I started podcasting in 2006 not long after getting my first Mac computer. While GarageBand and other applications installed on every new Mac facilitate the podcast creation process nicely it didn’t take long to realize that you need a good microphone if you want to get the best out of the applications.
I didn’t want to go down the route of external audio interfaces and complicated setups as I needed the solution I settled upon to be as portable as possible for making recordings away from the office. After some research I went with the beautifully crafted Blue Snowball USB microphone and I’ve used it ever since together with it’s smaller sibling the Blue Snowflake.
Obviously I’ve used it for podcasting but also for all the online training, presentations and seminars I’ve delivered and/or participated in during the past four years. The only thing I’d have changed about the Blue Snowball was the addition of a Gain control. I learned to manage the gain in an artificial way via software but it wasn’t ideal.
Enter the Blue Yeti microphone, announced in November 2009, a USB microphone with a stunning feature set and a performance level to match. I immediately placed an order and received my Yeti in February 2010.
The Blue Yeti is large, very large, when using the included stand it towers at almost a foot high. The build quality is superb, the Yeti has a heavy solid feel to it to be expected when it weighs in at 3.5 pounds. The body of the microphone sports simple controls for setting the pattern selection, instantly muting the microphone and configuring the microphone gain. It also has a headphone jack on the base of the unit together with a standard threaded stand mount next to the mini USB port.
Installation, at least on a Mac, is simplicity itself merely a case of plugging in the USB cable and the system recognized it straight away. One of the features the Yeti has that the Snowball doesn’t is a built-in headphone amplifier on the base, as mentioned, which provides zero-latency monitoring. This is extremely convenient for my new studio setup, where I’m using a Mac Mini for audio recording, meaning I don’t have to move the Mini to access the headphone socket.
The pattern selection switch allows the microphone to be configured optimally for various recording types, including:
- Stereo (vocals, ensemble choir and instruments)
- Cardioid (podcasts, voiceovers, vocals and instruments)
- Omnidirectional (conference calls, field recordings and events/orchestra)
- Bidirectional (interviews, instruments and vocal duets)
Despite having a purpose built studio which provides much insulation against external noise I opted to use the cardioid pattern mode, to further reduce the chances of picking up extraneous noise, and was extremely pleased with the results. The sound is rich, deep and crystal clear. The sound quality is very impressive even when compared with Blue’s own Snowball which has served me well.
The instant mute button might be dismissed as nothing more than a nicety but for me it was a major advantage over the Blue Snowball. I spend many hours each week using online conferencing facilities such as Adobe Connect Pro where, although software mute is provided, I have to click away from my demonstration to temporarily disable my microphone. The opportunity to simply click an easily accessible button is not only faster but will be less error prone when I have several applications vying for screen space.
Blue are making much of the fact that the Yeti is the world’s first THX Certified microphone. As the joint press release from Blue and THX put it:
“Yeti is the first microphone to offer the quality and range of versatility to produce best quality recordings in a wide range of situations, including podcasts, vocals, live or event recording, interviews, broadcasts, instruments, bands and more. low distortion, high fidelity, and balanced frequency response.”
I’m very pleased with my Blue Yeti since it arrived and that includes hundreds of hours of use in podcasting and webinars.
For those interested in such details the tech specs are below.
Microphone and Performance
- Power Required/Consumption: 5V 150mA
- Sample Rate: 48 kHz
- Bit Rate: 16bit
- Capsules: 3 Blue-proprietary 14mm condenser capsules
- Polar Patterns: Cardioid, Bidirectional, Omnidirectional, Stereo
- Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
- Sensitivity: 4.5mV/Pa (1 kHz)
- Max SPL: 120dB (THD: 0.5% 1kHz)
- Impedance:16 ohms
- Power Output (RMS): 130 mW
- THD: 0.009%
- Frequency Response: 15 Hz – 22 kHz
- Signal to Noise: 100dB
- Dimensions (extended in stand): 4.72″ (12cm) x 4.92″(12.5cm) x 11.61″(29.5cm)
- Weight (microphone): 1.2 lbs (.55 kg)
- Weight (stand): 2.2 lbs (1 kg)
- PC: Windows 7, Windows Vista, XP Home Edition or XP Professional
- USB 1.1/2.0; 64 MB RAM (minimum)
- Macintosh: Mac OSX ( 10.4.11 or higher )
- USB 1.1/2.0
- 64 MB RAM (minimum)