Let’s be real here: most people really couldn’t care less about the kind of microphone they use for online activities. Be it cursing out little kids on Team Fortress 2 or talking to your sweet old grandpappy across the world, most of us have the mentality that, hey, if it works, it works.
However, there’s a few of us that truly do care about the quality of our voice and the sound that’s recorded/broadcast by our mics, and yet don’t have the funds for an ultra professional set-up. Enter the Snowball USB microphone from Blue Microphones. The Snowball’s been gaining in popularity in the past couple years, and it’s no wonder: the Snowball might truly be the best, most sturdy mic I’ve ever used.
The first thing I noticed about the Snowball is the unique look of the hardware. Just like its name implies, the Snowball is a spherical beast of an audio recording device balanced on a sturdy tripod. The mic isn’t small, but it’s actually quite an intimidating presence on my computer desk.
That’s not a bad thing though, when you begin to recognize the sturdiness of the device. In the month or so I’ve had it, the Snowball’s fallen from my desk, been stepped on by one of my heavyset friends during a rowdy house party, and at point had vodka spilled on it (at the same party, no less), and it still works perfectly.
It’s a tank of a USB microphone, and absolutely effortless to set up as well. It literally takes two steps: 1) plug, and 2) play. In an age where every single auxiliary device has a bajillion drivers to install, this is truly a welcome sight.
Of course, none of this would matter much if my voice sounded like garbled poop coming out of it, but no worries: the Snowball records voice and music at a surprising high quality, even to a fault. It’s fairly simple to use, with no real setup aside from the switch in the back that has three settings.
The first is for speech and podcasts, the second is for live music and/or loud surroundings, and the third is for conference calls, interviews, and whatnot. All of them work quite well, although I’m not sure who would need the third setting; the first setting is plenty sensitive and manages to catch every single sound in my room, including my rapid-fire typing and the sound of birds chirping outside my window.
None of this matters though if you can’t hear the difference, so here’s a few raw audio clips comparing the recording fidelity of the Snowball with other mics I have, along with the difference in the three setting.
Here’s a couple simple spoken-word test samples, comparing the Snowball to my laptop’s integrated microphone:
Quite the difference, eh? Further, here’s a bunch of me playing my brother’s melodica terribly:
Apologies if that didn’t convey the true difference in the three settings; that’s all I could manage with limited resources and an overall lack of musical talent.
Overall, I really don’t have any bad things to say about the Snowball. It’s served me immensely well when recording podcasts and holding Skype calls; additionally, my brother’s been using it to record his guitar and ukulele skills, and he has absolutely no complaints. If you just need a simple mic, go to Target and pick up a $5 basic microphone, but if you actually do communicate to others and/or record podcasts regularly, the Snowball USB mic is a must buy and an essential investment.