I know I’m not the first person to ever review the Blue Snowball iCE microphone (Snowball), but I am a professional reviewer, podcaster, and videocaster, so I’m evaluating it from the point-of-view of someone who might shop for this microphone to create professional voice recordings.
I purchased this unit from Amazon, myself, so it is not a review unit supplied by Blue Microphones or a PR company. I bought it for use as a home recording unit, because I use my Blue Yeti microphone for creating professional SecurityNOW podcasts with Preston Smith. Originally, I purchased this one to be the SecurityNOW microphone and to leave my precious Yeti at home. However, the Snowball lacks certain features that I require for my professional podcasts. So, I’m reviewing it here to give you the highs and lows of it in case you’re considering it for your own work.
What I like:
The Snowball is small, light and well-built. The price is right at $44.99 and free shipping from Amazon. The Snowball dismantles into the ball, the small stand, and the USB cable for a fairly compact transport. The sound is very good for the price. The microphone and parts feel durable and should last until its $45 value has been fully extracted. I like the cardioid voice pickup pattern. It filters out a lot of the ambient background noise from behind the microphone and in other parts of a large room, focusing on your voice.
What I don’t like:
The Snowball has no features. It’s a microphone on a stand and that’s it. It has no volume knob or any other adjustment buttons, sliders, or switches. It’s on when you plug it in and off when you unplug it. There’s no mute feature on the microphone. The non-adjustable stand is small and three to four inches lower than optimal height. The stand attaches to the microphone with a non-standard screw size, so you can’t mount it to a tripod of any kind, though you can optionally purchase an adjustable microphone ‘arm’ for $18.
The only accessory that I know of for the Snowball is the Ringer, which is a shock mount for $43.00 on Amazon. The shock mount gives you more options for placement, like the adjustable arm, plus it dampens sounds from bumps and other movements. Frankly, the Snowball should be used with a Pop Filter to filter out the “pops” you hear when speaking close to the microphone, which you really have to do with the Snowball to capture good sound quality.
The optimal distance from the microphone is probably three to four inches, depending on your voice quality and volume.
Here is a sample of raw audio from the Blue Snowball iCE.
However, if you spend $45.00 for the Snowball, $43.00 for the shock mount, and $10.00 for the pop filter, you’d be better off buying the Blue Yeti USB microphone for $100.00. It’s a much superior microphone and you’ll like it a lot better.
Overall, the Snowball is a decent microphone. I can’t say that I’d purchase another one, but for $45.00, it’s OK. I think my money would have been better spent on a different microphone that has options, better sound, and a more convenient or adjustable stand. If you’re wanting a microphone for some light podcasting, Skype, or test recording of some type, this microphone is certainly good enough. If you have any aspirations of doing anything long-term, professional, or something with an adjustable stand or even a volume knob, don’t buy this one.
Recommendation: Don’t buy it unless you really like having no options and a mediocre microphone. Opt instead for the Blue Yeti.
Spiceworks launched a new report today –Future of IT: Hype vs. Reality – that examines organizations’ adoptions plans of emerging technology like IoT, AI, VR, and 3D printers and the expected impact in the workplace.
The survey results show that among these emerging technologies, IT pros expect IoT devices and AI technology to have the biggest impact in the workplace. They don’t expect mass adoption to take off for VR and 3D printers, but some industries have significantly higher adoption rates than the industry average.
