Blue Microphones Spark Digital Review. The Spark Digital is a desktop USB condenser microphone that works with your Mac or iOS devices. With quick functions and an easy mix sound, this microphone will suit developing producers.
Seemingly modelling numerous microphone designs on various inanimate objects, Blue Microphones is one fantastical 90’s born manufacturer that heralds from the West Coast of America. Producing some of the finest microphones that you could ever imagine (e.g. [Blue] ‘The Bottle’; as used by Infected Mushroom), Blue Microphones have become leaders in the industry in very little time. Obviously owing their dues to the fine handcrafted microphones that have been lovingly used in all of the top record production facilities around the globe, it is actually only within recent years that Blue have turned their heads to cater for the ‘consumer’, smartphone, phablet, and tablet in a four-
Claiming to have produced a versatile portable microphone that can inject beautifully sweet professional studio quality recordings right into your iOS, PC, or Mac device, seems like some kind of wizardry. But, my friends, Blue Microphones have waved their wands, cast their spells, and, without ruffling many feathers, they have created [the] Blue ‘Spark Digital’.
Fantastic in appearance, the ‘Spark Digital’ is an interesting sort of condenser microphone as it contains a pre-
Weighing in at just shy of £150.00, the Spark Digital certainly is not in the ‘affordable’ price range for most experimental or aspiring producers. In fact it is more expensive than some ‘go to’ professional studio condenser microphones, but this microphone, on first glance, has simplicity and beauty on its side. The ‘Spark Digital’ does allow the diversity and sensitivity of a condenser microphone in a self-
For the current retail price it would have been nice to see a dual capsule design so that the user can select between cardiod, omni, and figure of eight possibilities. This would work great alongside the ‘Focus’ switch; which really is a sub-
With Blue Microphones targeting the ‘iDevice’ record production market, it is quite frustrating to know that the ‘Spark Digital’ does not come with Lightning cable and, with the remission of this simple connective, the latest and most powerful Apple devices won’t have access to one of the arguably most powerful ‘iDevice’ microphone out on the market without the need for a converter. However, we should make it clear that it does come with a 30-
Please beware that when using the ‘Spark Digital’ with battery operated devices, such as iPhones and iPads, you will need to make sure that you are all topped up prior to designated studio time’. As the ‘Spark Digital’ is a condenser microphone, it will solely rely on drawing 3.3v of power from your devices to generate 48v of phantom power whilst it performs all of the analogue to digital conversion on top of generating a ‘zero latency’ headphone output. What this means is that if you are using the ‘Spark Digital’ with an ‘iDevice’ then we can guarantee that your battery will drain very quickly. As there is no way of charging your device at the same time as using this microphone, you will have to compensate by taking very regular breaks to charge it up to a useable level. It really would have been nice if it could have an internal power supply from a lithium-
In terms of build quality with the ‘Spark Digital’ this product holds together well and has a nice solid finish. The included heavyweight shockmount come desk stand functions well in what it intends to do; to be of a solid weight so the microphone is adequately stationary and can move 360° bilaterally. It works well for menial tasks, such as podcasting or recording acoustic guitar, but to capture great vocal recordings you will need your musician to be comfortably standing, and you just can’t easily do this unless you purchase a ‘standard’ Blue Microphones shockmount (and pop filter). In comparison to a desk stand, a stand mountable shockmount provides endless possibilities; including those shown in the manual. If these items came in the package the Plug-
As an overall analysis of the ‘Spark Digital’s tiny housing, it all appears tidy. During testing there appeared to be no capsule, or housing, rattles, that could be distinguishable, and no obvious microphonics issues. Even if it does look like a toy, purely for aesthetic reasons, the paint job looks superb, and all four (VU) LED’s and ‘Mute’/’Engage’ switches light up in all the right ways.
Unlike some of our practical conclusions seen above, we have to make it known here that the Spark Digital is, at heart, a brilliant microphone when used with the right equipment. Being a condenser microphone you can expect a much more broad frequency range, to allow much more sensitive detailed recordings, and the possibility of capturing increasingly dynamic performance. As mentioned previously there is some extra cost for using this microphone to its full potential, and for the purposes of this review, we have managed to ‘doctor’ the Spark Digital with high-
After setting up the Spark Digital in the correct position and plugging the Digital output into our device, it was as simple to plug in our headphones, open a chosen recording application, wait for the application to sync with the microphone, then adjust the gain to suit. If you want to judge the output from the application and on the microphone then this is perfectly possible by monitoring at the VU LED’s on the ‘Spark Digital’s capsule, and then modifying the gain to a suitable level with the blue lit gain dial. For a quick voice or guitar recording, you will be up and away within a minute or so.
Presenting itself as a truly diverse microphone that can beautifully handle a wide variety of instrumentation, the Spark Digital has a reported 20Hz – 20kHz frequency range that clearly works magic with vocals. Providing a monitored performance through the zero-
We do believe that when an experienced musician approaches the microphone, if mounted on a shockmount, they can interact with the microphone in the same way that they would be used to in a professional recording studio. Likewise, when a microphone is manufactured for the convince of post-
Where it features a nice clean and clear sound, during use we found the ‘Spark Digital’ to interact well with the large majority of instruments that we threw at it. We tested ‘Spark Digital’ with the ‘Focus’ on for: vocals, mid-
Overall we really do like the [Blue] ‘Spark Digital’, but the package feels restrictive without including the ‘must have’ accessories. It has a great sound quality, and build quality, but without being able to use this product of the box with the latest iDevices you cannot make use of the full potential. Furthermore we would have liked to have seen a separate power cable or battery supply, paid or not, for when you cannot accept draining battery life from whatever you are using it with. In some ways this has been a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde review. For this reason this products capabilities would vary from person-
Once again, we do want to reassure you that the sound quality, and build quality, of this microphone is great and it can work so well with a huge number of instruments, but we would have liked to have seen a slightly better package with more flexibility. Once we have been informed that a Lightning cable will come as standard in the package, we will award a four star rating. However, for the meantime, The Pro Audio Web Blog reluctantly awards the Blue ‘Spark Digital’ microphone with a three-