Blue Microphones just sent their in their Tiki USB microphone for testing. At first look I was kind of wondering what this interesting little mic could be used for. Then I started to read up on it and come to find out this tiny mic has noise cancelling technology, auto mutes for conference calling, and even can be used as an always on mic to record music, etc. Wow - this thing isn't much bigger than a USB memory stick but it does more than the mics incorporated in many computers can do.
The device itself features a bi-directional mic that is melded with the USB connector. Very nice brown annodized paint (with a tiny amount of metal flake!) adorns several of the surfaces with a durable chrome finish on the others. Blue could have just used black plastic like so many other manufacturers. This thing is a conversation piece. These color and chrome accents would look incredible on a classic car - perhaps that's where the Tiki name came from? Add that the LED lighting behind the Blue logo changes color to let you know the mics status and it really draws attention. Blue is standard voice recording, orange mute, and purple lets you know you are in dynamic recording mode. If you don't like having the mic sticking out of the side of your laptop then Blue includes an extension - the mic plugs into this and you can now use the four or so feet of wire to move the mic somewhere more convenient.
I decided an average user isn't going to read the directions when they see something as simple looking as this mic so I dove in and just plugged it into a Windows 7 laptop. Windows immediately detected the device and installed the necessary software. Just like that I was in business. Wrong! Had I looked at the included little warning card in the instructions I would have seen that often Windows does not set the mic as the default device for recording. A quick trip to the sound settings and I was able to sort out everything with two clicks. Now I was in business. Immediately the mic began to light up orange and blue to let me know when it detected sound.
I decided to use Windows built in recorder program and found that it recorded very nice sound - without any of the noise in my room. First time out the gate and this thing is doing exactly what its supposed to. As I had my built in speakers set up for sound output I decided to Skype some friends and see how they could hear me. We compared the built in mic in the laptop compared to the Tiki. Night and day - no one had any problem hearing when I was using the Tiki. Background noise was nonexistent for them but the quality of voice recording was a big step up. There is a clever button hidden in the end of the unit to select between conference call style recording (with muting) and dynamic recording where the mic is always on. With dynamic recording my friends could hear the background noises a little more but the voice recording always came through much better than with the laptop's built in mic. I absolutely love having a conversation without wearing a headset.
The quality of the microphone in the Tiki is a huge step up from the built in mics in laptops. Actually, according to my friends, its much better than the mics in any of the headsets I've used to Skype with them previously. This thing is the best thing that's happened to online conferencing in quite a while. The ability to mute during conversations is very nice - the device is very intelligent in this respect. Everything above a whisper triggers the mic to activate. How many times do you hear the fans on your friends computers whirring in the background? This mic does an excellent job of removing all those noises.
Dynamic recording works much better than I expected with a mic in this type of packaging. Remember that it can record from either open side. This is handy if you want to show grandma one of the kids playing an instrument. I wouldn't use it for recording instuments for mixing a song but I don't think that was ever the Tiki's intention. Blue makes professional mics for that purpose - but this mic is much better than your built in mic for any purpose that the OEM and software guys came up with for mics.
Blue has built a much better alternative to the mics we get from manufacturers without breaking the bank. Its compact size lets you take it with you in a pocket. The fact that Blue thought to produce such an attractive package with a very functional mic makes this an easy recommendation. If you conference a lot or use online communications software you'll find that it offers an impressive improvement over your previous experience.