November 8, 2007
Review by Jay Matheson
•Acoustical Operating Principal: Pressure Gradient
•Directional Pattern: Figure 8, Bidirectional
•Frequency Response: 20Hz — 20kHz
•Sensitivity (1kHz into 2.5kΩ): 26mV/Pa
•Rated Impedance: 50Ω
•Rated Load Impedance: Not less than 1kΩ
•Noise Level A-weighted (IEC 651): Not more than 22dB
•Max Output (1% THD into 2.5kΩ): 10dBU = 2.5V
•Max SPL (0.5% THD into 2.5kΩ): 136dB
•Dynamic Range (2.5kΩ load): 114dB
•Supply Voltage (IEC 268-15): +48V Phantom Power (+35V min.)
•Current Draw (typical ai +48V): 2.4mA
BLUE enters the ribbon arena with a phantom powered, high output sound that seems to bring the best of condensor clarity and detail along with the smoothness of a ribbon. And you don't need tons of gain to get down to business.
As with all BLUE products (except the ball series) the design, retro styling and build quality are impressive as soon as you open the handsome cherry wood box that the mic is supplied in. This product is designed to make you want it just because it looks good in your studio. Its exotic wood and matte gold finish give it a stand out look when compared to the rest of the BLUE line and among any other mics. The matte gold shockmount (somewhat more orange in color vs the matte gold on the grill assembly) is sturdy, beefy construction and it firmly grabs the mic. It looks like it could give many years of service before any parts would potentially fail. No cheap shockmount here.
While having the Woodpecker around the studio we've used it on hat and as a drum room mic. The tracks done with the woodpecker exhibited a crisp, smooth, rich overall quality. It performed very well in both instances but it's a top shelf mic and we decided to do some direct comparisons to our vintage Neumann U87 to see how it fared against a studio standard on male Vocals and a Martin acoustic guitar in a more critical application.
The acoustic guitar track seemed to have a bit more body and richness than the U87 and a pronounced increase in pick attack. When looking at my 31 band analyzer I noticed that the very high frequencies (above 8k) were stronger with the woodpecker while still retaining the characteristic big smooth low end that high quality ribbon mics are known for. This is also where the Woodpecker showed it's only noticeable flaw. It seems that the electronics that BLUE used to open up the top end of the mic exhibit a small amount of self noise above 10k or so. This wouldn't be an issue in low gain situations but I had the mic about 10 inches from the guitar which required over 40db of gain. I used a Pacifica preamp which doesn't have gain levels listed on the front panel so I can't state exactly how much gain was used before the noise became evident but 40-45db is my best guess.
I then tried the Woodpecker on a male vocal with the U87 as an alternate mic. The vocal recorded with the woodpecker actually seemed to have a more exciting color than the U87. Both the top and bottom seemed bigger and more open than the Neumann. While using the lower gain setting I didn't notice the mic's self noise.
•Lush open sound with characteristic ribbon body without the dull top end
•Top quality design and workmanship
•Top quality shockmount
•A little bit of self noise in the extreme high frequencies at very high gain settings
• Shockmount is more orange than gold.
When tracks recorded with the Woodpecker are compared against ones done with a pro quality large diaphragm condenser, the Woodpecker is much warmer and make the other tracks almost seem boxy or a little stiff. I can think of many projects that I've done in the past where this mic would have been quite an asset. Hopefully I'll get to use this mic on a few more sources before the demo has to go back to BLUE. (Where's a good crooner when you need one?). I've used and reviewe several active ribbon mics and this one is a real standout and would be a great addition to most any mic locker.
Blue Microphones Woodpecker Active Ribbon Microphone
at Front End Audio