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I have a Fast Track Pro (which as an XLR pre-amp) mostly used for DJing tasks. Now, I am in the process of creating a small (really cheap) recording studio in my home. I was looking for cheap Mics, and I found a few like the Samson C01, for example, which has two models; one with a USB connector, and one with a standard XLR connector.

Now, I am not sure which one to buy. If I choose the USB one I am afraid of having latency issues or lesser sound quality, but if I choose the XLR I will always be required to use my Fast Track Pro in order to record (even if just creating a Podcast, not recording voice or an instrument).

Which option do you think is the best in this particular situation?

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2 Answers

up vote 16 down vote accepted

The Fast Track Pro is an audio interface. It takes an analog signal and converts it to digital, and provides a way to connect to the computer. The USB microphone simply has a built-in interface.

It comes down to what you want. If you specifically don't want to always use the Fast Track Pro, then the USB mic might be a good option, although like you said, you'll be tied to its interface so if it exhibits driver, latency, or quality problems you can't escape them.

If you go with the XLR, you'll have to use an interface like the Fast Track, but I think this is an advantage - you probably get better preamps with a dedicated interface, and the microphone is portable to anything that accepts XLR. If you already like the Fast Track, then you can lean on its already-known properties for quality and latency. If you don't, you can always upgrade interfaces at some point.

Personally I'm inclined to suggest XLR since it's such a standard for mics. I imagine that if you're already DJing and building a simple recording setup that you already have the Fast Track ready and available so it's no extra work to use it for recording, say, a podcast. You're still recording voice.

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I can certainly agree with @warriorbob here. I would add that, since the USB microphone is essentially an interface in itself, you also need to grapple with device drivers for it. In a dedicated interface like your Fast Track, you're likely to get better quality drivers (ASIO support for example). –  JayP Oct 26 '11 at 9:55
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Please, please, please get a mic with an XLR over a USB connection unless you are just cranking out podcasts. If you are recording songs, you will eventually want to introduce a nice preamp and maybe some analog eq and compression into your signal path. This will be impossible of the A/D is built into the mic.

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