I recently bought a Blue Snowball Ice microphone to try and improve the audio quality of my videos and the demos and samples that I put on the site from time to time. I haven’t had chance to test it too much yet but I figured I’d record a quick comparison/sound test video to see how it stands up against my smartphone (which I usually use for all audio/video recording).
The Blue Snowball Ice costs around £45/$50 and is a straight USB microphone. There are no buttons on it, no settings, no options. You simply plug it into a computer and use whatever you normally use to record (in my case I use the free Mac/PC software Audacity). That’s pretty much exactly what I was after – minimum fuss. I have to admit that I’m not really into tech equipment.
The snowball a minimum fuss USB microphone ideal for non-techies like me.
It’s a little bigger and heavier than I expected it be, not that it really matters. It’s a well built piece of kit too. I’ll go more in-depth and do a full review when I’ve spent more time with it so for now here’s the sound test…
The Sound Test
It’s probably not a hugely fair comparison pitting it against a smartphone microphone but in terms of what I want it for (no frills better audio recording at a cheap price) it made sense to do it that way.
Overall I haven’t been blown away by it but largely I would say it’s done the job. It doesn’t have the harsh edge that the audio from the phone gives me but at the same time is a little muffled maybe? I can’t really decide. I’ve tried to level out the audio as much as I can without pushing it too far (I’m sure there’s a technical term for that).
Where it seems to stand apart on the video is when I fingerpicked the theme tune from the Walking Dead on my acoustic guitar. It seemed to really level up the audio on fingerpicking – I’m not entirely sure why.
Obviously proximity is going to play a part in this test that I’ve put together. The phone has to be further away in order to get the shot framed like I need it and subsequently the mic is further away than the Blue Snowball.
If you’re not into a watching videos you can hear a sample of me playing Falling Slowly right here…
One thing to note is that even with the audio input levels set to the maximum in Audacity you still need the Blue Snowball Ice as close as possible to the instrument to get the best from it. On a lot of my tests so far the audio has recorded pretty quiet. It’s kind of difficult getting it really close when you play sat on the couch.
As mentioned, so far I’m not totally blow away but I think I’ll definitely use it for all my recording from now on. Initially I had wanted to get a Zoom H1 or a Tascam DR-05 (both around £100/$100+) which are portable recorders but I’m not exactly flush for cash at the moment so I settled on the Snowball.
Let me know what you think after having a listen, there are definitely readers out there that have better trained ears than myself!