I have to get this out of the way first. Though Blue’s name suggests they think the Nessie looks like the Loch Ness Monster, it reminds me of Max the AI from Disney’s Flight of the Navigator. Judge for yourself:
Now for the review.
Navigate your Sound
Blue’s main pitch for the Nessie microphone is its ability to automatically adjust itself to you. That’s not the case for physical adjustments, as you have to manually adjust the mic to your desired position using the dual-pivot hinge, but its range makes perfect placement a snap. You can move the microphone forwards and backwards from its arm, and also adjust it to face up or down. This makes it trivial to adjust either to an instrument like a guitar in your lap or to your mouth up high; the dual recording modes for music and voice perfectly compliment this placement ability.
The recording modes are where the Nessie microphone really shines. Modeled after digital cameras that do all sorts of automatic wizardry to reduce red eye and camera shake, Nessie’s recording modes give you automatic adjustments to make your recordings sound better with no manual intervention. The simple switch on the back lets you choose from music, voice, and raw modes. Raw gives you no audio enhancement, while voice gives you enhanced vocal recording and music provides clearer, richer details. These adjustments are done onboard the Nessie, so you can capture excellent audio with little to no post processing.
The Nessie’s software includes equalizer and de-easing algorithms that work to make your recording sound its best with virtually no effort. All you have to do is slide a switch on the back. The built-in pop filter and shock mount help reduce unpleasant plosives (that harsh “p” sound at the beginning of pork and pushover). For the more adventurous, the raw mode bypasses the software processing and gives you raw sound capture, which you can then take into an audio program like Garageband or Logic Pro.
I used the Nessie to record a segment for AppleTell’s All Night podcast, and I must admit: I didn’t have a whole lot of time. Luckily, I didn’t need it. Nessie is a simple beast, requiring nothing more than a powered USB port and some type of recording software. I used Apple’s built-in Quicktime software and my handwritten script, but the result sounded like I was in a professional recording studio instead of at my kitchen table. I placed the Nessie a little closer than Blue’s recommended 12 inches, spoke in a normal voice, and it made me sound like I had a much more expensive mic and suite of sound editing software at my disposal.
The only thing about Nessie that confused me was the mute button. It looks like a physical button, so it’s something of a shock when you go to press it and it won’t budge.
It’s actually a capacitive touch button, which makes a great deal of sense—you don’t get any mechanical clicking noises or unwanted movement of the mic when you mute it. If you’re using the built-in headphone jack (which is zero-latency, so you hear what you’re saying with no delay), the ring along the bottom glides smoothly to adjust the volume, thanks to the weighted base.
Having done tech support for a professional musician who uses a Mac, I know how much some of his mics and recording equipment cost, so I was pleasantly surprised by the Nessie’s $100 price tag (you can find it cheaper online, as well). Some reviewers have noted issues with physical aspects of the product, but the built-in software is the real star of the show. For under $100 you can get nearly professional sounding results without the need for half the gear and software normally required. Great for beginner musicians, occasional recorders, or podcasters who need simplicity over complex options, Blue Mic’s Nessie offers solid recording capabilities in a kickass design.
Buy Blue’s Nessie Adaptive USB Mic
Provides: USB powered recording with custom sound processing for voice and music recording
Developer: Blue Microphones