Diving into the world of computer-based recording can be a scary and intimidating proposition, especially if you're simply looking for a basic way to record your voice. The Session Music Producer package ($99) is a one-stop solution for recording, editing, and producing recordings using an included microphone. While the microphone and software bundled in the Session Music Producer package are at the bottom end of professional grade, it is an exceptional value for podcasters, budding musicians, and voice-over actors. Beyond the appeal of its budget price tag, the Session Music Producer package is also a uniquely streamlined portable recording solution that combines a computer audio interface and a cardioid-type condenser microphone into a single, compact device.
While M-Audio trumpets the quality of the included software and hardware equally, the real value of the Session Music Producer is the microphone. The Producer microphone measures 7.5 inches long and 2 inches wide. A desktop tripod stand is also included in the Session Music Producer package, which raises the microphone by 7 inches for better placement in front of your yapping maw. We found the stand to be convenient, but not very effective for isolating the microphone from the occasional rattle from the desk it was placed on.
Two things distinguish the Producer microphone from more conventional condenser microphones. First off, the Producer works strictly over USB. The benefit of the Producer's single USB connection is that it makes operating and connecting the microphone dead-simple. The downside is that if you ever end up upgrading to a more conventional recording studio, you will not be able to plug the Producer microphone into an analog mixing desk or microphone preamp. Luckily, the USB hardware built into the Producer microphone is both Mac and PC compatible, so at least you don't have to worry about a computer upgrade making your microphone obsolete.
The second distinguishing feature on M-Audio's Producer microphone is a built-in headphone jack located on the front. Because your computer recognizes the USB-connected Producer microphone as both an audio input and output, you can use the microphone's headphone jack to monitor your recording directly. The benefit of monitoring your recording through the Producer microphone, rather than listening through your computer's headphone jack, is the low-latency technology used by M-Audio to prevent the annoying audio delays commonly found in consumer audio cards.