- Artificial intelligence
o Apple Siri is most commonly used in the workplace, but Cortana expected to overtake Siri in next 12 months
o Over next 5 years, 60% of companies plan to adopt machine learning; 72% plan to deploy business analytics with AI; 32% plan to deploy self-learning robots
- Internet of things
o As with AI, security is the top concern with IoT in the workplace
o Healthcare industry has highest adoption rate for IoT at 28% with an additional 50 percent planning to adopt it
- Virtual reality
o Only 7% of companies use VR and 13% plan to adopt it; Construction/engineering industry has highest planned adoption rate at 27%
o Cost is biggest barrier to adoption; security/privacy is the least concern
o IT pros surveyed named Oculus the most innovative leader in VR
- 3D printers
o Only 11% of companies use 3D printers and 22% plan to adopt them; Education industry has highest current adoption rate at 45%
o As with VR, cost is biggest barrier to adoption and security is least concern
This report, like all reports from Spiceworks, is excellent and accurate. There’s a lot of hype around virtual reality (VR) tech and it will have some adoption in universities and in specialty businesses, but for most of us, don’t invest too heavily in anything VR-related. Most businesses don’t need VR and those that do, already have it in some form.
One point I disagree on, and it’s not uncommon for me to do so, is artificial intelligence (AI). For the past many* years, I have thought that AI would be the one technology that really surpassed all the others in terms of adoption, especially for voice-controlled applications, like Siri, Alexa, and Cortana. I’ve waited for 20 years for a decent voice-recognition program so that I don’t have to type, but can just dictate. Yes, I know about Dragon, and it’s pretty good. But I want something that’s truly ready for prime time.
For me, voice recognition is the first step in AI. Once you have voice recognition, then you can create programs to respond to commands and to perform complex functions. I need for it to be better than my R2D2 robot and the current state of Siri, Alexa, and Cortana. There are a lot of applications for voice recognition, but we just haven’t tapped into them yet.
Overall, this is a very thorough report. I like the visual statistics and the comparisons. I think that you’ll find it enlightening. Use the Comments section to tell me how closely these statistics come to your reality.
*many – A bunch. More than I’m going to tell you about.
IK Multimedia announces and ships iRig Nano Amp – the versatile micro amp with a built-in iOS interface
December 8, 2016 – IK Multimedia once again redefines a product category for guitarists with the newly released iRig Nano Amp – the versatile micro amp with a built-in iOS interface. iRig Nano Amp gives players both a standalone portable guitar amplifier PLUS an interface that lets them plug their guitar into an iPhone or iPad and use AmpliTube for iOS to access an unlimited and inspirational world of guitar tones on the go. iRig Nano Amp is available now from IK Multimedia and music and electronics retailers around the world.
The first micro amp and interface for mobile guitarists
Dual Mode Operation – AMP/DEVICE
Drive a cab
Under the hood
An expandable universe of tone
For more information on iRig Nano Amp, please visit: www.irignanoamp.com
To see iRig Nano Amp in action, watch the video: www.irignanoamp.com/video
December 6, 2016 – IK Multimedia, a leading manufacturer of hardware, accessories, apps and software for iPhone, iPad and Mac, is pleased to announce the availability of the new iKlip Grip Pro – the professional quality 4-in-1 tripod and handle for capturing professional photos and video on the go with any iPhone or compact action video camera. iKlip Grip Pro lets users securely hold their iPhones while using the stand as a compact tabletop tripod, a video handle, a monopod or as a standard tripod adapter. iKlip Grip Pro features an integrated, all-in-one compact design that provides the highest level of convenience for capturing media on the go.
Ultimate Control and stability for the best shots
Pivoting 360° Positioning
Pricing and availability
For more information, please visit:
Find iKlip Grip Pro at an Apple Store near you:
November 30, 2016, Largo, Florida – Dok Solution, LLC/Karaoke USA www.easy-doks.com https://karaokeusa.com/, maker of the innovative award-winning line of smart chargers and karaoke systems, announced today the Karaoke GF842 Bluetooth Karaoke System, an all-in-one media player featuring a powerful 35 Watt Peak Digital Power Amplifier System, clear 7” TFT color screen, music recording, Bluetooth music playing, karaoke with 2 microphones, bright flashing LED sync party lights, digital music and video through auxiliary and A/V Input, and DVD/CDG/MP3G karaoke formats. Connect your smartphone or other device through Bluetooth to play your music wirelessly on a powerful speaker! Dok Solution/JSK/Easy-Doks will be exhibiting at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) January 5-8, 2017 in Las Vegas, Booth #11235 LVCC Central Hall.
