Logitech has long offered great gear for folks that make YouTube videos and stream on Twitch, including many of our best webcams picks and our favorite microphone, the Blue Yeti. But for more serious creators, and those who do this type of video content for a living, Logitech is upping its game with the new $349 Blue Sona XLR microphone and $99 Litra Beam desktop light.
The latest products under the Logitech For Creators banner, the Blue Sona and Litra Beam — which are both available to order now — are built to help everyone, from pro gamers to makeup artists, look and sound their best on camera. The Sona promises a major step up in quality over your typical USB microphone, while the Litra Beam is designed to illuminate you far better than the average ring light.
To get a deeper dive on these promising new gadgets, I had an exclusive chat with Andrew Siminoff, Senior Product Marketing Manager, and Soren Pedersen, Senior Product Manager. Here’s their insight on what makes the latest Logitech gear stand out for professional creators, and why they double as excellent work-from-home gear once you’re done broadcasting.
Blue microphones are synonymous with content creation — there was a time when you couldn’t fire up a YouTube video or watch a Twitch stream without seeing someone talking into the company’s iconic $129 Yeti USB microphone. The $349 Blue Sona XLR is a higher-end take on the concept for those ready to step up, offering a dedicated XLR connection (which means better quality) and a built-in gain boost for better volume that you’d normally have to buy as an extra accessory. Another big differentiator is that the Sona is a dynamic microphone, which captures a more focused sound compared to a condenser mic like the Yeti, which can pick up more background noise.
The Sona also looks like a direct competitor to the $399 Shure SM7B, which has become the gold standard for serious content creators, and one that’s used by nearly all of the professional YouTubers and Twitch streamers we’ve interviewed.
“This is our take on that style of microphone, but we’ve modernized it a bit,” says Pedersen, stressing the importance of the Sona’s built-in ClearAmp technology that adds additional gain without any extra hardware. Gain boosters such as the $149 Cloudlifter are a popular way to improve a microphone’s clarity and signal strength, but they also add an extra cost to an already expensive mic.
“You shouldn’t have to go back to the store for [another] $150 to buy more gain, just to get your microphone usable on something,” continues Pedersen.
The Blue Sona also stands out with its jaunty look, which comes in both graphite and off-white color options, and includes interchangeable red and graphite windscreens. The result is a mic that’s both colorful and customizable, which is a refreshing change in a category dominated by all-black gadgets. Pedersen was using the graphite mic with a red windscreen during our Zoom chat, which made the microphone a lot more noticeable during the call.
“[It’s] just something to jump out,” says Pederson. “This is what I use for gaming. And I put the black one on when I talk to grandma.”
Considering how popular (and relatively affordable) the Blue Yeti microphones are, I asked Pedersen about the key benefits of upgrading to the Sona — especially since XLR microphones require you to own an audio interface that allows you to connect them to your computer, rather than just being plug-and-play via USB.
“Anytime you’re going from a multi-part system, like a USB mic, which is a microphone and a USB interface baked into one, [and you upgrade to a] dedicated tool… there’s usually some higher quality [sound] that comes along,” says Pedersen. “As [creators] get into interfaces, sometimes it’s about control, like mixing multiple sources, but it’s really about getting a dedicated tool that’s built for [broadcasting].”
Earlier this year I reviewed the Logitech Litra Glow, which is a small $60 light that clips to the top of your monitor to make you look better on video. I loved using it, and found it to be more elegant than rigging a giant ring light atop my desk. Like the Sona to the Yeti, the Beam expands on the smaller Glow, offering a wide 15-inch beam of light that you can place anywhere within your setup for professional-quality lighting — or pair with several other Beams for a cinematic effect. And like the Glow, it can easily be controlled and customized via software, and meets strict testing guidelines that guarantee your safety if you’re sitting in front of it for longer hours.
