So you’re loving Apple’s GarageBand and you kinda-sorta taught yourself to play music. Now it’s time to take a stab at singing along with your strings, keys, and beats. You’re going to need something better than your Mac’s standard mic for the vocals… something like Audio-Technica’s ATR2100-USB Handheld USB/XLR Microphone ($80). And hey, it looks good enough that you wouldn’t get laughed off the stage if you pulled it out at a show. Updated! We’ve added new pictures and details for the both ATR2100-USB and its companion model ATR2500-USB ($100)!
ATR2100-USB is kind of a jack of all trades when it comes to podcasting, home recording, and the like. Of course the microphone can plug right into the USB port on your computer and interact with any of your audio software, but it also supports analog output via the XLR connection—great for live performances. The analog-to-digital converter offers a 16-Bit, 44.1/48 kHz sampling rate, and a built-in headphone port allows for real-time monitoring of the output, with a two-position level/volume control switch right on the bottom of the mic. Audio-Technica includes a tripod desk stand, threaded stand clamp, plus USB and XLR cables in the package.
By comparison, the heavier ATR2500-USB has a more modern-looking design, made for side-addressed recording, and includes slightly different inputs and controls. On its tube-shaped body are digital volume controls that tie directly into OS X, along with a recessed headphone port, both in different (and better) positions than on the ATR2100-USB’s bottom. Missing are the XLR input and cable, and the mini-USB connector from the ATR2100-USB has been replaced with a D-style USB port, matched to the cable inside this box. Inside the ATR2500 is a condenser mic, rather than the dynamic mic in the ATR2100, promising ever-so-slightly improved low-frequency sensitivity (down to 30Hz versus 50Hz, both with 15,000Hz highs).