Audiophiles lurking the Apple Store may have noticed that Apple tends to favor USB microphones from Blue—the leading name in high quality, external microphones for pro and pro-am users. For years, the Blue Snowball and it’s smaller cousin the Blue Snowflake dominated the desktops of Mac users looking for a little bit more punch and depth and a lot less noise than the built-in microphones on their Macbooks. (Actually, the USB microphones from Blue are massive improvements over any built-in microphone on the market). But now, Blue is taking it to the next level with the Blue Yeti. Like the Snowball and Snowflake, the Yeti is a USB microphone that plugs in and plays with minimal hassle and no need for a pre-amp, mixer, audio interface or any other expesnive audio hardware. But there are some big differences between this next generation USB microphone from Blue and its predecessors.
Here’s what’s going to get you right off the bat. The Yeti costs about $50 more than the Blue Snowball and about $70 more than the Blue Snowflake. If you’re looking for pro quality, though, it’s worth every penny.
Did we already mention the pro quality? The Yeti has it in spades. This is the first THX-certified USB microphone to hit the shelves, and really, that’s the most user-friendly thing about it. If you’re in the market for an all-in-one, plug and play microphone, you probably don’t have a wealth of geeky audio hardware tech spec knowledge to draw on in order to determine which piece of equipment’s the best buy. But thanks to the Yeti’s THX certification, you don’t have to know anything other than the fact that THX means proven, laboratory tested quality. The Yeti’s going to sound great—even better than the Blue Snowball.
Zero Latency Monitoring
If you’re laying down music tracks or anything else where latency is going to be an issue, the Yeti delivers something that the Blue Snowball and Blue Snowflake don’t—zero latency headphone monitoring. While any USB audio device acts like its own interface, the Yeti does it in a way that makes sense—you can hear the audio playback in sync with the recording so you don’t have those pesky timing issues. In other words, the Yeti does recording and monitoring.
The Yeti’s name wasn’t picked arbitrarily. This thing is a hulking beast of a microphone. Measuring at about a foot tall, this microphone is not meant for portability. It also can’t be threaded on to a standard microphone stand, like the Blue Snowball can.
The Snowball has three recording modes, and that’s about it. The Snowflake has absolutely no knobs or switches on it. The Yeti, on the other hand, has built-in gain control, a number of recording modes and a mute button. That gives you lots of onboard control that can really make recording and live broadcasts smoother.
Buy or Not?
Don’t be mistaken—the Blue Snowball is a great microphone. But the Yeti is definitely better in terms of quality and capabilities. The only downfall is that it’s not portable in the least. If you want something you can toss in your laptop bag, go with the Blue Snowflake. If you want something that will make you sound like you’re in an NPR studio, go with the Yeti.