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Samson C01U microphone and Windows 7 (and Vista)

Pete Brown - 25 October 2009

pmb_c03u_mic_croppedToday I picked up a Samson C01U mic so that I can have better audio in my WindowsClient.net videos than I had in some previous screencasts. The mic is the same one that Scott Hanselman has used when recording podcasts from his setup.

I spent the better part of the afternoon messing around with the mic, trying to get something with usable audio. The gain just seemed way too low, barely registering one bar in the Windows 7 audio device setup dialog.

I made sure to crank up the gain in that dialog (it's set really low by default). but that made only marginal difference.

I tried it on my netbook to check levels (which seemed slightly higher there, but still not usable) I even tried switching it around between different USB ports on my PC in case power was an issue. I tried it both on-board and in an external powered USB hub. The tip for that came from Bill Reiss in the Camtasia forums here (excerpted below, emphasis mine).

I had an issue with the Samson C01U microphone levels on Windows 7 (Vista should be very similar), the microphone was very quiet. It turns out that it was the USB port I was plugging it into, it must not provide enough power. I switched to another USB port on the other side of the laptop and it was fine.
If you try switching to another USB port and this doesn't help, you may want to consider a USB hub that has external AC power.
Hope this helps, I didn't find any advice like this online and was about to give up on this microphone before I figured it out. Now I'm very happy with it.

So, before I completely gave up on what I was sure would be a good mic, I decided to try some other ports. My external powered hub has two ports sticking out of the top which look like they might be special. I tried one of those and bam! I suddenly had sound levels in the red. I guess those two are the only ones getting additional juice.

Condenser mics need external power because they rely on voltage changes in a capacitor to capture sound. This makes them more sensitive than other types of mics, but also means they need power where others do not.

In Windows XP you can use the special pre-amp software to work around this, but I imagine the USB power issue remains simply masked.

It appears that not all USB power is created equal. Now the mic sounds great.

posted by Pete Brown on Sunday, October 25, 2009
filed under:      

47 comments for “Samson C01U microphone and Windows 7 (and Vista)”

  1. Brandonsays:
    Curious what software you were recording into? And what adjustments did you make along with changing the USB port? Thanks in advance. I've heard that the software that comes with the Samsons is very poor and nearly unusable in Vista and Windows 7.
  2. Pete Brownsays:

    I was recording to TechSmith Camtasia 6 on Windows 7. Samson's software doesn't work on Vista or Win7 as I understand it, and actually wasn't needed. The only things that need to be done are to ensure you have a powered USB port (buy a powered hub if you need to, and be sure to try all the ports you have) and check the recording properties inside Win7 to make sure the level isn't down near zero.

    Other than that, no adjustments.

  3. Brandonsays:
    Glad to hear that. That's what I'll be doing mostly, too. But curious what settings people are putting it at when recording into something like Audacity. Thanks Pete.
  4. Brad Burgesays:
    No matter what program you use, if you want to record multi-track music, you can only hear the tracks you have already recorded. The signal thru any digital mic doesn't go thru the sound card, so you don't hear it in your headphones. My Samson C01U has a wonderful sound and very low noise, but it is not a good tool to use with Cakewalk, Sonar, or other programs that a musician might use to record on several tracks by himself.
  5. sJsays:
    I just bought a used C01U. Until I found this page on google I thought the mic was bad. My windows 7 would detect it then after some time (very short time, like a min or two), it stops working and if I just remove the usb and connect again, it would say unknown device. I am thinking I should get a usb hub and try the mic with it. Until then it's totally unusable for me!!
  6. Pete Brownsays:

    That's not quite what happened in my case, but it *could* be a symptom of low power.

    Make sure you get a *powered* USB hub and make not of any ports which get more power than others. On my Belkin, for example, the top two ports worked with the mic while the others did not. Don't hesitate to try other ports both on your PC (especially the ones in the back) and in a hub.

