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blue spark

Testing out my new Blue Spark microphone ^.^

Cover of a folk song I heard on A Prairie Home Companion.

Edit: This post gets a lot of views when people search for the Blue Spark microphone, so here is a mini review-type thing for you:

One line:
Great value for a home studio, many uses, good quality audio, & decent build quality.

In depth:

Blue‘s Spark, is a cardioid, solid-state condenser microphone geared towards home studios/semi-professional high quality recording setups. The Spark capsule uses Class-A discrete electronics. Blue says that it can be used for recording “vocals, drums, guitars, pianos, brass, woodwinds, and just about anything else you can light a fire under.” I have used it on guitar, vocals, mandolin, and glockenspiel.

The only feature on the mic itself is a “focus control” button. It is very unique from an electronics standpoint and is not a standard high pass or low pass filter – it “changes the input driver of the capsule rather than the signal output of the microphone circuit…the Focus Control alters the voltage loading of the capsule, which alters the capsule’s dynamic frequency response, changing the capsule’s behavior in a way that’s more nuanced than a standard filter acting on a microphone’s output. The result is a change to Spark’s frequency response curve as well as the dynamic properties of the capsule (response to transients), providing two different mic characteristics.” This is almost like having two different microphones. The out position is the normal mode, providing “increased low frequency sensitivity for recordings with great impact and definition.” The in position is the “Focus” mode, for “even greater clarity and detail.” I normally prefer to leave the button in, since I am using it for mostly vocals which need to sit on top and stand out.

The mic came in a fancy wooden box with a custom shockmount and custom Blue pop filter. I bought mine on sale right when it was released and paid $159.20 including free shipping. The craftmanship seemed a little too mass-produced for my taste, but it is a good price.

The first shock mount that I had was faulty – when tightened securely, it would give out in a few minutes or sometimes hours later. The microphone stayed attached to the mount, but when dropping (rotating down with gravity) it would sometimes hit on the stand. Over time, this caused the microphone capsule to have permanent damage and a case ground fault. The circuitry seems to be loose somewhere internally. The microphone now has a buzz unless you remember to tighten the capsule every time it is used. This is a nuisance and a major fault in the design.

When it does work and produce usable audio, it sounds very clear and true to the source. It can be used in various positions to get different tones from stringed instruments and vocals.

Specs:
Transducer: Condenser
Polar pattern: Cardioid
Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz
Sensitivity: 28mV/Pa
Output impedance: 50 Ohms
Rated load impedance: Not less than 1 kOhm
Maximum SPL: 128dB
S/N ratio: 84dB
Noise level: 10dB
Power requirement: +48V phantom power
Weight: 1.25 lbs.
Length: 7.76″
Diameter: 1.77″


3 thoughts on “blue spark”

  1. Thanks for the review.

    I got a quick question. My gr, right, she loves to sing but never recorded her singing what so ever. So I was thinking, get her one of these, along with an interface w/ phantom power, some cables, a mic stand and then she could plug it into her macbook pro and start recording using Garage Band.

    Would this be overkill for a novice? I haven’t talked to her about it because I want to surprise her for xmas. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t have a home studio. I’m just doing research and I want to surprise my girl. I’m hoping this is something she can “plug and play” with and sing the night away.

    Thanks in advance,
    James

  2. Hi James,
    For people who are new to recording, I generally recommend that they purchase a USB microphone so that they don’t have to deal with complicated and confusing hardware setups. Most of the high-quality USB mics come with everything you need to get started. Having a MacBook is definitely an advantage, since she’ll already have Garage Band, which is everything you need to begin recording.

    Blue is about to release the USB version of the Spark (the “Spark Digital”), so that might be one option for you: http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/SparkDigital/

    Blue has some other USB mics (the Yeti and Yeti Pro) available as well that might be usable for her purposes.

    I bought the Avid Vocal Studio for a friend so that she could start recording. It is a USB mic that would be compatible with Garage Band as well. The price is a bit cheaper, but the sound quality is decent for a starter microphone: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=&sku=747930&Q=&is=REG&A=details

    Let me know if you have any other questions!

  3. whoa! I think that Sparks Digital just made my life a whole lot simpler! At least this way she really gets to plug and play! I’ll check out those other Blue USB microphones as well and the Avid. Thanks a whole lot!

    Cheers

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