Blue Microphones is bringing a touch of its studio microphone range to consumers in the (interesting) shape of the digital edition of its Spark mic.
Coming with a range of connectors, including USB and iPad, the Spark Digital will be aimed more at the home musician or voice-over artist than, perhaps, its Yeti, Yeti Pro and Snowball stablemates, but offers more fidelity and sensitivity thanks partly to a larger diaphragm capsule.
It comes with the same capsule and analogue pre-amp stage design as the original analogue Spark, but now adds analogue to digital conversion in the microphone itself, ensuring a clean feed into the recording device.
It's also the first of Blue Microphones' line-up to come with a dedicated iPad connector. As Blue's CEO John Maier told Pocket-lint when we met him for a briefing in London, this has been added partly in reaction to a growing number of GarageBand fans who use the app to do more than just create beeps and plops using the automatic modes.
He also told us that, because it comes with a lush, protective carry bag, it could help guitarists and the like record their music when touring.
In construction, the base is similar to the Yeti and the original Spark, although it isn't as solid as the former because it doesn't need to support as big a weight. And the microphone unit floats on a sprung bed (shockmount) in order to reduce vibrations being picked up. It can even be completely unscrewed from the base unit, in case you wish to mount it elsewhere.
There are two buttons on the Spark Digital. One is a switch that lets you alter Focus Control, offering two different sonic signatures. The other is a combined headphone volume/gain control that changes mode when you push it in.
It is strongly advised to use the headphone socket on the included cable, rather than take the audio from an iPad itself, because to do so would add latency. As Maier put it to us, how can you accurate play an instrument when the audio is coming back at you like an echo?
Sadly, at present, we've not been able to try out the Spark Digital mic for recording quality because the model we saw was a prototype and the venue too public. You can rest assured that when the consumer version is ready, we'll give it a proper test.
However, we're more than impressed with its retro aesthetics and solid build quality. And are happy to see that Yeti has swapped the orange body of the Spark for a more reserved blue one.
The Blue Microphones Spark Digital will be coming to the UK in October. It'll be priced in the US at around $199, but a UK price is yet to be revealed. We wouldn't be too surprised if it was the equivalent in pounds, considering tax will be included here, but individual State tax will be added on top over there.