Are you looking to improve the overall quality of your podcasts? While content is still ‘King’, the audio quality is an important factor that should not be overlooked. And while on-board laptop mics have improved in recent years, you really need to be using an external microphone. At approximately $100, the ‘Yeti’ USB Microphone from Blue [affiliate link], would be a great investment for improving your audio.
At my ‘day gig’, we picked one up for voice-overs on our videos, and I was able to spend some time with it. Here are my thoughts and observations (and soon I’ll upload some demo’s of the unit in action).
- 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)
The key thing to note with the specs is that this is a ‘condenser’ microphone and overall sound quality is much better than your common ‘dynamic’ mic. Condensers require a power-source, but since this is a USB mic, it’ll get its power from your computer.
The 4 different polar patterns are a nice touch. Essentially, these dictate how sound is ‘picked up’. If you’re speaking directly into the front, select the ‘cardioid’ setting. This will reject extraneous sound from the rear. If you’re recording a group of people, set it to ‘omnidirectional’ and it’ll pick up sound from all directions. Each setting has a tiny diagram on the mic body showing you the pickup pattern in case you forget.
Physically, the first thing you’ll notice when you take it out of the box, is how large and heavy it is. In the stand, it’s 11.6″ tall and weighs in at 2.2 lbs. Portable it is NOT, but that’s OK for most podcasters working out of a studio – even if the ‘studio’ is a closet. The mic is a nice shiny silver, and has a bit of a ‘retro’ aesthetic.
On the outside of the mic body, you’ll find:
- A mute button.
- A mic gain knob.
- A headphone volume knob.
- The pickup pattern selector.
Some of you might be asking, “a headphone volume knob?”. Yes, There are 2 jacks on the underside; one for the USB cable, and another for a headphone jack. You can route your computers audio output to the Yeti. This is a nice touch and can reduce cable clutter running back to your computer.
Now for the most important question. How does it sound?
In a word – impressive. While it’s no Neumann U-87 or AKG 414, considering it’s just a fraction of the cost of those mics, you probably won’t find many mics in this price range that sound this good. The frequency response is rated as 20Hz – 20kHz – the human audible range. I thought the high-frequency was pretty clean, but a tad bit artificial. Clarity was very good, and while the low-end response wasn’t incredible, if you get up close enough to the mic, it’ll be just fine.
We also purchased the Blue ‘POP – Universal Pop Filter’ [affiliate link]. Sure, you can use any pop filter, or a sock, or a panty-hose on a wire hanger in a pinch, but it looks really nice together with the Yeti and wraps around the diaphragm area nicely. It would’ve been nice if they provided a short instruction sheet showing you recommended ways to attach it, but you should be able to figure it out.
- Solid construction.
- Stylish design.
- Impressive sound quality.
- Seemed a bit lacking in the low-end response, but not terribly.
- Not portable. Unless you have a nice custom case for it, you’ll probably just use it in one location.
- Pop filter accessory should include a simple diagram on placement suggestions.
Overall, would I consider the Yeti a ‘Pro’ mic? Mmm, almost. Certainly semi-pro – and again for the price, it’s an oustanding value.
P.S. I’ll try to get some audio demos up soon.