All-in-One Media Player 35 Watt Speaker System Comes with 300 Songs & 2 Mics
Clear Screen is Easy-to-Read from Distance — Play Bluetooth Music & Use with Big Screen TV or Home Entertainment Center for Bigger Visuals & Louder Sound
The Karaoke GF842 has an unmatched sleek design with a gorgeous TFT color screen that’s easy-to-read from far away. It comes with 300 MP3G songs on a disc to get you singing karaoke out of the box and also works with all standard CDG and DVD karaoke discs and digital music through its auxiliary input that works with smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles and more — it evens lets you watch DVD movies. The Karaoke GF842 also comes with 2 microphones with individual volume controls and a handy cradle to rest and charge your smartphone or MP3 player while viewing the screen in an upright position. The karaoke system lets you sing and record music onto an SD Card in MP3 format from your favorite karaoke disc or download music and then play it back or take it with you. It also lets you view karaoke on a big screen TV or entertainment center through audio/video output for louder sound and better visuals.
Karaoke GF842 Features:
• All-in-one media player.
• 7” TFT color screen, easy-to-read from distance.
• 35 Watt Peak Digital Power Amplifier (25W RMS) wireless and wired speaker.
• Colorful, bright flashing LED lights sync with the beat of the music.
• Play music from smart devices through Bluetooth.
• Records voice and music to download onto an SD card.
• Comes with 300 MP3G songs.
• Compatible with MP3G, CDG, and DVD karaoke discs.
• Includes Auxiliary Input for playing music from smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles, and MP3 players.
• Includes audio/video outputs for playing music and video on a big screen TV or home entertainment center for better visuals and sound.
• Includes 2 microphones with individual microphone volume controls.
• Charges and cradles devices.
Available now for $219.99 SRP at KaraokeUSA.com at https://karaokeusa.com/display.asp?o=GF842, Target.com http://www.target.com/p/karaoke-system-usa/-/A-51885340#sn-15884485, and Amazon.com, the Karaoke GF842 comes complete with a Remote Control, 2 Microphones, 300 MP3G songs on 2 discs, Universal Cradle for smartphones and other devices, 3.5mm to RCA audio cable, RCA audio/video to RCA audio/video cable, AC adaptor: 110V/50Hz~AC 240V/60Hz, manual, and warranty card. For more information, see https://karaokeusa.com/display.asp?o=GF842 or the website: https://karaokeusa.com/.
Award-Winning Line of Karaoke & Charging Products
Based in Largo, Florida, Dok Solution/Karaoke USA is your go-to source for quick-charging devices and high powered quality karaoke systems. The Easy-Doks’ DOK brand provides low-priced solutions to solve all your charging needs, from reliable smartphone charging stations and docks to travel-ready car chargers. Karaoke USA karaoke systems have won numerous awards, including Bestreviews.com “Best of the Best” at http://bestreviews.com/best-karaoke-machines, Amazon.com #1 sellers, and more. Easy-Doks and Karaoke USA products are made from the best electronic circuit boards and components available, subjected to strenuous testing — the products will last forever. For more information, see Dok Solution www.easy-doks.com or Karaoke USA https://karaokeusa.com/.
IK Multimedia releases MODO BASS – the breakthrough physically modeled electric bass virtual instrument for Mac/PC
November 30, 2016 – IK Multimedia, the pioneer in analog effects modeling, is pleased to announce the release of MODO BASS®, the new breakthrough physical modeling technology that brings a completely new level of realism and playability to the world of virtual bass instruments. MODO BASS is a customizable physically modeled virtual bass instrument that recreates the sound of the electric bass and how it’s played in real time – from all of the physical instrument components, the human technique of how the instrument is played, to the entire sound signal chain with effects and amplifiers.