“When we got into creating the Beam, the first part was elegant design, and then we decided on a very slim footprint so that it would fit on any desktop,” says Siminoff. “But the part that I’m excited about [is] the ability to move [multiple Beam lights] around and shape to create the cinematic effects.”
While Beam offers plenty of flexibility for hardcore users that want to rig up their own advanced lighting setup, Siminoff was quick to stress that the light will also look great out of the box for the everyday YouTuber. He also noted that some of the improvements made to the Beam were a direct result of feedback the team received from the Glow light. This includes more control options via the Logitech G Hub software, as well as wireless Bluetooth connectivity that allows added freedom for where and how you position the light.
“People wanted more control within G Hub. They wanted to build a control light separately and name them. And particularly we feel that more technical people will buy Beam, and a lot of them will use more than one. So the ability to name them and control them separately seems really important,” says Siminoff. “The ability to connect to the computer via Bluetooth was also requested [so it won’t tie] up one of your ports. We understand that these are so limited and users have so many things plugged into their computer already.”
The Litra Beam is certainly a promising accessory on paper, but what are the benefits over a standard ring light (which can be found for cheap on Amazon) or a higher-end box light like the Elgato Key Light? According to Siminoff, it all comes down to balanced, natural lighting, better onboard controls and the confidence that you can sit in front of your light for hours with minimal eye strain.
“So compared to a ring light [you get a] much smaller footprint, no weird effect in the eye, and we’re getting that even light pattern that you’d expect,” says Siminoff. “Compared to the Elgato light… what we really worked on was having a much smaller stand without the huge power adapter that they’re including. And we’re Bluetooth because the Wi-Fi on their light… I found it to be complicated.”
While the Logitech G Hub offers plenty of ways to easily adjust the Litra Beam’s brightness and color temperature from your desktop, Siminoff stressed the Beam’s onboard controls as a key feature that sets it apart from the competition.
“I like the idea that I can reach up and control everything [directly] on the light, or via software. And [Elgato doesn’t] give you both options, so to me that was a disappointment,” says Siminoff. “There are times you may use it separately. Maybe you’re cooking in the kitchen with our light and the computer’s far away. So you can just reach up and touch the light versus going and touching your computer. Things like that [are] where I want the controls onboard.”
While the Blue Sona XLR and Litra Beam are designed to elevate professional content creators, Logitech discovered an unintentional bonus feature while testing them internally over video calls: they both make for excellent work-from-home products.
“As these units started making their way around just work and people started going to the dynamic world, the quality of life sitting on Zoom all day got a lot better,” says Pedersen on the Blue Sona. “If companies gave things like this as part of their remote work kit, everybody’s blood pressure goes down 20 points just from not having to put up with all that noise and “Could somebody mute your mic?” all the time, right? And even if you’re giving presentations, the way you sound and the way you present yourself, it matters now.I feel like we’re past the days of like, Oh, it’s just on Zoom. We’re okay.’”
That’s not to say that you should buy a $349 microphone and a $99 light just for your weekly Zoom sessions — a $129 Blue Yeti mic and $60 Litra Glow will do the job just fine for that — but it does mean that these products are an especially worthy investment for creatives who also do lots of videoconferencing.
“Especially [for] the sort of people that are work from home and maybe also have a podcast or maybe also have a little music studio or maybe also have a YouTube channel when they do voiceovers… Whatever that ‘also’ is, this is definitely not made [strictly] for work from home people, but holy cow, is it a good solution for that.”
Siminoff echoed Pedersen’s statements on the lighting front, noting that good desktop lighting better simulates the brighter, clearer lighting you’ll find in a traditional office. Ultimately, the Logitech for Creators team seems keenly aware that the way you look and sound on camera makes a big difference, whether you’re leading an important presentation or streaming to Twitch to hundreds of thousands of people.
“I mean, we grew up hearing, “Lights, camera, action!”, right?,” says Siminoff. “Now I’d like to just say that in the streamer, creator, and gaming world, it’s “Lights, camera, mic, action.”