Spark Digital is Blue’s Spark microphone, minus the XLR port. Replacing XLR is a combination of USB and 30-pin iPad ports, meaning you can use the Spark Digital with an iOS device, or any PC/Mac without having to purchase an XLR-to-USB adapter.
What’s great is that the Spark Digital still has the same professional-sounding audio quality that the original Spark microphone is known for. Blue have taken their pro mic and made it basically plug-and-play.
There is, of course, a headphone jack. Enabling real-time monitoring through your headphones, to avoid the inevitable input-lag of Windows’ “Listen to this Device” option.
Most of the controls on the Spark Digital are integrated into one well designed button, using LED lighting above and on the twiddly-rotating button to signify what mode you’re in. By default, the button will control headphone volume levels, indicated by blue LEDs: the higher the volume, the more blue LEDs will light up. Pressing the control knob for 3 seconds will switch it into Microphone gain mode; with orange LEDs. Tapping the control knob briefly will mute the mic entirely.
On the rear of the microphone is the only other button: the Focus Control. “Focus Off” captures crisp, powerful audio with enhanced low frequency sensitivity for recordings with greater impact and definition, whereas “Focus On” captures greater clarity for a tighter, more focused sound. It’s the kind of feature you really have to play around with to see what sounds better for your specific environment.
You can hear the results of the Blue Spark Digital in the video below, where it actually performs better than the £470+ Neumann studio microphone also in shot. The Spark Digital comes in at only £149.99 on Amazon UK.
At the other end of the spectrum is the Tiki – also from Blue. Apparently the is the first USB microphone to combine proprietary noise-cancelling technology, voice isolation and intelligent mute. For such a tiny, pocket-sized microphone, the Tiki sure packs a punch.
Tiki allows users to switch between two modes: Intelligent Speech Mode for communication and Natural Recording Mode for CD-quality recording of podcasts, vocals or instruments. Ideal for conference calls and chats, Tiki’s voice isolation brings the speaker’s voice to the forefront while noise-cancelling technology simultaneously reduces unwanted sound.
A great touch with the Tiki is the orange/blue LED system. The mic will glow orange when idle, and blue when it’s picking up your voice. So you’ll always have a visual alert to know if the person on the other end of the conference can actually hear you.
The idea is to pop the Tiki directly into the USB port on your laptop, for a much better quality microphone than any standard in-built mic. But the Tiki also comes with a USB extension cable, for those times when you need some extra leeway – for practical uses such as moving the mic to the centre of the table during a meeting.
The quality isn’t quite on par with the higher-end Blue microphones, but for under £50, with the portability this provides, you really can’t go wrong. No one else offers a microphone smaller than 3 inches, that provides the crisp voice isolation of the Tiki.