The Blue Yeti is the ultimate podcast starter microphone. Though at a cost of £100/$125 it certainly isn’t the cheapest beginner mic out there – and you definitely don’t need to spend that much to start podcasting. There are however, a number of reasons why forking out for one might make your life easier, and your learning curve a lot less steep. Let’s have a look at the Blue Yeti and decide whether or not it’s the mic for you.
Who Would Use The Blue Yeti?
What really impresses me about Blue is the overall packaging and appearance of their microphones. The Yeti’s box is well illustrated with simple diagrams and explanations of its functions. The aim here is so that someone who knows little or nothing about recording audio can look at it and feel confident that they can set it up and begin using it straight away.
Blue’s primary market here is the podcaster, or to be more specific, the podcaster who just wants to plug in and record without having to worry about anything other than their content.
Because it’s a USB mic and plugs directly into your computer, you don’t need a mixer or preamp to operate it. Whilst this is a big plus point for beginners and ‘content only’ podcasters, it won’t find much favour with those who enjoy tinkering with settings on a mixer and constantly trying to improve their audio quality. Again though, those folks aren’t really Blue’s target market here.
Setting Up The Blue Yeti
The Yeti is a good looking microphone, and it feels sturdy, durable, and well weighted. You can be set up to record with the Yeti in under a minute. It’s a simple case of taking it out the box, sitting it on your desk, then connecting it to your computer using the USB cable provided.
The Yeti comes on its own stand which is a big plus for many. There’s no need to have a boom arm or any other type of mic stand to get started. The underside of the stand is cushioned with rubber padding. This, combined with the mic’s weight, means the Yeti feels fixed in place once you start recording.
If you do want to mount your microphone on something other than its default stand then it has a screw thread hole at the bottom which will easily attach to a mic stand or boom arm.
Some ‘bundle’ deals include a pop shield, but you can attach any standard pop shield to your Yeti quickly and easily. Take a look at the photo and you’ll see how I attached mines. A wee word of warning that one with an angled clamp like this one can mark or scratch the paintwork/coating of your Yeti stand, so look out for that if you ever plan to sell it on.
Here’s a recent article we put out on powering up your Yeti with different accessories, such as boom arms and pop shields.
Features Of The Blue Yeti
There’s a 3.5mm port on the underside of the mic, so you can plug your earbuds or headphones in here and monitor your recordings. This means you’ll be hearing exactly what’s being recorded, as you record it.
There are 3 different dials on the Blue Yeti.
- Headphone volume – unsurprisingly controls the volume of the audio you’re hearing coming back out through your headphones. You can refer to this as your ‘output volume’. Increasing or decreasing this won’t have any effect on the audio you’re recording.
- Gain – this dial controls the sensitivity of your mic. You can refer to this as your ‘input volume’. Increasing or decreasing this will have an effect on the audio you are recording.
- Polar pattern – this allows you to select a recording method that best suits your recording set-up. We’ll talk about polar patterns in more detail shortly.
There’s also a mute button on the Blue Yeti. Once plugged in to your computer, this will light up with a little red light on it. If you press it once, it will flash. This means your mic has been muted. If you press it again, the light will go back to constant, and the mic will be picking up your voice once more.
These are settings to determine how the microphone ‘hears’ from. The Yeti has 4 different options here, as well as recommendations on which one to choose.
- Stereo – for recording a singing/vocals, or a couple of instruments.
- Cardioid – for recording a solo podcast, voiceover, or solo instrument.
- Omnidirectional – for recording a ’roundtable’ discussion, at an event, or doing some field recording.
- Bidirectional – for recording face-to-face interviews, a couple of instruments, or a vocal (singing) duet.
The Yeti has a pretty decent sound quality as far as USB microphones go, and does a good job of accurately capturing the voice. One thing I was aware of was that it did pick up the fan noise from my PC until I clicked it onto the cardioid polar pattern setting (thus minimising sound from round the back of the microphone), so that’s something to look out for.
Cost & Accessories
The Blue Yeti costs around £100 or $125 to buy new on Amazon. There are bundle packages available on Amazon.com where Blue will throw in a couple of extras (a pair of headphones and a pop shield) for around $150 too.
The Blue Yeti is a great option for someone looking for a simple set-up, but also a decent level of sound quality. The Yeti certainly sounds better than its little brother, the Blue Snowball, which is another popular starter microphone.
My recommended starter mic is usually the Samson Q2U. Soundwise there’s not too much in it, though if anything I’d say the Yeti slightly edges it. The Q2U is a fair bit cheaper at £45/$40 and also has an XLR connection option. The Yeti on the other hand has more polar pattern options and a much better desk stand.
The bottom line is that if you’re just looking for a quality USB mic without any complications then its hard to see past the Blue Yeti.
If you want to incorporate a mixer into your arsenal at some point though, but still want a USB mic option at this early stage, then I’d recommend the Samson Q2U.
If you’re still undecided on which mic is going to be most suited to you though, check out our best podcasting microphones article.