Apr 16 2021

Review: Pump Up the Volume with the Blue Yeti USB Microphone

Upgrade your audio equipment for virtual instruction or recording with this simple plug-and-play mic.

Prior to 2020, most educators could probably count on one hand the number of times they participated in a videoconference. For years, hardly anyone gave a second thought to how their audio sounded to the person listening. As long as both parties could hear one another, the call was considered a success. If concerns were raised about someone’s less-than-stellar audio quality, the problem was rarely resolved due to how infrequently videoconferencing software was used.

Today, the use of ZoomGoogle MeetMicrosoft Teams and other conferencing platforms has become routine. Like most educators in 2020, I found myself teaching online every day. It was not until I listened to an audio recording of a presentation I gave that I realized the built-in microphone on my laptop was not conveying the richness and clarity I wanted to deliver. Enter the Blue Yeti USB microphone.

Be Heard Clearly with a Good Mic

Before I settled on the Yeti, I tried other solutions. For example, my set of smartphone earbuds with its built-in microphone was an improvement, but after 20 minutes, the earbuds felt uncomfortable in my ears, and it was painful to wear them. Plus, the wire was annoying. I found myself constantly moving it out of the way when I reached for my keyboard, mouse, phone or other objects.

Frustrated, I opened my media closet and saw my Blue Yeti USB Microphone. The idea had not previously occurred to me to try it for videoconferencing because, up to that point, I had only brought it out when someone needed to record a voice-over for a video. I plugged one end of a USB cable into the Yeti and the other end into my computer, selected “Yeti” in the software settings and started a Zoom meeting with one of my classes. I polled my students early on in the class to see if they could tell the difference between various sound sources I had been using that week. They unanimously preferred the audio quality of my Yeti to every other device I had tested. Now, whenever I teach online, I use the Yeti.

Weighing in at approximately 3.5 pounds and standing about a foot in height, the Yeti is a sturdy powerhouse that can easily withstand a few bumps. As for its design, the microphone itself can pivot on its base, so once users find their ideal angle in proximity to their sound source, they can easily hand-tighten two knobs located on either side of the stand to secure it. The Yeti can also be removed completely from its base for mounting directly on a mic stand.

LEARN MORE: Whittle down the best options with a structured choice approach to edtech.

Adjust and Control Sound as Needed

On the front of the microphone is a mute button, conveniently positioned so that if I feel a cough coming on, I can just press it. Located just below the mute button is the headphone volume dial, which can be easily adjusted. On the bottom of the Yeti, there is a 3.5-milimeter headphone jack that allows users to listen to the signal being recorded or streamed in real time without latency.

On the back of the microphone are two dials. The top dial allows mode selection. Users can turn the dial to choose one of four distinct pattern modes: Bidirectional mode records from both the front and the rear of the microphone and is ideal for recording a two-person interview. Stereo mode uses both the left and right channels to capture a broad, realistic sound mage. Omnidirectional mode picks up sound equally from all around the mic — ideal for capturing the ambience of “being there”; it’s the mode I’ll likely use when our school goes to a hybrid model and I’m moving around the room. Lastly, Cardioid mode records sound sources directly in front of the microphone and is great for podcasting and videoconferencing.

The second dial on the rear of the microphone is the gain control. This dial is used for adjusting the microphone’s sensitivity. For example, if the school bell rings or there is a loud announcement over the intercom, a quick adjustment of the gain dial keeps the signal from peaking and possibly hurting students’ ears on the other end.

Blue Yeti USB Microphone Specs

 

An Ideal Companion for Streaming and Recording

While the Yeti is great for videoconferencing, it’s outstanding for recording. Students can create amazing recordings with just a computer and a Yeti USB microphone. Some microphones require installation of audio drivers, but the Yeti works through simple plug and play. As for sound, the Yeti uses a proprietary tri-capsule technology that captures crystal-clear recordings with ease.

When I teach video production, the first rule of thumb about capturing audio is this: Most people can tolerate mediocre video as long as the audio quality is good. This means even if the video footage is grainy, blurry or a little shaky, the viewer can tolerate it — as long as the sound quality is clear and free of extraneous noise. This rule can also be applied to videoconferencing, and with the Blue Yeti USB Microphone, the audio quality won’t just be good, it will be great.

SPECIFICATIONS

SPECIFIC APPLICATIONS: Recording voice, vocals, instruments
DIMENSIONS: 4.7x 4.9x11.6
OPERATION MODE: (switchable) cardioid, stereo, omnidirectional, and bidirectional
CONNECTIVITY: USB
SIGNAL-TO-NOISE RATIO: 120 decibels

EXPLORE: Find the right audio solutions for your K–12 district with Blue Microphones.