Exploring the latest toy: CAD U37 USB Microphone

Sometimes it happens that you’ve got your eye sort of casually on a thing for a while, but aren’t in any desperate need of it, so you don’t go looking, but stumble across a good deal. That was the case with the CAD U37 for me.

Coincidentally, orange is one of my favorite colors. But actually, this Halloween-colored mic was just the color that happened to be on discount at the time.

Well, that’s the short version. The long version is I stumbled across it on an unrealistically good deal on ebay, but decided to risk it anyway at the price. After all, paying with paypal and with ebay buyer protection, I knew I could rest assured that if it WAS a bullshit listing, I would eventually get my money back either way.

And, well, I was right, the first try WAS a bullshit listing, but I was refunded quickly, and since it was on my mind, I went browsing and found a good open box deal, so snatched it up while the price was right.

I don’t really have extensive need for a USB Mic since I got the audio interface, but most of the time I don’t want to be fucked about all those wires. To date, I’ve been doing most of my casual recording  (recording songs to hear them back for my own benefit and to share here) on my cell phone. And since I have a cell with the best cell phone speakers to be had, that works out okay. But, it also sucks up a lot of space on the phone since it takes me a while to actually transfer the files off of it because yeah – lazy. I won’t even lie. It’s just that I’m lazy about that sort of thing.

So “upgrading” from my Samson Meteorite has long since seemed like a good idea, just for the convenience of it. Note, I put upgrade in quotes. Based on current pricing on these two mics, it’s more of a side-grade. They’re both currently retailing at around $40 (not that I paid that for either one, of course. I know how to bargain hunt, gosh darn it.), but the nature of each makes them better at different things.

In fact, they’re sonically different enough that my first impression of the CAD U37 was quite bad and I thought I was going to return it. I decided to hold off until I could test it on a quieter day in the house, and a day when I had a little more time to test the settings.

See, the Samson Meteorite is good at cancelling background noise. That’s what I was looking for at the time. But, as a result, it tends to have a poor response on the lower end (or, at least my voice’s lower end, which might technically still be in the mid-range), effectively making me sound like a twelve year old. So, it’s good when I want clarity, but not amazing at reproducing sounds accurately.

The CAD U37 is loud. it picks up EVERYTHING. The sound of a pick, the sound of people laughing at the comedian on my roommate’s TV on the other side of the house. It’s just that sensitive. The down side of that is that it picks up a lot of excess noise. The up side is that the sound is more “true” than the meteorite, if that matters to you. It matters to me, but, like I said above – I have the misfortune of having a voice that can easily sound like a little kid if I lose too much of the low end in a recording. If that doesn’t apply to you, then you might not care.

The U37 is also a physically bigger mic than the Meteorite. This is worthwhile for me because it creates a better sound balance with less effort than anything I’ve used to date. The Meteorite looks like an adorable little shiny golf ball. It’s cute, but it sits very close to level with the top of the desk, which means it takes some very careful planning to get it away from the guitar’s sound hole, and a stack of books to get it closer to my mouth than to the guitar. The bigger size of the CAD U37 means that when placed on it’s stand it sits right at about nose-height for me, and that means it’s going to pick up my voice as a bit louder than my guitar by default without much fuss, which is handy for those quick test recordings I want to use it for.

Comes with a little stand, the height does not appear to be adjustable at a glance, but you can tilt the mic more forward to suit your needs.

The excess noise it picks up means that’s about all it’s good for as far as my purposes go, but that’s fine, because that’s all I need it to do. I already have fancier stuff for when I want to do something fancy. And, don’t get me wrong, I do have my eye on a fancier USB mic, too, but I don’t technically NEED one.

Also, this little fucker is LOUD. My meteorite I tend to need to hold fairly close to my mouth for decent volume. That’s fine, it’s puny and fits nicely in the palm of a hand.  This thing, I need to sit far back or the volume is excessive (and yes, I did check the levels in my sound settings. Let’s just say this thing is going to be on the -10b setting forever. I have not yet googled what the second little knob adjusts.)

So, I guess overall I’d call this a 3-star rating. Is it amazing? No. Will it do the job I need it to do, and does it fit a hole in my collection of toys that was not previously covered effectively? Yes. So, I’m keeping it – at least, until some point in the distant future when I get something fancier and shinier, you know, which is in the “someday” plan.

We all have those things, like “someday, I want a good USB microphone”,  and “someday, when I can justify it, I want that other guitar”, etc… We all have ‘someday’ toys on our list. But, for now, all I need is enough to work, play things back to myself, share things on my blog, and as many things as required to help me learn more and faster.

And, I know I ought to share sound clips with you, but see the top part of the post: I’m lazy. Besides, there are only a billion of them on youtube already.


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