The Tiki, from Blue Mic ($59), is a compact USB microphone designed to give you great audio for Skype calls and voice notes in rooms with even moderate ambient noise. And while Blue is known for creating mics that sound as good as they look, the Tiki’s beauty is only skin deep.
I’ve always loved Blue’s design prowess, and like its kin, the Tiki is definitely a real looker. Constructed of metal, the Tiki has a nice weight to it, and feels like a real man’s mic. You could probably throw it at the wall, tug it out of the sheet rock, then go right on using it.
And the Tiki is also quite a beautiful thing, with metal mesh around its cardioid mic and a speckled metallic-brown body. Why aren’t all mics as lovely as this?
Oh, but its sound. The Tiki’s audio quality, in all my tests, was uncharacteristic of a Blue Mic, lacking the high quality acoustics normally found this pedigree line.
I used the Tiki to make Skype calls to three different people, and all three told me the same thing: my audio stank. My listeners complained my voice sounded distant, or like I was talking at too low a volume. They also commented that my voice sounded digital, mechanical, and “processed.” That’s probably due to the Tiki’s Digital Sound Processing (DSP) technology, as when I turned off that feature, my listeners said my audio improved somewhat, although not drastically.
Surprised with the results of my Skype tests, I decided to use the Tiki to record from my system audio, expecting better results — I didn’t get them. Upon playback, I heard the same poor audio quality my callers complained of, along with an annoying sound wavering (voice volume fluttering from low to high) that I attribute to the Tiki’s DSP trying to eliminate background noise. But that wavering persisted even when the room I was talking in was silent.
Overall the Tiki, even when performing at its best, only produced mediocre sound, and it didn’t eliminate background noise any better than my Macbook Pro’s built-in mic (with ambient noise reduction turned on). And my iPhone headphones (with built-in mic) sounded better than the Tiki in almost every test I performed, and most everybody has some of those laying around.
The Tiki is a rare miss from Blue, which normally produces excellent microphones. If you’re looking for a mic for voice notes or Skype calls, I would steer clear of Blue’s teensy Tiki. It’s a pretty trinket, but it doesn’t deliver sound quality any better than what’s already built into your Mac, and in many instances, its sound is worse.