Blue is an established name in the recording device market, having produced a range of top class microphones and accessories for both studio and desktop computer use. The prosumer oriented mics in particular are designed to offer superb recording functionality for iDevices and computers at the right sort of price, so we thought we’d test one out to see what all the fuss is about.
The idea behind these microphones is to provide the kind of studio audio for podcasts, video and on the go location recording, as well as what we’d call casual music recording. The Spark Digital unit we tested is one of the latest models, and features a condenser capsule along with a desktop stand with shockmount, and cables for both iPad and USB (although you’ll need to buy a Lightning adapter to run with the latest iDevices).
The microphone also comes with a nice padded carrying bag with a separate compartment for the cables, and a good sized user manual which is well written and comprehensive. However you’ll probably not need it much, because the mic is deliciously plug and play. Just stick it into the recording device of choice, and within seconds the lights will come on and you’re ready to start recording. We like that sort of simplicity.
The mic is easy to use in other ways too. Instead of complex buttons and switches, there’s just a single knurled knob (try saying that quickly) which handles headphone monitoring volume, mute and mic gain. And because the LED changes color from blue to orange depending on function, it’s quick and easy with the press of the button to get what you want. Nice ergonomics.
The only thing we thought was a bit strange is there’s no on/off button, so if you leave the mic plugged in to your computer permanently and your computer stays on overnight, the mic goes off when the USB power management shuts down the port, which means you have to unplug the cable and plug it in again to power up the mic. Small thing, but probably shows that Blue are more Mac oriented than PC.
The unit worked flawlessly with the Audacity software we tested it with, and there were no problems with setting up. It took seconds to locate the mic and make it the default. Again, nice. In use it’s just a matter of tilting the mic to your preferred direction and start the recording. We found no problems with popping either surprisingly, even without a guard, so either we’re just lucky or the design is deliberately cool.
Overall this is a really great microphone. The responsiveness of the mic during our tests was outstanding for voice work, although expert sound engineers might quibble about whether it’s really suitable for vocal singing work in a studio. But as with many of these things, it probably all depends on what kind of studio kit you’re running it with. But for the price we think you’ll be hard pressed to find a microphone which gives this level of quality audio, and which works with both iPad and USB computer systems.