Built-in microphones on computers these days just don’t cut it when it comes to recording pretty much anything. However, looking for a good quality microphone at a decent price can be a daunting task, and when you think you’ve found the one you see the price. USB microphones are trying to change this with high-end equipment at affordable prices. One such product is the Blue Microphones Snowball.
The Snowball is unique in its design but is one of thee most simple microphones I have ever had to use. As you would expect the main part of the product is ‘ball’ shaped with a small threaded hole on the bottom which allows you to attach the height-adjustable tripod stand. It comes in 8 different colours so you have plenty to choose from.
Admittedly once assembled the Snowball isn’t exactly the most stunning or professional-looking microphone available but don’t be fooled, it’s solid and so simple to use, perfect for first timers.
The mic weighs in at 460g and measures 325mm in its circumference.
The Snowball is no hassle at all to get up and running, and it’s all pretty self-explanatory. In the box you’ll receive a rather thick USB cable. Simply plug this into the rear of the Snowball and your computer then wait until Windows installs the required drivers. During my test Windows 7 installed the drivers instantly. Thankfully there is no separate power block or cable as this is all handled by the USB cable.
You should now be good to go and you can start recording in your preferred audio software. We tested out with the free Audacity program and also Adobe Audition. The microphone was picked up by both pieces of software and recorded without any hassle.
Three different recording patterns are supported and you can flick between them using a small switch on the rear of the microphone. However they are only labelled 1, 2 and 3 with no other indicators to which number represents each pattern so you may have to give the manual a read for this.
The omni-directional setting should be used for when you want the microphone to pick up sounds from all around you, where as the cardoid option will only record audio directly in front. The final setting is cardioid -10dB.
The Snowball is a monophonic microphone which you must take into account when purchasing. This means if you’re recording a single source of audio it performs very well e.g. a voice. If however, you have multiple sources of sound such multi-person interviews you may be better off looking elsewhere as this microphone just isn’t made for that.
This being said we managed to record crisp, smooth sounding audio in my living room on both patterns and overall it performed well.
The Blue Microphones Snowball must not be mistaken for a professional or studio quality product, as it certainly is not. However, if you’re looking for a high-end personal use microphone or are a semi-professional then the Snowball maybe the one for you. If you’re currently using your computers built-in mic then this will be a considerable step up, whilst looking funky on your desk at the same.
One thing I would have liked to have seen is an additional output port for headphone monitoring whilst you record. Something similar to that seen on the Blue Microphones Yeti would have been nice.
With a reasonable retail price of £60 this easy to use microphone seems like a good choice if you’re starting out in recording.