  7. mikesays:
    I'm glad I found this. This happened to me yesterday with my laptop. The mic was just barely picking up noise, except when it worked normally for about 2 minutes. I switched USB ports and it started working fine. Of course that was after I exchanged it but all is well now. Thank you.
  8. Aaronsays:
    Hey Pete, thanks for writing this...just got my second hand C01U from ebay today and it's been bumming me out for hours. So it looks like I need a powered hub. I just wanted to ask about the exact Belkin model you have so I know I'm buying one which has been proven to work. Thanks.
  9. Petesays:

    I haven't seen that belkin in stores in quite some time, so I image it is discontinued. If you have a good powered hub, and you try all the ports, some or all of them should work.

    Also be sure to up the recording level in the project properties.

    Finally, be sure you';re using the C01U as the input. Some things, like sound recorder, often default to another mic without offering you any way (inside the app) to change it. A friend ran into problems and it turned out his webcam mic was what was in-use.

  10. Timsays:
    I've been using the CO1U for 5 years now and wanted to share my experience as well. On windows XP-32, I don't recall any issues regarding recording volume or quality. To prevent audio stutter when running more than 4 gig ram in XP-64 and Vista 64 (till SP-1), required a 64 bit usb mic patch from microsoft ( search for Article ID: 938136 ) . The most recent challenge was a new installation of Win 7 64 bit. Using the same USB port, the mic worked fine in Windows XP mode but was quiet in Win 7. My sound settings in Camtasia and Windows were correct. I plugged the mic into a powered USB hub and Win 7 recording levels now good. Though documents I've read state the Samson only draws 26 milliamp at 5 volts, for me it only works correctly in Win 7 64 bit using a powered hub. I repeat, that running Windows XP mode inside of the 64 bit Win7 installation worked fine. It only was weak when running from Windows 7. Same physical hardware except I suppose the virtual hardware in XP mode changed something. I also use the mic in 32 or 64 bit linux Ubuntu installations with no issues. Hope this helps someone.
  11. Petesays:

    I assume you're running into a common issue with USB mics on laptops: the USB port is underpowered.

    As mentioned above, the C01U needs a solid power source through that USB port. It's the most picky of all the USB devices I own. You can try another USB port if your aspire has it, or use a *powered* USB hub. It has to be a powered (as in plug into the wall) hub.

  12. Pamsays:
    Thank you so much for this post. IT upgraded my recording machine to Windows 7 and my mic stopped picking up sound. Tried plugging it into a usb port on the back instead of the front and voila! I'm back in business!
  13. Mattsays:
    G-R-E-A-T advise ! it worked for me ! i was picking very low input levels with the mic, i tried another of the onboard usb port and everything is back to normal. thks you have saved me from a) getting a new mic and b) getting a new notebook !
  14. MC Rainsays:
    Is Samson C01U compatible with Windows Vista? & Besides the mic, what other equipment do I need in order for it to work efficiantly using Audacity and a Sony laptop.

    Is Realtek HD Audio considered a sound card?
  15. Petesays:

    No idea. Check with Samson. I use Windows 7.

    @MC Rain

    Vista compatibility: No idea, you'd have to check with Samson.

    What else do you need? Not sure if you read the post, but there's a pretty good chance the USB ports on your laptop won't be able to drive the mic. If that's the case, you'll need a *powered* USB hub. Be sure to try each of the USB ports first.

    Other software really depends on what you intend to do with it.

  16. Petesays:
    Update: I like the C01U, but recently switched to this mic. It's plugged into a preamp which then goes into my MOTU 828mk3


  17. Paulsays:
    Thanks very much for this post. I just spent a couple of hours trying to get my CO1U to work on my new Win 7 64 bit Acer laptop. As described above, the sound input was extremely muted, even though it had worked fine on an old Thinkpad. I tried a different USB port and no change, but I tried one more USB port and that fixed it. Yay!
  18. Glensays:
    So hello, I don't really knof if this thread is still running hot. But I bought the co1u the other day. I don't have problem with the power stuff, that most people here had problems with...

    But my problem is more, about the sensitive side, one could say its too sensitive... Because I can stand down in the basement and talk alittle louder than normal no shouting or anything, just raising my voice, and up in my room it would pick it up...
    But what I would like to do is to knock 10dp off it, is theres any possabilities of that? Because I do use mine to talk a hell'a lot on skype with...
  19. Petesays:

    No idea why the gain would be so high on yours. You didn't mention what operating system you're running. In Windows 7, right click the speaker icon on the tray and select "recording devices". Find the C01U and click properties. Change the recording level.

