Samson Go Mic Mobile review: Fun and functional, but flawed

Recording great phone video means capturing great audio too — Samson's Go Mic almost does it perfectly.

As a mediocre musician and an even more mediocre comedian, I often like to record myself for both posterity's sake and to learn from my many, many (many) mistakes. The built-in microphones on most smartphones nowadays are decent, but a quality external mic can make the difference between a good recording and a great one. If you're shooting phone video, and shooting in 4K at that, then you should have clear audio to go along with it.

I was offered the opportunity to review Samson's Go Mic Mobile, which has cables to connect to Lightning, Micro-USB, and USB-C, so I jumped on it and started recording.

Plug in and play

Samson Go Mic Mobile: What I like

I hate fartin' around with instructions at this point. I know how to set up a phone from scratch, can work any gaming console, and can even install most smart home products with no need for directions, so I was a little worried when I took out the receiver pack and the handheld microphone. I was, however, quite pleasantly surprised to learn that I just had to turn on the receiver, turn on the microphone (after inserting two AA batteries — not included), connect my phone, and I was ready to record.

Setup is incredibly easy and straightforward, and for something as hobbyist-focused as a microphone that connects to your phone, that's exactly how it should be.

I was also jazzed about the fact that the Go Mic Mobile comes with USB-C, Lightning, and Micro-USB connectors, making it compatible with just about every phone of the last five years. It let me test it on both the iPhone I have and my daily Android driver (Galaxy S8), and that means I can loan it to any of my friends.

The handheld mic is huge, but the twist-off system is convenient and cool.

Headphone compatibility is huge when it comes to recording great audio, so being able to listen live is one of the best features going for the Go Mic Mobile. You can instantly hear if levels aren't what they need to be, and that makes it even better for singing when playing an instrument, since you can hear the mix before you get through a whole song, a perfect take, only to realize you can only hear your guitar and none of your singing.

Yeah, the handheld microphone is huge, but it's a cool system: You can twist off the lower half to reveal the gain control, battery slots, as well as a tiny screwdriver for adjusting your gain. The screwdriver snaps in so that you never lose it.

A deal-breaker or two

Samson Go Mic Mobile: What I don't like

The biggest issue I had with the Go Mic Mobile is that lack of an included charging cable. Every bit of literature I can find on this thing says it includes a 3.5mm cable, Lightning, USB-C, and Micro-USB connectors. And that's correct. But the receiver needs a Mini-USB charging cable. The Mini-USB connector is not included. I don't know about you or anyone else on the planet, but who the hell has Mini-USB cables just lying around anymore? What is this, 2002?

Luckily (very friggin' luckily), I have a PS3 still kicking around, so I grabbed the controller charging cable from that and was able to charge up the receiver. For those of you who may not still have a PS3 kicking around (PS4 rightfully uses Micro-USB, like a civilized console of its time), you may be S.O.L.

Why any company uses Mini-USB in 2018 is beyond me.

I have also mentioned that the Go Mic Mobile is gainy, and that is to its detriment. I work for a magician on the side and he wanted me to record an intro voiceover for a run of theater shows we have coming up, so I figured it'd be the perfect way to test this microphone.

Well, before adjusting any gain, I put on my best announcer voice and blew the waveform to kingdom come — I mean I almost couldn't understand what I had said it was so distorted. So I turned the gain down as far as it would go. The recording ended up sounding pretty good, but there was still an underlying room noise hiss in every recording I tried. In an open room, under a blanket, it didn't matter. Hissy.

That may be due in part to the Go Mic Mobile being connected via USB to my phone, but that hiss appeared with each phone I tried.

Buy it on sale if you can

Samson Go Mic Mobile microphone

The Go Mic Mobile is quite far from perfect. If it's not the missing charging cable, then it's the high gain even when the gain is turned all the way down. The connectivity, setup, and ease of use, however, do push this microphone more towards a buy recommendation than a do not buy warning. It's well-built, you can use it with any app that records audio, you can listen live through headphones, and it's compact enough to travel anywhere (despite being rather large for a handheld microphone anyway).

$200 seems a bit steep given the recording quality, so if you can find this on sale, snatch it up. It'll do the trick for YouTube recordings and whatnot, but mind that hiss. Make sure recording conditions are ideal.

Mick Symons

Mike is a staff writer at Mobile Nations and fancies himself a musician and comedian. Keep dreaming, Mike.