My wife is a filmmaker, and her primary platform is Final Cut Studio running on a Mac Pro. She is neither an audio engineer nor a gear geek like many of us are. For her current project, she needed to do some scratch voiceover work. Instead of setting her up with a mic, cables, and a typical audio interface-with the configuration hassles and learning curve associated with such a setup-I got her a G-Track USB mic. This has to be best technology purchase I've made for my filmmaker wife. We unpacked the mic and optional shockmount, mounted the assembly onto the included desktop mic stand, plugged in a single USB cable between the mic and the front panel of the Mac, changed a few settings in the System Preferences Sound panel, plugged headphones into the bottom of the mic, and she was off recording-no drivers to install, no settings to tweak, no mixer to configure. Huh, you ask? You plugged headphones into the mic? Yup, unlike plain-jane USB mics, the G-Track has a built-in monitoring system; in fact, it was the first mic on the market to include an integrated direct-monitor mixer. The problem with mics that lack such a feature is that you can't listen to what you're recording-the latency is too high when the audio goes into and then back out of the computer. Not so with the G-Track-you can blend in what the mic is picking up with what the computer is outputting. Built-in, no-fuss, zero-latency monitoring, with no additional software or hardware necessary. Awesome. The mic is also equipped with a 1/8" input jack that can take either a stereo line-level or a mono instrument (Hi-Z) signal. You can of course also monitor these at zero-latency, and for the two channels of 16-bit, 44.1 or 48 kHz audio feeding the computer, you can choose either mic/instrument or stereo line. All the cables you need are included: 1/8" to RCA, 1/8" to 1/4", and USB. Once you set the headphone volume, instrument/line, and mic level knobs, you can push them in to prevent inadvertent changes; push them again to pop them out. The headphone output works best with low-impedance headphones because high-impedance sets won't give you enough volume. Although the G-Track looks like it's a large-diaphragm mic from its form-factor, I'd call it a medium-diaphragm due to its 19 mm capsule. According to Samson, the polar pattern is "super cardioid". I found that it has significant pickup in the rear, and proximity effect in the front ramps up quickly. Also, the mic is very susceptible to plosives; I wish its screen was better at stopping air or it came with a pop-filter. The included desktop stand is heavy, but the mic is heavier, so you have to be careful with your cables or you'll topple the mic. The manual is well-written, and it covers everything! There are step-by-step instructions to get you going in Windows XP/Vista or Mac OS X. Diagrams show you how you can connect the mic to the rest of your desktop studio. General mic'ing topics such as proximity effect and operating levels are discussed concisely. And the application notes cover mic'ing vocals, guitar, piano, and drums. For Windows users, Sonar LE is included for free; Mac users can use GarageBand (not included). As a mic, it sounds pretty good, especially considering its $129 street price and the fact that it's got an onboard audio interface. At high gain settings, there is some noise, including what sounds like computer-induced "whine", and the top end isn't very "airy", so it's certainly not a studio-quality device, but as long as you give it healthy levels, the G-Track will be fine for recording in your office, in your home, or on the road. It's perfect for the singer-songwriter, podcaster, or traveling musician. ($199 MSRP;

Tape Op is a free magazine exclusively devoted to
the art of record making.

 More Gear Reviews 
John Vanderslice · July 15, 2010
My recording studio in San Francisco, Tiny Telephone, sees a tremendous amount of foot traffic from freelance engineers, and plenty of records are tracked under intense time constraints and budgetary...
Garrett Haines · May 15, 2011
The KSM line represents Shure’s premium recording microphones. The newest member is the KSM42, a fixed-cardioid side-address condenser mic. With a similar “giant almond” shape to the...
Garrett Haines · March 15, 2014
The original NT1 was a big deal when it hit the market. Back then, most large- diaphragm studio condensers cost over a thousand dollars. Australian company RØDE aimed for the small studio and...
Allen Farmelo · May 15, 2008
Ever since the studio where I do my tracking (Mavericks in NYC) acquired a pair of vintage RCA BK-5A ribbon mics, I've become a big fan and have found a ton of uses for them. It's difficult to track...
Adam Kagan · March 15, 2013
AEA makes some of the world's finest ribbons mics, including their recreation of the RCA 44-BX (the AEA R44) and their groundbreaking active A440, which carry hefty price tags. Wes Dooley, the founder...
Joel Hamilton · Nov. 15, 2006
Let me start this rant of a review by saying that endeavors like this one warm my recording heart. I love it when I meet someone that loves recording as much as I do, and in this case, the expression...
Steve Silverstein · Nov. 15, 2008
If a microphone helps me learn about how other mics in my collection sound, then it is worth spending time with it for this reasons alone. The KEL Audio HM-2d not only accomplishes this feat, but does...
Chris Koltay · July 11, 2013
If you have a pulse and have been making records during the last few decades, then you are aware that Wes Dooley and Audio Engineering Associates have been making the finest ribbon mics available. I...
Mike Jasper · May 15, 2009
Since November, I've been working on a huge shootout of small-diaphragm condenser mics; I might have mentioned this in my last review. Frankly, I might mention this in every review forever, since it...
  • Start A Discussion

Tue, Sep 2, 2014 - 1:40AM
Get a dialogue going below: