Between podcasts, video narration, voice overs, conference calls with Skype and hands-free discussions with Google Talk, I spend a lot of time tapping into the audio capabilities of my Apple MacBook Pro. Problem is, while the built-in microphone on the top edge of my laptop is functional and unquestionably convenient, it’s not the best sounding device in the world, a particular problem when I’m recording something for posterity.
I have a variety of different microphones — and am proud to list Blue Microphone as a sponsor of my podcasts — so when they introduced the new Yeti Pro that offered the best of the digital computer microphone capabilities of the original Yeti with the connectivity and flexibility of an XLR microphone, I was psyched to get my hands on one.
What podcasts, you ask? Thanks for being curious! My friend Michael Sitarzewski and I have a weekly podcast called Boulder Open Podcast [iTunes link], and the two of us add Doyle Albee to the mix for our Three Insight podcasts [iTunes link], also recorded weekly.
But back to my Yeti Pro review…
The Yeti Pro is the top end of the Blue Microphone line of computer friendly microphones, and they bill it as the first microphone in the marketplace to combine 192kHz/24bit USB audio with the standard “old school” audio capability of “phantom powered” XLR devices like a studio soundboard or concert hall sound system.
The Yeti Pro has four sound recording modes that pick and balance the built-in microphones with different balances: Stereo, Cardioid, Omnidirectional and Bidirectional. For the work I do, cardioid works best: it’s designed for someone sitting in front of the mic and basically ignores sound sources on the sides or behind the microphone. When it’s two of us talking with the Yeti Pro in the middle, however, bidirectional is the configuration of choice and ignores audio on either side, perfect for masking the peanut gallery!
Whether it’s a podcast or Skype call, however, I’m definitely more sensitive than most folk to audio quality, and I’m willing to trade off portability for better sound. There are solutions that are smaller than the Yeti Pro, no question (like the Blue Mic “Snowflake”) but for the very best possible audio the bulky, heavy Yeti Pro is quite the device.
Here’s a small sample of the difference. First the built-in microphone…
Now the big comparison, the Yeti Pro in “stereo” recording mode:
Quite the difference. The first sample sounds good until you hear the second one and realize just how much echo and reverb are picked up by the built-in microphone.
Is it worth the $250 street price for the Yeti Pro to get that sort of audio improvement? I’d say that if you’re just chatting with your girlfriend on Skype, it’s not an expense that makes sense versus, say, a better camera, but if you seek a professional sound or are recording audio — voice or instrumental — that needs the best possible reproduction, then the Yeti Pro is a splendid choice and it’s ability to also interface with XLR audio equipment makes it a must-have for any digital roadie too.