If you’re a streamer, you’ve probably spent some time investigating microphones and, if you have, you’ve encountered the great debate around XLR and USB microphones. If you make the jump to XLR, you’ll need a way to connect that mic to your PC. Today, we’re looking at the Blue Microphones Icicle XLR-to-USB Converter, the most portable XLR setup we’ve yet seen. Let’s take a look and see if it’s right for you.
- MSRP: $59.99
- Connectivity: XLR, USB
- Function: 48V Phantom Power for XLR Condenser Microphones
- Features: Onboard gain control, plug-and-play (no driver needed),
- Accessories: 6-foot USB Cable
For most of us, there’s simply no way to connect an XLR mic to your PC without an additional piece of hardware like an audio interface. After spending more than $100 on your first “investment mic,” adding on an expensive interface is less than appealing, especially if you need to be portable. Enter the Blue Icicle, a small XLR-to-USB converter that fits right in the line from your mic to your PC and comes in at only $59.99.
It’s small, not much bigger than a highlighter, so if you do plan to record in multiple locations, it’s much easier to throw in a bag and go. Likewise, it’s much simpler than its desktop counterparts, offering a single input and output and a solitary gain control to dial in your level without visiting the Windows Control Panel.
Setup is incredibly easy. Since it’s a plug-and-play device, there are no drivers or additional software packages to install. You simply connect one end to the XLR cable and the other to the USB line running to your PC and you’re in action. The converter will provide 48V of phantom power to your mic and allow it to power on an function. You’ll need to adjust your volume knob but it’s a quick adjustment depending on your microphone.
The Icicle is intended for condenser mics and for good reason. When used with dynamic mics, the gain needs to be turned all the way up which introduces white noise into the background. With a condenser like the Bluebird SL we reviewed Monday, this can be dialed down to keep the signal quiet. It’s not the most silent I’ve seen, and as an entry level interface/pre-amp this isn’t surprising, but for a beginning streamer it works well. For pre-recorded podcasts and voice over, a gentle noise removal pass cleans it right up without degrading the audio like noisier pre-amps might require.
At $59.99, it’s an affordable piece of kit but what you’re saving in money, you’re sacrificing in build. Unlike many of Blue’s microphones, the Icicle is made entirely of plastic. It feels lightweight in the hand, and I wouldn’t want to drop it on a hard surface. I also would have liked to see a level indicator on the gain knob to better pin down what my mic required.
But, at the end of the day, the Icicle does exactly what it promises: it easily converts and XLR microphone to USB without muddling the sound or adding tons of hiss and allows you to take it on the go far easier than other desktop interfaces. If you’re new to the world of streaming, the Icicle gets the job done and packs away easy.
- Easy connectivity
- Does what it promises - XLR-to-USB
- Very portable, drops right in a bag or a drawer when not in use
- Decent noise floor for the price point
- Plastic construction
- No level indicator on gain knob
- Not the quietest pre-amps we’ve seen
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.