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      Song of the Year   12/01/18

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Blue SPARK stereo pair

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My songwriting partner and I did a raid on Guitar Center this past weekend.

While there we decided to check out Blues new SPARK medium diaphram condenser.

It sounded pretty decent through whatever crappy mic pre they were running it through. It was detailed enough on a nylon string acoustic guitar. I sang "Some Where Over The Rainbow" through one of the SPARK mics...Not bad, maybe a nice background vocal mic, or for some female singers, who knows. Over a drum kit? I don't know, maybe but, not my first choice. Acoustic guitar...Here's where this pair may be useful, you never know. It's better to have options than not to have options.

BTW GC was a hurried mess of a place to be trying out microphones on the weekend, and they couldn't answer even the most basic question of...Can you order a stereo pair of these? pfffft, we called Sweetwater...The pair is on the way. A stereo pair for $400? It's a no-brainer.

Sorry Guitar Center, you were too slow! Hire knowledable sales staff, leave the kiddies in school where they belong.

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Eh, the SPARK is a colored microphone, not at all what I expected from a set of this type of microphones. First This is called a small diaphram condensor mic, and it isn't, it's more like a medium diaphram mic.

Through the grill mesh I see there is a refractor disc in front of the capsule, and this is something mic manufactuers do in order to achieve the 2-6K upper mid boost everyone's uneducated ears just loves to hear.

The SPARK also has a low-mid boost going on. I'd love to have a third SPARK now so I could remove this refractor disc netting a much flatter reponse. This is a simple mod. Just slide the tip of a jewler's flat edge screwdriver between the capsule and the refractor disc, and pop it off. If you've purchased a SPARK expecting a ruler-flat small diaphram type of surgical response you may not care for thses mics but, if you want a little color for when the right source comes along, these are incredible little beasts. They'll sound great as tom mics if you are brave enough to put them up on a kit. As Overheads? Too Colored. Snare? Maybe perfect, maybe not.

The "FOCUS SWITCH" is a high-pass filter, nothing more so, do not allow some schmuck online tell you otherwise, it doesn't change anything in the amplifier section, that's all a load of crap. The FOCUS SWITCH effectively tapers down everything below 150 Hz. In other words, if you have troubles with introducing outside noises into your recordings, use a high-pass filter, and take the lo-mid, mud out. The FOCUS switch is marketing hype, nothing more, nothing less, it's called hi-pass filter for those of you who don't know what a FOCUS SWITCH is. They've been around for years, it's nothing new. I'm actually quite surpised that a company with BLUE's reputation in the industry would even consider such a b/s marketing gimmick but, whatever, it is what it is. The switch could be better placed and of better quailty IMHO. There is no designatioon when the switch is on or off. This is a minor gripe but, a very real one none-the-less.

This is definately a colored mic. Nice on an electric guitar lead maybe. Even does a good job thickening up a thin sounding vocal. I'm diggin' this mic on tambourine. Who plays sax? I need to hear this on a nice sax.

For acoustic guitar, I would much rather have something ruler flat in terms of microphones, this way I can record a beautifull sounding instrument, and hear it back like it sounded in the room. These mics will make a beater acoustic have a bit more warmth, and detail due to the boosts shown in this microphone's frequency plot.

This mic would work out great for a sax solo. Sounds really good on a guitar amp but, keep it away from your gorgeous handmade acoustic guitars, this isn't the way you wanna record those unless you'd like a more rock-hard strum style source.

I cannot wait to put these mics on rack toms, maybe floor tom as well. Remember, no one microphone can do everything for you, and the SPARK is no exception.

Does it deliver?

If you are looing for a condensor that is colored quite like an SM57, this mic will make you smile.

If you want a microphone to look impresive, this one will do that for you quite well. It would make a gorgeous talk-back-mic!

The SPARK is heavy, and obviously well made. Don't hang it using an inexpensive mic stand, it may topple over on you. This is highly unusual for a microphone made in China.

I've read reports about the shock mount being a pain-n-the-ass...Well, if you have no idea how to use a real shockmount I could see why people might have difficulties with this shock mount. First, when you are trying to tighten the thumb screw USE PLIERS...Duh. The pop filter looks cool but, in atuallity isn't much more than a banner add for BLUE. Get a real pop filter if you need it to actually do something for you. Stedman makes the absolute best pop filter in the world. It is metal, you can wash it, and it actually re-directs the air downward away from the capsule...Works brilliantly. Almost $100 but trust me, it absolutely smokes a nylon pop filter. Being able to wash the pop makes a lot of health-sense. If you are doing close-in vocal work, 1-3 inches from the mic, toss the BLUE pop it'll do you no good. This pop starts working at about 6-8" back but, not very effectively IMO.

Bottom Line: I like 'em but, not for what most people will purchase these for. If this is your first mic, find something with less color for your first condensor mic...MOST DEFINATELY NOT A SWISS-ARMY-KNIFE.

The mic comes in a wooden foam filled box suitable for storage.

A winner from BLUE but, it's not your be-all-end-all recording microphone. Think condensor version of an SM57 and you'll be in the right sonic neighborhood. This may or may not be something you'll love for vocals, this is all dependent upon the voice in front of the mic. If you have a beautiful voice look elsewhere, this isn't your mic. If you have a gorgeous vintage Martin acoustic guitar, this isn't the mic for you. If your tone needs a little color, and help, check out the BLUE SPARK, it MAY save the day.

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