Blue Spark SL: Electrifying
Being a “voice” guy, I’ve used a lot of microphones. To be honest I’m kind of obsessed with the things. Trying to find the right one for my voice has been quite a journey, and frankly you can never have enough microphones. So, when I was given an offer to take a look the new Blue Spark SL, I jumped at the chance. Blue is a very popular brand among YouTubers and streamers thanks to the Blue Snowball and Yeti, which provide decent performance at a decent price. They also don’t look too bad either. However, these are both USB microphones (unless you opt for the Yeti Pro), which tend to lack the professional quality of an XLR mic.
So, when you’re truly looking to improve your sound, you go XLR. Enter the Spark SL.
The Spark SL is a cardioid condenser microphone, which means you’re going to need some kind of audio interface that provides 48V of phantom power to make it work. The microphone also starts at $199.99, making it a bit more expensive than the it’s USB-powered brethren. Now there are a few other mics in the Blue line-up that fall into the XLR category around this price point: The original Blue Spark ($149) and the Blue Yeti Pro ($249). However, there are some key differences between these three mics.
- Transducer Type: Condenser, Pressure Gradient
- Polar Patterns: Cardioid
- Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
- Sensitivity: 34.9 mV/Pa at 1 kHz (1 pa = 94 dB SPL)
- Output Impedance: 50 ohm
- Rate Load Impedance: Not less than 1k ohm
- Max SPL: 136 dB SPL (1k, THD 0.5%)
- S/N Ratio: 73 dB-A
- Noise Level: 16.4 dB-A
- Dynamic Range: 119.6 dB
- Power Requirement: +48V DC Phantom Power
What sets the Spark SL apart is its versatility, with a 100Hz low cut filter and -20dB pad. You can simply flip on the low-cut filter to help reduce ambient hum or rumble you have in your room, which many streamers may find helpful when sitting next to their noisy CPUs. And if your voice happens to be a bit louder due to yelling in fits of rage or terror, turn on the -20dB pad to cut down on clipping and distortion.
The aesthetics of the microphone are pretty on point, with an interesting design and slick black capsule. The mic also comes in a nice-looking wood box, which isn’t very sturdy if I’m being honest. But that really has nothing to do with the microphone itself, so I won’t knock it. (See what I did there?) The Spark SL is also a lot smaller than it may look. My hands are pretty small and even they look big holding this thing. Lastly, the Spark SL comes with its own shock mount, which is a plus.
Other than a simple mic test, I decided to use the Spark SL for my latest video on Divinity Original Sin 2. Feel free to watch the full video (whenever it’s done) to hear how it sounds with compression, some EQing, and other common effects throw in.
My overall impression of the mic has been fairly positive. It provides a pretty clear tone, especially in the higher frequencies. I will say I’m a bit disappointed that I don’t hear much of the bass in my voice coming through. Before you ask, I double checked and the low-cut filter was not enabled. I checked out a few recordings from other people and hear the same thing. While this probably isn’t a big deal for your typical streamer or YouTuber, I notice it because I’m a crazy person. This mic is also pretty sensitive when it comes to plosives, although what condenser mic isn’t? You’re going to want a pop filter for sure, unless sounding like a popcorn machine is something you desire.
End of the day, this is a solid microphone for the price, and you could do a lot worse than the Blue Spark SL. I wish I had some more microphones to compare it to, but I don’t have anything in the same “range” as this one. Hopefully as I get more microphones I can test them out and see how the Spark SL compares with others in its class.
- Interesting Design
- Low Cut Filter and -20 dB Pad
- Clear High Frequencies
- Muddled Low Frequencies
- Sensitive Plosives
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.