Blue Microphones Snowball Professional USB Microphone review: Blue Microphones Snowball Professional USB Microphone

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.3
  • Design: 8.0
  • Features: 7.0
  • Performance: 7.0

Average User Rating

4.5 stars 1 user review
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The Snowball is an extremely sturdy and stylish multipattern microphone that plugs directly into your computer's USB port with a minimum of fuss.

The Bad Beyond USB, the Snowball offers no other audio outputs or inputs, the recording mode switch isn't intuitively labeled, and no recording software is included.

The Bottom Line At this price, you'll have a hard time finding a better-sounding, better-looking, or more easy-to-use microphone for your computer. Just don't expect the Blue Microphones Snowball to replace a studio's worth of recording gear.

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Getting a great recording into your computer requires a great microphone. Unfortunately, the amount of effort it takes to adapt a professional microphone for use with your computer can be a daunting task, often involving outboard sound cards, bulky pro-audio cables, and cumbersome microphone mounts.

To bridge the gap between professional microphones and the cheap mics that come with some computers or Webcams, Blue Microphones offers a plug-and-play USB microphone called the Snowball. Best known for its boutique line of high-end studio mics, Blue Microphones first released the Snowball in 2005, as its first consumer-level microphone, priced at $129. Since then, the Snowball has become a ubiquitous staple of podcasters and home recording enthusiasts, recognized as much for its unique retro design as its dependable and clean audio quality. As of August 2009, the Snowball can be found in multiple colors (black, silver, and white) and a new, lowered price of $99.

Design
There's no mistaking the Snowball for any other microphone. For starters, it's literally shaped like a ball (making the included stand a requirement for use), measuring 4 inches in diameter. The bottom of the mic includes a threaded metal hole for attaching to the included tripod base, which has an adjustable height of 5 to 6.5 inches.

The front of the Snowball is beautiful, provided you don't mind looking at Blue's retro-inspired scripted logo all the time. Beneath Blue's chromed plastic logo is a wire mesh grille and an integrated foam wind screen that protects the Snowball's two 0.5-inch mic capsules. Closer to the top of the mic you'll find an LED that indicates when the Snowball is connected to your computer.

On the back of the Snowball you'll find the mic's single audio connection, which technically isn't an audio connection at all, but rather, a metal-reinforced USB port. While we can appreciate Blue's emphasis on simplicity when it comes to its single output design, an additional output for line out or headphone monitoring would have been a nice.

Also included on the back of the Snowball is a convenient three-position switch for the microphone's three recording modes (cardioid, cardioid -10dB, and omni). We'll talk a bit more about these recording modes in the next section. From a design perspective, it is slightly frustrating that modes are labeled "1 2 3" instead of offering any suggestion as to what each mode does. Because of this, we found ourselves consulting the manual repeatedly--even after weeks with the microphone--simply to recall the purpose for each mode.

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Where to Buy See all prices

Blue Microphones Snowball Professional USB Microphone

Part Number: SNOWBALL Released: Nov 1, 2005
Low Price: $75.95 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Nov 1, 2005
  • Weight 16.2 oz
  • Type microphone