The Bluebird SL by BLUE Microphones is a low-cost, all-around condenser that’s suitable for a range of applications. We’ll take a look at whether you should add one to your mic locker!
The Bluebird SL cardioid condenser microphone is a studio workhorse
The current Bluebird SL condenser mic debuted at NAMM 2017 as part of a BLUE’s reimagined Essential Series. The now best-selling microphone is suited for capturing hi-fi, crystal-clear recordings we’ve come to know from modern productions. It achieves this with an extended high-end, smooth midrange, and rich, full-bodied lows. The extra air at the top really gives it that clarity and sheen, accentuating the fine details of just about any instrument you point it at.
BLUE Bluebird Hardware & Features
The Bluebird SL features Class-A circuitry in a transformer-less design, meaning it lacks an additional circuit path that could potentially color the tone or add noise to the recording. It comes with a handmade gold-sputtered Mylar capsule found in BLUE’s high-end microphones, and the only selectable features are a -20 dB pad and a 100 Hz high-pass filter. By keeping options to a minimum, BLUE maximizes sound quality while keeping the cost down.
Overall, the Bluebird SL plays the role of “general purpose cardioid condenser microphone.” It can tolerate extremely loud instruments up to 138 dB SPL for clean recordings of electric guitar, drum overheads, room ambience, horns, and more. The mic also reproduces the whole frequency response from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz with a unique, sparkly voicing.
This particular Bluebird condenser mic excels at vocals, acoustic guitar, piano, strings, and drums (overheads/room). As you can see, acoustic instruments really benefit from the Bluebird SL’s tonality. In some ways, it’s almost like a small diaphragm condenser in how it captures acoustic guitar or piano. There’s a lot of crispness and nuance. Still, it’s versatile enough to be an all-around studio condenser.
As part of the package, BLUE includes a nice wooden case for storage and a custom shock mount. This is all for $299.
Pros and Cons
One of the best things the Bluebird SL has going for it is its price. $299 is an incredible value for the quality of microphone you’re getting. There is a lot of competition in the sub-$300 large diaphragm condenser market, but the Bluebird SL is a stand-out choice. Even in the looks department, BLUE delivers with a unique retro styling that they’re know for, really setting it apart.
The sound is excellent if you’re shopping for a bright, ultra-clear mic. Warning, ambiguous buzzwords ahead: it doesn’t have much “warmth” or “vibe,” but there are other BLUE mics in the Essential Series for that (Baby Bottle SL, for instance). What you will get is an awesome mic with a super modern, hi-fi sound.
On its own, it sounds excellent on many solo instruments. We also highly recommend getting clever with sounds on the way in; for example, you could use the Bluebird on a lead vocal for a sound that cuts through the mix, then use a darker mic for background vocals. That would create some awesome variation between the parts, and make mixing all the more fun.
It’s hard to be overly critical of a mic that offers so much for so little money. One drawback could be the lack of polar patterns, but then again, mics in this price range tend to be fixed cardioid. Overall, the Bluebird SL is an incredible point-and-shoot cardioid condenser for the home or professional studio—a truly great value and all-around workhorse.