Blue The Yeti USB microphone hands-on
Blue Microphones has had great success with its Snowball USB mic over the years, and we're big fans of the audio quality it offers. But it doesn't reach the mountainous heights of the company's latest entry into the market: the THX-certified The Yeti.
Also a USB connected model, with analogue to digital processing, The Yeti comes across like radio microphones of old. It's retro, but with many modern twists.
For starters, it features four different recording modes, accessible using a switch on the back, and recorded through three 14mm tuned condenser capsules:
"Stereo" records from either side and captures accurate stereo imaging, even adding a little reflection from the rear so that there's a distinct spatial sound to recordings.
"Cartoid" offers a front facing cone, and will possibly be the most used mode for podcasts and vocal recordings.
"Omnidirectional" picks up sound from all four directions: sides, front and rear. It's perfect if, for example, you're recording different people sitting around a table. Or just ambience.
And lastly, the "Bidirectional" mode picks up sound at the front and rear.
It is the variety of these different methods of recording that make The Yeti so versatile. However, it's not these that impress the most.
The build quality of the microphone is extraordinary. It could easily be used as a weapon in an episode of Midsummer Murders. The weight and sturdiness of metallic beast is such that there is no wobble or shake during recording. We suspect that it could withstand a fair amount of abuse before getting more than a superficial scratch.
There are switches and nobs for headphone volume (zero-latency), gain, pattern (audio mode), and a mute button. And USB and 'phones (mini-jack) connectivity is offered on the bottom of the mic itself. There's also a tripod mount if you don't want to use the supplied desktop stand.
But the most impressive is the audio capture performance itself. Considering that there's analogue to digital processing going on, the end result is as clean as the language in the Vatican. It depends on the recording software and compression at the computer's end, of course, but end results are always note perfect. It is the podcaster's dream.
In fact, it is this specific podcaster's dream, as I currently use The Yeti for my part of the Pocket-lint podcast, which you can hear from episode 24 and on. Also, as the podcast is recorded via Skype, and output is a 128kbps MP3/M4A, I've recorded a test using a much higher bitrate, which you can listen to below... So you don't need to just take my word for it.
The Yeti USB microphone costs £129.99 (although we've seen it for £99.99 on Amazon.co.uk) and is available now.
Hear a test recording
Download the test file (right click)
Do you record a podcast? If so, what microphone do you use? Let us know in the comments below...