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Blue's new Nessie mic has limitations, but will appeal to beginners

Lex Friedman | June 27, 2013
The Blue Nessie looks awesome and has clever features. But Lex Friedman says the audio it captures sounds rather disappointing.

In both Voice and Music mode, I found that Nessie couldn't capture my voice with the volume I wanted unless I shouted. It's capable of generating loud audio, but I wanted to get bigger audio out of more normal-volume voiceover work, and Nessie wouldn't oblige. The audio it captured was usable, but required cranking levels way up in my audio editing software. In Raw mode, the lack of ongoing EQ software magic seems to alleviate the gain problem a smidgen—but of course then you miss out on a large portion of Nessie's appeal, all of its automated audio massaging.

Nessie's built-in pop filter is problematic, too: It doesn't work. Pop filters should block that unpleasant sound you hear on too many podcasts, and p-sounds and other plosives cause a burst of air to hit the microphone—and then, painfully, your ears. Give a listen:

Blue recommends you position Nessie 12 inches from your face. At that distance, I found the audio it captured was way too tinny—sounding precisely as if I were a foot away from the microphone. Any closer, though, and the built-in pop filter couldn't handle my plosives at all. If I put a separate pop filter between me and the mic, without changing my distance, it worked beautifully. The integrated pop filter just isn't good enough to market as a feature.

The shockmount, on the other hand, really does seem fairly effective. Sure, if you're bumping into the table Nessie is seated upon, the mic will pick up the noise involved. But the built-in shockmount means you won't capture that bassy thump commonly heard when a mic is simply resting on a table that gets bumped.

There's no way to attach Nessie to a mic stand.

Bottom line
To its credit, Nessie's automatic EQ and other settings do work. Normally, when I record using the Blue Yeti, I need to post-process my audio with various filters to get the sound I'm after, particularly for voiceovers and podcasting. Nessie's captured audio can get to that level with minimal processing, and it's pretty good with none. But I still need to rely on a pop filter, which is disappointing, and the volume I can coax from the mic just isn't quite loud enough when using the Voice and Music modes.

That said, despite its flaws, Nessie is worth considering in two scenarios: If you are budget conscious, the $100 price tag could be appealing. (Keep in mind, though, that the Blue Yeti, which captures better audio and works with mic stands, is often sold for barely more than that by some sellers now.) But if you just don't feel comfortable mucking about with EQ and other settings in your audio editor, and want to capture better quality sound, Nessie makes some sense. You may need to boost the volume, and the pop filter will almost certainly disappoint you, but Nessie certainly takes some of the hard work out of creating nice-quality audio.


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