No matter the computer, its built-in microphone is a piece of junk. But at just 65 grams, the Blue Microphone Tiki might be the first USB mic designed well enough to be used by anyone. Your mama just figured out how to use Skype -- if you call her with this plugged in, will she actually be able to understand what you're saying?
What Is It?
A $US60 USB microphone from a legendary purveyor of high-end studio gear. It captures CD-quality, 16-bit, 44.1 k sound.
Who's it For?
Business travellers, lonely grandmothers, Google hangers-out, and anyone else needing high-quality audio delivered through a computer.
Like a snail plugged to a computer, or a USB flash drive with a microphone in the middle of a bottle cap-sized bump.
Plug it in and an LED on the side of the mic lights up blue when it's registering sound. It auto-mutes and turns orange when it doesn't hear anything.
The Best Part
Modest cost, major sound quality improvement.
You're probably going to lose it.
This Is Weird...
Blue mics are known for their iconic, colourful design, but the Tiki's first colour is a yucky maroon that doesn't match your computer or anything else.
- Tested this out on Skype and Google Video chat a few times.
- The noise-cancelling voice mode uses a smart algorithm to filter out all of the gross noise that ruins built-in mic audio. No more air-conditioning, weird echos, computer fans or fluorescent hum.
- The auto-mute only sort of works. It's only supposed to be activated by voices, but really any sound that's loud enough will switch the mic on and off. It doesn't affect the sound much, but it can be distracting to watch the light flicker blue/orange/blue/orange.
- A tiny flat button build into the end of the stick switches between a "voice" and "recording" mode for instruments.
- Turning on the recording mode actually turns off the digital sound processing, so the mic captures fuller, more resonant sound. Acoustic guitar and vocals work fine. It's a great little demo mic, but it's not appropriate for recording your garage band.
- This is a great one-person microphone but it's not the most elegant solution for recording a room full of people. The mic has two capsules, which face in opposite directions and give you a large coverage area, so the mic can be used to record a podcast with a small group.
- The Tiki is so small that it's easy to misplace.
Should You Buy It?
Only if you really really care about the clarity of the sound your computer is capturing. The Tiki is non-essential betterness. If $US60 is a little too much or you're not going to use the mic often, you can certainly get away with the in-line mic on your headphones or your Bluetooth headset.
• Price: $US60 + shipping to Australia ($79.95 at the Apple Store in Australia) • Dimensions: 2.5 inches x 1.5 inches x .75 inches • Weight: 65g w/dock