There was a time when studio quality microphones were beyond the reach of average users, but thankfully those days are behind us. The field is full of affordable options, and Blueis Snowball microphone is one of my favorites.
The Snowball doesnit require any breakout box, instead it connects directly to your Mac via a standard USB cable. It is a multi-pattern condenser mic, so you have the option of using it with an omnidirectional or cardiod pick up pattern. In simplified terms, that means the microphone can pick up audio from either the area in front of it, or from all around.
The Snowball ships with a USB cable and a small tripod mic stand. Both are handy, but I didnit feel totally comfortable with the stand. Its small size felt somewhat unstable to me, and it was difficult to properly tighten the stand neck to keep the mic at the height I preferred. The neck even slipped a couple of times letting the Snowball drop to the base of the stand. It did not, however, fall over - much to my relief.
The Snowball and its stand.
You can also attach the Snowball to your own mic stand since it uses a standard thread pattern. Just be sure your stand is properly balanced because the mic is a bit heavy.
The audio quality was outstanding. The difference between the Snowball and other microphones was very noticeable when I used it to record TMOis Apple Weekly Report podcast with Ricky Spero.
When I first started playing with it, Ricky couldnit seem to get enough sound, even when I cranked the audio input level all the way up in the Sound Preference Pane. I installed Blueis high gain firmware update for the mic, which improves the pickup level for spoken word, and all was well.
If you want to hear what the Snowball sounds like, I first used it on the November 19, 2006 edition of Apple Weekly Report (at that time called Weekly Roundup).
The Bottom Line
Blueis Snowball is a great choice for recording spoken word and music, and makes a great addition to any recording studio - professional or home. Although it offers accurate audio reproduction, be sure to install the high gain firmware update if you plan to use it primarily for voice recording.