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
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