Get to Know Blue Microphones: Baby Bottle, Bluebird, and Spark Review
Founded in 1995, Blue Microphones has become one of the leading manufacturers of studio quality condenser microphones and microphone technologies. In addition to having some of the most popular condenser microphones on the market, they also developed one of the first HD microphones for the iPod and iPhone with the Blue Mikey. Blue Microphones tout their microphone technology as, “perfectly situated to take advantage of today’s increased digital bandwidths. Or to put it simply: the perfect analog devices for the digital age.” This is a welcomed mantra in an age when most everybody is recording into some type of digital medium.
Blue Microphones are certainly built for the 21st century recording environment, but that doesn’t mean they fall short at all in terms of performance and quality. I myself have owned a Baby Bottle condenser microphone for years and it is still my go to microphone for vocals. Let’s take a look at three microphones from Blue: the Baby Bottle, Bluebird, and Spark, and compare the features of each so you can decide which one is best for you.
The Baby Bottle has been around for quite a while. In fact it debuted in stores sometime at the end of 2002 and I remember buying it around that time because it was new and had an interesting look to it. Little did I know that this would be a condenser microphone I have kept in my arsenal for years to come and I’ll tell you why. The Baby Bottle has a high gain output but with very little noise. This is why it’s so great for vocalists. You can have the most delicate of singer come in and you are not left having to do some wonky gain staging or even worse: a bunch of automation during the mixing stage. Sure you will always have to adjust gain per situation, but the Baby Bottle will be able to easily capture those little nuances in a singers voice with little to no noise.
Another great feature of the Baby Bottle is the ability to change capsules. Blue offers nine different types of capsules cleverly dubbed “Bottle Caps.” They run the gamut from the large diaphragm cardioid to a small diaphragm, sphere pressure, omni-directional capsule. While in my opinion the Baby Bottle is best suited for vocals, you can certainly use it for instruments and folks have championed its ability to capture instruments well. While I don’t disagree with this, in my personal experience I found it best suited for vocals when being used as a close mic. As an ambient room microphone, the Baby Bottle performs exceptionally well.
Released in 2005, the Bluebird is very similar in design and construction to the Baby Bottle. The difference here is that the Bluebird was designed to be an all-purpose condenser microphone. So unlike previous models that had more specific recording applications, the Bluebird is going to be a great microphone for instruments, vocals, or anything else you want to record. This is because the design of the microphone was built for close mic situations so you can get an accurate bass response from whatever you are recording.
When it comes to vocals, the Bluebird might be a better fit for vocalists with a much more aggressive style and presence. That’s not to say that more delicate singers won’t cut through, but something like the Baby Bottle might be able to pick up those subtle nuances in a way that the Bluebird might not achieve. The Bluebird has a nice, well-rounded bass response and although this microphone is marketed as having a cardioid pickup pattern, it’s actually closer to a hypercardioid polar response. If you are looking for a quality condenser microphone for multiple applications, the Bluebird should be at the top of your list. The Bluebird comes with a shock mount and pop filter so you can get recording right out of the box.
Relased in 2011, the Blue Spark is one of the most affordable, professional-grade, condenser microphones in the Blue catalog. This one is not to be confused with the Blue Spark Digital, which is a USB microphone. The Spark is very similar in design to the Baby Bottle and Bluebird and has generally a flat response when recording vocals. The Blue Spark has an interesting feature installed called Focus Control. Focus Control changes the microphone’s ability to capture partiular frequencies depending on how the switch is toggled. When the switch is out the low-frequency sensitivity is increased, and when the switch is in the low-frequencies are rolled off making room for a higher frequency response.
The Spark is going to be best suited for vocals and instruments, making this microphone very versatile. The Spark comes with a shock mount and pop filter although you might want to think about investing in a larger and more adjustable pop filter like the VRT Audio Microphone Pop Filter. The Blue Spark is going to be a great choice in microphone if you are someone with a home or project studio and on a budget.
At the time of writing this Blue Microphones are running a summer special that lasts until July 31st 2014. They are offering serious discounts on the microphones I reviewed here, as well as other special offerings on their other microphone lines. For more information on this special, please visit the Blue Microphones website here. Also head on over to UniqueSquared.com where you can pick up Blue Microphones and a number of other leading microphone brands.
If you have any questions or comments about these or condenser microphones in general, be sure to leave us a post in the comments section below.