Unlike traditional sample-based virtual instruments, MODO BASS utilizes modal synthesis technology and an ultra-optimized sound engine to model each string as a nonlinear resonator – the string’s acoustic behavior is determined by its physical parameters as well as by the interaction of the string with fretboard, body and pick-ups of the instrument. The action of the player is then modeled as a nonlinear physical interaction with specific areas on the string surface. Then using IK’s cutting edge analog modeling expertise, the amp and effects rig of the electric bass is added to the sound chain. This gives MODO BASS the ability to create hyper-realistic sound in real time.Every electric bass sound imaginable
MODO BASS contains a collection of 12 physically modeled iconic electric basses that span the history of bass sound in recorded music – more bass models than available in most other virtual instruments. Models include “60s P-Bass” based on an Alder body 60s era Fender Precision Bass®, “70’s P-Bass” based on an Ash body Fender Precision Bass®, “70’s J-Bass” based on an Alder body Fender Jazz Bass®; “Modern J-Bass” based on an Ash body Fender Jazz Bass®, “Devil Bass” based on Gibson® EB-0; “Bass Man 5” based on Music Man® StingRay 5-string; “Rick n’ Bass” based on Rickenbacker® 4003; “Studio Bass” based on Yamaha® RB5; “Violin Bass” based on a Hofner® Violin Bass, “Thunder Bass” based on a Gibson® Thunderbird, “Japan Bass” based on an Ibanez® Soundgear, and “Flame Bass” based on Warwick® Streamer.Every detail of each bass has been meticulously analyzed and modeled to capture their true sonic character; the shape and type, the wood used for the body and neck construction, the hardware components, the original onboard electronics and controls – every aspect and detail has been recreated to provide the highest degree of authenticity of the original instrument. But the sounds available with MODO BASS extend far beyond the 12 modeled basses – with the available customization features, users can craft virtually every electric bass sound imaginable. MODO BASS is able to produce an unmatched and unlimited palette of bass sounds because everything can be customized.
Pluck, Slap or Pick – modeled playing styles
Once the bass has been selected, players can choose from 3 playing styles – pluck, slap or pick – and control parameters of each style and how they influence the sound. Adjustments can be made to the force applied to the strings, the position of the hand, the direction of the stroke, the fingers used to play the instrument and how the strings are approached, the impact of the thumb slap and the finger pull on the string and even the thickness of the pick and style of its attack. Every aspect of playing style has been modeled as a non-linear interaction with the strings to provide a dynamic, ever-changing sound output.
IK painstakingly studied and recreated all of the factors that affect string tone and performance. Players can choose the number of strings on the bass, the construction type and material of the strings (round or flat wound), the gauge and age, plus the physical action height of above the fretboard. Each of these options contributes its own character to the output of the bass and introduces realism never before heard in a virtual instrument.
Custom pickup configuration
There are 20 iconic bass pickups from which to choose that can be freely interchanged and added to the instrument – up to 2 pickups per bass. Users can change the type of pickups used, neck or bridge single coil or humbuckers, and their physical location under the strings can be moved freely for unlimited playing and tonal variations – a feature virtually impossible in the physical world. MODO BASS also gives players the ability to mix in the sound of an under-bridge piezo pickup for added resonance and top end. Switching from Passive to Active electronics option also enables a 3-band parametric EQ to fine-tune the pickup output tone.
Customize FX and Amp choices
With MODO BASS, players have full control over the post-instrument signal path as well and get 7 bass stomp boxes and two classic bass amplifiers derived from IK’s AmpliTube flagship software. Stomp box effects include an Octaver, Distortion, Chorus, Compressor, Delay, Envelope Filter or Graphic EQ. Each stomp box gives players full control over the effect applied to the signal, parameter adjustment and overall output volume into the next effect. Also available is a classic all-tube amplifier and 1×15 cab, or a solid-state model with a 4×10 cab.
