For some reason, folks always think it's ok to overlook the importance of clear audio. A small investment like the Blue Snowball Ice can drastically improve the overall quality of a YouTube channel or podcast. But alas, we often have no choice but to shudder as the stock mic of a webcam whines in our ears.
Honestly, any mic is better than what's already in your laptop. And if you're ready to start taking your content creation seriously, then it's time for an upgrade. You know you want to buy an inexpensive microphone to get the ball rolling, but you also don't want to buy something that will become obsolete in a month. Well, the Blue Snowball Ice fits perfectly into that category. There are some competitors that may be a better buy, but this mic is an outstanding place to start your search.
About the Blue Snowball Ice
From the makers of the Blue Yeti and Blue Snowball comes the Blue Snowball Ice. The Blue Snowball Ice is a more affordable counterpart to the Blue Snowball. To make the Snowball Ice more affordable, two out of the three recording options are missing from the Snowball. Those patterns are the -10dB setting and the omnidirectional pattern setting. That leaves the Snowball Ice with only the cardioid pattern, which is a frontal recording pattern that focuses on what's directly in front of the microphone.
What's great about the Snowball Ice is its low price tag. The average Twitch streamer, solo podcaster, and YouTuber doesn't really have a need for any of the Snowball's other settings. That means they were paying for options that they didn't even use. Blue's choice to remove these features made the Snowball Ice the perfect microphone for this audience. The microphone provides the same audio quality as the original Snowball, but for a much lower cost, making the microphone an excellent entry point into audio recording.
Although the Snowball Ice isn't rich with fancy features, the few features it does have set the microphone apart from most of its competition. On the surface, something like plug and play capabilities may sound trivial. However, at its price range every feature matters.
Plug and play
One of the largest appeals of the Snowball Ice is its ease of installation. All you have to do is plug in the microphone, choose it as your main form of sound input, and you're good to go. You don't have to worry about playing with any fancy installation CDs or downloading any drivers off the web. What's even better is that it is a USB microphone. Therefore, it easily hooks up to just about any computer. And with compatibility with Windows 7 and up, as well as Mac OS 10.7.11 and higher, just about anyone will be able to use it.
The Snowball Ice comes with a tripod stand that can adjust its height and the angle of the microphone. It's also detachable, allowing you to attach the microphone to a boom stand to avoid taking up desk space.
Custom condenser capsule
A plastic capsule surrounds the microphone. This capsule is actually pretty strong and will keep the microphone relatively safe. There are even enough openings in the capsule that it doesn't decrease the microphone's sound quality.
As far as the specs go, the Snowball Ice does pretty well for itself. It has a 44.1 kHz/16 bit sample rate. This sample rate is pretty standard for microphones in this price range. Having only the cardioid polar pattern can limit you, but if you want more options, you can always buy the original Snowball for a just a little bit more money.
The Snowball Ice is a condenser microphone, which is pretty standard for microphones that get used in indoor environments. It has a round shape with a circumference of 325 millimeters and a weight of 460 grams. The size can be a little bulky, but if you get a boom stand you can mitigate this issue. The microphone also uses a USB cable to connect to your computer, which is very straightforward and easy to use.
What reviewers have to say
With Blue's success with their Blue Yeti and Blue Snowball, reviewers were curious to see how the Snowball Ice fell into the ranks. Although it's just a modification of the Blue Snowball, reviewers were still enthusiastic to try it out.
PC Mag thought the Snowball Ice was a great microphone for its price. They said that the 44.1 kHz/16-bit sample rate limited the quality of the mic's sound, but one could overlook that, considering the low price. Along with the low sample rate, PC Mag also knocked it down a peg for lacking a gain adjustment knob or headphone jack for audio monitoring. Again though, they said those missing features, as well as the limited recording options, were worth it to make this microphone more affordable.
While PC Mag was willing to look over most of the Snowball Ice's shortcomings, the Microphone Geeks weren't as lenient. For starters, they called the microphone "dark" and "thin." Referring to the mic's EQ curve, the Microphone Geeks stated that it has a very low reach for both high and low frequencies. They went on to say it basically only captures midrange frequencies.
Although the Microphone Geeks were ready to point out the Snowball Ice's flaws, they were willing to say a few nice things about this microphone. For one thing, they say that its midrange was very accurate. That is important as the midrange is where the human voice lies. They also say the microphone is "smooth" and lacks the harshness you find in other budget microphones. Overall though, it sounds like the Snowball Ice is a good choice only if you're a gamer and don't need a professional sounding microphone.
