The last of the power trio of microphones unveiled at this year's CES by Blue Microphones has finally been released. Laying claim to being the first true studio condenser microphone capable of delivering professional-quality audio to a 30-pin-packing iDevice or any computer, laptop or tablet with a spare USB port, the Spark Digital bridges the gap between supreme analog quality and convenient digital portability.
Essentially a digital version of Blue's analog Spark microphone, the Spark Digital features the same studio-grade condenser capsule and premium components that hold the promise of high fidelity recording and consistent performance. It's described as the missing link for achieving truly professional results on the mobile platform, making it a good choice for a wide range of situations, including vocals, guitar, drums, podcasts, piano, and location recording.
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Blue tells us that the new microphone is directly compatible with the iPad (1, 2 and 3) and iPhone 4/4S via an Apple 30-pin connector, and is instantly recognized for use with any recording app. It will also work with the new iPad 4G, iPad mini and iPhone 5 when used with Apple's Lightning adapter – the company is currently looking into making direct Lightning connection possible in the future. The Spark Digital also offers driver-free operation when plugged into a USB 2.0 port on a PC or Mac.
The microphone performs the A-D conversion for complete control over the quality of the audio before it gets to the device being used for recording, and also brings Blue's Focus feature into the digital age.
Focus Control gives users the choice of crisp, powerful audio with enhanced low frequency sensitivity or greater clarity and detail for a tighter, more focused sound. It's reported to differ from a standard low-pass or high-pass filter, in that the input driver of the capsule is changed rather than altering the signal output of the microphone circuit, which avoids coloring or quality degradation.
The Spark Digital features volume and other controls directly on the microphone, visual input feedback comes courtesy of a built-in LED meter on the front, and there's instant mute, too. It's supplied with an angle-adjustable desk stand with built-in shockmount to protect against disruptive rumblings and vibrations from a desktop surface.
Audio specs show a frequency response of 26 Hz to 20 kHz, 28 mV/Pa sensitivity, a sound pressure level range of between 65 and 128 dBA, a signal-to-noise ratio of 84 dB and 10 dB (A-weighted) noise level.
Blue says that the Spark Digital is the only iPad microphone to offer a zero-latency headphone out for direct monitoring, eliminating the distracting delay that might otherwise appear via the iPad's audio out jack, while also providing users with higher quality amplification.
Adding another cherry to the top of the quality mobile recording cake, Blue has included 25 GB of free storage and transfer with cloud backup and organization specialist Gobbler for six months, and a Pro Account with online social sound platform SoundCloud (also for six months).
The Spark Digital is available now from Apple and Best Buy (in-store and online) for a suggested retail price of US$199.99 (with Guitar Center, Amazon and others following shortly).
Product page: Spark DigitalView gallery - 3 images