Blue Microphones Snowball review
A classy USB microphone with the sound quality to match, although it doesn't come cheap
Review Date: 11 Mar 2010
Reviewed By: Sasha Muller
Price when reviewed: £62 (£73 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
Blue’s Snowball microphone is the very definition of simplicity: mount it on the sturdy, height-adjustable tripod stand, plug the thick USB cable into its spherical rear, wait a few seconds while Windows automatically installs the drivers and you’re off. All that’s left is to fire up your preferred audio recording software and start podcasting, playing or singing away to your heart’s content.
Both power and audio are ferried via the USB cable, and the mono recordings are fixed at 16-bit, 44.1KHz. Our Windows 7 Ultimate system recognised the Snowball and installed the drivers almost instantaneously, and in seconds we were able to fire up Windows Sound Recorder and start prattling away.
We also tested it with the free Audacity editor and Sony’s Acid Pro 7. The only downside we found was that we couldn’t get the Snowball to work in conjunction with our E-MU soundcard’s low-latency ASIO drivers; until, that is, we followed Blue’s suggestion of using the free Asio4All program.
Unlike many budget microphones, the Snowball has a handy trick up its bulbous sleeve. A switch at the rear allows switching between cardioid and omni-directional polar patterns. The latter allows the microphone to pick up sound from all around; the former only “hears” what’s right in front of it at full volume.
The omni-directional pattern rewards with crisp, full-bodied recordings packed with surprising amounts of detail. But while the cardioid pattern is great for recording in noisier environments, or particularly loud instruments, the noticeable boost in the upper-midrange occasionally left recordings with a somewhat harsh, nasal quality.
It’s certainly not cheap, but the Snowball is a versatile little devil. Podcasters and bedroom musicians will find the sound quality a noticeable step up from other budget microphones, and the desk-flattering retro design and straightforward ease-of-use make the £62 exc VAT asking price seem really quite reasonable.
Author: Sasha Muller
Sounds like a quality product, I shall probably be getting one of these for upcoming podcasting lessons. Thanks for the review.
By mviracca on 11 Mar 2010
Older versions do not work with win7 64-bit
Was a nice bit of kit (now an expensive desk ornanment) and for the price the tech support is shocking. When I upgraded to win7 pro - 64-bit this mic stopped working. It's a driver issue and Blue could care less. Check the age of the mic if you purchase - and don't expect any help from Blue if it fails.
By AliG13 on 17 Mar 2011
Re: Older versions with Windows 7
From the Blue website:
Snowballs manufactured after July, 2007 (with serial numbers higher than 76-065000) are 7 and Vista compatible. Snowballs with numbers lower than this are not Windows 7 or Vista compatible.
Therefore it will work with Win7 but must be a newer model. It would be nice if manufacturers supported their products for longer but with any technology item you should only allow for a 3 year support lifespan.
By bernardm3 on 26 Dec 2012
not very helpful
I have a blue snowball and when I converted from XP to windows 7 it stopped working. I contacted the firm but they couldn't be bothered to reply, a case of we've got your money so now get lost. My advice is do not buy this, buy something with decent customer support.
By les972 on 13 Jun 2014
- Toshiba beats retreat from consumer PC market
- Google to follow Apple with device encryption
- U2 and Apple working on "new music format"
- Ellison steps down: but who's really running Oracle now?
- Audioboo to become Audioboom in app revamp
- Apple slaps down Google and police, as it takes high ground on user privacy
- Amazon releases high-end Kindle Voyage Touch
- What's on this week's PC Pro podcast?
- Virgin carpeted again for broadband speed claims
- Microsoft set to make more job cuts
- How to check your identity hasn’t been sold to the hackers
- Tim Cook: this is how much TV has changed since the 70s
- Westminster wins the .London battle
- 20 years of PC Pro: from deep pan pizza to virtualisation
- Five reasons why the Apple Watch leaves me cold
- Apple Watch, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus: Tim Cook's Apple back with a bang?
- BT Home Hub 5: how to get maximum speed
- 20 years of PC Pro: one-star reviews (including "the worst tablet we've ever seen")
- 20 years of PC Pro: our best covers
- Why we've closed the PC Pro forums
- The 7 best Chromebooks of 2014
- iPhone 6 vs Galaxy S5: is the Apple or Samsung flagship smartphone right for you?
- How to install iOS 8 without deleting apps and data
- The best smartwatches of 2014: what's the best smartwatch?
- Nexus 6 (X or Shamu) release date, price and specs rumour roundup
- Best of IDF: top tech and memorable moments from Intel's tech show
- How Apple Pay works and how to use it on your iPhone 6 or Apple Watch
- Tech of the future... and the British boffins building it
- Abuse magnets: the people behind corporate Twitter accounts
- Putting people at the centre of software design
- How to sell more ebooks on Amazon
- 10 ways to make your business more secure
- Top five VoIP mistakes
- How to add in-app purchasing to an iPhone, Android or Windows app
- Remote-control ransomware: TeamViewer and software hardball
- Why laptops with serial ports matter to the Internet of Things
- Make your mobile battery last longer
- Small steps into handling Big Data
- Nexus 5: does it really run stock Android?
- How to get broadband to a garden office