If you’re interested in podcasting or video screencasting, getting great audio is absolutely essential, and the biggest factor there is a quality microphone. There are a ton of different mics on the market, which is both a blessing and a curse.
On the one hand, you have a lot of options available to you, which lets you shop by features and price range. On the other hand, the number of choices can be overwhelming, and a lot of us simply don’t have the opportunity to try out a mic before making a purchase.
The Yeti Pro by Blue Microphones offers you a lot of power and options at a fairly reasonable price point. If you’re interested in recording entirely to your computer, you can hook it up with USB. If you want to go beyond there, it has and XLR audio jack to hook it up to mixers and digital recorders. That gives you a fair bit of versatility that you won’t find with your typical USB mic.
Unlike a lot of other USB microphones, the Blue Yeti Pro isn’t plug and play, but the setup is still painless. Simply plug in your mic, download the install file from Blue’s site, and run it. In just a couple minutes everything is up and running. Once you’ve installed the drivers, you can connect and disconnect the microphone at your leisure. I set this up on a couple of workstations, running Vista and Windows 7 and didn’t have any issues.
One quick note: make sure you’re using the right install package for your mic. If you’re getting errors during setup, that’s the most likely culprit.
The audio quality is one of the big selling points of the Yeti Pro. Where most similar microphones record in 16-bit, the Yeti Pro is capable of recording at up to 24-bit. For the non-audiophiles like me, that just means you get a substantially higher resolution recording.
That’s great an all, but how does it sound? Well I’ll let you compare for yourself. I’ve recorded myself reading a sentence on the Yeti Pro, a webcam, and on my smart phone. The difference between them is quite pronounced, as you can see here:
As you can hear, the Yeti Pro blows these others right out of the water. Where the webcame and phone recordings are noisy and blown out, the Yeti Pro is smooth and natural sounding. If you’re doing a screencast or podcast and are thinking about using the mic on your webcam, I think this illustrates why that’s a bad idea, especially in light of the alternatives.
A quick note on using the Yeti Pro: this is a side address microphone, which means it’s designed for you to speak into the the side rather than the top of the mic. This is so important that Blue provides this helpful illustration:
One minor issue I ran into with the Blue Yeti Pro is that when recording via USB the gain (recording volume) is fairly low. I reached out to Blue Microphones about this, and they explained that this was done by design because the mic was built to handle a variety of sound, from vocals to extremely loud drums and guitar. If you’re using your mic solely for voice-over, the manufacturer can adjust the gain on the mic. I was also told that newer production runs of the Yeti Pro have a 10-15db higher gain compared to the older models (as I used for this review).
Look and Feel
While performance is obviously the most important factor here, I have to say that I absolutely love the look of the Blue Yeti Pro. The design is beautifully retro, with a dark patina finish on the body with a chrome top and matted gray hardware. If nothing else, it makes your desk look cool, like you salvaged it from a radio station that closed down in the fifties.
The mic is also quite large, weighing in at about three pounds and standing seven inches tall. This thing was built big and tough.
It comes with an attractive weighted base that allows the Yeti Pro to tilt, and has a slot for cabling to hang out the back. It also has a rubberized bottom to keep the mic from sliding around and – presumably – cutting down on vibrations a bit.
And if you don’t want to use the base, there’s a standard microphone mount on the bottom.
Blue Yeti Controls
One thing that I really enjoy about this microphone is that it has actual controls on it. Want to boost the gain? Turn up the dial in the back. Need to ease off the headphone volume? Turns down the knob. It’s really nice to have physical controls on a device, especially when they feel as solid and well build as they do on the Yeti Pro.
On the microphone itself you can adjust gain, recording pattern, and microphone volume. There’s also a handy mute button that blinks when activated (it stays lit when the Yeti is live, which took me a bit of getting used to).
Versatility is the big selling point with this mic. It’s designed to be a fantastic desktop podcasting and videocasting mic, but it’s also designed for conference calls, singing, instruments, etc. The list goes on. To support all this, the Blue Yeti offers four different recording patterns: Stereo, Cardioid, Omnidirectional, and Bidirectional.
If you’re working with music, stereo mode is going to be your best bet. Voiceover and podcasting? That’s a job for cardioid. For recording events where you want to get sound from all directions, switch to omnidirectional mode. Finally, there’s a bidirection mode for duets and interviews.
Confused? Don’t worry, Blue provided this handy cheat sheet:
As we saw with the recording modes, the Blue Yeti Pro also has a lot of versatility when it comes to outputs. Most of use will use this as a USB mic for our computer or laptop, which it’s more than suited for, but it also has an XLR output for professional audio recording.
If you’re in the market for a microphone that will grow with you, The Blue Yeti Pro is a great one to look at. With four different recording patterns and both USB and XLR outputs, it’s a very versatile mic that produces beautiful audio.