Blue Kiwi Review
Originally published at www.prorec.com/Articles/tabid/109/EntryId/249/Blue-Kiwi.aspx
By: Garry Simmons
Published: December 31, 2003
Blue Microphones was kind enough to send me their Kiwi mic for a test drive at the same time they sent me their new Ball mic for review. Truth be told, I love microphones. I don’t think you can have too many of them, especially if they have a distinctive sound. This would be my first opportunity to use a Blue condenser mic and I was anxious to try the Kiwi.
The Kiwi is Blue’s top of the line solid-state mic. The Kiwi is a large-diaphragm multi-pattern condenser microphone featuring discrete Class A electronics with a transformerless output. The classic “lollipop on a bottle” type design and rich green paint certainly make it a striking and handsome mic. The Kiwi also distinguishes itself by offering NINE, count ’em, nine pickup patterns. Besides the expected cardioid, omni and figure 8 patterns, you also get three “sub-cardioid” variations (between cardioid and omni), as well as three super-cardioid patterns (between cardioid and figure-of-8). Patterns are easily selected by hand using a knob on the back of the mic. The Kiwi capsule is a multi-pattern variation of their B6 Bottle microphone capsule.
The Kiwi comes packaged in a beautiful wooden case and also includes an elastic, spider-type shock mount at no extra cost. I particularly liked the manual that came with the mic. It was just the right length (6 pages) with a good blend of technical info and application suggestions. The Kiwi is not an inexpensive mic at $2299 list ($1999 street), but quality components and craftsmanship don’t come cheap.
The frequency response chart in the manual shows basically flat response from 20Hz to 1KHz. There’s a small bump centered at 2KHz and a somewhat larger bump centered around 12KHz (est.). The manual goes on to mention that the Kiwi has a reduced proximity effect so that vocalists can get right up on the mic (an inch or two away) without the boominess that proximity effect can add.
I primarily used the Kiwi to record female vocals and acoustic guitar with a fair number of percussion and clean electric guitar tracks thrown in. I also used it to record male vocals when doing a remote recording for a local blues band. For me, the signature sound of the Kiwi is one of clarity. Everyone remarked at how clear things sounded with the Kiwi. It’s certainly bright, but not in a harsh, edgy kind of way.
I had been using a CAD Audio VX2 (a tube mic) for female vocals on my current album project. The VX2 sounded better than my U89 or C412s on the girls. The VX2 does a very nice job (IMO) of splitting the difference between the warmth of the Neumann and the brightness of the AKGs. The girls preferred the clarity of Kiwi to the slightly thicker sounding VX2, so we used the Kiwi on the remaining vocal tracks on the album. Add compression and a bit of low-mids for some extra body and the tracks were done. The (male) lead singer of the blues band loved the way the Kiwi captured his voice. A touch of compression (no EQ) and we were good to go.
The Kiwi sounded great on acoustic guitar in both cardioid and omni modes with little to no EQ required in the mix. I loved the tambourine and shaker tracks I recorded with the Kiwi. Lots of detail, without any grittiness. Clean electric guitar sounded great too.
All in all, I really liked the Kiwi. It has a clear sound that works well on a wide variety of sources, although it might not the best choice for a thin source that you’re looking to fatten up. It looks great, sounds great, is very versatile, and is reasonably priced as professional mics go.
Give it a listen! Blue has a winner on their hands with the Kiwi.