Logitech’s goal with the Blue Sona dynamic XLR microphone is straightforward: Give people an accessible option for pro-level audio no matter what it’s plugged into. Whether you are an experienced producer or just starting out, you can get amazing sound with very little effort.
I fall into the “just getting started” category of user, so I got some testing help from former CNET podcast producer and audio engineer Bryan VanGelder to make sure the Sona lives up to Blue’s claims. In the end, we both came to the same conclusion: Blue Sona makes it easy to get clean, clear audio regardless of your experience level. It has a pro-gear price of $350 (£299AU$530 converted), but you get a high-quality microphone in return.
If you’re new to XLR microphones, they use an analog three-pin connector and are the standard for professional audio. Unlike a USB microphone, an XLR mic must be plugged into an audio interface with an XLR cable to convert the audio from analog to digital before connecting to a computer. You can get a USB mic that’s just as good as an XLR mic, but an XLR is needed to connect to other pro audio gear, like a mixer. It also allows you to connect multiple mics simultaneously through a single computer audio interface.
To test the claim that you’ll get pro sound regardless of the audio interface it’s plugged into, we used the cheapest option we could find on Amazon, the $30 Xtuga Q-12. If you’re investing $350, you might want to an interface that is even better. But Xtuga proves that Sona can give you great results with the most basic audio interface. The interface you connect must support 24- or 48-volt phantom power.
Best of both worlds
The Sona is a dynamic microphone that handles loud voices and noise better than a more sensitive condenser mic can. That means it’s great for game streaming or anything else where you might have audio spikes, as it helps with distortion and clipping.
The microphone also has a tight supercardioid pickup pattern that focuses on what’s in front of the microphone while rejecting background noise. Combined with Blue’s ClearAmp technology that gives the mic an extra 25dB of gain, the Sona has the greater sensitivity needed to enhance quieter sources, acting like a condenser mic. ClearAmp also means you don’t need to add a preamp gain like a Cloudlifter in your setup.
Again, the sound from the Blue Sona is clean with excellent clarity. Even the noise of an open office and the HVAC blower at my desk is muted. Bryan notes its strong bottom end and that it takes a fair amount of effort to overload it. He put the Zone at par popular Shure SM7b. He also says that the built-in high-pass filter and the presence of toggles behind the microphone make a noticeable difference in clarity as well. They are definitely worth trying to get the tone you want out of the microphone.
Lastly, the build quality of the Zone is exceptional. The metal body gives it a professional look and feel. There is an internal shock mount for the mic capsule. If you get a little animated when you talk or are worried about bumps or vibration, the mount helps keep everything under control. Additionally, the single-knob design allows it to rotate freely for use sitting on a table or mounted on a boom.
In the box with the microphone there are two foam windscreens that magnetically click into place, making quick swapping simple. There is also a 3/8-inch mic stand adapter. That’s it, so if this is your first XLR mic, you should an XLR cable and audio interface to connect to a computer.
Although it requires more investment than a USB mic, the Logitech Blue Sona’s straightforward design and features make it a great choice if you’re ready to graduate to an XLR mic. And the built-in profit also means that you need a small piece of equipment to buy and fill your workstation. Something to keep in mind if you’re launching your podcasting career from a small desk in your apartment or if you’re a pro who needs a simple, space-saving option.