Ever wished you could take any mic you wanted and plug it directly into your computer? With Apple nixing FireWire and the whole size issue, it’s not quite practical to expect an XLR jack on your computer. You could use a USB mic, but they’re useless in other situations. Blue Microphones has a new product called the Icicle, which is a small, pen-sized gadget that has XLR on one end, USB on the other end, and a preamp and a converter in the middle.
Price: US$59.99. No drivers required.
I actually have a couple of questions about this on the PC – will Blue have ASIO drivers? Is this less useful without the nice Mac feature of being able to aggregate interfaces? The primary question, of course, is how it all sounds. Recording engineer Tom McCauley has endorsed the product and is involved in the launch event, but the proof is in the product.
It certainly could fill a key gap, though, especially if Blue has nailed the quality. Specs from Blue:
- Studio quality microphone preamp
- 48V phantom power
- Fully balanced low noise front end
- Analog gain control
- Plug and Play driverless operation
- 44.1 kHz, 16-bit CD quality converter
- Mac or PC operation
It’s not the first time we’ve seen something like this. IK Multimedia’s StealthPlug is a similar concept, for instance, with 1/4” guitar/bass jacks in place of XLR mic connections. And we’ve seen a few USB-XLR cables with audio interfaces, like Lightsnake’s, though I can’t think of any that have caught on. Blue is doing a huge push behind this, so this could be The One.
It’s certainly a prime stocking stuffer target. Just make sure no one tries to eat it.
Certainly, the venerable audio interface isn’t at any risk. Dedicated interfaces give you more I/O options and other functionality, not to mention output. In fact, I use dedicated interfaces so much for input and output alike, I actually can’t see myself making much use of the Icicle. Once you’ve got an interface plugged in, you probably have an XLR jack. On the other hand, somewhere there’s someone with a MacBook Air who wants to just lug in a mic and record beatboxing in a hotel room, I’m sure.
So what do you think? Would you use something like this? In what situations?