Blue Microphones are a favorite of ours around here at TUAW. We've used Blue's mics to record countless streams and podcasts, and most of our staffers have bought one or more with their own cash before. So it was nice to see them again at Macworld | iWorld 2012 in San Francisco this week, where PR Manager Hillary Money kindly showed us two new models due out later on this year.
The first is the Mikey Digital, which is an update to Blue's Mikey, the company's original mic built to plug in directly to the iPod touch's 30-pin connector. This model is for the iPhone. Apple slightly changed the protocol between the two devices when the Mikey was first introduced, so this version is designed to work specifically with the phone hardware rather than just the iPod. But that tweak isn't the only difference -- there's also a three-setting switch between low, medium, or high gain (and the switch is hooked up to three LEDs that will provide some indication of where you're setting it, which is definitely a helpful improvement). And the middle LED will flash as well when the mic gets distorted, so even if you're not listening during recording, you can see when things are too loud.
The other big update is that the 1/4" input on the outside of the mic now will also accept both line and instrument inputs, so you'll be able to just plug your electric guitar right into the mic, which is a nice bonus if you don't already have a solution for that. The Mikey Digital will retail for $99, and should be out later this spring.
The Spark Digital is a new mic that's designed specifically for the iPad. It's a version of one of the company's most popular studio mics that instead plugs directly into the iPad's dock connector, allowing you to record straight onto Garageband for iPad, or any other audio recording app (more on that in a second). The Spark also comes with a USB adapter, so you can also use it as a standard PC or Mac mic as well. It also has a gain control and a port for monitoring the audio off of a splitter, and there's a button called "Focus Control" that will change the mic's pickup two different ways, for closeup sound or wider recording.
The Spark is suspended by a cord inside a stand, which helps prevent vibrations from reaching the mic's sensitive equipment. We didn't get a chance to hear the output of either microphone, but Blue's microphones are always quality -- especially for the price they're available at, these mics are some of the best value for the money. The Spark will be available this spring as well for $199, and that includes all of the cables, as well as a six-month subscription to both Soundcloud and Gobbler, for storing and sharing audio.
Finally, we asked about Blue's iPhone app, Blue FiRe, and if it would ever arrive natively on the iPad. Money told us that while the app itself is still being supported by its developers, Blue's deal with them has ended, so it's no longer funding development on that app. Blue is apparently looking into possibly making a brand new official app, but Money says the result will probably be a long way off. "It's on our radar," she promised. In the meantime, these mics still work with any app that will record audio, including Apple's own Garageband, so there are still plenty of uses for Blue's products. Always good to see Blue and what they're putting out. We'll look forward to getting our hands on these later on this year.