by Fernando Lyons
Whether you are a professional or weekend podcaster, audio/video streamer, or interviewer, you know that a good microphone is the most important tool that you can have. You want to make sure that your messages and vocals are always audible, crisp, and clear. Anything less is a turn-off to your listening audience. I required a microphone to record voiceover audio for a video trailer I recently created. From a visual perspective, the video was high definition, so I wanted to ensure that the audio quality met the same quality standard. My search for the best available on the shelf usb microphone led me to the Blue yeti USB Microphone.
One of the first things you will notice about the yeti, outside of its healthy price tag, is it's size. This is a really big microphone, standing approximately a foot tall on its base, and weighing in at over three and a half pounds. The name yeti is very appropriate for this beast. Unlike the beast of legend, however, this yeti has high visual appeal, and will look great on your desk, if you have room for it. The yeti has has a pretty solid build. It is mostly composed of a metallic allow, however, for some reason, the buttons and knobs are made out of plastic. While the plastic components don't visually detract from the microphone, it is uncertain whether it will impact the microphones overall long-term durability. Part of that will depend on how much you transport the microphone. As far as portability, this is not a piece of equipment that you can throw in your bag with your laptop computer, unless you are carrying a duffle bag. The microphone does fold down on its base, but it is still pretty large, and may require a separate bag for transport. Fortunately, once it is in its final destination, there is no lengthy setup, or software drivers to install to operate the microphone. While an audiophile (or someone like me) may feel the need to go into their computer's systems preferences to manage the output levels, for most consumers, the yeti is ready to use right out of the box. Simply plug it in and begin to play.
One of my favorite aspects of the yeti is its inclusion of hard buttons on its surface. This makes it a whole lot more convenient to control the microphones functions, than using the computer's software. On its frontside, you will find a mute button, and a headphone volume switch. The headphones jack is located on the bottom of the microphone, along with a mini-USB port, and a hole to insert a tall microphone stand (not included). On its backside, there is a gain switch, and the multi pattern selection switch. The multi pattern selection switch allows users to switch between four recording modes, depending on the user's physical environment and the recording source. The Stereo mode records audio from all directions, but is best for recording music or two (left and right) channel audio. The Cardioid mode records sound directly in front of the microphone, blocks sounds from every other direction, and is best suited for recording podcasts, vocals, or voiceovers. The Omnidirectional mode takes in audio from all directions, and is good for conference calls, or recording ambient sounds. Finally, the Bidirectional mode picks up sound from directly in front of and behind the microphone, and is great for one on one interviews, or recording musical instruments.
At the end of the day, with all of bells and whistles, a microphone is ultimately judged by the quality of it's audio. The overall audio quality of the yet USB microphone is excellent. This microphone uses a high quality analog to digital converter to produce and send high quality audio to your computer. The produced audio is full, rich, crisp and clear, with a good balance of highs and lows. The microphone has great sensitivity, and is able to pick up the faintest of background sounds, while not being overwhelmed by loud sounds. I recorded audio using each of its multi pattern selection modes, and they all performed as advertised, thanks to the microphone's inclusion of the Tri-Capsule array. Ambient sounds were suppressed when they needed to be, and were recorded at a good level, when they needed to be. Voices are accurately recorded with no distortion, and the tinny sound that many usb microphones exhibit is non present.
With excellent audio quality and list of features that are not present on other USB microphones, the Blue yeti USB Microphone is the perhaps the best in its category. Of course, at $130-$145, you will pay for that quality, but it is money well spent for the up-and-coming podcaster, audio/video streamer, or voiceover artist.
+ Great Audio Quality, Great Sensitivity, Various Recording Modes, Hard Buttons, Headphone Jack, Design, Solid Build, Plug & Play
-Plastic Knobs, Portability