that is easier to transport.
Many microphones include extra accessories, which can make them easier to use or a more versatile choice for extenuating circumstances like windy conditions.
Unfortunately, the only thing that comes included with the ATR2100 apart from the cables and the tripod is a threaded clamp to attach the tripod. However, the Samson Q2U comes with a few extras that aren’t included with the Audio-Technica model, like a mic clip and a windscreen.
Comparison Point Winner: Tie
4. Build Quality: Samson Q2U vs ATR2100
Build Quality: Samson Q2U
Proper build quality is essential in a microphone, as it will ensure that you get your money’s worth out of it that it won’t fail on you in an unreasonable amount of time.
Despite its relatively basic appearance, the Q2U is surprisingly well made, and we didn’t notice any parts that were loose or poorly attached. One potential issue is that the mic is a little bit heavier than the Audio-Technica, which makes it feel a little better-made, but it’s also a little more fatiguing to hold it.
Build Quality: ATR2100
Despite featuring a lighter weight than the Q2U, the ATR2100 feel just as well-built, with a surprisingly solid housing for such an affordable microphone.
The mesh grille is solidly attached to the body of the microphone, and the switches give a reassuring click when you slide them to a different position. While the microphone itself is indeed well-made, the accessories let it down, as they are not built to the same standards as the ATR2100 itself.
Comparison Point Winner: Samson Q2U
5. Ease of Use: Samson Q2U vs ATR2100
Since these are relatively basic USB/XLR microphones, they shouldn’t have too difficult of a setup process, and neither option is a disappointment in this area.
Both the Q2U and the ATR2100 automatically start downloading the required drivers when you first plug them into your computer. If you have any issues with the drivers being activated on their own, you can always head to the website of either manufacturer and download them manually.
Compatibility is another thing to consider when picking up a new microphone, as you have to be sure that it will work with your operating system.
Both models are designed to work just as well on Mac as they do on PC, and they are fully compatible with both operating systems. Keep in mind that we haven’t tested the microphones on a Ubuntu Linux machine.
Switches and Ports
Both of the microphones are equipped with a single on/off switch in the middle of the handle, allowing you to quickly toggle the microphone’s power without having to unplug it. The ATR2100 also features a blue light that lets you know when the microphone is on and receiving input.
Each of the microphones also features three ports on the underside. The Samson model comes equipped with a mini-USB, XLR, and 3.5mm jack for monitoring headphones. The Audio-Technica features a more advanced USB-C port, as well as similar XLR and 3.5mm outputs.
Comparison Point Winner: ATR2100
6. Price & Value For Money: Samson Q2U vs ATR2100
Price & Value For Money: Samson Q2U
Despite being so similar to its competitor, the Q2U is available for nearly half the price, vastly improving its value for money. If you’re looking to save as much money as possible on your microphone without sacrificing its performance, the Q2U will be sure to suit you perfectly.
Price & Value For Money: ATR2100
Audio-Technica’s offering may have a few key advantages when compared to the Samson microphone, but its value for money is not one of them.
Like with many Audio-Technica products, this microphone features excellent performance, but it features a steeper price point because of it. If you’re on a budget, this isn’t the best microphone you can get your hands on, as the difference between it and more affordable models is not worth the increase in price.
Price & Value For Money Winner: Samson Q2U
Conclusion & Takeaway
- Sound Quality – Audio-Technica ATR2100
- Aesthetics – Audio-Technica ATR2100
- Accessories – Tie
- Build Quality – Samson Q2U
- Ease of Use – ATR2100
- Price & Value For Money – Samson Q2U
Overall: Audio-Technica ATR2100
Even though the price may be a little steeper, the ATR2100 offers a few key advantages over the Samson Q2U. These advantages result in one of the best budget microphones on the market, especially when it comes to sound quality, which is an essential feature in any microphone.
The Samson model simply produces too much background noise, though that can be somewhat mitigated through the use of the XLR cable. Overall, these are both excellent microphones for their price point, and the Q2U isn’t a bad choice if you’re on a budget, but if you can spare the cash, opt for the ATR2100.