LAS VEGAS—Getting sound into a computer is tricky and making things sound good is really hard. Neither of those things used to matter much if you weren’t a professional musician or broadcaster, but these days you can’t spit without hitting someone with their own podcast (that or making the rounds as a podcast guest). Between podcasts, Skype, and videoconferencing, dedicated microphones are relevant to far more people than ever before.
At CES, Blue Microphones added another mic to its already impressive array of products. The $100 Nessie is designed for people who want good sound without a lot of effort. The USB-connected device comes with a built-in pop filter to smooth out those plosive popping “p” sounds; an internal shockmount; and a bunch of onboard processing including a de-esser, EQ, and level control. If you’re someone with no audio skills at all—and no interest in obtaining them—the Nessie is meant to be as foolproof as possible.
The mic itself looks cool, with a long Loch Ness Monster-style neck that inspired its name, though its light plastic body felt much cheaper than Blue’s $150 Yeti model. There are three recording modes—one for voice, one for instruments, and one that turns off all the audio processing (just in case you ended up obtaining those audio skills after all). It’s got a headphone jack—key for monitoring your own audio—and both a volume control and a mute button right on the device.
If all you do is Skype, you’d be better off using your computer’s built-in microphone or Blue’s $59 Tiki noise-canceling mic. But the Nessie seems like it might be a decent choice for someone just getting started with podcasting who wants good output with a minimum of fuss. The proof will come in the testing, though—you can’t really judge any mic until you hear the quality of its output. And for that, you’ll have to wait until it’s available sometime in the first half of 2013.