The Yeti USB microphone from Blue may look like a whimsical toy, but it's actually a very useful tool for the serious home recording enthusiast. If you want to record voiceovers, podcasts, interviews, or even acoustic solo performances, the Yeti is an excellent way to capture high-quality audio with a minimum of fuss. Most computers will recognize this distinctive-looking mic right away, with no drivers to install. All you have to do is pop the Yeti on your desk with its custom stand, plug the included 10-foot USB cable into your computer, and start recording.
Pick a Pattern, Any Pattern
Your interview guests may comment on the Yeti's intriguing design, but this mic's most distinguishing feature is better heard than seen. Blue's proprietary 3-capsule array can be set up to capture audio in any of four pickup patterns: cardioid mono, stereo, omnidirectional, or bidirectional figure-8. Cardioid is great for recording a solo voice or instrument close to the front of the mic, while the stereo pattern captures two discrete channels for a spacious room sound -- try it on a vocal group, piano, or acoustic guitar. Omnidirectional means the mic picks up equally on all sides, perfect for the middle of a conference table discussion or a band practice. And bidirectional figure-8 is useful for a vocal duet or an interview, capturing sound to the front and back of the mic while cancelling out the sides. This sort of flexibility is rare in a USB mic -- indeed, it's rare in a pro studio condenser. If you want a mic that will serve you in a multitude of situations, the multi-pattern Blue Yeti likely has a setting that can get the job done.
Be Your Own Engineer
The Blue Yeti boasts a host of features helpful for folks that don't have a staff audio engineer and pro studio on call at all times. Most obviously, it's a bus-powered USB mic, which means you don't need a preamp, mixer, or audio interface to get its sound into your computer. The Yeti actually functions as its own audio interface, complete with its own built-in headphone amp with volume control, so you can plug in any standard 1/8" headphones to monitor your sound coming right off the mic on its way into your computer, with zero latency (delay). If you see your recording software peaking or clipping, you can easily turn down the Yeti's gain with the built-knob on the back of the mic, right under the pickup pattern selector. And there's a dedicated mute button on the front of the Yeti that you can push to instantly silence its output without having to fiddle with the computer. Last but not least, the Yeti comes with its own built-in desk stand, designed to be the perfect height for you to narrate a podcast without having to fiddle with a stand and cable. So if you set out to be a musician or a podcast host, but you sort of got sidetracked into being an "audio person" along the way, the Yeti makes it quite a bit easier to be your own engineer.
- Blue's three-capsule array can work in any of 4 pickup patterns with a turn of the knob
- Integrated gain control on the back of the microphone
- Built-in headphone amp with standard 1/8" plug and volume control -- listen to your mic with zero latency, or listen to audio from your computer
- Mute button with status light that flashes with the mic is muted and illuminates solidly when the mic is operating normally
- USB I/O to your computer with included 10-foot cable
- Delivers mono or stereo 48 kHz/16-bit digital audio
- Solid metal construction
- Included, custom-designed desk stand can secure the microphone at any angle with two set screws
- Standard thread mount fits a standard studio mic stand
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Microphone and Performance
Power Required/Consumption: 5V 150mA
Sample Rate: 48 kHz
Bit Rate: 16-bit
Capsules: 3 Blue-proprietary 14mm condenser capsules
Polar Patterns: Cardioid, Bidirectional, Omnidirectional, Stereo
Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20kHz
Sensitivity: 4.5mV/Pa (1 kHz)
Max SPL: 120dB (THD: 0.5% 1kHz) Headphone Amplifier
Impedance: 16 ohms
Power Output (RMS): 130 mW
Frequency Response: 15 Hz - 22 kHz
Signal to Noise: 100dB Specifications
Dimensions (extended in stand): 4.72 in. (12cm) x 4.92 in. (12.5cm) x 11.61 in. (29.5cm)
Weight (microphone): 1.2 lbs (.55 kg)
Weight (stand): 2.2 lbs (1 kg) System Requirements
PC: Windows 7, Windows Vista, XP Home Edition or XP Professional
USB 1.1/2.0; 64 MB RAM (minimum)
Macintosh: Mac OSX (10.4.11 or higher)
64 MB RAM (minimum)
- Dimensions and Weight in Packaging
- Base Item
- Shipping Weight: 4 lbs
The Yeti is the most advanced and versatile multi-pattern USB microphone available anywhere. Combining three capsules and four different pattern settings, the Yeti is the ultimate tool for creating amazing recordings, directly to your computer.
The Yeti features Blue's innovative triple capsule array, allowing for recording in stereo or your choice of three unique patterns, including cardioid, omnidirectional, and bidirectional, giving you recording capabilities usually requiring multiple microphones.
