Blue Microphones announced today its latest product made just for streamers, podcasters and YouTubers: the Ember XLR.
The Ember XLR features a cardioid XLR condenser with a “proprietary, hand-tuned custom condenser capsule” designed to isolate the audio someone wants to record from ambient noise. Combine that with other Ember XLR features and you have a microphone custom-made for at-home studios.
That is kind of Blue’s jam. The company has been around for 20 years, but it’s best known for its Yeti microphone. That model has for a long time been the go-to option for people looking to record quality audio without having to break the bank. Yeti has remained popular for a few reasons: it’s relatively cheap at roughly $100, it’s easy to use and it connects via USB, so users don’t have to worry about the more complicated setups used by professional recording studios. Sound quality is good for the price too, making it perfect for most amateurs.
So it’s no surprise that Blue took a look at the Yeti’s playbook with the Ember XLR. It'll cost $99 when it debuts in February—half the price of Blue’s next-cheapest XLR mic—and probably won’t be much more complicated to use than Yeti. But there is one key difference: the Ember XLR doesn’t connect via USB.
That distinction is probably obvious to audiophiles—the fact that this microphone uses an XLR connection is right in its name. Others might want to note, however, that this means the Ember XLR is something of a step up from the Yeti despite the similar price tag. It requires more equipment, too.
Using the Ember XLR will require an XLR cable that connects to a digital audio workstation (DAW) or mixing console that in turn sends the audio to a connected system. Most DAWs or mixing consoles start around $100 and quickly rise from there depending on what the recording studio requires.
All of which means the Ember XLR’s $99 price is likely meant to position it as a step up from the Yeti, not a competitor, thanks to the cost of the other equipment. That makes sense—some people are bound to want to upgrade from the Yeti without having to spend $200+ on a mic and $100+ on a DAW.
We’ll see how many of those people there are when the Ember XLR officially debuts in February. Pre-orders are open now; details can be found on the microphone’s product page.
Blue was acquired by Logitech in July 2018. In the months since, the company has introduced the Yeti Nano as well as the Ember XLR. Like we said when the Yeti Nano made its debut: it looks like Logitech plans to keep making microphones for the foreseeable future after the buyout.
XLR still is, with some exceptions, the domain for people who are getting serious with their audio recordings --- but using one for streaming certainly isn't a requirement. I think Twitch and Youtube still depend on a fairly serviceable, but limited, bitrate of an audio format that uses lossy compression. You will very quickly hit a point of diminishing returns with your money, and will, more or less, be purchasing a mic more for the "color" of its sound than its actual fidelity.
A competent USB mic can be more than good enough, just make sure that it isn't going to have that annoying pre-amp hiss, and that you've eliminated any echo, feedback, and peaking. No one likes to hear people talking like they've swallowed their mic. (Unless you're into that sort of thing.)
And, for me, this is adding to the point that XLR is still, with some exceptions, for the domain of those getting serious with their audio recordings. Streaming services like Youtube and Twitch, if I recall correctly, allow for up to 160 kbps for their data rate, and many podcasts still utilize 128 kbps for a datarate, and both use lossy compression formats. This is fine for what they are and what they achieve, but they're not taking full advantage of what any component mic can do.
XLR is terminated. Lowers the noise floor, among other things.
Streaming is an endproduct and it is low quality unless you stream from ripped CD through ASIO and output through a digital crossover. That can go up to 32bit content at 192khz. Good content can have dynamic range and depth and sounds like real. Which does not matter because todays mono speaker setups and streamers are just plain bad and most people dont even know how good 2.0 actually is.
And with all this said, it makes you wonder why --- money-grab aside --- they decided to make an XLR microphone for Gaming Streamers and Podcasters.
Because this has an xlr input, that means you can use a mixer for multiple audio inputs without fighting your capture software to work. It's bad enough using two webcams for a "let's do a thing with physical objects like cooking or painting" type vod or stream.
@Fait I would recommend the TC-Helicon GoXLR as a person's first and last mixer as far as a streamer is probably concerned.