Audio recording devices come in many shapes and flavours and while some simply record audio, there are others that actively try to enhance the end product – be it though their design, or the technology used to capture the sounds.
Blue Microphones’ Snowball iCE is one such microphone, which has been purpose-built for recording spoken word in full HD. It makes use of a custom condenser capsule with cardioid pattern, which offers clear audio for communicating, creating and recording.
Being a USB microphone, the device is incredibly easy to use, as users will simply have to plug it into a USB port – it is as easy as that. The iCE does not require any drivers to function, but if users intend to record audio, it is advisable that they also download a small audio processing program.
But the unit is not solely for recording vocals or instruments, as it can also be used as a microphone to enhance the call quality of social interaction apps such as Skype, Windows Live, Google Talk, Yahoo! Messenger.
Make use of the USB port on a PC, the device is compatible with almost any device, and with the help of Apple’s iPad Camera Connection Kit, it can also be connected to an iPad.
In terms of build, the microphone sits on top of a tripod made from plastic. It is not the best material for a podcast microphone, but it certainly keeps the mic steady – and the rubber feet on each tripod leg prevents it from slipping.
The microphone comes with a generous length USB cable, make it possible to get some distance between the recording device and the PC.
Being a condenser microphone, audio is best recorded when the subject is seated directly in front of the unit, at about 2-meters away. But even at longer distances, the audio quality will be superb. It is also Skype-certified.
The iCE is one of the best USB desk microphones that we have tested in a while, and while there are some units that have more functions and settings, this unit is perfect for quick recordings of vocals, speech or instruments. As mentioned, it is very easy to set up as well, so users will not have to struggle with setting or testing the audio before making a recording.
The only criticism that we could level against the iCE is the plastic tripod legs, as they might not be sturdy enough to withstand a bump while the unit is being transported. But other than that, the unit functions as promised by Blue Microphones.
At the end of the day, it is not the amount of settings or the composition of the tripod that matters, but the audio quality. And for that, users cannot go wrong with the iCE. The audio is crystal clear, with low background interference when making records in busy or crowded areas. For a quick and easy option, this one is a charm.
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor