Blue Microphones Kiwi Microphone User Manual

ongratulations on your purchase of the BLUE Kiwi, a premium large-diaphragm, multi-pattern condenser microphone
made the old-fashioned way, without compromise. The Kiwi
is a precision recording tool, combining the low noise and
superb transient response of top-grade modern electronics with
the crisp, airy high end magic of legendary vintage vocal mics.
Among solid state microphones, the Kiwi is utterly unique;
not only because of its size and styling, but also by virtue of
its unprecedented range of nine different pickup patterns.
In omnidirectional and figure of eight patterns, or at a distance, this microphone delivers every nuance in the room,
with finely focused resolution and clear, musical frequency
response out to the extremes of the audible spectrum. In its
cardioid patterns the Kiwi excels at delivering a vocal or solo
track right to the front of the mix where it belongs, with
detailed highs, smooth midrange, and minimized proximity
effect (a bass boost inherent in all unidirectional mics).
At the heart of the Kiwi is a multi-pattern variation of the
BLUE B6 Bottle microphone capsule. To provide matched
response throughout the range of pickup patterns, two single
backplate, large diaphragm capsules are acoustically matched,
and then measured in our anechoic chamber for optimum
performance. The end result is a hand-crafted dual backplate
capsule, tuned to deliver a larger-than-life sound with extension in the lower and upper frequencies. Though designed
primarily to achieve a world-class contemporary vocal sound,
this capsule can be utilized to add a glossy, produced sheen
to saxophone, piano, electric guitar, and other lead instruments.
It also has extreme presence and “grab” at distances of three
feet or more for distant acoustic guitar recording, ambient
percussion miking, and unconventional vocal treatments.
The microphone’s electronics are Class A discreet, with transformerless output. In plain English, this means that the sound
which arrives at the diaphragm is transduced (converted to
electrical energy) as accurately as possible, allowing the user
to get the maximum benefit out of the multi-pattern capsule
created by BLUE. To this end, the Kiwi utilizes hand-selected
electronic components of the highest quality (such as expensive metal-film resistors), and there are no integrated circuits
(a.k.a. “IC’s”), pads or low-cut filter switches in the signal path.
In order to familiarize yourself with the specialized and unique
features of the Kiwi microphone and accessories, please take
the time to read this manual, and be sure to try the suggested
recording tips.
Getting Started
The Kiwi system includes BLUE’s “The Shock” suspension mount,
along with a padded, heirloom-quality wooden box which
houses the microphone. “The Shock” is a vintage-style suspension mount designed to isolate the Kiwi microphone body
from low frequency vibrations when mounted on a stand. To
fit the Kiwi into this assembly, first open the wire latches on
the upper and lower circular padded bands situated inside
the shock mount frame. Then simply slide the Kiwi into the
bands, make sure that the pattern selector switch is accessible, and close the wire latches to tighten the bands around
the microphone. The angle of the mount assembly can be
swiveled and adjusted with the large thumbscrew, which will
normally be positioned at the rear of the mic.
The Shock
Once you have the Kiwi secured in the Shock, you may find it
easiest to attach the assembly to a stand by 1) loosening
the boom stand arm or threaded end of the mic stand, 2)
grasping the mount assembly in one hand, and 3) screwing
the mic stand threads into the mount, without over-tightening.
This procedure will eliminate any possibility of damage to
the mic. NOTE: Forceful positioning of The Shock without
loosening of the thumbscrew can result in damage not
covered by warranty.
In order to get the most out of this, or any quality microphone,
it is essential to pair it with a good microphone pre-amplifier.
Most professional recordists prefer to have outboard preamps
on hand, and will choose solid-state or vacuum tube models
based on their unique characteristics. To maintain the integrity
of your signal, use the BLUE Kiwi mic cable to connect the
Kiwi to a mic preamp. Whenever possible, connect the mic
preamp output directly to your recorder or A/D converter, bypassing the mixing board and any unnecessary components.
The Kiwi requires 48 volt phantom power, which is provided
by most mic preamps, mixing consoles, or separate phantom
power supplies. It is important to note that some units, though
rated at 48 volts, may supply insufficient or unstable phantom power, which can result in distortion and/or degraded
performance when used with the Kiwi.
To avoid damage to audio components when connecting phantom
power, follow this simple procedure: 1) turn down the mic preamp gain, headphones, and your studio monitors, 2) connect
microphone cable to the Kiwi and microphone input jack, 3) turn
on phantom power, 4) turn up the mic preamp gain, etc. To
disconnect or re-route the Kiwi, 1) turn down the mic preamp
gain, headphones, and your studio monitors, 2) turn off phantom power and wait 10 seconds before disconnecting the mic.
To secure the delicate capsule during transport and shipping,
three brass set screws are provided. These screws should be
mounted in the solid metal ring around the circumference of
the grille when you first take the microphone out of its case.
Remove these screws before using the microphone, and replace
them if you will be transporting or shipping the microphone.
NOTE: The Kiwi will not work properly if the security screws
are not removed.
Capsule and Pattern Characteristics
When recording in a unidirectional pattern, the active, on-axis
diaphragm is on the same side of the microphone as the BLUE
logo. The pattern selector switch is located at the rear of the
microphone, and is easily adjusted by hand, with no special
tools required. In addition to the standard cardioid, omnidirectional, and figure of eight patterns marked on the selector
switch, there are 6 intermediate gradations of sub-cardioid
(between omni and cardioid) and super-cardioid (between
cardioid and figure of eight) patterns to choose from.
You will notice that the sound of the Kiwi capsule changes
when adjustments are made to the nine-position pickup pattern switch on the microphone body. In general, the omnidirectional pattern offers the flattest frequency response, with
an absence of proximity effect. As the pattern becomes more
directional (by clicking clockwise through the switch settings,
Kiwi Capsule Frequency Response
Decibles (dB)
Frequency (Hz)
This frequency chart of the Kiwi capsule is only a start. It gives the recordist a basis of the
sound provided. How the microphone reacts in a particular application will differ greatly because of
many variables. Room acoustics, distance from sound source (proximity), tuning of the instrument
and microphone cabling are only a few of the interacting issues. For an artist or engineer, how the
microphones are used creates the basis of the sound.
towards the figure of eight position) bass frequencies increase
proportionally due to proximity effect, and subtle changes
also occur on the high end response. These shifts in overall
timbre can be used to fine-tune the frequency response of
the Kiwi, as well as for creative ends.
Recording Applications
Here’s a little-known secret— vocalists love singing into unique
and impressive mics. And in addition to its classic styling, the
Kiwi was developed especially to enhance the airiness and
detail in a voice, while diminishing the proximity-induced
lows which can cloud a mix or produce compression artifacts.
Put it in front of any singer and you are guaranteed to get a
110% inspired performance that sits perfectly in the mix
with little or no additional equalization. The Kiwi is also
outstanding for narration and voice-over work.
For a “big” vocal sound with maximum presence, get the
vocalist within one to three inches of the capsule. There is
no need to worry about overloading the microphone, but be
sure to use the optional BLUE “The Pop” metal mesh pop
filter to protect the diaphragm
at close distances. Tilt the Kiwi up
(toward the forehead) for more
projection and head tone, straight
on at the mouth for maximum
brightness and intelligibility, or
down toward the chest for more
robust lows and smoother highs.
Conventional vocal recording is
almost always done using a cardioid
pickup pattern. But the variable
pattern control allows you to experiment with the timbre changes
which occur in sub-cardioid (left
of center on the pattern switch,
towards omnidirectional) and
super-cardioid (right of center,
towards figure of eight) settings.
The Pop
Whenever possible, spend a few
moments exploring these tonal
shifts while “tuning” the pickup patterns.
The figure of eight pattern is useful for recording two singers
on one mic, or for a “hotter” solo vocal with increased proximity effect (i.e. a typical radio announcer voice). The omnidirectional pattern on the Kiwi can also be put to unique effect,
whether recording a roomy, distant vocal track, capturing an
unusual room ambience in combination with a close vocal mic,
or on large group vocals.
Acoustic Guitar
For a balanced sound with plenty of sparkling high end, position
the Kiwi facing the guitar neck, right where the neck joins
the body (usually around the 12th– 14th frets). For starters,
use the cardioid pattern, keep the capsule as close as possible,
and angle it toward the sound hole to capture a blend of low
end and pick sound.
If you need more lows, move the capsule closer to the sound
hole, or adjust the pickup pattern one click at a time toward
the figure of eight position. For more high end detail, move
the Kiwi farther from the guitar, either at the same neck
position, or above the instrument up by the guitarist’s head.
An omnidirectional pattern setting allows very close placement
to the sound hole without boomy lows, and distant placement
of three feet or more can produce interesting results throughout the available range of pickup patterns.
Electric Guitar
The Kiwi B6 capsule is useful for any clean amp sound, ranging from bright rhythm chords to warm jazzy tones. Angle
the capsule toward the center of the speaker to capture more
highs, or turn it toward the edge of the cone for a fuller sound
with more low end. For overdriven or distorted tones, move
the mic towards the outer edge of the cone, or back it away
from the amp a foot or more to add a little room sound and
soften the extreme high end.
For even more control over definition and room tone on electric
guitar tracks, it is common practice to use an ambient room
mic in addition to a close mic on the amp. The omnidirectional
or figure of eight patterns on the Kiwi are highly recommended
for distant room miking applications on any amplified instruments, including bass, organ, and blues harmonica.
Dimensions (mm)
220x60 230x50x30
Power Supply 9610
48V phantom powered
Supply voltage
Dyn. range of the mic amplifier
Maximum SPL for THD 0.5%
Noise level DIN/IEC 651
S/N ratio DIN/IEC 651
S/N ratio CCIR468-3
150ohms 150ohms
Not less than 1kohms
Rated load impedance
Rated impedance
Frequency range
Directional Pattern
Sensitivity at 1 kHz into 1 kohm 20mV/Pa
20Hz – 20KHz
Technical Data
For kit and hand drums, begin by positioning the capsule two
to four inches above the rim or hoop (where the head is secured
to the shell). Angle the capsule toward the player’s stick or
hand to pick up more attack and definition. Turning the capsule toward the shell will soften the sharp attack of a hand
drum, or pick up more of the bright, crackling buzz from a
All members of the brass family need to be miked from in
front of the bell. But for studio recording it is not necessary
to aim the microphone capsule right down the center of the
bore, or place it too close. The trumpet, with its directional
characteristics, high sound pressure level, and limited frequency range, will yield a clear, cutting tone at distances
ranging from 6 inches to 2 feet. The trombone and tuba can
be approached similarly, although closer miking toward the
outer edge of the bell (4 to 8 inches), and the enhanced
proximity effect of supercardioid and figure of eight pickup
patterns will help offset a thin or overly bright timbre.
Capturing a mellow, rounded tone is a challenge with any
brass instrument. To avoid buzzy highs and transient overloading, persuade the player to blow at less than peak stage
volume. Cornet and flugelhorn usually have a softer, more
intimate sound, are played at lower volume, and can be miked
at a distance of 2 to 6 inches.
Bottle (w/B6)
For other members of the saxophone family, start by placing
the capsule two to six inches in front of the lip of the bell.
Turn the capsule up toward the mouthpiece, or raise the microphone above the bell to capture more air, brightness, and
high notes. For a mellower sound, rotating the microphone
toward the floor emphasizes the low range of the sax, and
tames the biting upper mids that project straight out of the
bell, particularly on alto saxophone. Omnidirectional and subcardioid pickup patterns tend to soften the edge of close-miked
saxophone tracks, while super-cardioid and figure of eight patterns emphasize high-end detail, cutting power, and warmth.
On tambourine, shaker, bells, clave, and orchestral percussion
the Kiwi offers astounding clarity and realism, and can be
positioned quite close to a percussive source without distortion
or undue proximity effect. Start by placing the Kiwi about a
foot from percussive instruments. Selecting a cardioid pickup
pattern, or moving the mic closer to the source will emphasize detail and tone, as well as decreasing the proportion of
ambient room sound on a track. More distant placement, or
the use of an omnidirectional or figure of eight pattern will
yield a natural, roomy sound that blends easily with other
rhythm instruments.
Pressure gradient
Saxophones and Reeds
For soprano sax, clarinet and related instruments, position
the mic about a foot away, directly above and in front of the
keys between the middle of the horn and the lowest pads. Try
rotating the capsule or moving the mic up or down along the
length of the body to adjust the balance of airy highs (toward
the mouthpiece) and cutting midrange (toward the bell).
The Kiwi will produce an interesting personality when used at
a distance of four feet or more as an ambient room mic on
drums. Many modern recordings have benefited from the unique
sound of minimalist drum miking, where one to three microphones are strategically placed to capture the entire set,
along with the characteristics of a well-tuned studio room.
Acoustical operating principal
A less common, though very useful technique, is to position
a stereo pair or single Kiwi microphone just outside of the
piano, either in the curve of a grand, above an upright, or a
few feet away for a classically-oriented sound with a significant amount of natural room reverberation. The variable
pickup pattern control can be used to dial in the desired
amount of ambience.
snare. Moving the microphone closer to a drum generally increases the low end, shell resonance, and separation from
other sound sources, while more distant placement emphasizes
the interaction of the drum and the environment, producing
a blended, airier sound.
Pop and jazz piano recording is usually accomplished with a
pair of microphones placed inside a grand piano, either close
to the hammers for a defined, percussive sound, or roughly
in the middle of the piano body to get a more resonant and
blended tone. When using these methods, it is conventional
to employ a coincident stereo pair, with one microphone
capsule oriented to pick up the treble strings, and the other
focused on the bass range of the instrument.
In keeping with our policy of continued product improvement, Baltic Latvian Universal Electronics (BLUE)
reserves the right to alter specifications without prior notice.
Classic microphones, made without compromise
P.O. Box 910
Agoura Hills, CA 91376-0910
Phone 818.986.2583
Fax 818.784.7564
This Microphone or related part is warranted under the conditions
outlined below to its original, registered owner, provided the purchase
was made from an authorized Baltic Latvian Universal Electronics
(BLUE) dealer. This Microphone or related part is guaranteed to
remain free from operating defects for one year from the date of
purchase. In the event that service is required, all necessary parts
and labor will be furnished free of charge during this period except
for tubes, which are guaranteed for 90 days against defects. This
warranty is void if the serial number has been altered, removed or
defaced. The warranty is void if the equipment is altered, misused,
mishandled, maladjusted, or is serviced by any parties not authorized by Baltic Latvian Universal Electronics (BLUE). The warranty
does not include transportation costs incurred because of the need
for service unless arranged for in advance. Baltic Latvian Universal
Electronics (BLUE) reserves the right to make changes in design
and improve upon its products without obligation to install these
improvements in any of its products previously manufactured. This
warranty is in lieu of any or all expressed or implied.