Latest innovations from Blue Microphones impress at CES
By Paul Ridden
January 11, 2012
We have to admit to being rather thrilled at discovering the Mikey for Flip and the Yeti Pro USB microphones from Blue at last year's CES, and were hoping for something just as good this year. We were not disappointed. The company has just debuted the Apple-centric Mikey Digital, the studio-grade Spark Digital and the cute as a button (but not actually sporting any) Tiki in Las Vegas this week.
The latest iteration of the slim Mikey microphone has its sights firmly set on Apple device users, and is said to work with most popular recording apps for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. It features the same two custom-tuned condenser capsules found in the company's Snowball and Yeti USB microphones (for professional-quality, studio level recording), a built-in, high-quality mic preamp and a CD-quality analog-to-digital converter.
The new Mikey Digital benefits from automatic and manual gain control, with an LED clipping indicator that lets users know if the volume levels are producing distortion. Its frequency response is reported as 35 Hz to 20 kHz, and it boasts a 44.1 kHz/16-bit audio sampling rate. The 230-degree rotating head helps users achieve optimal positioning, and there's a 3.5mm auxiliary input capable of connecting to a multitude of audio sources - for direct recording of a guitar, for instance, or connection to an external mixer.
Users will also be able to charge their iDevice while recording, thanks to a USB pass-through charging connection.
The plug-and-play Mikey Digital carries a suggested retail of US$99.
Blue Microphones says that the Spark Digital is the world's first studio-grade condenser microphone to offer both USB and iPad connectivity. It includes the very same studio-grade condenser capsule and hand-tuned components as the company's original analog Spark microphone, for the same sonic detail and uncolored audio recording of vocals, drums, guitars, piano, speech, and the like. The company has also brought Focus control over from its analog ancestor.
With Focus turned off, Spark is said to capture crisp, powerful audio with enhanced low frequency sensitivity. Switched on, the function enhances the detail and clarity of the source audio for a tighter, more focused sound.
The Spark Digital has a frequency response of 26 Hz to 20 kHz, 28 mV/Pa sensitivity and a signal-to-noise ratio of 84 dB. There's a zero-latency headphone jack, volume and gain control and instant mute - and it comes with its own angle-adjustable desk stand with built-in shockmount. A Y-cable is also included with an extended headphone jack for direct monitoring.
The Spark Digital benefits from driverless operation, and has a suggested retail of US$199.
Blue has also thrown in a Cloud Production Bundle for free, including tools for online management and streaming of audio content. There's 25GB's worth of storage and transfer from Gobbler for six months, together with a Pro Account with social audio sharing portal SoundCloud. Sweet.
Somewhat snail-like in appearance, and less than three inches (7.6 cm) long, the Tiki mic features a built-in USB connector that's plugged directly into a PC or Mac. It has custom condenser capsules and professional-quality preamp circuitry, and features advanced digital signal processing that's said to mimic human hearing.
Using a combination of noise-canceling technology, voice isolation and intelligent mute, the Tiki focuses on desired sounds, while minimizing background noise and having the wherewithal to "know" when to mute altogether.
The Tiki has a 40 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response, CD-quality sampling, and users are offered two recording modes - Intelligent Speech Mode for communication and Natural Recording Mode for CD-quality recording of vocals, instruments or podcasts. It's said to use front-and-back facing microphones to record optimum audio based on where the user is situated in relation to the mic, bringing the speaker's voice to the fore while simultaneously cutting out background noise.
While in Intelligent Speech Mode, Tiki auto-mutes when it can't detect any spoken voice, and un-mutes when speech is again detected to allow the conversation to continue. The user can check the mute status via a multi-colored LED indicator.
The Tiki has been given a suggested retail price of US$59.