Cool gifts for geeks, 2011: Home and office gear

Presenting the gems in your home or office environment.

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Meteor Mic, by Samson

The eternal quest for excellent sound quality is, well, eternal. But legendary microphone manufacturers Samson (professionals know the name) has taken a big step towards producing the ultimate PC microphone with the Meteor Mic, a clever - and excellent-sounding - USB microphone. This is a condenser mic (professionals know the technology) with a large 25-mm diaphragm and 16-bit, 44.1/48 KHz response. 

The Meteor Mic features a clever design - there are three convenient fold-down legs that provide an adjustable angle when placed on a desk, and rubber tips provide a degree of mechanical isolation. There's also an adapter for a traditional microphone stand. The Meteor Mic features a clickable mute button and a convenient headphone hack with a volume control - everything one might need for podcast recording and more. Installation is simple; no drivers are required with modern operating systems. And operation is easy - plug it into USB, configure the usual settings in Windows Control Panel or whatever PC/OS you use, and you're on the air. 

So, how does it sound? Excellent! Tests with Windows Sound Recorder and really good Bose headphones left me asking for nothing more. There is a small issue with sound isolation - even with the rubber feet, taps and thumps can be picked up if one bumps whatever surface the Meteor Mic is sitting on. A regular microphone stand, though, solves those problems quickly, and should always be used for critical applications. 

The Meteor Mic is a big step up from built-in microphones, and will appeal to both musicians and podcasters. Its cool retro looks will attract attention even from non-audio-geeks, and the price is certainly right. As someone who often does recording, I'd add this to my arsenal in a heartbeat - and it's a great gift (hint, hint). 

Cool Yule rating: 5 stars
Price: $69.99 (Amazon)
Reviewed by C.J. Mathias

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