Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Shure PG42-USB Condenser Microphone Review


I need to do a bit of voiceover work for my day job and my night classes, and it should be no surprise that the microphone in my laptop is not super-great. So, I have been looking around for a nice USB condenser microphone that will not break the bank, and I think I have found just what I was looking for: the Shure PG42-USB.

Shure has been around since 1925 and has been making microphones since 1931, so they probably have a good idea of what they are doing. Their SM57, SM58, 55SH, PG52, 520DX (Green Bullet), Beta Series, and wireless systems are all industry standards, and I own all of them. So, when looking for a USB mic, they were the first ones I went to. It was a wise choice.

The PG-42USB is a side-address USB microphone that was designed specifically for digital recording (there is also a PG-42 with a regular XLR connector). When you buy one of these it comes with a nice case, a shock mount and a USB cable – it really is a great set-up for the money.

This condenser microphone has a cardioid polar pattern to reduce background noise and feedback. It has a large diaphragm with and an inherently warm tone yet it is clear enough to be appropriate for lead vocal or solo instrument recording. There is negligible added noise, so it is perfect for choral recording, or better yet, voiceover work.

There are quite a few extras built into this mic, and if you look at it closely there are little knobs and switches all over it. There include:

-- A volume control knob.

-- A 15 dB pad switch to reduce distortion from loud sources, such horns or drums.

-- Low frequency rolloff to reduces floor rumble and low-frequency room noise from heating and air conditioning systems. It can also reduce low frequencies that can result in muddy sound.

-- Integrated pre-amp with microphone gain control to allow control of input signal strength.

-- 1/8-inch headphone jack for monitoring

--Monitor mix control for blending microphone and playback audio.

Set-up with the computer is easy. It has USB plug and play connectivity, and it works with Windows 7 or 8, XP and Mac OSX. The quality of the recording is top-notch as it is a 16-bit mic with a 48kHz sample rate. I used it with my fairly new Macbook Pro with no troubles at all.

I fiddled around with the best set-up and found that with a table-top boom stand and pop filter I was able to set it off to the side of my mouth (about 4-inches away), and it was still easy to see my computer to mess with the controls and see my script. The headphone jack was especially welcome!

With both Garage Band and Adobe Audition I had great results with my voiceovers. My voice did not sound harsh and it had nice warmth to it with no background noise once I got my hotel room air conditioner tuned out of the mix. It is very sensitive, of course, so if anything unexpected happened in the room a retake was necessary. You really have to have a quiet room to get the most out of this thing. But it was totally worth it because the overall sound was so much better than if I used the Mac’s onboard unit or my POS low-dollar mic I bought from Sam Ash in a pinch.

Looking the PG-42 USB over, it is a quality piece that is quite heavy and I a sure it will hold up for years to come. I really think it is the perfect voiceover or podcast microphone for the money. I cannot wait to try it out with my acoustic guitars and some of my mediocre singing to see how it fares.

The Shure PG42-USB is a very good vocal microphone, and it is also a terrific value. It carries an MSRP of $249, but sells for around $200 everywhere you look on the internet. That price includes the aforementioned case and shock mount, not to mention Shure’s outstanding warranty. If you have more than a little bit of voiceover work to do, it will do a super job and be a terrific investment in your work!



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