With its unusual design, the Ball mic from BLUE has generated a good deal of interest. Here are three different perspectives on the mic. ($200 street; www.bluemic.com)

The BLUE Ball is a unique new entry into the microphone market, as it's the first phantom-powered dynamic mic in mass production. The phantom power drives an initial gain stage, separating the mic element from typical impedance loads and potential mismatches. The mic also derives its name from the unusual 5" diameter ball shape of its housing-a feature I fear can cause limitations in placement though it does make for a unique look. How does the mic sound? On electric guitar amps, the Ball had a similar sound to some ribbon mics-but not quite the same. The low mids were very articulate, highs were smooth and not hyped or brittle like an SM57, and lows were tame. It would suit certain tracks really well, and it did sound quite unlike any other mics we put up against it in this position. I found mic'ing guitar amps to be the best use for the mic and would keep it around for this purpose alone. -LC

When I heard this mic was coming out, I was really eager to try it out on kick drum. The AKG D 112 works great, but there's gotta be something else that gets that solid, rock kick drum sound. The idea of a phantom-powered dynamic was intriguing. We mic'ed up a kit with the D 112 and got a sound. Then we swapped it out with the Ball. The top end was right in there with the D 112's, but the bottom end of the Ball blew away the D 112's. It was super tight and focused. Then we turned on the subwoofer, which was crossed over at 45 Hz. The D 112 was huge down there, but the Ball had nothing. Depending on your application this could be good or bad. The Ball definitely moved more air and had a better bottom end on my main monitors than the D 112, and most people don't have systems that go much below 40 Hz anyway. Apparently, this mic was designed for live sound applications, but it's so reasonably priced that I think it's a great alternative to yet another SM57. -JB

I bought the BLUE Ball hoping to use it in lieu of an SM7, since I don't have one and couldn't afford one right now. Almost everywhere that I would have used an SM7 and used the Ball instead, it's worked great. I'm more impressed than I expected to be. It'll be on our record more than my Sank-modified B&O ribbon, which is a much pricier mic, and maybe as much as the Dragonfly, also a pricier mic. The Ball seems to have an exaggerated proximity effect. Placing it near a source with any low end results in a cartoon-like quality that is rarely desirable, but backing the Ball off a few inches solves the problem with little drop-off in transient accuracy.

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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