A BLUEBIRD IN A BUNDLE

Blue Microphones has been wowing the audio industry with one amazing microphone after another for the past several years. Its newest mic, the Bluebird,
Author:
Publish date:
Updated on

Blue Microphones has been wowing the audio industry with one amazing microphone after another for the past several years. Its newest mic, the Bluebird, is available only as part of a bundle with one of three Focusrite Platinum products (the VoiceMaster Pro, the TwinTrak Pro, or the Trak Master) or with a Digidesign Pro Tools LE system.

The Bluebird is a large-diaphragm cardioid condenser mic with no bass rolloff switch or pattern selector (see Fig. A). The mic houses a fixed capsule and requires 48V phantom power. Although it resembles some of Blue's application-specific designs, such as the Baby Bottle, the Bluebird was designed to handle a wider range of recording tasks, according to the company, including the close-miking of drums and electric guitar amplifiers.

I began my review by comparing a pair of Bluebirds to each other, to ensure that they sounded similar. On a variety of sources, I could hear no difference between the two mics, which is a sign of Blue's excellent quality control.

Next, I compared the Bluebird with several other large-diaphragm condenser mics, including the Baby Bottle and a matched pair of Blue's Dragonfly Deluxes. On drum overheads, the Bluebirds gave a more shimmering and less washy image than the Dragonflies, which are my standard overhead mics. The slightly smaller capsules, together with the 3 dB high-end boost around 10 to 12 kHz, gave the Bluebirds a slight edge over the Dragonflies for the pop band I was recording. For a less modern jazz sound, I would probably stick with the Dragonflies.

On both male and female vocals, the Bluebird was consistently too bright for my taste; I opted in every case for either the Baby Bottle or a Neumann U 87. Even if you prefer a brighter vocal sound, you may need some extra de-essing if you use the Bluebird on a sibilant vocalist. A fellow engineer and local producer said his favorite new vocal setup is the Bluebird coupled with a vintage RCA 77DX ribbon mic, because the high end of the Bluebird complements the warmth and fullness of the ribbon mic.

I actually preferred the Bluebird to the U 87 on a session in which I miked a Fender Precision bass through a small Gallien-Krueger combo. I was surprised to hear the Bluebird's smoother low end compared with the Neumann's lows. Both the Dragonfly Deluxe and an AKG C 414 EB, however, sounded fuller and, in the low mids, tighter and punchier than the Bluebird. Overall, the Bluebird sounded most similar to the C 414 EB, which is my favorite all-purpose large-diaphragm condenser mic.

The biggest problem that I had with the Bluebird was when I was trying to mic a loud electric-guitar cabinet. The guitarist wanted his amplifier cranked for tonal reasons, but I had to position the microphone fairly close to his rig because of the bleed from other amps in the same room. Even with a pad engaged and the trim set all the way down, the Bluebird's hot output-8 dB stronger than the C 414 EB, for example — overloaded every preamp that I had connected to it.

The Bluebird package includes a high-quality mic cable, a shockmount (the BirdCage), and a pop filter (the BirdNest). It would be nice if Blue included a regular clip, because the shockmount is bulky and prohibits the use of the mic in tight places such as inside a kick drum or nestled up to a snare. In addition, the custom metal-mesh pop filter, while good looking, is cumbersome to remove and attach (two lengthy thumbscrews are used) and didn't work very well. With a variety of vocalists, more plosives left the Nest than would have with a standard pop filter.

Small complaints aside, the Bluebird is a great mic for a variety of sources, and it sounded particularly good on trumpet, bass clarinet, percussion (the mic excelled on triangle), acoustic guitar, banjo, and marimba. If you are looking for a mic that can handle multiple tasks with ease, consider the Bluebird. Of course, you'll have to get a TwinTrak Pro or one of its cousins as well, but that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. Blue Microphones; tel. (818) 879-5200; email support@bluemic.com; Web www.bluemic.com.