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In the last few years it's gotten a bit easier to use a microphone to record audio on your home computer -- USB headsets with quality microphones have been available for a while, but only recently have USB desktop microphones oved out of the niche and specialty retailers into the mainstream, driven mostly by the development of podcasting and Garage Band recording systems.
But quality desktop microphones were expensive -- the keyword there is were -- now we're seeing a bunch of new, high quality USB desktop microphones in the retailers at a much more reasonable price-point.
The Blue Yeti is one such microphone that has quickly developed a bit of a reputation for itself, in a good way, of course. So let's take a look at some of the reasons the Yeti is getting some buzz.
All this on a microphone?
First off, the Yeti isn't just a microphone. Inside the sturdy, heavy, burnished aluminium case is actually 3 condenser microphone capsules, strategically located to provide 4 recording patterns. I'll get into those in a moment.
And it’s a THX certified microphone:
THX certification is either pass or fail. And product pricing is never a driving factor. If a product meets the THX testing standards, then certification is granted. With all of this testing from THX, the consumer is assured that theTV,receiver orspeaker system they are purchasing meets the highest standards for quality and compatibility right out of the box.
Also inside the unit all the hardware necessary to translate the analog audio into digital audio, and then pump it out the mini-USB port and into your computer.
This hardware includes a pre-amp (controlled by the Gain knob on the back) and a zero-latency headphone jack so you can monit or the microphone audio without having to plug your headphones into your computer, and experience that annoying bit of audio lag (latency).
Three, no four mics in one.
You see this neat shot of the three condenser mic capsules? Well the way the Yeti uses them is kinda cool, because these three mics working together give the Yeti the flexibility of four distinct microphone pickup patterns.
The illustration below shows the patterns and their best usages.
Mobile Recording Studio
One of the other reasons I wanted to take a look at the Yeti was to explore it's functionality in a highly mobile environment -- specifically how it worked when connected to the USB input in Apple's Camera Connector Kit for the iPad.
By combining a high-quality microphone with some of the sophisticated digital audio editing software for iPad (such as MultiTrack DAW), a potentially powerful podcasting setup could be created.
Yep, the Yeti works as a very nice and clean mic in a mobile situation.
I recorded some audio of my wife setting up her acoustic guitar, and while I'm no sound engineer, was quite impressed with the sound! Much better than any of the home / consumer mic's I'd tried previously.
And, of course, I recorded the first paragraph of this blog post to give you an indication of what voice sounds like through the Yeti. The Yeti was connected through an inexpensive USB hub to the iPad, which was running Multitrack DAW. Yeti gain was up a bit, and the mic was set into the Cardioid pattern.
Then Apple Changed Things
Sadly, in the last OS update, Apple changed the way power was supplied through the Camera Connector Kit USB port -- and the Yeti stopped working *when connected directly to the iPad*.
The workaround is that you now need to put a powered USB hub between the Yeti and your iPad in order for the system to work again.
So, as things stand, I've got a mostly mobile recording and podcast studio. The one major drawback with the Yeti is it's heft - it weighs in at 1.85kg.
Add to that the need for a powered USB hub now, and things are a bit more complicated -- but not enough that I'd not consider using the Yeti / Hub / iPad combination in a mobile setting.
Need a mic? Find a Yeti.
If you compare prices on similar mics, you’ll find the Yeti extremely inexpensive -- considering the number of additional features you get built in (multi-pattern, THX certification, internal Pre-amp, etc), well worth a serious look, or listen.