Expressive control in real time
MODO BASS provides MIDI control of critical parameters that can be automated in real time. With the MIDI Control section, players control and adjust the application of vibrato, the playing style, the application of Mute technique and the amount of slide technique applied while playing. The frequency of the vibrato, the amount of the bend, plus the amount of slide and detach noise while playing can all be controlled in real time on the fly.
Keyswitching in MODO BASS allows players to create amazingly real techniques like slides and percussive ghost notes. Users can switch on the fly between chord mode and note mode, the type of stroke used for playing, the fingers used and the method of playing, which provides the ability to completely customize the sound in real time.
Pricing and availability
MODO BASS is available now from the IK Multimedia online store for a special introductory price of $/€149.99* until December 4, 2016. After that date, MODO BASS will be $/€299.99* and a crossgrade will be available for $/€199.99 ** to qualified users.
*All prices excluding taxes.
**Any previous purchase of an IK Multimedia product with a value of $/€99.99 or more qualifies for crossgrade pricing.
For more information, please visit:
To see MODO BASS in action, watch the videos:
As the digital space evolves, new applications, services and platforms are introduced to the market each year. This multitude of digital tools have certainly proved beneficial in the workplace and at home, but because so many of these programs work independently, users often miss out on the benefits of a truly seamless digital experience.
Integrating, or combining, two or more digital services into one fluid application greatly improves efficiency, usability and the overall user experience. This can be seen in the most robust e-signature integration—where a company combines a third party e-signature service with its own user platform for a swift signing process.
E-signature integration isn’t new to the digital conversation, but the technology behind these integrations has continued to improve—enabling you to offer a completely seamless signing experience for your clients.
The most effective way to integrate e-signatures is through an application programming interface (API), which acts as a bridge between multiple applications, allowing you to manage them from a single platform.
The catch is looking for the degree of integration that an e-signature service can provide. There’s a difference between simply connecting two software workflows together and building a truly cohesive, integrated experience for signers. Most e-signature services will be able to provide a rudimentary-level integration where users can flow from one digital service, like a CRM portal, to an e-signature platform—an automatic connection from “Point A” to “Point B.”
Far fewer are able to provide a true private-label integration—where it’s virtually impossible for a user to tell that there are two technology engines behind their digital workflow. However, some technology providers and development resources have capabilities that allow you to customize an e-signature dashboard to match your own user interface with the same colors, fonts, logos, navigation menu and more. Because the end user does not have to switch back and forth between your site and an e-signature site, it’s a transparent process for him. This allows you to appear as the only source your clients must go through to submit approval, providing him with a smooth and easy signing experience.
Why does this level of detail matter? Why not simply take users from Point A to Point B? Two primary reasons:
- Client Trust
Client trust is a top priority – especially for members of highly regulated, high-stakes industries such as financial services, real estate and healthcare. Your clients are familiar with your brand, have had positive experiences using your software and have grown to trust you.
So think about how they’ll feel if they’re suddenly shuffled to an outsider for a portion of a transaction. For a homebuyer about to sign a real estate contract worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, going from the lender’s original website to a third party e-signature site could suddenly raise suspicion and cause hesitation. An integrated approach gives users a single, consistent and secure platform throughout the entire process.
- Brand Retention
In a world full of competition, creating a memorable brand—including company personality, logos, slogans and more—is key if you want to stand out in consumers’ minds. E-signature integration contributes to brand retention and exposure by eliminating third party branding and keeping your company name at the center of the signing process.
When searching for an e-signature service, make sure that you’re not leaving the aesthetics out of the conversation. With a cohesive, easy-to-use platform, your clients will complete seamless transactions and have more positive encounters with your company, furthering their loyalty to your brand.
Pem Guerry is the Executive Vice President at SIGNiX, a digital signature solutions provider that makes signing documents online safe, secure, and legal for any business. SIGNiX offers the only independently verifiable, cloud-based digital signature solution, which combines workflow convenience with superior security. Learn more about what makes SIGNiX different at www.signix.com.