BLUE Blueberry Microphone
Reviewed by Glenn Bucci
BLUE stands for Baltic Latvian Universal Electronics. Although BLUE is an American company in California, it has its own facility in Latvia, a Baltic state next to Russia. The company used to repair many high quality European microphones, and then started to make its own microphones.
Unlike a lot of companies, BLUE designs and manufactures all its capsules and all the precision parts. You won't find any integrated circuits in their products they are all solid state and tube microphone amplifiers based on a Class A, fully-discrete circuit with a custom transformer. BLUE builds and tunes each capsule by hand. The finished capsules are measured in an anechoic chamber for the optimum performance. Each microphone capsule is mounted with a molded, injected rubber stem to isolate unwanted rumble. It should be noted that every mic that leaves their facility is tested, unlike many other companies.
BLUE's Blueberry mic comes in a beautiful cherry wood box with nice blue felt inside. Anyone coming to your studio will be very impressed with not just the box, but also the way the Blueberry looks. (In fact, all of BLUE's mics look unique and stand out from the field.)
The Blueberry is in the $1,100 price range, and if you shop around the street price is under $1,000. It is primarily a vocal mic, but it sounds great in other applications as well. There is an optional elastic shock mount, which eliminate outside interference. I highly recommend getting it with the pop filter, as again, it is constructed of very high quality, and looks very professional. The pop filter has a nice metal screen with the word BLUE on it. It worked very well in preventing unwanted s, t, and p sounds from hitting the mic.
The mic is a Cardioid Condenser design, with a 6" micron diaphragm with aluminum and gold. The frequency response is 22Hz - 22,000 Hz, and sensitivity is 21mV/Pa. The signal-to-noise ratio is rated at 68db (related to 1 PA at 1khz) max. The dimensions are 235mm x 45mm.
The mic has a breathy intimate response similar to that of certain vintage tube vocal mics. Though it has a very good bass response, it is not as pronounced as the Neumann TLM 103. I found it had more of an airy high-end sound compared to the TLM 103. The mic is intended to be about four inches away from a vocalist, which is closer than the recommended distance for many other mics. I also did an A/B comparison with the popular Audio Technica 4033. I found the Blueberry to have a slight fuller sound, which cut through the mix better than the 4033. Skipper Wise at BLUE told me that the group Take 6 was looking for a microphone that would cut through a mix very well, but would also be airy, and settled on the Blueberry. The mic also sounds great on acoustic guitar. It picks up very fast transients and details well. I also tried using it to record a guitar amp, and I was again pleased to hear a very accurate sound of the amp coming through my monitors on playback. During my test, I used three different mic pres: Behringer's ULN, a Focusrite VoiceMaster, and the Langevin DVC. On all three, the mic did well, but as might be expected it sounded clearer with the better mic pres.
BLUE even makes a cable to match its mics. The BLUE cable, according to the company's web site, is a "two conductor 22Awg cable." The twisted pair construction eliminates any noise caused by electromagnetic interference emanating from equipment used in the studio or stage environments. Furthermore, the tinned copper 95% braided shield makes this cable a dream to handle in any temperature condition where microphonic pick-up might come into play. When compared to a regular cable, I noticed the BLUE cable seemed to pick up just a tad more high end than a standard cable.
When you get to higher-end mics, it's often more a preference for the personality of the mic than one being "better" than another. This mic's construction is above many other companies, but I would not say that the Blueberry sounds better than the TLM 103 or BLUE's own Dragonfly. The 103 has some of the well-known Neumann sound, and the Dragonfly has a mid-range that is a little scoped, so the low and highs are more accentuated. If you're looking for a mic that cuts through a mix, has an airy top end, and is built with high quality, then the Blueberry is a great choice.
I am not the only one to be impressed with this mic. Electronic Musician gave the Blueberry its 2000 Editor's Choice Award for the best microphone. Not to mention, many of BLUE's other mics have won awards.
For more information on the BLUE Blueberry and other BLUE products, visit the company's website at bluemic.com.
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