Updated on Apr 15, 2021
The Blue Snowball iCE is one of the most popular, affordable USB microphones on the market today. Over the last several years, Blue has created a strong foothold in this market, with their more popular series, the Blue Yeti, popping up all over the place. The Blue Snowball iCE offers an affordable alternative to those favored microphones, and many YouTubers who are just starting have been known to start here.
Not many microphones fall within this price range, so one of the first considerations we'll be making is how it stands out compared to its close rivals. Often you'll find it's difficult to find more affordable microphones without sacrificing the quality, but Blue has impressed us before in this regard. By the end of this article, you should have a clear picture of what the Blue Snowball iCE is capable of.
We're going to start by covering some of the main features, and what we enjoy most about this microphone. Afterward, we'll dive into some of the downsides before doing a side-by-side comparison of the pros and cons. In the end, we'll list a few of our favorite alternatives and you should know everything you need before making your final decision.
The Blue Snowball iCE is one of the most unique-looking microphones we've had the pleasure to work with. I love the connection between the name and design. The custom condenser offers crystal clear quality that I've found to be remarkable for both speaking and singing. It uses an integrated vertical desktop stand, allowing you to save space on your desktop. Better yet, the height is adjustable!
At the very least, we can see it's a massive improvement over any built-in microphone across your devices. For this reason, I've worked with several people who use the Blue Snowball iCE for virtual meetings & learning. It helps keep you engaged with those you're connecting with, allowing them to hear you perfectly. In fact, the Blue Snowball iCE is both Skype & Discord certified!
The microphone uses a cardioid pickup pattern, which is a unidirectional polar shape. It means any audio you feed into it directly will be recorded, while blocking out any sounds coming from the sides or rear. This is the standard pickup pattern for activities like streaming or recording voice over work.
Of course, as Blue is known for, the Snowball iCE is a USB microphone. This offers a major advantage for many people, starting with the fact that you can simply plug-and-play. Often times, condenser microphones require what's known as Phantom Power, which is usually only obtained by connecting the mic to a microphone preamplifier. But the Snowball iCE plugs right into your computer and that's it!
Lastly, the technical details! The Blue Snowball iCE has a frequency response of 20Hz - 18kHz, which offers strong performance on the bass-end, maintained on the high-end as well. This gives your recorded audio a lot of depth & room, so your recordings will sound professional. The output of the audio has a sampling rate of 44.1kHz and a bit-depth of 16-bits. This is also known as CD quality.
The Blue Snowball iCE is a great microphone for a few select purposes. I've been seeing it a lot lately among the online community for videos and gaming. The low cost makes it one of the most affordable microphones for YouTube, and one of my favorites used this when they were starting. The frequency response is properly tailored for vocal application.
That being said, it can also make for a major upgrade to your built-in computer microphone. As I'm writing this, I've grown accustomed to doing a lot of virtual Zoom meetings, and so having a high-quality microphone allows me to stand out in meetings. It's also good for gaming or streaming, as you can clearly speak to your audience.
I think you get the general idea of what Blue was hoping to accomplish with the Snowball iCE. If you're doing a lot of talking, it'll be a perfect upgrade for you. In terms of singing, it could work but I wouldn't say it's the best choice for you.
The first major downside I want to bring up is the low output gain on the Blue Snowball iCE. When you have to crank up the audio post-production (as in, increasing the volume on your laptop), you get a lot of white noise. Your options are to either speak up, or invest in a microphone preamp.
I also wish the on-mic controls were a little better. The Yeti's offer volume control and mute options, which are essential for streaming. You'll need to be a little more careful to make sure your audio levels are consistent for this reason.
Lastly, an issue we'll often see with more affordable microphones is the background noise. It is what it is, but don't expect perfect sound isolation. It is a unidirectional microphone, so it will limit how much audio is picked up from the sides and rear, but I've found it doesn't isolate my voice, as well as I'd like it to. Again, finding a good way to increase the clean gain will be very valuable for you.
Best Used For
The Blue Yeti is our first and most obvious recommended alternative if you want something with a little more juice. It comes from the same family, but offers a much bolder sound.
If you haven't heard of the Blue Yeti, you're really missing out. It's one of the most popular USB microphones on the market today, as it's as simple to use as plug-and-play. However, that's not the most unique feature these days, but when a microphone sounds as studio-worthy as the Blue Yeti, it's a big deal.
They also offer various models of the Yeti, so depending on how wide that budget can go, you may find something really worth your while (like the X model). Overall, the Blue Yeti is an amazing alternative to the Blue Snowball iCE. Checkout our comparison at: Blue Yeti or Blue Snowball?
The Audio Technica AT2020 is another amazing alternative that I would recommend you checkout. This microphone can come in two variants, either USB or as an XLR microphone, if you have the proper equipment to process that format.
The Audio Technica AT2020 sounds amazing for everything, from vocals to being used as an acoustic guitar microphone. The reason for this is because it has a high SPL (Sound Pressure Level), allowing it to record loud sound sources without distortion. The level of detail it produces makes your voice sound so rich and authentic as well.
I highly recommend giving the Audio Technica AT2020 a chance if it sounds like something you'd be interested in. Many friends of mine use it for everything, from their home studios to their YouTube channels.
Overall, the Blue Snowball iCE is exactly what it looks like at face value. A really affordable USB microphone developed by a brand that specializes in this market. It has such a cool unique shape and does a great job at delivering clear and concise audio. It's not perfect, by any means, but in this price range, no microphone is.
So if you're looking for the best microphone for streaming without breaking the bank, I would give the Blue Snowball iCE a look. If there's room in your budget, however, I would highly recommend the Blue Yeti series, as they're dominators in this market and sound amazing.
Let us know if you go out and buy one. We would love to hear how it's working out for you, as your feedback is incredibly valuable to us. We also love seeing the content you all create with your microphones, so feel free to link your channels in the comments below.
Posted on Apr 13, 2021
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