Blue Microphones Yeti review
In the professional audio world, Blue Microphones is probably best known for the Bottle condenser microphone, which costs thousands of pounds, and the Baby Bottle, which merely costs several hundred. The Yeti USB microphone is one of several recent forays into home audio and while it's far from cheap at £100, it's certainly within the reach of most home recording enthusiasts.
The Yeti contains three 14mm tuned condenser capsules of the kind that Blue has built its reputation on. Condensers are popularly used for studio recording, largely thanks to their sensitivity, but require precision manufacturing, which accounts for a large part of the Yeti's price.
A mic of this quality is a very versatile tool. Blue has supplemented this by building four different modes into it. Stereo mode is designed to capture sound sources in a way that sounds realistic to the human ear. Cardiod focuses recording on sources directly in front of the mic - a favourite for simple vocal recording. Omnidirectional picks up sound equally from all directions and is designed to give the best results if you're recording multiple sound sources, such as a conversation or a group of musicians. Finally, bidirectional mode emphasises sound at the front and rear of the mic, as required for interviews.
We loved the rich presence of the stereo and omnidirectional modes and the precision and accuracy of both vocal and instrumental recordings. Voices were perfectly nuanced and realistic, while every harmonic and fret noise of our steel strung guitar was true to life.
All modes, even cardiod, are very susceptible to ambient noise, due to the mic's sensitivity. For best results, you'll want to use it in a very quiet, or preferably sound-proofed, room. You'll also want to make sure that the computer you're recording on to is as quiet as possible. Interference from our PC and power sources was virtually non-existent, which is one of the main arguments in favour of USB recording equipment. A 5m USB expansion cable is a good additional buy, that way you can place your PC in the next room.
A gain knob allows you to raise and lower the microphone's output volume, which is handy in noisy environments or when recording quiet sounds. A 3.5mm stereo headphone socket provides zero-latency monitoring and a mute button allows you to cut the microphone in and out as required.
The microphone comes screwed to its own heavily weighted desk stand, but also has a standard threaded mounting for a mic stand. However you use it, it's bulky. Blue suggests taking it out to record live or environmental sound, but we can't see it moving far from our desk.
Its THX certification is a nice touch, but an unnecessary one, as its quality speaks for itself. This outstanding microphone is, in combination with free recording software such as Audacity, a one-stop solution for anyone who's serious about home podcasting and vocal recording. The price is off-putting and you'll definitely need to create a quiet space to use it, but the Yeti is now our first choice for clean, accurate voice capture.