A while ago I was sent the Blue Microphones Snowball to review, and when it arrived I was very unsure how to go about actually reviewing the device. As I am sure I have mentioned before, the geekdaddy and I used to produce a podcast together, and when we were doing that the geekdaddy did quite a lot of research into microphones and studio setups. He invested a reasonable amount of money in our recording setup, so I wasn’t sure whether or not we’d make use of a sub-£100 USB microphone.
Here’s what the manufacturer says about the Snowball:
Snowball is a plug-and-play USB microphone that works with both PC and Mac on any recording programme. Featuring a dual capsule design, Snowball allows three recordings patterns: cardioid (right in front of the microphone, best for singing), omni (all around the microphone, best for multiple people or band practice), and cardioid w/10db pad (best for instruments). The Snowball provides users with incredible versatility to produce great recordings in a wide range of situations, such as vocals, instruments, band practice, YouTube videos and podcasts to name a few. Using Apple’s camera connection kit, the Snowball is also compatible with the iPad.
Despite my initial misgivings, I have been pleasantly surprised by the Snowball, and I must confess we have got a lot of use out of it. We’ve connected it to the geekdaddy’s Mac, to my PC, and also to my iPad via the Apple Camera Connection Kit. It was easy to install in all cases (a very easy plug and play job), and it produces excellent sound quality. The geekdaddy did some comparative recordings against our podcasting microphones, and said the Snowball comes pretty close to our set-up, which is high praise indeed coming from him. I’ve used it for Skype conversations and Google+ Hangouts on my PC and it’s worked very nicely. But I’ve been most impressed by its operation with the iPad.
If you want to use this microphone with your iPad you will need Apple’s camera connection kit (available from Apple for £25), but once you’ve got that it’s again a simple job of plugging the Snowball in and seeing a great improvement in your recording quality. I have only used the Snowball for single voice recording so far, and haven’t tested the different modes that it has.
The best way of reviewing this microphone is to make a recording with it, so here is my audio review of the Snowball:
I think this microphone sounds great – I think I was talking slightly too close to it in my audioboo recording as you can hear some “pops” – probably more my poor microphone technique than anything about the microphones itself, and could easily be corrected with the use of a pop filter. In summary I think the Snowball is a great quality USB microphone for it’s sub-£100 price. It is available from the Apple store for £89.95, although if you shop around you may find it cheaper elsewhere.
The Snowball is nicely designed as a desktop microphone – if you’re looking for a more portable mic then I recommend taking a look at the Snowflake, also by Blue Microphones. It’s the Snowball’s baby brother, which is nicely designed for portability and at the same time produces great quality audio, like the Snowball. With a retail price of £59.95 it’s also cheaper as well. Again we’ve tested the Snowflake with Mac, PC and iPad and got good results with all three.
Disclosure: I was sent a Blue Microphones Snowball and Snowflake for review purposes. All opinions are my own.