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Blue Ball Microphone

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To those readers who remain immature enough not to contain your titters upon reading phrases like penal colony (or the word titter, for that matter), I must remind you that you are reading a serious and classy magazine. There are to be no such infantile antics while reading this review of the Blue Ball microphone. JazzTimes wouldn’t devote space to the Ball’s coverage were it not a serious and classy piece of recording equipment.

The softball-sized Ball, the first dynamic microphone to come out of Blue’s Latvia-based lab, is also the first dynamic microphone ever to require phantom power. Blue has solved the dilemma of a dynamic mike’s frequency-dependent variable resistance. Unlike phantom power circuits in condenser mikes, which use the current for various aspects of operation, the Ball’s DC-voltage supply charges a specially designed circuit that supplies the output stage with a constant impedance load-the theory being that the steadiness will translate to a more open, more balanced and quieter output than we’ve heard from other dynamics. Far as I could tell, it works. From testing it on close-miked vocals to using it as a room mike recording a four-piece band, the Ball provided a deep and detailed sound with little noticeable unwanted noise.

While it handles tones across its 35 Hz to 16 kHz range reasonably well (lower frequency sounds are sometimes muddy), the Ball gives a pleasant push to the midrange and at times even creates sparkling highs. For these reasons I found it particularly useful for capturing both acoustic and electric guitars, vocals and the punchy snap of a snare drum. Trouble is, the Ball’s design can make it difficult to sneak it between the pieces of a drum kit. On the other hand, the design also exaggerates its cardioid pattern, the way it rejects sound aimed at its backside is astonishing-a definite plus.

It’s difficult to understand, however, why Blue equipped the Ball with an integrated socket for mike-stand attachment but doesn’t include or offer a custom-made shockmount. Blue offers shock protection for all its other mikes, and I urge the company to do the same for the Ball so that all the work that went into developing this quiet mike won’t go for naught due to noise made by mike-stand vibrations. Still, every recording engineer wants another mike in the arsenal, and the Ball is a unique-sounding and useful item that lists for a fair $279. It’s difficult to write this, but I wouldn’t be ashamed owning a Blue Ball or two.

Originally Published