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Blue Microphones Bluebird Condenser Mic: A Pro-Level Step-Up From the Yeti

By Christopher Coke on August 06, 2018 | Hardware Reviews | Comments

Blue Microphones Bluebird Condenser Mic: A Pro-Level Step-Up From the Yeti

Are you a streamer interested in taking things to the next level? Maybe you’re curious what lies beyond the legendary Blue Yeti microphone? Today we’re looking at the Bluebird SL from Blue Microphones. It promises “pristine, highly versatile sound” to capture the unique character of your voice. It’s a professional mic with a professional price point - does it deliver on those promises? Read on for our full review to find out.

Specifications

  • MSRP: $299.99
  • Transducer Type: Condenser, Pressure Gradient
  • Polar Patterns: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Sensitivity: 28.5 mV/Pa at 1 kHz (1 pa = 94 dB SPL)
  • Output Impedance: 50 ohm
  • Rate Load Impedance: Not less than 1k omh
  • Maximum SPL: 138dB SPL (0.5%)
  • S/N Ratio: 82.3 dB-A
  • Noise Level: 11.7
  • Dynamic Range: 126.3 dB
  • Power Requirement: +48V DC Phantom Power
  • Weight: 455g
  • Dimensions: 222.5mm x 47.5mm
  • HPF: 100Hz, 12db per octave
  • PAD: -20dB
  • Includes: Custom shockmount, wooden storage box

If you’re reading this, you already know about Blue Microphones. Whether it’s their stream-standard Blue Yeti or the budget friendly Blue Snowball, they’ve got a microphone for every price point and you’ve probably seen more than a few in your time on Twitch and YouTube. Until recently, I was a proud Yeti-user myself, using it for dozens of podcasts, video voice overs. It’s a good mic at a decent price.

The Bluebird SL is the Mercedes-Benz to the Yeti’s Honda. They’re both good cars, reliable, and will get you where you need to go. But when you hop behind the wheel of that high-class ‘Benz, you realize just how much you’ve been missing all those years with your Civic.

Right from the get-go, the Bluebird SL is a more premium experience. The packaging is nice, with some nice imagery on the cardboard sleeve. Inside, the microphone is showcased inside its own stained wood box. If I ever move onto another microphone, I’ll be slotting a piece of plexiglass into the top and putting it on display. The vintage look of the mic sitting inside that box is nice.

Taking it out, I was struck by its weight. Compared to the Yeti, it’s a small mic, much more in keeping with standard-sized condensers, but it has a reassuring heft. It features an all-metal construction, so definitely made to last. The capsule is hidden behind a thick gauge wire cage to offer quality protection. If you read our review of the Blue Spark SL, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. The two mics are very close visually, but have a slightly different design on the capsule cage and colorway.

The microphone also comes with its own custom-built shock mount. Unlike many mics whose pack-ins are cheap plastic, the Bluebird’s mount is heavy-duty metal and made to last - a bit like the Yeti’s stand. The Bluebird doesn’t include an actual stand, however, so you’ll need a boom arm or tripod to place it.

Compared to the Yeti, the Bluebird SL is a much more purpose-driven microphone. It drops the multiple polar patterns and sticks to Cardioid only: recording the zone directly in front of the mic and deadening out the rest. Two switches on the front offer a high-pass filter to eliminate hiss and a -20db pad for recording very loud sources. It’s also good for eliminating background noise, though it actually isolates sound quite well. The mic is XLR only, which means you’ll need an audio interface for power and level adjustments.

While it is simpler in terms of controls, the quality of the capture is leaps and bounds ahead of the Yeti. Each of Blue’s SL mics - the Spark, Bluebird, and Baby Bottle - each have a different tonal character. The Bluebird SL focuses on a “shimmering high end” with rich lows and solid mids. The result is recordings that sound much truer to your actual voice while also offering a nice proximity effect when close to the mic. It also means that if you’re a budding musician, the Bluebird is an excellent mic for recording instruments.

As I sat down to write this review, I struggled with how to compare the Bluebird SL to the Yeti we’re all familiar with. I decided the best way was to simply show you in a short video. Have a look, and listen, as I compare the Bluebird SL to the Blue Yeti.


Sorry for the pink spots. That’s what I get for adjusting my webcams saturation. It saturates alright… blotches on my FACE.

Going into this, I didn’t know quite what to expect. Listening to them here, the Yeti’s emphasis on the low-end really stands out next to the Bluebird (though is probably enhanced slightly due to the foam pop filter). What’s striking is that we all know that the Yeti sounds good but makes the Bluebird SL sound so much better in comparison. I would never have picked up on that level of coloration without it being side-by-side like it was in that video.

Also note just how quiet the Bluebird is (which is a bit harder to pick up on in the video but is very noticeable in when recording VO). The noise floor, or amount of hiss, is so low as to be almost inaudible in my recording environment. That’s huge for anything pre-recorded and could save an audio-compromising noise removal pass.

Every microphone has its own character. Between the two, I definitely prefer the Blue Bluebird SL.

Final Thoughts

As you can tell from the video above, the Bluebird SL is an excellent microphone for capturing voice over. Compared to the Blue Yeti, it offers a much more natural, true-to-life sound as well as a much more manageable size and included shock mount. The high-pass filter and 20db pad are great for cutting background noise and recording loud sources, but the lack of onboard gain or zero-latency monitoring means you’ll be listening in and making adjustments on your audio interface, which is standard fare for professional grade microphones.

The Bluebird SL is an investment microphone. It will carry you through streaming and bedroom recording right up to professional voice-over. If you’re ready to get serious about your work, the Bluebird SL is more than up to the challenge and will last you for years to come.

Pros

  • MUCH better and more natural sound than the already-good Blue Yeti
  • Solid build quality with a unique design
  • High-pass filter and -20db pad hardwired
  • Very good shock mount
  • Low noise floor (silent recording)

Cons

  • Sensitive to plosives
  • Professional pricing

The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.

Christopher Coke / Chris has been a fan of MMOs since the mid-1990s when he cut his teeth on MUDs. These days he scours the internet for the latest and greatest multiplayer gaming experiences.