Needed Better Tutorial Audio: Blue Snowball Desktop USB Microphone Review

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I noticed right away from my first tutorial that the audio quality was definitely sub par!  I hopped on Amazon and started taking a look around for desktop usb mics that would go well with my workstation, and was very surprised to see the Blue Snowmball USB microphone on sale for less than $50.

It was a no brainer purchase, and has worked perfectly right out of the box for the last 4 months!  I’ll go over a lot of finer details below, but I love it when things just plug in and work without any screwing around!  The thing I like most about the snowball is the ease of use, and not having to set anything up.. simply plug in the usb cable, and away you go.  For you audiophiles out there, this might frustrate you since there aren’t any settings to tweak, and it’s not a boom mountable mic that you could add an adjustable stand or mouth guard to.  However, it does come with a cool little mini stand, but I opted to remove it altogether and just let it sit nicely on my desk top.

My Biggest Concern:  Is The Blue Snowball Going To Be Compatible With Windows OS Updates (and perhaps IOS in case I ever switch over to the dark side ;))

I needed something that would work well with Windows 7 and Windows 8 since I have multiple machines, not to mention future updates to Windows 10 that I’ll probably be doing here shortly, while taking into account my next computer purchase.  I’ve had crazy USB devices in the past that go absolutely bonkers without the right drivers and whatnot… Needed to make sure the microphone I selected would not all the sudden quit working if I changed systems or OS versions.

Update – I never posted this review before I upgraded, but now I’ve successfully used the snowmball mic with Windows 10 as well… works perfectly, and I just made this quick video for you to compare the audio quality of the built in laptop mic and the Blue Snowball Microphone.

Ease Of Use:  How To Setup Your Blue Snowball Microphone

They couldn’t possibly make it any easier to set up a USB microphone. To setup and use your Blue mic, you simply take it out of the box, insert the USB cord into the back of the mic, and plug the other end into any open USB port in your computer or laptop.

It really is that simple… I don’t really know how they can make it any easier.  The only setting on the microphone itself is a 1-2-3 selectable switch on the back of the microphone to adjust the gain. I just went with the manufacturer recommended setting of 3 and haven’t touched it since. It’s worked flawlessly for every tutorial that I’ve done since then, and now I’m also using it in Google Docs doing voice dictation to write this very post you’re reading right now.

Does The Blue Snowball Mic Have A Mute Button?

Unfortunately it does not, but most of the time when I’m doing recordings, it’s easy enough to just pause with the click of my mouse. I have heard about different models that have a button on the front you can tap for a quick mute during a session, but I haven’t found this to be cumbersome or really needed at all.

Does The Blue Mic Comes With A Stand?

It comes with a small tripod like stand, but it’s a mini stand and that’s being generous. It keeps the mic stable on flat surfaces (since it’s round) and gives it a nice flair. I opted to remove the stand altogether on mine, and just set the mic on my desk next to a monitor.

How Does The Snowball Mic Compare To The Built In Laptop Mic?

For those just wondering if the sounds quality is any good compared to what you’re used to, an easy comparison would be your built in laptop mic or desktop.  The depth of vocal tonalities it picks up are a lot wider, plus the overall clarity and volume your recordings play back at are much much better.  In my opinion, this is even a great beginner mic if you want to do something like start a podcast, but need something very affordable to get going.  I’m not a gamer, but I’m sure it would work much better for gaming too over your laptop mic, since it’s much easier to hear you more clearly and separate ambient noise from the room.  And might even be good for singing or rapping too!  (or whatever else I saw people on youtube doing with it! lol)

Know How Much Are The Blue Snowballs  & What Do They Cost Regularly To Spot The Sale Price

I was shocked when I was able to pick mine up for under $50, and it’s one heck of a mic for that price! I see them regularly selling on amazon for under $50 now, so I’m going to update this post since I don’t think you have to wait for the sales anymore.

Does The Blue Snowball Mic Work With Your Ipad?

It does, but you need to purchase the Apple camera USB connection kit in order for it to plug in to the lightning connector. I haven’t used mine with my ipad yet, and probably won’t since it would be cumbersome to do any real work on the ipad that wasn’t just audio recording.

Is It The Best USB Desktop Microphone On The Market Today?

I really don’t know, I’d have to test them all.  The thing is, I could’ve bought the Blue Yeti, which is only twice the price at $99.  However, for making tutorial videos here on the blog, and maybe some podcasting or audio recordings in the future, I like the simplicity of the Snowball over the Yeti (albeit very minimal minus the gain button).  I also doubt with my level of editing experience, I probably wouldn’t benefit from the extra audio quality until later on… and I’ll probably have a different desk/computer setup at that point anyway.