- Custom condenser capsule offers crystal clear audio for Skype, Messages and FaceTime
- Record vocals, create podcasts, and add narration to your home movies
- Add crystal clear audio to recordings for YouTube. Frequency Response: 40 -18 kHz
- Easy plug and play directly to your Mac or PC-no drivers to install
- Snowball iCE is a USB 2.0 device (USB 3.0 compatible as per USB 3.0 backward compatibility specification).Sample/word Rate: 44.1 kHz/16 bit
On Amazon, the Snowball Ice is rated 4.3 out of 5 stars, which is a respectable rating for its low price. The majority of reviewers tend to agree that the microphone is the best you can find for its price. Many reviewers state the main drawback of the microphone is its stand. Their problem with the stand is that it doesn't allow you to adjust where the microphone is pointing very well. It mainly leaves the microphone directed toward your middle torso. The low height of the stand doesn't help either. One Amazon reviewer put it best when saying the Snowball Ice is the perfect starter microphone. However, if you're just getting into activities like podcasting, video game streaming, or making videos, this mic can be an ideal entry point.
You can buy the Snowball Ice on Amazon. There aren't too many microphones that can compete with the low price of the Snowball Ice. If you're on a restricted budget, this mic is certainly an ideal purchase.
How We Reviewed
To make our review we looked over the top online reviews of the Snowball Ice. We used those reviews to figure out what the best and worst features of the microphone were according to reviewers. Then we incorporated and summarized those reviews into our article to give a truly unbiased and comprehensive look at the microphone.
How It Compares to Other Budget Microphones
It's difficult to find a microphone to compete with the Snowball Ice due to its low price point. However, the CAD U37, Razer Seiren X, and Samsung Meteor were up for the challenge. Each microphone puts the Snowball Ice to the test, whether that's through superior versatility or audio quality.
- Large condenser microphone element for warm, rich recordings
- Cardioid pick-up pattern minimizes background noise and isolates the main sound source
- Smooth, extended frequency response is excellent for singing, speech and instruments
- It has 10dB overload-protection switch minimizes distortion from loud sound sources
- Bass-reduction switch reduces room noise
Coming closest to the Snowball Ice in price is the CAD U37. For its low price, the CAD U37 is still able to slip in two extra features that the Snowball Ice doesn't have. First, the mic has a -10db pad that prevents loud noises from distorting the mic. The CAD U37's other prominent feature is a low cut filter that removes low-frequency sounds such as when a performer bumps into the mic. You can turn both settings on and off too, giving the mic more versatility than the Snowball Ice. The CAD U37 itself is plastic, which does affect its overall quality. When you consider its respectable rating of 4.1 out of 5-stars on Amazon, this is even truer.
Razer Seiren X
- Super cardioid pickup pattern - sound is recorded at a tighter angle, reducing unwanted background noise and providing crisp clear audio
- Built in shock mount - dampens vibrations to help protect your stream against sound abnormalities
- Compact and sleek - delivers superior audio broadcasting in a compact form factor
- Sound like a Pro - extender frequency and transient response, allowing the mic to pick up a wider range of nuances so your voice is clearly and precisely captured
- Zero latency monitoring - monitor yourself in real time while streaming so that you can hear what your audience is hearing without hearing the Echo effect that trips you up mid-stream
Easy to install and a step above the Snowball Ice, the Razer Seiren X is ideal for those who want more out of their microphone. Made with Twitch streaming in mind, the compact design of the Seiren X gives it a sleek look. The microphone has a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack for real-time monitoring.
Along with the headphone jack is a volume knob on the front of the microphone. As for the sound, the microphone is comparable to that of the Blue Yeti, one of Blue's most renowned microphones. The care put into the Seiren X shows through it's 4.4 out of 5-star rating on Amazon.
- Large (25mm) diaphragm condenser for rich audio recording
- Cardioid pickup pattern
- Smooth, flat frequency response of 20Hz - 20kHz
- CD quality, 16-bit, 44.1/48kHz resolution
- Fold-back leg design provides optimal mic positioning
Built with a compact design that uses chrome, the Samsung Meteor is a very portable and stylish microphone. Like the Snowball Ice, you can attach the Samsung Meteor to a mic stand through its threaded mount. The audio quality of the Samsung Meteor is closer to that of the Snowball Ice than the Seiren X. With a headphone jack, mute button, and volume control, the Samsung Meteor beats the Snowball Ice regarding features. Nevertheless, the CAD U37 still wins as the option with the most features overall. The Samsung Meteor is rated 4.4 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
The Blue Snowball Ice: Pros and Cons
Because of its low price, the Snowball Ice can get away with more faults than higher-end microphones. Most reviewers agree with this sentiment, and it's for a good reason. The Snowball Ice sacrifices fancy features in order to bring you a low priced microphone that still has respectable audio quality. Honestly, the biggest drawback Blue could have mitigated is the restricted frequency of the microphone. The restricted frequency of this mic takes away a certain depth from your audio.
Professionals aren't going to be happy with the Snowball Ice. But then again, it isn't really for professionals anyway. The allure of this mic is its ease of use and its strength as an exceptional entry point into audio recording. Gamers and streamers, as well as amateur podcasters, musicians, and YouTubers will find a lot of value in this microphone. Basically, if you're currently using a built-in laptop mic or anything of the likes, the Snowball Ice is an inexpensive upgrade that will greatly improve your audio quality.
Do you have a favorite USB mic that didn't make this list? Or are you an aficionado of Snowball Mics? Tell us about it in the comments!