Blue Yeti is the king of mics

I’m gaining quite a bit of experience with reviewing mics and webcams so I was thrilled to have my chance at the Yeti.  I have already done reviews of the Snowball, Snowflake, and the Eyeball and looking at the feature list for the Yeti, this was just too good to pass up.  The biggest thing that caught my eye was that it’s the first USB connected THX certified mic.  I’ll leave it to you to discover what it takes to get THX certified, but it’s not an easy certification to get.  So here’s what I like and don’t like about the Yeti.

As many of you who have read some of my past reviews know, I do some quite unusual testing of devices when I get them.  And I did some pretty cool things to the Yeti just to see where the boundaries of what you can and can’t do with it.

I started with the regular type of testing that everyone does like testing the different modes, the gain, the mute, and the headphone port.  All of these worked just as expected so I’m not going to spend a lot of time on them.  However, the one thing I found a little surprising was the mute button.  After a couple months of using it pretty regularly, the mute button started sticking from time to time.  I only did it every couple days or so and only for a couple minutes at a time, but it was still aggravating when it did.  And I didn’t have any luck reproducing it when I was trying to; it only did it when it felt like it.  Still, that’s not nearly enough to be a real negative comment, but I thought I should mention it all the same.

Ok, the real testing started with me balancing the mic on my car engine as I rev up the motor and carry on a conversation with someone in front of it.  The goal here is to see how well the voices get picked up behind the engine.  Of course, the engine overpowered our speech, but when I loaded the file into Adobe Soundbooth I was able to isolate the engine noise and do a pretty good job of getting rid of it so I could hear the voices.  Now, it wasn’t perfect because it’s limited by the software’s capabilities as well, but it did a pretty fine job considering.  As a control I used the Logitech desktop boom mic I have and the mic from one of my Microsoft webcams.  Now, both of these mics are OK for podcasting and giving webinars, but do they have the chops for something like this?  Well, both mics performed only moderately adequately at this task.  The sound of the engine and the voices were picked up, but the detail wasn’t there, so I lost a lot more of the speech when I tried to isolate and remove the engine noise.  And actually, the MS webcam mic did better than the dedicated Logitech mic.  You have to remember though, the Yeti is a professional grade musician mic so it’s specifically made to pick up the most minute detail with the clearest sound that can be recorded.

My next favorite test is my extreme sound level test.  I set the Yeti to record (using Adobe Soundbooth again), and then walked into the next room.  Once in the next room, I started talking at varying levels.  Then I came back and stopped the recording.  When I played it back, I was pretty surprised at how much of it the Yeti picked up.  And while quite a bit of it was really pretty faint, that’s the point of the test.  The next step is to boost the sound levels.  Again, the purpose of this test is to see how far I can booth the levels before the sound distorts.  There were several places where I could barely hear the sound on the base recording but after boosting the sound level, I ended up turning my speakers down because it was so loud.  And the distortion was barely noticeable.  I didn’t have anywhere near that same success with the other two mics (Logitech and MS webcam).  They both distorted very early and it was almost impossible to understand them.  It was horrible.  But again, that’s just a testament to the clarity of the Yeti because it picked up such clear detail, it was able to boost the levels without a lot of extra junk getting in the way.  I love this test because I’m always boosting the sound levels in my projects so it’s very important to me.

The next phase of testing is the most brutal on the mic itself.  Here I’m testing the durability so people will know what they can and can’t do with it.  Because let’s face it, it’s kind of an expensive mic for consumers so knowing how tough it is is just as important as knowing what it can do.  I started off slowly by dropping my Yeti off the table onto the carpet.  It survived, but I dented the top pretty well.  The quality of the mic didn’t seem to suffer though.  Next, I carried it around in my backpack for a week allowing it to plop onto tables, have fairly heavy stuff set on top of it, and everything else that comes with being careless while it’s in a bag.  The mic itself survived, but the mute button broke off.  Finally, I dropped the Yeti from a little bit higher onto a hard floor.  This time I wasn’t so lucky because not only did I break it partially off the base, but the way it landed, it also broke the mic too.  I never took it apart to see what happened, but it was pretty much trashed at that point. 

So the bottom line here is that the Yeti is a tremendous desktop mic and it’s meant to stay there.  It’s a heavy little gadget and personally I love it that way.  I like feeling the weight of it because it gives me more confidence that it’s not going to get blown off my desk when I turn on the fan or bump it by mistake.  So keep your Yeti on the desk, but if you absolutely have to pack it up, wrap it in something that’ll provide a lot of cushion because you really don’t want to take a chance on it breaking.  It’s just not a travel mic.  If you need a good mic to travel with, use the Blue Snowflake.  It’s the mic I keep in my bag at all times in case I need to record something unexpectedly. 

So what did I do with my broken mic?  Well, there was nothing I could do.  I had to throw it away.  The problem was that now I was used to taping my webshow (DBAs@Midnight) with my Yeti so I had to buy a new one.  And I’ll tell you something.  Blue mics are the only products I’ve reviewed that I’ve spent my own money on after I’ve destroyed them.  This is how much I love Blue mics.  I also had a project where I had to buy 11 mics to be used all at the same time, and I used all Snowflakes.  And I bought all 11 of them.


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