The microphone market is vast, with pretty much every make and model protesting that theirs is a ‘professional’ piece of kit, even the ones you can find for £9.99 in Argos. For those without specialist knowledge it can be a daunting arena to enter for the first time, things get even more confusing when products are aimed at the computer market rather than the musical.
This is where the Blue Snowball seems to be trying to aid buyers who may have been stung before with an inferior product that promises so much.
At nearly £100 (cheapest online price around £65) it’s not cheap, but straight out of the box it has a nice weighty feel that normally suggests a quality product. Small and light is all very well in some products, but where sound reproduction and recording is concerned it’s all about big heavy quality magnets. Hence why Bose sounds ok in the shop and then you hear the B&O equivalent.
The Snowball professes to be a jack of all trades, to be able to record anything from studio quality music to podcasts and all in-between, this is perhaps a slight overstatement. The microphone is not suited to bonafide home studio recording, those requiring such a mic would be best off looking for a more conventional condenser microphone. The Snowball can’t really handle a full on vocal or guitar close up and deliver the same sound as one would usually use in this sort of situation, lower mids on an acoustic guitar are somewhat ‘honky’ and the mic seems to fight with powerful vocals rather than take in the entire frequency range.
But that is being harsh on the Snowball, to be honest I don’t believe this is what the mic has been designed to do. Although the mic can be mounted to a standard microphone stand it’s best use is on the sturdy and well built desk stand that is provided with it.
As a tool for recording podcasts and for people who like to put videos on youtube of themselves strumming away on a guitar and singing the Snowball is pretty much faultless.
Out of the box, screw on the stand and plug the (supplied) USB cable into Garageband on a MacBook Pro and it’s working, there’s no power lead and no need for drivers or any prolonged setting up procedure (although some of this is also down to the Mac, it’s worth noting the overall ease of set up).
The switch on the rear, without getting too technical means you can choose from a wide pick up range or something more focused which is very useful if you have more than one person you want to record.
The Snowball delivered in every setting when used in the correct way providing good quality recordings, with limited white noise hiss it picked up a nice even range of frequency, so much so that it wasn’t really necessary to play around with the EQ in post production. In our tests we used the MacBook Pro, but it is worth noting it is compatible with Windows XP, Vista and 7 and no driver disc is needed.
You’ll never see one in Abbey Road, but it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that this is the sort of mic that musicians take on the road to record ideas and produce rough demos.
And to cap it all off I was also a fan of it’s retro appearance. In my Apple strewn office/studio it slotted in nicely and didn’t look out of place or too ‘muso geek’ when surrounded with the brushed aluminium beauty that festoons all Apple products nowadays. Once placed on your desk you can tilt the speaker and the adjust the height of the stand to suit your setup.
The size and shape of the Snowball means it’s not something you can slip in your pocket or laptop case but if you want the sound then it’s a small price to pay for something that will deliver the quality.
So although it’s not really a studio quality mic (it shouldn’t really been seen or marketed as such) you’d be hard pushed to find something better for the purpose in which it excels. It may be a little more than you were thinking of spending but in the long run it’s worth it.
We really think you will struggle to find a cheaper, more convenient microphone which offers such build quality and sound clarity for this price, you can find out more about the Snowball here and find out where you can buy this microphone here – below we have embedded a few more photos from our hands-on.
Thanks to Andy Mack for contributing to this review, a local musician who tried and tested the Blue Microphones Snowball!