For any producer of content, one thing above all is essential. Having a high quality of sound is possibly the single biggest determining factor in enjoyment for the content consumer. Even above video quality, the sound quality needs to be perfect, our eyes are of course a lot more forgiving than our ears! Today, I am going to be reviewing the Blue Yeti USB Condenser microphone with musicians and content creators in mind.
Build Quality and Physical Overview
Build Quality and Physical Overview
As soon as this microphone is in view, you know it is big. Larger than a typical radio microphone, the Blue Yeti has some heft to it. It is a solid metal construction, available in several colours (I chose black). Blue have put a lot of effort into this microphone as it is a solid piece of engineering.
One point of criticism is that the buttons and knobs on the microphone feel cheaper than the rest of it. The volume knob has a slight grate to it as it is turned and while still secure, feels a level cheaper than the rest of the device. Having said this, it doesn't offer any functional hindrance to use and durability is not a concern if treated right.
On the bottom are two ports, a USB port for interfacing with the computer, and a headphone jack to monitor the audio coming in as well as the computer audio. This microphone acts as an audio interface and so you can monitor your tracks as you record, with no extra gear required. In addition, there is a threaded mount for a different stand. I have not used this with another mic stand yet, however, I would hesitate to do so, simply because of the weight of the Yeti.
On the back are two knobs, one for gain, the other for the mic pickup pattern. The Yeti offers Stereo, Bi-Directional, Omni, and Cardioid patterns, suiting pretty much every conceivable user. They are clearly labelled and easy to use.
It comes with a small stand, with a soft bottom for insulation. The stand is sturdy and has screws to keep the microphone tight and in place. The bottom has enough grip, even on smooth surfaces, that it doesn't slide easily. The base is quite wide and so it is unlikely to fall unless there is a significant knock.
Inside the microphone is three condenser capsules, this differs from other microphones which tend to only have one or two. This is actually really good for a microphone, especially one in its price range.
You may be forgiven for thinking that at this price, the sound quality will suffer, but I can honestly say that it is the best sounding microphone I have worked with. If you need more than my word to go on, you are smart, for those looking for a more reputable opinion, look no further than THX.
The Yeti is the first microphone to receive a THX Certified Distinction, this guarantees the sound quality is extremely low-distortion and high-fidelity. It has 16 bit/48kHz audio that words as soon as you plug it in (no driver installation needed).
Even just reading the quick start guide that comes in the box, you will see frequency response charts, a rare occurrence in this price range, unless the manufacturers have nothing to hide. You can see above that this is the case, with admirable frequency balance in all the directionality patterns.
Being a condenser microphone, the Yeti is sensitive. This can come as a curse if you are in a noisy environment, but setting the pattern to reflect the sound source is a great way of cutting out the noise from unused directions of sound. This also can't be used as a point against it because condensers are chosen for their sensitivity and the responsibility for appropriate location lays on the user.
One thing I would say though is that the stand does not isolate the microphone from noise very well. If sat at the same table as a noisy keyboard, it will pick up the impacts through the table. At higher gains, though not unbearable, it could pick out traffic in the distance where my ears couldn't - so perhaps it has a use for spying on your neighbours. I recommend sitting the mic on an extra layer of isolation and on a solid surface that doesn't conduct sound if you are using it at higher gains.
The proximity effect is lovely, with my voice at 4-5 inches (~11cm) it kicks in quite sharply, this distance is optimal for the soothing lows that the Yeti brings out. If you are planning on moving around a bit, I recommend you stay a little further away so the proximity effect doesn't kick in on some words and not others.
All the patterns work as expected, I have to recommend the stereo patterns especially as they bring an extra dimension to the sound, especially for recording acoustic instruments. Setting the mic further back works best as it captures the room and the stereo switch from one ear to the other can be quite abrupt if up close.
The headphone output sends the same quality of sound as you'd want from such a phenomenal device, with zero-latency input monitoring, I actually bypass my main audio interface frequently now in favour of using the Yeti, as it offers convenience and does not reduce the sound in any noticeable way.
Who is it Good For?
The Yeti is good for a wide range of people. Podcasters will find a use for it due to its simplicity and pickup patterns, whether it is a single voice (Cardioid), interview (Bi-directional), or group (Omni/Stereo), there is a lot to offer.
Youtubers will find this to be an extremely important investment as it guarantees high-quality audio for voice-overs, though if filming from a distance, it won't replace a shotgun or lavalier microphone. Desktop tutorials and voiceovers are where the Yeti shines.
If you are a musician/producer, this microphone will do the job great if you are on a budget, in fact, I would recommend this microphone over any other microphone for its versatility and cost-effectiveness. It should be the centrepiece of any singer's home studio.
While it doesn't replace dedicated instrument or vocal mics for higher-end studios, I would have to say its the next best bet!