  20. SAPPHIREsays:
  21. justinsays:
    look im been tryin gt my mic to record on my computer but i cnt figure out on how set the volume on it i got everything els gud but i cant figure out what icon used n th control panel so i can record any1 can help me plz and ty
  22. Petesays:

    I really appreciate you trying to save space in my comment database, but it's not necessary, honestly! :)

    As part of your brevity, you left out what operating system you're using. I'll assume it's a recent version of Windows. As mentioned above in the comments, right-click the speaker icon in the task bar, select "recording devices" then scroll through the list of devices. If you can't figure out which one it is, speak into the mic directly so that it's the only thing picking up sound -- you should seesome activity on the sound level bar next to the microphone icon.

    I have no idea how I manaed to miss an all-caps comment, but I did. For powered hubs, see newegg.com. As to the rest, I assume this was sorted out when your friend came over.

  23. Bill says:
    I am running Windows 7. I have turned up the audio input settings, I have tried all USB ports and turned up the gain in Audacity and Cakewalk. I am now using a self powered USB hub.
    None of this has worked for increasing my input gain. This is the second mic I have gotten and both have the same problem. I am using a laptop and the built in mics pic me up better than the Co1u.
    What am I doing wrong?
  24. Petesays:

    It's really hard to say. The C01U is very picky about the USB ports, and laptops tend to be the worst.

    Are you sure the hub is actually powered? IOW, it has an external power supply, plugged into the wall, and working?

    Is anything else attached to USB? You sure it's a USB 2.0 port and hub?

  25. H Moltsays:
    I suspect that while a powered external USB hub solves the problem, it is still something software related. I've been using the C01U for over a year now on a Windows 7 laptop without the low volume problem. Recently I had to format and reinstall Windows. Now I have this problem. It'd be interesting to know whether anyone is having it under Linux.
  26. H Moltsays:
    As follow-up: somehow I've got mine working again with (if anything too much) gain. Can't reverse-engineer how I did it. I did not upgrade my sound drivers. Every setting that I've changed, I've changed back to try to recreate the low-gain phenomenon: no luck. The only thing that perhaps changed is that I installed a copy of VAC (virtual audio cable). But I have not configured that program or used it yet. Maybe some sort of system file was replaced? Cheers.
  27. Kinchsays:
    Thank you for noting this - I thought my Samson C01U quit working. I ended up getting it to work by using a yellow USB port on my lenovo laptop. I noticed that I was getting a really faint audio signal which made me think it was working at some level so it was probably a setting somewhere.
  28. Petesays:

    Not sure what you're reacting to here.

    Laptops and even desktops by all manufacturers have different electrical characteristics on the different USB ports. Sometimes they also go through different chipsets on the motherboard. The Samson mic is extremely low tolerance with what it needs to run well.

  29. Gregsays:
    I found what the problem was for me after 1-2 days of frustration.

    Samson is a stereo microphone, but one of the channels is much more silent than the other for some reason, at least on some devices. By default and for some reason, Windows 7, or others, detect and set it up as a 1 channel microphone, and choose the silent channel as input! This setting can be changed in the recording devices properties advanced tab for the Samson microphone. Just pick 2 channels and 48 khz rate, and your volume level should be back to normal.

    Hope this helps.
  30. Maggiesays:
    Greg. You are beautiful. I mean that in every sense of the word.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is.. your advice worked for me and I am extremely pleased. Thank you!!
  31. dheyssays:
    I've been searching for this solution for so long, since my samson C01u keeps acting up by having low output volume. Thank you! I'll try to buy a USB hub with external power later.
  32. Plankton Alexandersays:
    Hey I just found out today when I went buy another microphone like it. It is your usb cord. Nine out of ten your received a faulty one or maybe someone else used it so it is causing your microphone to mess up. All you need is another usb cord similar to the one that came with the mic.

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