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Blue Ember Microphone

Christian Wissmuller • June 2019Top Gear • June 5, 2019

The Blue Ember is billed as an “XLR Studio Condenser Mic for Recording & Streaming.” So… what exactly does that mean and why should you or your customers care, you ask? Well, in the past decade or so podcasts, live streaming, and posting personally curated content to YouTube (“YouTubing”) have surged in popularity. A weapon of choice for most entry-level practitioners is a USB microphone, as those boast portability, ease of use, and relative affordability. Streamers and ‘casters who progress and develop their brand and perhaps gain a degree of popularity eventually may look to up their overall game by acquiring a studio-grade, yet compact, XLR microphone. Enter the Blue Ember.

While I don’t, myself, have a podcast or do any YouTubing, I have a small demo studio setup and I tried to use the Ember as such folks might. The included mic mount looks and feels formidable and was intuitive to lock into place. With a slim, silver/ grey metal chassis and stylish grille, the Blue Ember sure looks pro – it certainly appears to be a step above its asking price of $99.99. As the capsule is side-mounted, you need to keep the mic parallel to your face as you’re speaking (rather than speaking directly into the top/end, as with typical hand-held or on-stage vocal microphones), but the Ember’s sleek, compact form makes this easy to do without obscuring your face – a benefit to anyone capturing not just audio, but also video of themselves. In fact, YouTubers will likely want the elegant Ember in frame. It’s a stunner.

This unit has a cardioid pickup pattern, which allows for sound to be recorded from the front and the sides, but which also effectively lessens off-axis noise, resulting in a clearer recording. I did find myself wishing I had a pop filter handy, though, since while the off-axis rejection was effective, I found certain plosives still making their way onto recordings.

Unlike a USB mic, the Ember requires an audio interface. Moreover, that interface must have +48V phantom power. That additional cost (users also need an XLR cable, stand, and that pop filter) may prove a barrier to some, but the superior sound quality provided by such a setup will make this a tempting purchase for many.

Of course, while the Blue Ember is marketed towards podcasters, et cetera and designed with those consumers in mind, at the end of the day, it is a microphone and you can use it to record anything you please. I tracked myself playing acoustic guitar, electric bass, and electric guitar and was pleasantly surprised at the Ember’s frequency response and the clear and accurate capture of the sounds.

This is a serious microphone at a seriously reasonable price. Once word gets out (if it hasn’t already – the Ember was released this past January), I expect this will become the go-to microphone for many, many users.

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