Need a mic to record podcasts, instruments, or create content on Twitch? The Bluebird SL could meet all your expectations, with an inimitable look.
The most observant will surely have already noticed this microphone if they wander a little bit on Twitch or on YouTube. Blue is indeed one of the favorite brands of streamers and other content creators. Why ? Quite simply because they combine two essential characteristics for a visible microphone in the image: they benefit from a sleek design and excellent sound quality.
So it’s not for nothing that we see them so much. However, not all Blue microphones are suitable for the same uses. On the one hand, we find the ease of use of a Blue Yeti or Snowball, USB microphones that just plug into your computer to start creating content, and on the other, XLR microphones, that it will necessarily be connected to an audio interface but which will offer a much richer sound.
Here we are testing the Bluebird SL, which is precisely part of this second category of microphones. Unlike the Blackout Spark SL, which is primarily intended for voice recording, the Bluebird SL is more versatile and seeks to appeal to both content creators and musicians. In use, what is it worth? Answer in this Bluebird SL test from Blue!
USB or XLR, what’s the difference?
Before even looking at this microphone from Blue, it’s worth distinguishing USB microphones from XLR microphones, and briefly discussing the pros and cons of each.
USB microphones like the Blue Yeti are convenient, quite affordable, and require nothing more than software to register on your computer. In the end, all you need to do is connect your microphone directly to your computer with a single cable to start recording. So the process is child’s play, and this type of device can be an ideal way to start producing content without the hassle. However, this type of microphone does not only have advantages. The USB connection may cause recording latency and noise.
On the other side, we find the XLR microphones, as is the case with the Bluebird SL that we are testing here. If this type of microphone is used by professionals, it is not for nothing! These microphones are much more sensitive and offer sound quality beyond what a USB microphone can offer. They also offer various shapes and are not all intended for the same uses, from dynamic microphones to condenser microphones, including directivity, etc. However, if the sound quality is there, it will also be necessary to equip yourself with an audio interface or a mixer to convert the signal to your computer.
In short, if you know a little about it and already have a sound interface or are planning to acquire one, the Bluebird SL is for you. On the other hand, if you are looking for a solution plug & play, we recommend that you use a USB microphone instead, which will be much easier to use. In this case, the Blue Yeti and Snowball are real references, if you want to stay in the brand’s universe.
Design and Ergonomics
From the moment of unboxing, the Bluebird SL offers a decidedly premium experience. The microphone is indeed delivered in an elegant wooden case topped with the brand’s logo. Neatly housed inside, we find the microphone. This one has a solid construction in metal tinted in blue – signature of this model – coupled with chrome parts.
The microphone simply offers two buttons: a low cut filter (100 Hz) on the left and a -20 dB attenuator on the right. Finally, the capsule comprising the membrane of the microphone surmounts the whole, surrounded by a metal grid. Everything really exudes solidity, with an undeniable vintage character as a bonus.
Note, however, that this microphone is delivered “bare”. In the box, no XLR cable, pop filter or stand. This is a point to take into account if you do not have all of these accessories, which could add considerably to the bill. There is simply a shockproof cage to adapt the Blackout Spark SL to any foot.
Use and Sound Quality
As we explained beforehand, the Bluebird SL is an XLR connector microphone. Therefore, it requires a so-called 48V phantom power supply in order to be used. Also note that the XLR cable is not supplied with the microphone.
In order to perform this test, we connected the Bluebird SL to a Focusrite Scarlett Solo, a simplistic audio interface that offers a single XLR input with 48V phantom power and a monitor output. For recording alone, a box like this does the job perfectly, and allows you to get the most out of Blue’s microphone.
The Bluebird SL is a so-called condenser microphone with a cardioid pattern. This means that he will be sensitive above all to the sounds that face him and that come from above. Once installed, it will therefore be necessary to be careful about the placement of the microphone. Also, it is delivered without a pop-up filter, allowing to limit the plosives. Staying away from the microphone, this is not so much of a problem, but parasitic noises will be heard as soon as you approach your mouth to the capsule.
The advantage of the Bluebird SL is its versatility. Its frequency response ranges from 20Hz to 20kHz, and unlike some microphones that are confined to vocals or recording instruments, the Bluebird is a true Swiss Army knife. It is indeed suitable for podcast recording as well as for vocals or instruments. Streamer, singer, guitarist, pianist, or even drummer, you should get your bearings with this mic.
The sound quality, meanwhile, is frankly convincing. In fact, the Bluebird SL is a rather neutral microphone, without any particular color. This will be a great advantage if you want to add effects or just compression to get the famous “radio” sound. Here is an example of a video whose sound was recorded with Blue’s Bluebird SL.
@remiloufr Ouch 😣 #samsung #apple #tech #stevejobs #smartphone #badbuzz #buzz ♬ original sound – Rémi Lou
The Bluebird SL enjoys great clarity and incomparable dynamics. It is ideal for a content creator, but also for recording vocals. The microphone has also been shown to be very satisfactory for recording instruments, in particular guitars (acoustic and electric, by positioning the microphone in front of an amplifier). Also, the output level of the microphone being rather low, it will be advisable to adjust its audio interface upstream in order to prevent the sound from saturating.