Field Report: Blue Microphones Snowball

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I think I may have found the coolest mic ever. The Snowball has a unique look and after running a few tests, it seems as though Blue Microphones puts high quality technology into a very attractive package.

Out of the box the first thing that appealed to me was the look and feel of the mic. It comes shipped with its own stand and when set up looks like a softball on a stand. Although it also feels like a softball in your hand, don't throw this baby: The inner workings in this mic pack a punch and I would not want to risk testing the durability of the packaging. Though I felt like juggling the mic, I decided to avoid possible accident-inducing actions and just test the mic out.

As with most guys/engineers and production persons, I decide to leave the instructions set aside and just plug and play. Well, plug-n-play, for this microphone is a reality. No software to install from CD or any other hassles. I simply plugged the USB cable into the mic and then straight into my laptop (running Windows 7). The mic was immediately recognized and installed.

The Snowball’s frequency response is 40Hz to 18kHz.

Ready, set, record!

I went straight to my production software and started recording. It took me a couple of takes to get used to the mic – not any fault with the mic but I didn't think it was going to be as sensitive as it is. Sensitive in a good way: This little Snowball USB mic can really pick up sounds. The casing looks like you would have to get really close or shout, but this mic grasps all sounds. There are three pickup settings on the mic to choose from:

  • Cardioid mode: For normal vocals. Nice sound.
  • Cardioid mode with 10dB pad: The same as cardioid mode, except with a -10dB attenuation to capture louder sounds with higher fidelity.
  • Omnidirectional mode: This mode picks up sound equally from all directions with a very rich sound.

    For my podcast recording I used the cardioid mode without the 10dB pad, which accurately captured my voice. I simply sat in my living room with no special settings and recorded. In fact, when I sent the review I told my editor I was testing out a new mic and not from the radio station. She replied, “Just curious – where did you record it in your house? Obviously you found a place that was quiet and the sound didn't bounce around. I'm not so sure it doesn't sound better than the recordings you did at the station. I'm impressed.” I was impressed myself.

    Other uses

    Out of curiosity I tried a few recordings with the 10dB pad and liked that the louder sounds were recorded without any distortion or other annoying features that would cause me to trash a piece and have to begin again. One of the items I recorded was original music played on a piano. With the pad, all the loud sections of the song were mixed perfectly with the softer sections.

    -- continued on page 2

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