The Yeti utilizes a high quality analog-to-digital converter to send incredible audio fidelity directly into your computer, a built-in headphone amplifier for zero-latency monitoring, and simple controls for headphone volume, pattern selection, instant mute, and microphone gain located directly on the microphone. There are no drivers to install -- simply plug the Yeti into your PC or Mac, load up your favorite recording software, and record something amazing.
zZounds Expert Review
BLUE is best known for their studio quality condenser microphones, but they're quickly making a name for themselves in the consumer electronics field as well. Their inexpensive Snowflake and Snowball USB microphones are big sellers, and their gadgety Mikey is a cool little add-on mic for the iPhone and iPod. Their latest USB microphone, the Yeti, is poised to bridge the pro-sumer gap. It offers a professional feature set with the same ease of use demanded by the average non-technical consumer.
Beyond the distinctive design, one of the most noticeable features of the Yeti is its multi-pattern operation. Like some of the best (and significantly more expensive) professional mics on the market, the Yeti contains three discrete 1/2-inch capsules. These capsules are used both on their own and in combination to deliver a total of four selectable polar patterns. Choose from Cardioid, Omnidirectional, Figure Eight, and Stereo. The onboard gain control ensures a strong signal without having to fiddle with your computer. The mic also features a headphone jack for direct, zero-latency monitoring and an onboard mute switch that can be used as a cough button or to prevent feedback between takes. All of this combines to make the Yeti a great choice for vocal or instrumental music, voice-over post production, and podcasting projects.
When I first heard mention of the Yeti, I was expecting some sort of gimmicky computer toy, but upon taking the demo model out of the box I was pleasantly surprised to find a solid, useable piece of gear. BLUE touts the Yeti as being portable, and maybe it is, but I find it to be a little over-represented in their literature compared to what I saw in practice. Fitted in its beefy swivel mount, the Yeti stands about a foot tall, weighing in at around 3.5 pounds. You can carry it around if you need to, but you're probably not going to carry it around in your pocket.
The control layout is smart, with the headphone volume and the mute button on the front for easy access, and the pattern selector and input gain on the back where they're unlikely to be nudged by accident. The control knobs for both the input gain and the headphone volume felt a little sloppy; I was expecting a little tighter tolerance there.
Way Down South
Tilt the mic on its swivel, and you'll discover all the access points. This is where you plug in the USB cable and headphones. You'll also find a threaded socket on the bottom. This allows you to mount the Yeti on a mic stand if need be.
As with most USB microphones, setup is fairly straightforward. I connected a USB cable from my laptop to the Yeti (both USB 1.1 and 2.0 ports are supported), and pointed my recording software to the Yeti as the input device. Once I set the input gain for optimum signal strength, I was ready to record. Keep in mind, the Yeti is bus-powered, so it's better to run it straight to a dedicated USB port as opposed to connecting through some sort of USB hub.
Check, One, Two...
I tested the Yeti with a few different audio applications, including GarageBand, Audacity, and Digital Performer. Mic recognition and input selection went off without a hitch, and I was recording right away. The Yeti's included swivel stand provided a stable base for recording, and was easy to position on my desk.
I started with the pickup pattern set to Cardioid to simulate a voice-over project, with the capsule positioned about a foot away from my mouth. The audio was very full-sounding, with some added richness at the low end due to the proximity effect.
Next up, I invited a few friends over to simulate a podcast panel discussion. The Yeti was set to Figure Eight for a one-on-one interview, and both voices were clear, even, and sounded natural. Switching to Omni mode for a round table discussion, everyone spaced themselves roughly equidistant from the Yeti. All voices were equally represented, with a nice blend of the sound. I had boosted the input gain a bit here, and noticed a bit of unwanted ambience vibrating up through the table and into the swivel mount. Some extra padding under the mount solved the problem.
After that, I popped the lid on my acoustic guitar case and put the Yeti in stereo mode. You need to dedicate two input channels in your recording application for this, by the way. Stereo mode is designed to place your sound source in 2-dimensional space, simulating how your ears perceive the audio. Normally I would set up a pair of condenser mics, run them into a tube preamp, then route that out to an audio interface to achieve the same kind of effect, so being able to accomplish all that with a single USB mic was a time-saver. That said, the recorded tracks were a bit lopsided, with good character in the lows and low mids, but less definition and detail up top. Still, for under $150 it did a pretty good job compared to the time and money spent with my usual method. After a bit of fiddling with the EQ in post, I was able to get something I could live with.
Scooching in a bit closer, I tried a close-mic technique with the Yeti in Figure Eight mode. This provided a satisfying blend of tones, with the close-up richness of the acoustic in the front and some extra airiness from the room sound at the back of the Figure Eight pattern.
The Yeti Is No Myth
All in all, the Yeti is a great sounding microphone with pro-quality features at a fantastic price. I've not seen any other USB mic out there that delivers this kind of performance-to-price upside.