The famous Blue USB microphone known as Snowball set the entire audio gear industry on its ear when it was first introduced. Out of the “Blue” an innovative, young upstart began introducing high-quality microphones at unprecedented prices in cool, retro designs.
Blue Audio, based in Southern California, built high-end audio gear for recording studios.
The mic they came up with was the Blue USB Microphone dubbed the “Snowball.” This was the very first USB mic for home recording. Nowadays, Blue is well-known for many innovative products for home recording, like the first THX-certified USB mic called the Yeti.
And I know you are dying to know– why is the company called Blue? Well, one of the founders, Martins Saulespurens, is from Latvia. Blue stands for Baltic Latvian Universal Electronics. The Blue USB microphone is the world’s #1 wired condenser microphone.
Table of Contents
BLUE USB MICROPHONE: BUILD AND DESIGN
The Blue USB microphone is available in a glossy white resin casing (as well as glossy black, brushed aluminum, and textured white). It has a great 1940′s retro feel with a stylized script of the company name emblazoned on the top, surrounded by a wire mesh.
The Blue Snowball weighs around 2.5 pounds and is about the size of a softball. It ships with a stand and 10-foot cable. The tripod is strong and yet folds down neatly into your bag for easy portability.
The Blue USB microphone is plug-and-play and easily connects to Mac and PC. The dual capsule setup is designed to handle all types of acoustic material, from soft music to raging rock.
The three-pattern switch on the back of the Blue USB microphone lets you select which pick-up pattern works best for your situation. A swivel mount is included. A LED light on the top indicates that it is on and working.
SNOWBALL USB MIC: SETUP
A great Blue USB microphone feature is the three-way toggle switch allowing you to select different pick-up patterns:
– cardioid (also known as unidirectional): in cardioid mode, the mic is sensitive to sound on one designated side. This is perfect for podcasting, screencasting, singing, narration, and similar setups where a singular sound source enters the Blue USB microphone.
– cardioid with -10db Pad: Consider the -10db Pad as insurance. This mode allows you to capture louder sounds with an attenuator acting to curb excessively high frequencies.
– omnidirectional: in this mode, the Blue USB microphone picks up sound 360 degrees from its location. In live situations, omnidirectional is a good choice for music acts with many instruments or vocalists. Another common use is recording podcasts with multiple guests or a group interview.
BLUE SNOWBALL USB MICROPHONE: DRIVERS AND SOFTWARE
The Blue USB microphone does not need drivers from an installation CD or the web. Just plug it in, and the drivers are installed automatically. The Blue Snowball microphone is compatible with Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows 10, and Mac OS X (10.4.11 or higher).
The Blue USB microphone should work flawlessly with all the popular DAWs. Occasionally, a DAW on the Mac does not recognize the Blue USB microphone in the settings. In that case, you can create an aggregate sound source within the OS, and your DAW will see it from then on. Note that the Snowball will appear in your DAW audio channel as two mirror-image input sources, not just a mono source.
SNOWBALL USB MICROPHONE: SOUND
The Blue USB microphone is perfectly balanced with a clean sound across the dynamic spectrum – no thin sound on the high end and no boomy sound on the bottom. The frequency response runs from 40 Hz to 18 kHz. The presence peak is 3kHz for cardioids mode and 10kHz for omnidirectional mode.
With traditional studio microphones, an external preamp can modulate the gain before entering the computer. Since that is not possible with the Blue USB microphone, maximizing the dynamic range when recording is important.
BLUE USB MICROPHONE: USE CASES
Screencasting and Podcasting – Have you tried headset after headset to find a quality one that works well? Just admit defeat and get a Blue USB microphone. Recording screencasts for software tutorials has never been easier. Just set the Snowball to cardioid mode and remember to speak directly into the front. With the tripod, the Blue USB microphone sits a little low, so you may need to place it on a book to get the right level for recording.
Voice Recognition– Are you trying to get the best language recognition you can on Dragon Naturally Speaking? A good mic will make all the difference. The Blue USB microphone will allow you to speak faster with extremely high recognition percentages. You won’t lose all the software training you have already done for your voice profile. Dragon will add the new audio information to what you have already recorded.
Musicians– The Blue USB microphone is perfect for quick music “sketches” to record ideas before getting into a major recording session. If you regularly record at higher sample rates like 96 kHz/24 bit, you should remember that the Blue USB microphone outputs at 16 bit/44kHz.
Duet acts can set the Blue Snowball to the omnidirectional mode and place it in the middle of the recording area to include both. This works for any number of people. Just remember that the Blue USB microphone tends to pick up all room noise. Take pains to soundproof effectively to minimize background noise. If you need extra sound dampening, draping blankets around the room (like over drum sets) is a good short-term solution.
Education – E-learning grows yearly as school districts cut back on school budgets and teacher salaries. The Blue USB microphone lets anyone assemble audio learning courses and webinars. The Blue USB microphone in omnidirectional mode is perfect for the classroom.
Business – audio-conferencing, video-conferencing, and distance learning are all growing as companies cut travel budgets and lean on technology to share information and knowledge. A good USB mic like the Blue USB microphone delivers solid audio inexpensively. For a business trip, it is easy to put it in a laptop bag and use it anywhere, as the Blue Snowball mic is such a small size and easy to set up.
Families – ever had to pass the headset to every family member when calling on Skype? Just set up the Blue USB microphone on omnidirectional mode, and everyone in the room can participate in the talk.
BLUE USB MICROPHONE: INDUSTRY LEADER
The Blue USB Microphone encapsulates everything about the Blue philosophy- take advantage of changes in digital technology, increased bandwidth, and consumer trends and create a product that delivers high technology and awesome sound at extremely attractive prices.