If I say "Nessie" your first thought is somewhere in Scotland, right? Well the folks over at Blue are changing your definition of that word forever with their latest microphone. For US$99 you can now record all sorts of things armed with a Mac that has a USB port (sorry Beige G3!)) and it will all sound pretty fantastic.
This is a mic that doesn't take up a lot of space, something that's particularly painful to Blue Snowball users. No more wide tripod base, this is a single solid disc on your desk, and included in the base is both a volume dial for your headphones, and an indicator light that lets you know the mic is connected and powered up (solid white), or muted (pulsing white). Just above where the mic "neck" meets the base is where you plug in your monitor headphones (it's a 3mm audio jack, just above the red switch in the photo). I have been using my EarPods in this setup and they sound just fine. I'm not recording music or anything too complex, so the EarPods do a fine job. I've also used my previous iteration of Apple earphones successfully, so if you have comfy monitor headphones, you're all set.
This is a cardioid microphone, so it's good for lessening sound that isn't what you want to pick up. It has a built-in pop filter and built-in shock mount, so two common issues of recording are resolved without additional equipment. You can choose from three preset modes when recording: Vocal, Instruments and a "raw" setting for those who wish to tweak and rejigger audio later on. When you take the Nessie and the cable out of the packaging, you're ready to go; there are no drivers or "management software" to install. And once it's unpackaged, you can tip Nessie's head in all sorts of directions, which is handy if you are looking to use those other modes and record more than just podcasts. Also inside the aforementioned base is an internal shock mount, which teams up with the pop filter to help keep even more incidental noise out of the recording.
If you need a microphone that works in a variety of settings that all involve a horizontal surface to set the mic on, Nessie has excellent sound quality at a very good price. This is a very good mic for someone who might be interested in recording with more than an iPhone, but maybe isn't ready to drop "pro audio" amounts of money.
Great sound quality
Excellent base design (including volume and shock mount)
Modes available for different use types
Easy to find and use mute button
Requires a stable horizontal surface (not the best for field recording or saving desk space)
Who is it for?
This is for someone who might be using a USB headset or an iPhone mic and wants to up their audio game with a separate "point and shoot" microphone that can take care of some basic settings, or just record raw audio for more advanced folks.