The popularity of podcasting continues to increase daily, just a year ago there were 850,000 active podcasts online with more than 48 million episodes in total.
These audio clips are able to capture the audience’s attention through the power of storytelling, as well as being a convenient way to access information or entertainment materials through headphones.
Many of us lead busy lives and are constantly on the go. Listening to podcasts through our headphones is easy to do whilst we’re cleaning the house, commuting to work or walking the dog.
As the number of people who enjoy listening to podcasts increases, so does the amount of people making them.
Whether it’s a niche subject or a business-related tool, podcasts are a great way to share the information and knowledge you have with your intended audience base.
Creating podcasts may be daunting, especially if you don’t come from a technical background. Where do you start? Do you need to buy equipment? How much will that cost? These are all questions that might be running through your mind.
If you’ve decided to start recording yourself, you’re probably going to want to use a recording device or microphone. Here we’re going to look at the Snowball iCE, a USB microphone.
What Is The Snowball iCE?
The Snowball iCE is a USB microphone that uses a plug-and-play operation to start recording your audio in seconds.
Featuring industry-leading Blue condenser capsules the microphone is able to deliver natural sound straight to your computer. The Snowball iCE works with both Windows and Mac operating systems
Weighing just 460g with a circumference of 325mm, it’s a small and compact device that allows for easy storage, removal and set-up. This is a great product if you’re needing something that is travel-friendly.
You can pick from a textured white, gloss black and chrome color.
Recording equipment such as the iCE can also be used for game streaming, Skype or Zoom calls and for recording musical instruments and vocals.
Sound quality is arguably the most important characteristic of a microphone. Blue is known for producing high-quality recording equipment, but seeing as this is a budget product it’s not going to be perfect. The frequency response range is between 40-18 kHz.
It’s possible to get great sound out of this microphone, but you may have to play around with the settings a little. Using your chosen computer program you can adjust recording levels as soon as you’ve plugged the device in.
Although the ideal frequency response range for vocals would be 80 Hz to 15 kHz, which isn’t seen with this model.
It’s important to note here that the Snowball iCE only has one polar pattern which is the cardioid pattern, which is suitable for most needs but more experienced recorders may want a product that has multiple options.
If you’re not working in a studio, a lot of room sound may be picked up when addressing the microphone dead-on. When tested in a sound-proofed room, the recordings were found to be much clearer.
Certain tests have found that even being about 8 inches away from the device means you lose focussed sound and too much reverb can sneak in.
Reducing your proximity to the microphone produces the best sound as it adds some low and low-mid richness to the audio. Luckily the internet is full of people who have tried and tested the product before you.
Several users found that placing the microphone at a 45° angle to the mouth with a distance of about 6-8 inches produces the best results.
This off-axis solution means that you don’t need to purchase any additional equipment such as a pop filter to absorb plosives and popping sounds.
Experienced recording vocalists may be able to work around this with solid technique, but if you’re a newbie it’s suggested that you either invest in a filter or try the off-axis trick.
Interestingly the microphone itself is spherical in design. Made of metal, the tripod stand is of sturdy construction and easily detaches from the sphere for transport and storage.
As previously mentioned, the size of the microphone is also perfect for putting in a bag and taking it with you wherever you may be recording.
At the back of the microphone, there is a small black switch that you can move into three different positions.
These correlate with the three different recording patterns offered by the iCE which are cardioid, cardioid with -10dB PAD and Omni. The only other design feature is a power LED light which will glow red when the device is connected to a computer.
It’s clear the Snowball iCE is a budget no-frills device which may be frustrating to those more experienced recorders.
Compared to a lot of similar products, the Snowball iCE doesn’t require any additional software to use, so it really is a plug-and-play microphone. We love this aspect as it makes it so easy to use and great for sharing with friends and colleagues.
Unless you already have the software downloaded to your computer for the specific use of creating podcasts or gaming streams, there’s no need for additional purchases.
The Snowball iCE is compatible with Windows 7,8, and 10 and Mac OS 10.4.11 and up. If you’re using a Mac, then pre-programmed software such as GarageBand is perfectly fine to use.
As a budget plug-in microphone, the Snowball iCE is a great starter product. The overall design and feel of the product are great as it’s portable and sleek.
It’s easy to use and there’s no need for the purchase of additional software, making it even more affordable and perfect for those just entering the game.
You can produce a great sound with this microphone, but this may take a little time to get right as distance and room settings are influential factors. There are many videos online that can help you with this.
- Sturdy design and metal stand
- Compact design easy for traveling with
- Good sound quality when adjusted
- Plug-and-play design
- No need to buy additional software
- No frills, simple product
- Sound quality decreases with distance and extreme closeups
- Cardioid polar pattern only
Assessing the online reviews of this product, we found that there were over 20,000 positive reviews left online. Customers mainly commented on the value for money with this product, expressing their delight with the clear sound for the price.
It does pick up some background noise, but users found adjusting computer settings can easily fix this: “it even sounds pretty good with my laptop fan running and AC running in the background”.
There are many reviews that feature videos of customers using their Snowball iCE with captions like “you can hear the audio yourself in the video. If you are looking for a mic on a budget then I 100% recommend getting this one!!”.
Videos are great additional sources of feedback that can help you evaluate whether or not to buy a product.
Choosing new recording equipment can be a daunting task, especially when some microphones are so expensive. This budget-friendly USB microphone is a great choice for the novice or the expert.
We hope you found this article interesting and informative on your journey to buy recording equipment. Happy recording!