Blue Blackout Spark SL microphone£169
A while ago we brought you news of the latest mic from Blue, the Blackout Spark SL. Well, I loved how it looked so I asked to see if we could play with one.
Blue Microphones have been the go to brand for many a podcaster and home recording musician for a while now, and for good reason. Their USB-connected mics are perfect for no-nonsense but quality audio recordings straight in to your computer. I dare say that most podcasters will have had a Yeti on their desk at some point.
These days even gamers are upping their, errr, game and bringing in pro level mics instead of relying on the all-in-one headset and mic kit. Funnily enough, I have been using a gaming headset and mic for podcasts for the last year or so. This will explain why I am comparing the Blackout Spark SL with the Astro A40 TR headset – not a fair fight, I agree, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.
Blackout Spark SL design
I do like its retro styling. It also looks the business on the end of a boom stand.
The main torso of the device is a neat, almost matte black. The collars and cuffs, so to speak, are a lovely shiny anodised finish.
The cardioid-only polar pattern greatly reduces pickup of background noise. This is ideally employed for recording a single gamer, speaker, or vocalist.
There are two switches on the body of the mic, a 100Hz high pass filter and -20dB pad.
It weighs in at 327g which is reassuringly substantial without being too ungainly.
The mic measures 4.5 x 4.5 x 22 cm with an XLR fitting at the end as well as a threaded collar for the bundled shockmount.
Blackout Spark SL performance
Being fitted with an XLR connector means that it is already geared up for pro use. XLR is the standard fitting used for mixing desks, and pro audio interfaces. Before you start thinking that you have to go out and spend more money on a desk or interface, worry not. Blue has you covered.
What I used to connect the Blackout Spark SL to my PC was Blue’s own natty Icicle interface.
This simple USB converter packs a mic preamp and so lets you connect your XLR microphone directly to your computer via USB. Thanks to its 48V phantom power, you can even connect premium studio condenser mics such as the Blackout Spark SL.
Usually, if I record any vocals I generally use one of my trust Sure SM58s through my now aging TC Electronics Impact Twin. However, all that is a faff as I’d have to break it down and then set everything up again on a weekly basis if I used it for podcasting.
This is why I have been utilising the Astro A40 TR gaming headset with mic. It’s there on my PC and ready to go whenever I need it.
It’s clear enough and you can make out what I am saying.
Here’s the Blue mic:
This is without either of the switches engaged so basically as it comes out of the box.
I think you will agree that the Blue Blackout Spark SL doesn’t just sound clearer, but the audio is also more defined and with a more natural weight to the voice. Furthermore, there feels to be more space, or air, around my voice. An all together more enjoyable listen, in my opinion.
Blackout Spark SL review conclusion
I have no qualms in saying that, if you are serious about podcasting, gamecasting, radio presenting or want to up your home music recording game, then the Blue Blackout Spark SL will not disappoint.
Yes, I do like the black finish, but my love for this mic is more than skin deep.
Having the shockmount bundled in with the mic means that all you have to do is fit it to a boom mic stand and perhaps sling on a pop-shield and you’re good to go. Add in the natty little Icicle USB converter and you’ve an excellent home or portable casting station.
Blackout Spark SL price and availability
The Blue Blackout Spark SL has a MSRP of £169.99, and available at Amazon.co.uk.
For more information visit: www.bluedesigns.com/blackout-spark-sl.