Audio Review: Blue Microphone Spark

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Blue Mics
Spark Cardioid Condenser Microphone
List Price: $199.00
www.bluemic.com

Blue Microphones has become famous for their quirky mic names, quality construction and chic design. (An interesting side note about the company: Blue is an acronym for Baltic Latvian Universal Electronics, though original founders Skipper Wise and Latvian engineer Martins Saulespurens sold the company in 2008.)

First there was the high-end Bottle series, which range in price from $1,599 to $5,999, but in recent years Blue has helped spearhead the USB mic for the laptop recording revolution. One of Blue’s newest offerings, Spark, is a quality cardioid condenser at the amateur-friendly retail price point of $200. The Spark is kind of like combining the high-end functionality of Blue’s Bottle Rocket Stage 1 with the easy-to-use, beginner USB gear like Snowball or Yeti.

Spark comes with all the packaging ingenuity that we’ve come to expect from Blue. The user manual is even packaged like a matchbook, and the match (“spark”) analogy runs through the text, in mostly winning fashion. The mic comes with a shock mount, pop filter, and the nice wooden box that you often only see when you purchase a high-end mic. For $200, so far so good. Now let’s see how the mic sounds.

Spark is a solid-state, cardioid condenser microphone with Class A discrete electronics. The cardioid mic pattern isolates sound right in front of the mic, rejecting noise not directly at the sound source, which is good for avoiding random room noise or other unwanted sounds during recording.

One unique feature of Spark is a “focus” control button that can be turned on or off. In the on position, the Focus button rolls off the low end around 100Hz, which can help to add detail to a specific track within a song.

I used Spark to record some vocals and the Focus button added some nice clarity. Spark’s frequency response chart shows bumps in the middle and top sections, which added nicely to vocal recordings.

Blue also touts Spark’s recording adaptability and gives tips on how to use Spark to record vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, drums, horns and woodwinds, piano, stringed instruments like violin and cello, and bass.

In the audio clips below, we’ve recorded a Gibson J-50 played fingerstyle with the microphone placed a few inches from the guitar’s 12th fret, angled slightly towards the soundhole. In the first clip, the Focus button has been left off. In the second, you can hear a little more detail with the Focus button turned on.

[wpaudio url=”http://www.americansongwriter.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/john-henry_off.mp3″ text=”Acoustic Guitar – Spark Mic (No Focus)”]

[wpaudio url=”http://www.americansongwriter.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/john-henry_on_mp3.mp3″ text=”Acoustic Guitar – Spark Mic (With Focus)”]

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