BLUE microphones have become a serious contender across all points in the microphone galaxy, from the $6,000 BLUE Bottle, the $400 Blue Baby Bottle (Read my review), to the $60 USB Snowflake. Few mic manufacturers cover the price point spectrum as completely as BLUE.
The Blue Yeti Pro is a serious contender in both USB mics and the $250 price-point. Designed as a desktop mic, it includes a variety of polar patterns – the directions in which the mic is sensitive – that suit it to almost any situation requiring high-quality audio. Podcasts, interviews, conference calls, gaming – The Yeti Pro handles these easily. With the addition of an analog XLR output, the quality of sound translates easily to professional recording situations.
The Bottom Line: This one is a solid yes.
Setup and Usability
If you’re accustomed to using XLR mics, the Yeti Pro has a slight wrinkle. Since it can output in stereo, it requires two connectors. Since it’s a desktop mic, there’s not room on it for two XLR outputs. The solution is a four-pin XLR connector on the mic, into which a short Y-adapter connects. Two conventional three-pin XLR connectors give you the outputs you expect. Connect both for stereo applications and one for a single channel. Invariably, it will happen that you have no output from the microphone. At this point, double or triple check your connections as you’ve likely plugged something in wrong. Don’t ask me how I know this.
Many USB mics and audio devices simply require connection to operate. The Yeti Pro is not one of those. Many users report issues with mic operation that many other users do not, and I suspect the issue is not following the initial setup instructions. This is a case where reading the instructions first may actually pay off. I’m a man, so that’s a hard thing for me to admit.
Once the Yeti Pro is set up properly, you may have to adjust the audio source within whatever software you’re using to select or add the Yeti Pro to your inputs. This is a concept that many users seem to miss out on, but since this mic crosses over into the gamer crowd, in fairness, it may not be a concept they’ve encountered before. For someone used to working with recording software and audio interfaces, there are no surprises here.
For a $250 mic, this is easily $400 worth of sound. The Yeti Pro gives an approximation of the large diaphragm sound using three 0.55-inch condenser capsules. This is not the classic studio condenser sound, which is, by the way, usually colored compared to the source sound. The small capsules tend as a whole to be more faithful to reality. That’s the way the Yeti Pro seems to be voiced. In cardioid pattern, it falls off a bit around 200 Hz, so it won’t make a thin voice much fatter on its own. There seems also to be a small dip around 400 Hz that is gentle but good on most sound sources. There’s a nice big dip around 2,000 Hz that recovers but doesn’t hype the high frequencies. It’s a basically flattering response on most voices across the spectrum, easily adjusted with mic placement, equalization and compression, typical treatment for most voices. Unfortunately, BLUE doesn’t provide a frequency response chart on their website, so I’m guessing on those ranges.
Other polar patterns have shifts in frequency response. This is normal for any multi-pattern mic. Having recently reviewed the Razer Seiren Pro Elite USB mic, one that seems to have taken its design lead and price point from the Yeti Pro, I was curious as to how the Yeti Pro handled stereo with its three-cartridge design. The Razer mic gave me the impression the stereo capsules were pointing straight left and right. A sound source in the middle fell off considerably. If you were recording an acoustic guitar in a hall, for example, this mic won’t work. Too much ambience and not enough guitar. However, if you do a lot of podcast interviews, that pattern would be great for sitting across from your subject and, with one mic, getting a good back-and-forth stereo panning effect.
The Yeti Pro seems to be more of a proper stereo configuration. There doesn’t seem to be any change in volume as the sound source moves from 90 degrees right, across the front of the mic and over to 90 degrees left. This means the Yeti Pro would be effective in the guitar example, as well as for the interview scenario.
When this mic is connected through USB, it uses its own integral analog-to-digital converter. Running the XLR outs creates an analog signal that is digitized by your USB mixer or audio interface. The sound of the mic is then influenced by that A/D converter, so it’s quite possible the mic will sound different. I preferred the Yeti Pro’s sound through its USB connection to the XLR plugged into a Yamaha Steinberg CI1 interface. Connecting through a Roland VS-2480 digital audio workstation was more equal to the Yeti Pro’s USB, with a slight edge in warmth to the Roland. None of these sounds were dogs, though. It’s all around a good sounding mic.
This is a solidly built mic. In the world of impressions, this feels like the real thing, particularly compared to the Razer Seiren (Read my review of that trainwreck here), which feels like a pretender. I do have some reservations about the size of the Yeti Pro. It’s about 10 inches tall in its desktop configuration. On my desk, it gets in the way. I would use it with a basket shock mount on an overhead boom stand if I were to integrate it into my studio. At 1.2 pounds, that requires a heavy-duty stand or your stage mic stand will be tipping over if the boom is extended too far.
There is no discounting that the Yeti Pro looks serious, and that can be a selling point if you are bringing clients in to your studio for interviews, recording etc. This mic on its own says, “I’m serious.” It has gravitas at an affordable price.
There are enough negative reviews concerning low output of this mic, particularly when connected through OS-X systems, that I feel obligated to mention it. BLUE itself has recognized and created a fix, so that says there is an issue somewhere. However, many of the reviewers revealed through their comments a lack of understanding of how USB mics, interfaces and accompanying software and drivers work that I suspect operator error is common. This could be either a user or BLUE issue, lack of understanding or poor setup instructions respectively. I can only add that in my experience, the mic and the instructions behaved as I expected and there were no issues. User reviews otherwise tipped toward the five-star range with many enthusiastic users. As it should be.
One of my initial worries about USB mics in general was the USB thing. That’s great for some users, but silly for a studio situation that uses multiple mic setups. Trying to handle both a USB mic with a USB audio input is adding trouble in terms of timing, latency and cache failure.
Then mic makers started giving alternatives with both USB and XLR connections. This alleviated that potential argument. Yet there’s not really been a USB/XLR mic that’s made me consider a purchase, since I have both a collection of XLR mics and no particular need to plug a mic directly into USB. I would consider the Yeti Pro if I started doing interviews and podcasts, since I could use it in other situations too, and it sounds good.
If you don’t have a lot of mics, and you do need to plug directly into USB, this may be the mic for you.
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