Pro-audio manufacturer M-Audio has unveiled a new $99 vocal recording package called Session Music Producer. Unlike their previous podcaster-targeted product, Podcast Factory, the Session Music Producer bundle consolidates the microphone and computer audio card into a single, idiot-proof USB microphone appropriately named the Producer USB. If nothing else, the sheer magnitude of M-Audio's 16mm cardioid capsule Producer microphone (see photo) will intimidate rival podcasters into submission.
Beyond its monolithic size and inexpensive price, there are two factors to the Session Music Producer bundle that are worth noting. First off, it comes bundled with M-Audio's capable Session multitrack recording software. Second, and perhaps most important, the Producer microphone includes a direct-monitoring headphone jack built into the front that allows you to listen to the recording as you make it--with zero computer latency. Anyone who's ever recorded a musician through an old latency-crippled computer should appreciate that little gem of a feature.
The Session Music Producer bundle also comes with a desktop mic tripod and a zippered cloth bag to put it all in.