A seriously condensed condenser mic, Blue’s Nessie (named after the famous Loch Ness monster) advertises itself as one of the premier USB microphones out there, a device capable of capturing studio-quality recordings for everything from polished music demos to broadcast-standard voiceovers.
What It Is
A USB microphone designed for desktop recording of vocals, instruments, and voiceovers. The mic equivalent of a point-and-shoot camera that does a lot of the hard work for you, Nessie augments its recording with professional studio processing tools, a built-in pop filter and internal shockmount — designed to produce professional-sounding audio in as straightforward a manner as possible. Think top-of-the-range, entry-level condenser mic.
Setup and recording is a snap. The box contains nothing more than the microphone itself, a short instruction booklet, and a USB cable. You don’t need more than that, and Nessie doesn’t provide it.
Recording is just as simple, with much of the functionality you might expect to interface with on-screen built into the microphone itself. Switching between recording modes (voice, music, or raw audio) is straightforward, and the addition of a “mute” button is a neat touch.
Despite the straightforward nature of recording, audio sounds superb for the most part. The “adaptive processing” technology cleans up your audio as you record, which means less time in the post-production edit.
Oh, and it looks great too — with some fantastic vintage styling harking back to the 1930s glory days of radio.
The mic isn’t detachable from the boom stand, which might disappoint some buyers, although this is designed as a microphone for studio recording as opposed to, say, vox-pops on the street. It can also be tilted on a vertical axis, but not horizontally, which similarly might annoy some users.
While adept at both, music recording is superior to voice mode, with voices occasionally recorded as overly breathy when speaking at close range. The mic is also incredibly sensitive and, while some of this can be sorted out by taking precautions such as placing a boundary behind the microphone, you should still be prepared to hear background noise.
The “mute” button is very sensitive, and easy to accidentally tap.
Nitpicks aside, this is a fantastic microphone. Sure, it’s not going to measure up to something ten times the cost, but for an entry level audio recorder that won’t sound like one, this is pretty unbeatable. Comes with our highest recommendation.
Product Name: Blue Nessie Microphone
The Good: Attractive, easy to use, and creates high quality recordings. What’s not to love?
The Bad: Picks up some background sound; mute button too sensitive.
The Verdict: This is one of the best USB microphones around. Highly recommended if you’re looking for a USB microphone, and don’t want to spend your life savings.
Buy from: Apple
Luke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Apple Revolution, published by Random House, and is currently writing a book about algorithms for Random House/Penguin to be published in 2014. He also covers the digital humanities for Fast Company. He’d like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.