Most Laptops and many PC’s ship with a basic built in microphone and webcams have them built in as well. These tend to work acceptably for Skype conversations and for very basic needs but are never what could be described as good. If you want to use voice control software, record for a podcast, YouTube or even just get better quality on that Skype call you are going to need a better microphone.
Headsets are the most obvious way to do this and for things like gaming have their advantages but they can be uncomfortable to wear for long time periods, can only be used by a single person at once and look odd if you are recording video as well. The answer is a free standing desk mounted microphone. Mic’s and especially studio quality mics can be extremely expensive but the Yeti Mic aims to be be a quality mic at an affordable price.
The Blue Yeti Desktop mic is a condenser microphone. These are the most common types of mics found in studios rather than Dynamic mics which are more often found in home setups. Condensers have a much greater frequency response and transient response – this is the ability to reproduce the speed of an instrument or voice. They also generally have a louder output, but are much more sensitive to loud sounds and need a source of power. They do have the disadvantage of being somewhat more delicate and larger but for a desktop mic which can be put down and left in one position this is not a big factor.
Internally the Yeti has three condenser capsules that can be switched between different modes to get the best recorded sound. These are Stereo which priorities sound from the left and right for instruments, Caridoid which priorities sound from a single direction for a single person speaking or singing, Omnidirectional which gets sound from every direction and Bidirectional which picks up from two opposite directions for two people talking with the mic in between them. The mic has a physical switch on its back which lets you select easily which mode to use although I did find the symbols to designate each mode perplexing at first.
Carrying on around the mic at the back is a gain dial that lets you set the overall sensitivity. On the front of the mic is a mute button that either has a solid red light when the mic is open or a flashing red when mute is engaged. It is also possible to plug in a pair of earphones to the Yeti which will let you hear a conversation with out worrying about feedback. The volume for this is controlled by a dial on the front of the mic. The Yeti connects and is powered via USB with a removable 2 metre mini USB to USB cable. Finally on the base of the mic is a screw fitting which allows the whole thing to be mounted on an arm for perfect positioning.
So after all of that how well does the Yeti let you record?
Impressively well. I do not have the most refined ears but the difference between the Yeti and my build in mics was like night and day. The Yeti’s sound is rich and full. Its hard to describe it without bring in terms like broadcast quality but that is the best way I’ve found to think about it. The sound recorded by the Yeti would not be out of place on the TV.
Included in the box: Yeti Microphone, Yeti Desktop stand, 2m miniUSB to USB cable
About Manufacturer: Blue Microphones
You might be forgiven for thinking the Blue in the Yeti mic’s name refers to its trim but it is actually the name of the company – Blue Microphones. The company was founded in 1995 and made (and still makes) studio and professional microphones. They were brought on board by Apple when Apple wanted to make GarageBand in the early 2000s to create a high quality USB microphone and have expanded their range gradually whilst staying deliberately at the top end of the market.
The Ergohacks Evaluation
The Yeti Mic is versatile and leans itself to a variety of users and situations as long as they are relatively stationary. It is designed to be used on the desktop but the addition of screw fittings means that can also be used on a boom or arm and the USB cable is removable so could be replaced with a longer one if required.
Basic setup is very straightforward – plug and play and Windows and OSX both recognised it and downloaded the appropriate drivers. Beyond that point the ability to shift recording modes is crucial. It means that you can use the same single to record your speech, record a person to person interview or leave on omnidirectional to pick up voice commands. It is part of what transforms the Yeti from a good mic to a great one.
The Yeti has have an ergonomic design with well designed buttons and dials that have positive clicky feedback on use. It’s angle is adjustable via two hand tightenable screws in the side of the desktop stand and the stand is weighty enough to keep it exactly where you put it. I’ve seen several comments that the buttons feel plasticky and loose but this hasn’t been my experience at all they seem very solid to me.
I found the single LED in the middle of the Yeti distracting until I realised it was supposed to be obvious either that you had an open mic or that you were muted. On reflection I’m glad this is made clear particularly after a few instances in the past where I thought I was on an open mic and was actually muted.
If you need a good quality condensing microphone the Yeti is among the cheapest of the quality options available but manages to sacrifice very little to get to that price. The average user will not need something of this sophistication but if you do need it the Yeti is the moist economic way to get it.
Power required: 5v 150mA
Sample Rate: 48kHz
Bit Rate: 16 Bit
Condenser System: 3 14mm condenser capsules
Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
Size: 12 x 12.5 x 29.5 cm (in stand, extended)
Weight Microphone: .55kg
Weight Stand: 1.02kg
Headphone amp Impedance: 16 ohms
Headphone amp power output: 130mW
Headphone frequency response: 15Hz – 22kHz
Warranty: Two year limited warranty
The Yeti Mic requires a powered USB 1.1, 2.0 or 3.0 port. I found that it was happy being on a powered USB hub but was unreliable on a non-powered USB hub. Blue recommend plugging it directly into the PC rather than using a hub.
The Yeti will work with Windows, Mac or Linux.
Usually my conclusions weigh up the good and bad of a product. In this case Blue have made a product which has only two downsides as far as I can see. First being a condenser microphone and so solidly engineered it is not particularly mobile and very heavy. This is not something to bring with you on the road but to leave at your desk or recording studio where it’s size is more of an asset rather than a drawback. Secondly for some it is simply overkill. If you only ever chat on Skype with your mum it’s going to be more than you need.
If you can accept those drawbacks the Yeti is a great microphone. If you are considering starting podcasting or recording at your desk, if you do a lot of conference calling or need to talk with a lot of people the Yeti will serve you well. Highly recommended.
The review is based on the Blue Yeti USB Microphone. This post contains affiliate links. First published on 26 September 2015