How it looks The white Blue Snowball, when mounted on its regal silver tripod, looks like a sceptre from outer space, but it's really a quite useful, studio quality mic that plug-and-plays well with computers, tablets or other mobile devices.
How it works A simple but effective switch on the back toggles between different modes tailored to pick up a single sound or a roomful of them at different volume levels.
Who's it for While a bit too obtrusive to use "in the field", the Blue Snowball disassembles nicely for trips and is well-suited for those with varying recording needs (soloists who are also in a band, for example).
Samson Go Mic
How it looks The silver, diminutive Go Mic condenser microphone keeps a low profile, mounting on the top of your laptop or tablet rather than being propped up alongside on a tripod.
How it works The Go Mic works surprisingly well, giving its tiny profile, with controls that calibrate recordings from both focused and diffuse sources. It also comes with a handy travel case.
Who's it for The Go Mic is best suited for VoIP users, podcasters or casual home-movie narrators who like to travel light. It's compatible with both Macs and PCs. It works with whatever software you choose, but also comes with its own music making programme if you're new to the whole thing. However, those who wish to use it with an iPad will need to buy a USB to Micro USB adapter - and the Apple camera connection kit - that are not included.
How it looks This mobile recording device looks exactly like you think a sturdy, iDevice-compatible microphone would look - a miniature, all-metal mix of the traditional and the new. At just over 11 centimetres long, the Apogee will only take a fraction of space in any carry-on or travel pouch.
How it works A three-coloued LED lets you know the mic's power status, which it gets from either your computer or iPad/iPhone through the USB adapter in Apple's camera connection kit. There's also one simple gain control on the side that calibrates input levels, and it works seamlessly with the GarageBand app on iOS devices. It also comes with a handy, if small, tripod mount.
Who's it for Musicians, podcasters and anyone else who'd like to make anything other than pedestrian digital recordings while on the go. It's quite good at filtering out ambient noise and producing crisp, clear sounds.