Do you NEED a pricey microphone like the Blue Yeti?
Having recently got into full time streaming, I made the plunge and scooped up a Blue Yeti USB microphone. Now, I don’t want anyone to think that you NEED a microphone as fancy as a Blue Yeti to put on a good stream. I would rather listen to a cheap microphone that is set up and configured correctly than listen to a fancy microphone that isn’t optimized at all. That said, a microphone like the Blue Yeti can really up your sound quality and allow you to isolate your sound so that you are streaming only the noises you want the audience to hear, such as your voice. The directional settings on the Blue Yeti and other pricier USB mics allow you to effectively keep other noises such as keyboard and mouse clicks in the “dead zone”. A studio quality mic such as the Blue Yeti will also have a bit higher build quality than most gamer headsets. Not to mention using a mic like the Blue Yeti allows you to not have to wear a headset if you wish. Since switching to the Yeti I have started wearing ear buds which are more comfortable for me during long streams. Really, it’s a decision between you and your wallet. If you can swing the money and believe you will use it often, a studio mic like the Blue Yeti is a great addition to your stream.
Anyway, on to the review!
Blue Yeti Microphone Specs (per manufacturer’s site)
- Power Consumption: 5V 150mA
- Sample Rate: 48KHz
- Bit Rate: 16bit
- Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
- Max SPL: 120dB
- Capsule: Three 14mm condenser capsules
- Polar Patterns (Settings): Cardioid, Bidirectional, Omnidirectional, Stereo
- Dimensions (upright with stand): 4.72″ x 4.92″ x 11.61″
- Works for Windows and Mac (USB 1.1/2.0)
Blue Yeti Features
First I would like to clarify a few things: there are three types of Blue Yeti microphones. There is the Yeti, Yeti Studio and Yeti Pro. I am reviewing the Yeti, which has an MSRP of $149.95 (US). The Yeti comes in three colors as well. There is Silver, Blackout and Platinum. The Yeti I have is the silver model.
So, first things first, lets talk about the box! There’s a growing trend of unboxing videos and package analysis and as someone with a borderline unboxing fetish I apologize that there is no accompanying video for this review. I promise to make an effort to record future unboxings though. The first impressions a product makes absolutely matter and are often a window into the quality of that product. The Blue Yeti box is stylish and makes use of the negative space to highlight an image of the product, with a big, bold “yeti” emblazoned on the front. The rest of the package details the Yeti’s specs and various recording modes. The Yeti and included desktop stand are packaged securely inside with styrofoam. Also included is a nice long USB cable (around 8 feet long). The first thing you will notice when you remove the microphone and stand from the box is weight. This is a SOLID microphone. It weighs in at almost 4lbs. If you ever have a home robbery occur while you are streaming you could most definitely subdue the intruder with your Blue Yeti.
The Yeti is a beautiful piece of hardware and besides a so-so quality chrome ring around the head of the mic, it feels like a quality product. I personally think the blackout painted one looks the best. The silver model was on sale when I purchased, so my wallet dictated I buy the silver version. The desktop stand is heavy and solid, with a grippy bottom to dampen vibrations and avoid any slippage on your desk. It allows you to tilt the mic in a range of positions. For streaming, I would recommend purchasing a separate mic stand however. A mic stand allows you to get the mic further from your keyboard and mouse to help remove clicking and key thumps. The mic has 5/8 threaded hole to screw onto a mic stand if you go this route. The microphone pictures posted in this review do not show the included desktop mic stand, because I use a floor stand instead.
Setting up the Blue Yeti is as simple as plugging in the USB 2.0 and setting it as default recording device in windows. Note that it is USB 2.0. While it will generally work with USB 3.0 ports, there have been some unconfirmed reports of audio problems associated with using USB 3.0 ports. After you have the microphone plugged in and set as a default recording device, I highly recommend you spend some time checking your levels and setting a good noise gate if needed.
The Blue Yeti has four recording modes you can select from: Stereo, Cardioid, Omnidirectional and Bidirectional. Below is a description of each mode and the manufacturer recommended application.
STEREO: This mode is for recording vocals, choir or musical instruments. It will record sound from the front, left and right. You can adjust the microphones position to record to the left or right channels more or less. It will record a “realistic stereo image” according to Blue.
CARDIOID: This mode will record in a cone directly in front of the microphone, ignoring sound from the sides and rear. As a streamer, this is the mode we want to be using. It is also ideal for podcasts and voiceovers according to the materials Blue provides with the microphone. This setting is great because if you position the microphone in front of your keyboard and mouse, clicking sounds will be minimized or even removed from your stream or recording.
OMNIDIRECTIONAL: This mode is exactly as it sounds. It records from all directions. If you want to record a room and all it’s ambient noise, this is the mode to use. Blue suggests using this mode for conference calls or events.
BIDIRECTIONAL: This is the mode you would use if recording an interview between two people or a duet. It will record sound from the front and back of the microphone. Using this mode during an interview removes the hassle of setting up two mics.
To switch between all of these features, you use a clicky knob on the back of the microphone. The knob is firm and has a solid audible click when switching modes. It feels solid and durable. There is another knob on the back for gain. This knob has much less resistance and can be tuned smoothly to the desired level.
The front of the Yeti has a nice chrome “Blue” logo attached to it. Below that is a “Mute” button to quickly mute your voice. I use it quite a bit when streaming, like if I have to clear my throat. When the mic is live a red light is displayed on the button. When muted the red light flashes to alert you. The light is not obnoxiously bright which some may like. Personally I wish it was a bit brighter because I have a bad habit of forgetting I muted myself and streaming for a minute with the mic off. This is more a problem with me being a rookie than the microphone though. Still, a bigger or brighter indicator light might have been nice.
Below the mute toggle is a volume knob. This is for controlling your headset volume. You can plug a headset into the bottom of the microphone via a 3.5mm jack. This will allow you to monitor your voice in real time. I also pump my game volume through this jack too, so when I stream I am hearing a mostly accurate representation of both my voice and the game volume. I use crummy ear buds right now, so I can’t say for sure, but it does seem like the audio quality is a bit poor when using this jack. Still, a small tradeoff to be able to monitor your stream audio.
Overall, the Blue Yeti is a well built product that is simple to use and comes with clear documentation. It does have a few downsides however. If you search around you will find many people complaining about the Blue Yeti’s crackles and pops. I think more so than some other high end microphones, the Blue Yeti really requires you spend time setting it up and optimizing it. I spent a couple hours finding the optimal gain setting, positioning the mic correctly and setting up a noise gate. This is not a mic you can just turn on and record and expect good quality sound. It is a very sensitive microphone and will pick up other noises if not configured right or aimed properly. I will say this too: I don’t think this is a good mic for streaming if you live in a noisy environment. At its lowest settings it is still sensitive. However, if you can isolate your sound and configure the mic right, it offers more versatility than similar priced microphones and records a crystal clear sound. I have no regrets with my purchase and would absolutely recommend the Yeti to anyone looking for a solid USB mic. If you want to see it in action and indulge my shameless plug here, scope me out on Twitch (SuperBadJuJu). Thanks for taking the time to check out my review of the Blue Yeti, check back here at Lift Gaming frequently for the latest reviews!