Shure's PG27 microphone represents the new breed of USB-based active mics, drawing both power and connectivity from a built-in USB interface.

Many of the functions of the mixing console have been transferred onto the microphone itself – you'll find volume and gain controls, a -20db cut for noisy sources and, most importantly, on-mic live monitoring, which cuts out the usual latency that software monitoring suffers.

Monitoring is important when using condenser mics that have a limited range of perfect reception, so plugging in headphones helps you make sure you hit the spot.

Getting it set up is easy, and its monitoring circuit shows up as an additional output, meaning you can route your Mac's playback straight to the PG27's headphone jack to save switching your headphones over.

It's arguable how practical the PG27 would be for portable use given that you need a mic stand to go with it, but it does cut out the need for a mixing console, so you can record in the field with no external power.

It is also a shame that using multiple simultaneous sound sources is difficult in OS X – this is only a solution if you just use one microphone at a time. And if you do, we can't recommend it enough.

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