As far as desktop mics go, the Blue Yeti might be the most popular mic on the internets right now. Some people really love it, while others really hate it. But is it really worth it and are there tricks to getting the most out of this mic? Let’s find out.
Btw, if you don’t care about the specs or details, just jump down to Getting The Best Sound for how to best operate this mic.
The Blue Yeti – Basics
The Blue Yeti is a USB mic that can record or stream to any computer. It’s built like a tank, tough and sturdy, and feels almost as heavy as one weighing a whopping a little over three pounds with the stand. It drops those added pounds without the stand to come in at 1.2 pounds. That doesn’t sound like much until you think of other mics that weigh less than half a pound.
This mic is sturdy. It feels like you could run over with a truck and still be able to use it. This lends itself to an overall durable feeling.
The mic stands almost exactly 12″ (30cm) when the mic is fully upright. It does fold down on itself for storage or transportation. The Blue Yeti comes in at a thin 5″ wide, which does put it into super-model status, but not for mics. So let’s just say, this is a big, sturdy mic. Rebel Wilson of mics, but it’s close.
The Blue Yeti – What It Does
The beauty of the Blue Yeti comes from its ease of use and versatility. Very few mics can just plug into your computer – without needing any drivers – and be used without much fuss. It also can do more with sound once it’s plugged in and ready to go.
Part of the versatility of the Blue Yeti comes from its polar, or pickup, pattern. A polar pattern limits how much sound the mic receives from distance. This is super useful when you’re in a big room with lots of sound bouncing around. It’s also useful when having more than one person speaking into the mic.
Since the Blue Yeti comes with everything you need get a great sound, that means it has a preamp built into the mic. The preamp is what boosts the signal of the actual mic, but it also colors the sound a bit, making a mic more punchy and less thin.
The Blue Yeti also comes with sound convertors built in, which means your computer has less work put on it for processing the sound of you mic. This makes the mic virtually stress free for any computer. This is especially important for people live-streaming who might have other apps running while recording their voice.
The Blue Yeti also comes with a couple of extra features that make it a bit more useful. First, it has a built in headphone jack. This is great for checking the gain level of your recording to make sure it’s loud enough and also not too loud and distorting the sound. It also comes with a mute button that is helpful when streaming to minimize unwanted sound.
The Blue Yeti – How Does It Sound?
It’s no big surprise that the Blue Yeti sounds great. It’s not a great as a studio mic with a great preamp and an engineer to tweak all the nobs, but that isn’t really the point. For around $100, you get a great USB mic that 97% of the population wouldn’t be able to tell the difference from the super high end studio setup.
If you really want the down and dirty, the mic sounds just about as good as any USB mic can (USB is the limitation, not the mic). This mic has an impressive 100db signal to noise ratio, a frequency response of 15 Hz – 22 kHz (more than the human ear can hear), outputs a 16bit depth and sends 48Hz signal.
What helps this mic really work are the three 1.3″ (14mm) diaphragms. If you don’t know, bigger diaphragms generally pick up more nuance from voices. That’s why you see them in studios.
That combined with the cardioid pickup pattern make this mic work.
The Blue Yeti – Getting The Best Sound
The short answer here for most people is plug in the mic, use the cardioid pickup pattern, set the level, and keep you mouth 6-10 inches away from the side of the mic with the logo facing your mouth. Whew. There’s, of course, a lot more to dive into, if you want to get the best sound possible.
WARNING! I can’t tell you how many people I see pointing the mic the wrong way. The mic should be pointed up with the side of the mic facing your mouth. From the Blue website
The Blue Yeti has four pickup patterns and they each are useful in the right context. The cardioid pattern only hears the first 12 inches or so closest to the front of the mic. That’s what most people will use. It’s best when there’s only one subject speaking and you want to get rid of unwanted room noise.
The omni pattern is really only useful when you have more than two people talking and you want everyone to be heard. Omni picks up everything based on how loud it is. So all that sound bouncing around in the room gets picked up too.
The stereo pattern is exactly what you would think. It picks up two signals at once to the left and right of the front-facing mic. This is useful for recording instruments or even recording two people.
The figure eight pattern hears people on the opposite side of the mic. This is mostly only useful when two people are talking. Why would you use this instead of the stereo pattern? Well, the stereo pattern combines the sound the closer you get to the center of the pattern, while the figure eight pattern rejects sound between the two subjects. So there’s more isolation between the two sound sources.
All mics have a common trait called the proximity effect. This just means that the closer you get to the mic the louder it is, and also, THE MORE BASS IT WILL HAVE.
This is why some people on the radio sound like they’re doing an impersonation of God. When you get really close to a mic, like within 5 inches, it will start getting fairly boomy (yeah, that’s a technical term). It’s not always bad, but you’ll want to be aware of it.
Along with this power comes the responsibility of controlling your plosives. Plosives are sounds that move a lot of air like Ps, Ts, and Bs. If you find that your speaking sounds like Justin Bieber trying to beatbox, you’ll want to get a pop filter. Any pop filter will work so don’t spend a lot of money on one, unless you just really want to.
So, knowing all of that, you will probably find that staying about 7-10 inches from the mic will get you the best results. If your voice sounds thin, you can move a little closer.
The gain control knob is a great addition for this mic working with the headphones. In case you missed the tech speak, your gain stage is the loudness of your mic coming into your recorder, not its overall volume.
Why is that important? Because when you’re trying to make things sound amazing, you want to get the best quality signal recorded. That means getting the most signal without getting too loud causing distortion.
If you are recording into an app like Audacity or Garageband, just watch the meters next to your channel and make sure you never see red. If you do, turn down the gain. If you’re streaming, check your meters on whatever input device you’re using.
ONE MORE THING
The great things about a desktop mic is that it’s convenient and easy to reach. The worst thing about a desktop mic is that it’s on a desk. Being on a desk means that subtle vibrations, like typing, can be picked up by the mic.
There are three ways to deal with this. The first, if you can use the mic without touching the desktop, then do that. Simple right?! The second trick is to put something between the desktop and the mic base to insulate the