While at CES this year I had the opportunity to spend some time at the Blue Microphones booth. One of the products which really “wowed” me during demo time was their “Yeti” microphone.
The Yeti is being touted as the world’s first THX certified Microphone. The USB powered microphone is the perfect tool for for a wide range of projects including podcasts, vocals, live or event recording, interviews, broadcasts, instruments, bands and more.
Blue Microphones was kind enough to send both myself and Joel a Yeti for review and the following dual review contains both of our observations.
Here’s what Blue Mic has to say about the Yeti…..
“Blue Microphone recognized THX as a benchmark within the industry for professional audio production and playback… The THX certified Yeti provides aspiring artists a recording solution that combines quality, usability, and convenience for a wide range of audio applications. THX certification ensures the fidelity of the recording always remains true to its source allowing artists to accurately capture voice overs, interviews and other sound with confidence.”
The first thing I noticed after unboxing the Yeti is its weight. It just feels powerful. The microphone itself weighs 1.2 lbs and the stand another 2.2 lbs. It’s sleek metal finish is heavy and it oozes professionalism.
The Yeti comes complete with a mini-USB to USB cable and instruction manual.
Here are the specifications straight from Blue Mic.
* Power Required/Consumption 5V 150mA
* Sample Rate 48 kHz
* Bit Rate 16 bit
* Capsules 3 Blue-proprietary, 14mm condenser capsules
* Frequency Response 20Hz – 20kHz
* Sensitivity 4.5mV/Pa (1kHz)
* Max SPL 120db
Simple packaging usually translates to simple set up and that holds true with the Yeti. Simply plug the mini USB cable into the bottom of the Yeti and find an available USB port on your computer to plug the other end into.
The underside of the Yeti also features a headphone port in addition to the mini USB connector. This way you can plug your own headphones into the microphone and receive sound through them when using it. I loved this feature! normally I have to struggle with the cords on the back of my iMac and unplug my speakers then plug in my headphones if I want to use my own headphones while broadcasting something.
The bottom side also features a threaded hole which can be used with a microphone stand.
I simply chose to keep the Yeti on my desk. And since the Yeti features foam rubber on the bottom of the stand so there’s no need to worry about it damaging the surface of wherever you decide to place it.
The Yeti features four different patterns which you can select from a dial on the back. Each pattern is meant to be used depending on the type of situation you’re in.
Omni – Sound is picked up from all directions.
Cardioid – Sound is picked up from only the front.
Stereo – Capturing a realistic stereo image.
Bidirectional – Sound is picked up from the front and rear.
In addition to the four patterns you can also control the microphone’s gain via a dial on the back as well. It’s meant to start at center and be adjusted counterclockwise until whatever distortion you hear is alleviated.
The front of the Yeti features an independent volume control for when using your own headphones as well as a mute switch.
Larry – I tested the Yeti in a variety of situations. On Skype, iChat and in Screen Flow. In each application I was amazed at how well the Yeti performed and more importantly out-performed both my iMac’s built in microphone and my current USB mic. (which also happens to be a Blue Mic, just one of lessor quality.) My voice sounded softer and clear with the Yeti.
If you’re doing any sort of podcasting or live taped to broadcast type projects and you’re not happy with your audio quality the Yeti is something you need to look into. Its $150 price tag is a small, very small, price to pay for such quality in a microphone. You’ll sound professional and your listeners will recognize the difference immediately.
Here are two sample audio clips. The first I used the built in microphone on my 24″ iMac.
The second I used the Yeti.
Joel – I love the simplicity of a USB microphone. As a podcaster, I have tried almost every kind of setup from a analog headset plugged into my laptop to a Behringer USB interface plugged into a mixer. For a solo podcast or a podcast over a VoIP service like Skype or Gizmo Project, the simplest I have found was a straight USB headset. The Yeti is now the best I have used for this.
The headphone port on the bottom essentially makes this the same as a USB headset except the capsules that Blue uses to make this excellent microphone are of a much higher quality. The Yeti is also very sensitive. Thankfully, you can adjust the gain and the pattern help you tailor the audio of this mike to the situation at hand. Be it a room full of people, a solo podcaster or a couple of podcasters sharing a mike, the Yeti is capable of producing excellent sound.
Finally, I know it’s not supported, but I try every USB device I can find with Linux and I am happy to report that the Yeti had no issues. It worked right out of the box with Ubuntu 9.10 “Karmic Koala”. Even the faders in the sound preferences applet worked as expected. I have had some issues with USB devices acting strangely with the faders in the applet either acting in reverse, or being super sensitive to make it unusable. This is not the case with the Yeti. If you want a great mike for podcasting in Linux, look no further.
Here is a sample audio clip I recorded using the Yeti.
The Yeti is available online now for $149.99 from Amazon, Apple and directly from Blue Mic. Starting in February it’ll be in stores at Apple, Best Buy, Fry’s. Guitar Center and Comp USA.
For more details on the Yeti visit Blue Mic here.
M.S.R.P. – $149.99
What we like – professional sound at a low price, sturdy, headphone plug in, multiple patterns.
What we don’t like – occasional vibration sound coming from mic.