No matter the computer, its built-in microphone is a piece of junk. But at just 2.3 ounces, the Blue Microphone Tiki might be the first USB mic designed well enough to be used by anyone. Your mama just figured out how to use Skype—if you call her with this plugged in, will she actually be able to understand what you're saying?
What Is It?
A $60 USB microphone from a legendary purveyor of high-end studio gear. It captures CD-quality, 16-bit, 44.1 k sound.
Who's it For?
Business travelers, lonely grandmothers, Google hangers-out, and anyone else needing high quality audio delivered through a computer.
Like a snail plugged to a computer, or a USB flash drive with a microphone in the middle of a bottle cap-sized bump.
Plug it in, and an LED on the side of the mic lights up blue when it's registering sound. It auto-mutes and turns orange when it doesn't hear anything.
The Best Part
Modest cost, major sound quality improvement.
You're probably going to lose it.
This Is Weird...
Blue mics are known for their iconic, colorful design, but the Tiki's first color is a shitty maroon that doesn't match your computer or anything else.
- Tested this out on Skype and Google Video chat a few times.
- The noise-canceling voice mode uses a smart algorithm to filter out all of the gross noise that ruins built-in mic audio. No more air-conditioning, weird echos, computer fans, or fluorescent hum.
- The auto-mute only sort of works. It's supposed to be activated by voices, but really any sound will switch the mic on and off. It doesn't affect the sound quality; it's just distracting to see the light flicker blue/orange/blue/orange.
- A tiny flat button built into the end of the stick switches between a "voice" and "recording" mode for instruments.
- Turning on the recording mode actually turns off the digital sound processing, so the mic captures fuller, more resonant sound. Acoustic guitar and vocals work well. It's a great little demo mic, but it's not appropriate for recording your garage band.
- This is a great one-person microphone. It has two capsules, which face in opposite directions and give you a large coverage area, so the mic can be used to record a podcast with a small group. But in general it's not the most elegant solution for recording a room full of people.
Should You Buy It?
You can get by with the in-line mic on a pair of headphones or Bluetooth headset. But if you don't want to wear a headset, and you really want more clarity in the sound your computer is capturing, then the Tiki makes a weak computer mic sound just about 60 bucks better. It's not essential, but it's definitely an improvement.
• Price: $60
• Dimensions: 2.5 x 1.5 x .75
• Weight: 2.3 ounces w/dock
• Gizrank: 3.5