I’ve been aching for an HD camera for a while now, and with a little bit of money left over at the university, I bought the Blue Eyeball “Super” HD Webcam.
It promised “Super High Definition Video” and superior audio recording. I’ve always heard great things about Blue Microphones and listened to episode 134 of MacBreak Weekly where it was Andy Ihnatko‘s “Pick of the Week”.
Ihnatko raved of the image quality and audio recording quality, and being a fan, I went along with it and bought one, without reading any reviews online.
So how much do I love the Blue Eyeball?
Ermmm, not so much. More after the jump.
Let’s do audio quality first. I have files you can listen to as well as video with an audio track, but it’s just as telling with the pictures of the audio spectrum.
The first image is the original file, the next is the built in microphone in my iMac and the last is the Blue Microphone Eyeball mic. What you’ll see right off the bat is how quiet the Blue microphone is. In fact, you can barely hear anything recorded by this. Who cares if it is a high quality recording if you can’t hear it, right?
In this first audio test I played a 20-20,000hz frequency sweet. It has a constant volume, as you can see with the orange graph of the original wave. The Blue microphone did a better job of recording the audio as far as dynamics, you can easily see that in that bottom image, while the microphone in the iMac shows some huge changes in volume throughout the spectrum. But that Blue mic sure is quiet…
Frequency sweeps are great for measuring the quality of the microphone and its sensitivity, but sometimes the numbers don’t relate to actual real world use. So, let’s do a voice recording.
In this second recording the iSight did a little better. It’s not often that you use your iSight to record a 20-20khz spectrum, in this voice test, it did pretty darn good. Actually… better than the Blue.
The second recording was of Ira Glass from NPR‘s This American Life. The graph is pretty much exactly the same and the recording differences are essentially the same, only the Blue is really quiet. I bumped up the volume of the source audio to get it to record and honestly, it didn’t sound any better than the iSight microphone.
I’m guessing you’d have to yell into the Blue microphone for it to hear you. I tried to do an iChat conversation tonight with and the person on the other end couldn’t hear me at all. With the iSight mic, I didn’t have that trouble.
Now, to image quality…
Are you freaking kidding me? That’s the iSight on the left. Now, the background is really dark but at least you can see the person talking. The Blue does a good job of lighting up the background but totally blows out the subject in front of the camera. Which is more important to you?
Now, to video.
This is the first time I’ve ever posted video of myself online. It felt weird haha, plus my souther accent came out a few times. So did my gay voice. Oh well, I’m sure I’ll get better as I do more videos!
To the video (which actually really is HD, just click on the button on the bottom right)
In the end, the verdict was simple (as I illustrated in the video). The Blue Eyeball HD Webcam sucks. I even gave it credit for better audio recording but as I listen to the video over again… it fails there too!
Returning this piece tomorrow.
Blue, I had such high hopes!