When you think of a USB microphone, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For myself, I tend to picture a subpar microphone that would normally be used for Skype calls or other basic tasks. Of course, these microphones have come a long way in recent years, but nothing makes this more evident than Blue Microphones’ Spark Digital condenser microphone.
Not only is this a USB for Mac/PC, but it’s also built to work with iOS devices. The Spark Digital microphone originally started out as a USB/30-pin version, but Blue has recently given it a much-needed Lightning update. The benefit to using a microphone like the Spark Digital is that you’re getting professional audio quality in such a small and portable package. There is nothing that feels cheap about the Spark Digital. It’s not your average dinky USB microphone.
Inside of the box, you’ll find a fancy carrying pouch, Lightning-compatible cable, USB cable, user manual, desktop stand, and the Spark Digital. Immediately I noticed the quality of materials being used here. The Spark Digital is made from metal and feels very durable. It’s certainly comparable to any professional studio microphone that I’ve used in the past.
Check out our video review of the Spark Digital below:
Setup is simple. Mount the Spark Digital to its stand, connect the cable of your choice, and plug it into your computer or iOS device. Each of the included cables also features a 3.5mm headphone jack that will allow you to monitor your recordings in real-time. When connected to a computer or an iOS device, the entire microphone acts as a sound card by allowing the input and output of audio.
There are no drivers or software to install. As mentioned, out of the box this microphone is compatible with iOS devices that feature Apple’s Lightning connector. This means it will work with virtually any iOS app capable of recording audio. I even had it working with the Voice Memos app on an iPhone 5s.
On the front of the Spark Digital, there’s a small button/knob called the Control Knob that will allow you to control various features of the microphone. By default, the Control Knob is set to adjust the headphone volume (indicated by a blue LED) and can be rotated to raise or lower the monitoring levels. Pressing the button once will mute the active mode (headphones in this case), but if you hold down the Control Knob for three seconds, the knob’s inner-LED will change to orange and allow you to control the microphone gain. In the gain mode, you can also press the button for mute functionality, but this will only mute the microphone and keep the headphones operational.
On the back of the Spark Digital, there’s a small on/off switch that can be used to enable/disable Focus Control. This mode (when enabled) will provide more clarity and detail in your recordings by slightly changing the circuitry of the microphone. When Focus Control is off, the Spark Digital will have increased low frequency sensitivity, which in my opinion, is great for recording a voiceover or podcast.
I'd call it the best camera for that price. I'd go for it.
FYI, Downsides are:
* Limited lens compatibility (no autofocus motor, so many Nikon lenses won't work)
* Autofocus is slow enough to be completely useless in live view mode (try it in a store)
* Video mode isn't up to par with Canon and friends. You get limited resolution, awkward frame rate, horrible audio (11kHz with low quality built-in microphone, and no microphone input, and the kit lens will give you lots of image stabilizer noise).
Stepping up, Canon 550D is an amazing camera (albeit without the pivot LCD)