I must admit, I did hesitate before ordering wondering which is better… The Blue Snowball or the Blue Yeti.  The thing is, I’ll probably never need a mic boom with my current setup, nor will I want to add some large pop filter since I keep my mic in front of my monitors at least 20 inches away from me anyway.  I’m sure those would be nice features and clean up my audio a bit more, but I need simplicity or I won’t use it at all on a consistent basis.  THAT my friend, was the ultimate selling point for me on the Blue.

Most bang for the buck?  Hell yes!  Best USB mic ever?  Doubt it.  Perfect for making YouTube videos, tutorials screencasts, and or podcasts?  Definitely can’t be beat by anything else I’ve seen for the money!

Where To Buy The Blue Snowball Microphone For Less Than $50!

I buy almost everything on Amazon, and was really surprised to see the brushed aluminum model of the Snowball on sale for less than the black or white models!  I also use Prime so I don’t have to waste time going to the store, and because it much easier to send it back if it sucks!  When I bought mine in December, I paid $49.99 with free shipping, but it depends on what finish you want. (they have white which is normally the cheapest, black, and chrome… The chrome just happened to be on sale when I bought mine)  They have a tendency to change the prices periodically on the prime items, but overall this was the best deal I could find anywhere without spending a ton of time looking.


An Unexpected Benefit From Using The Blue Snowball USB Microphone (and yes it plays nice with Dragon Naturally Speaking)

Something else to consider when looking at the Blue Snowball mic that most people don’t think about… I have tried pretty much every voice dictation and speech-to-text software out there that you can possibly imagine, and the key to getting any of them to work was using a Blue Snowball USB microphone to detect my voice better.

Now that I’ve successfully been able to use voice dictation software, it’s funny I learned I didn’t even need to buy Dragon Naturally Speaking at all. In fact Dragon Naturally Speaking doesn’t even work as well as just simply using Google Docs and turning on the microphone for voice typing. Now of course you have to sync the Blue mic with any laptop to be the primary microphone of choice otherwise, Google Docs will try to pick up the microphone from your laptop or computer and it’ll still be muddy. The difference is you don’t have to spend hours and hours trying to train Google docs to understand your voice like you do with Dragon Naturally Speaking and to be honest with the speed at which technology is advancing these days, Dragon is kind of a waste of money at this point… I wish I would have never bought it.  But the key to making all that work is having a really good microphone that doesn’t break the bank. Now I’m not trying to become professional podcaster, or have such incredible audio quality that were producing audio books in a studio and have noise canceling and all this kind of stuff. I really just wanted to be able to use text to speech software in an effective way, without taking a long time to get it to work well for me.

One the most frustrating things was buying into this idea that the software was going to take care of everything but they don’t explain to you how important it is to have a different microphone. Now of course Dragon Naturally Speaking DOES indeed recommend that you use their little headsets with the wrap around microphone that comes around the side of your face, but there’s not really any talk about a hands free option that can sit on your desk. It’s crazy how much of a difference the Blue Snowball makes… It’s the difference between the program or any a Google voice dictation software not working, and working very well for you. In fact this very article that you’re reading right now on my review of the Blue Snowball is being generated by me talking in Google Docs. I’m using this very microphone to write notes for this article, and I’m going to put up a video showing the difference between the quality of the laptop mic and the Blue Snowball mic and embed it above.

1 thought on “Needed Better Tutorial Audio: Blue Snowball Desktop USB Microphone Review”

  1. Thanks for this. I, too, had wanted to try dictation and had similarly come to the conclusion that Google Voice Typing made more sense on my Mac than making the financial and time investment in Dragon. I was researching the best mic to use with Google Voice Typing — I was specifically trying to choose between the Blue Yeti and the Blue Snowball — when I came across your review.

    Though I was almost completely convinced by your experience to go ahead with the Snowball, I ended up doing a side-by-side comparison between the Yeti and the Snowball in the “real world conditions” of my home office, complete with renovation work going on. While I found the Yeti to be stylish, powerful, and versatile, the Snowball is indeed a better fit for my needs. (I kept having to remind myself, for instance, that I’m not setting out to be a professional podcaster, for which the Yeti would be ideally suited.)

    A word about the pricing on the Snowball mics: I believe that the sub-$50 models you’ve been seeing on Amazon are the Blue Snowball ICE mics, which vary slightly from the Blue Snowball. The Snowball ICE has only a single condenser capsule (compared to the Snowball’s two) and also doesn’t have the omnidirectional option of the Snowball. I would imagine the Snowball ICE would still do a good job with dictation, but there is a difference between the two mics at the different price points.

    Thanks again for sharing your experience! Coming across your blog let me know that I was on the right track.


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