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.
Along with the microphone, the Session Music Producer package also comes with an installation disc for their PC-only Session recording software (Mac users are encouraged to use Garage Band). Session is more of a music composition tool than a basic multitrack audio-editing program. Users looking for a quick way to knock out podcast recordings might have an easier time in a no-frills application like Audacity. Musicians, however, will prefer Sessions' built-in library of preset instruments and audio loops that allow songs to be constructed with a paint-by-numbers simplicity reminiscent of Apple's Mac-only Garage Band. From a podcasting perspective, one feature of the Session software we appreciated is the ability to quickly apply common vocal effects such as compression and chorus to a recording by simply selecting the desired effect preset from the track's drop-down menu.
One of the Session software's biggest drawbacks is its inability to export MP3 files. Instead, Session users must export their recording as either a WAV or WMA file, requiring a second application if conversion to MP3 is desired. The most criminal drawback of the Session software, however, is that it requires the Producer microphone to be connected in order for the software to boot up. If you plan on using the Session software to record at home and edit the recording on the go, you better plan on bringing the Producer microphone with you as a ridiculously large security dongle.
The M-Audio Session Music Producer provides an extremely affordable entry point for people looking for an easy way to make reasonably high-quality recordings for singing, speaking, or acoustic instrument performance. Without an analog connection, however, the Producer microphone is not a piece of equipment you can really grow with if you ever plan on building up a full-fledged production studio.