Why Blue Yeti Podcasting Microphones Are Not A Good Choice

Why Blue Yeti Podcasting Microphones Are Not A Good Choice

Last Updated on January 15, 2021

I have to admit my Podcasting Microphone Pet Peeve: The Blue Yeti Mic. Recently I attended a coaching group meetup, and the presenter was a consultant who also considered herself a podcasting expert. And it was put to us in dogmatically certain terms that "The Blue Yeti Podcasting Mic Is Simply The Best Microphone For Podcasters". And in this post it is my solemn duty to disabuse our dear prospects and Yeti fans of this notion.

First of all: There is no such thing as a Blue Yeti Podcasting Mic. It is simply the Blue Yeti Mic. At the coaching meetup I kept my mouth shut, but it was hard. And, this is not the first time I heard this, and we have worked with lots of podcast clients who approach us with initial Blue Yeti podcasting pride.

Microphone Talk

Microphone talk is a favorite topic among podcasters, and mostly beside the point.

Great microphones never guarantee a great podcast.

But the blind devotion that the Blue Yeti seems to inspire among novice podcasters has always been a source of mystery for me. The Blue Yeti may be an excellent microphone, technically speaking. But it is usually the wrong choice for podcasting, for the following reasons:

Why the Blue Yeti Podcasting Microphone Is Often The Wrong Choice For Podcasters:

Blue Yeti Podcasting Microphone Is Often The Wrong Choice
Photographer: Jon Tyson | Source: Unsplash

The Blue Yeti is a Condenser Mic

It is a condenser mic, not a dynamic mic. Condenser mics will pick up sounds a mile away, and there are indeed valid concerns around air conditioners running etc. 

This also means they pick up the sound of the room.

If you are recording in a kitchen, bathroom or basement, the sound of the room, and the reverberations in it, will be super apparent.

There is no way to remove reverberation once recorded. So for your ghost story podcast the "basement sound" might be ideal. In most other cases, not so much.

‘The Blue Yeti in particular, in spite of its sexy switches and cardioid pattern option, is “roomy” sounding, not what you want for distraction free and intimate sounding audio. Being able to switch the pickup pattern helps a little, not a lot.

A large and unwieldy form factor

The Blue Yeti is heavy, large, and cannot easily be mounted on a boom arm, which is necessary to move it close enough to your mouth as you record.

Most people make the mistake of leaving the Yeti on its stand positioned on their desk, 1-2 feet from their mouth – instead of having it inches away from their mouth.

A desk stand Yeti is never going to sound great, unless you are in a sound isolated booth or purposefully built studio. 

The Yeti is an expensive choice, once you buy the shock mount and boom arm and pop filter needed to use it in a “podcasting setup” – in other words close to your mouth. So if you add these pieces, you might as well get a “proper” podcasting mic.

What About The Yeti Pro?

The Yeti Pro is an upgraded (and also much more expensive) version of the Yeti. It improves on the hit original Yeti USB microphone with a stereo balanced XLR output, and professional 192 kHz/24-bit digital audio over its USB out.

The Yeti Pro is indeed an improvement, but still a condenser microphone — which is the fundamental Yeti problem for most podcasting use cases.

So it’s great to be able to connect to a standard XLR preamp, mixer, or audio interface, but the “roomy” sound quality will be there just the same. And mounting it on boom arm stands is still as difficult and unwieldy as with the original.

The Advantages Of Dynamic Mics

Dynamic mic advantages compared to Blue Yeti Podcasting Mics
Photographer: Bogomil Mihaylov | Source: Unsplash
  • Dynamic mics on the other hand reject much of the background noise and are ideal for podcasting.
  • They are also less costly.
  • They are easy to mount on a boom arm, a must have for podcasters in getting their mics close enough while also being comfortable.
  • Lastly there are options with BOTH XLR professionally grounded cables, as WELL AS USB connectivity.

One last thing: USB connections will seldom be enough for a strong enough recording signal, for either dynamic or condenser mics with built in USB connectivity.

Better sound quality comes from a XLR condenser mic not directly connected to your PC or Mac directly, but going through a small desk USB pre-amp like the Focusrite in the equipment list below. Here is a direct link to what most of our podcast clients use (a budget conscious version, the mic is $79): 

Podcasting Starter Pack
From our Podcasting Resources Guide, the One Person Solo (or Interview) Starter Package

So I am sorry if some of this is unwelcome news. 

And if you are committed to using a Blue Yeti, feel free to ignore this advice and read on for some tips to at least get the most out of it.

I do not know why the Blue Yeti inspires such devotion among some people. I have yet to meet a podcaster with more than 10 episodes under their belt that still has it. But for podcasters that inherited the device , or are not able to spend money on a new mic, here are some tips to make the Blue Yeti work better:

Tips to Make The Blue Yeti Work For Podcasting

Recording in a closet with a Blue Yeti
Photographer: Adrienne Leonard | Source: Unsplash

1. Work in a sound-proof studio or sound treated room

If you have a sound proof, purposefully built studio to record in, ignore this post, your Blue Yeti will work fine.

  • Then again, if you have a purposefully built studio, you are extremely unlikely to own (or want to use) a Blue Yeti in the first place.

2. Record inside or in front of a closet

If you have a small closet, are not claustrophobic and comfortable in small spaces, your Yeti will work.

Actually, I’m serious about working in (or near) a closet. But here is the thing:

  • You should not be facing the closet, you should actually have it close behind you. This is because when you speak into a mic it will pick up your voice and noises and sound from what’s BEHIND you – so that is where room reflections and reverb are most noticeable. Therefore having a closet (or sound proofing materials) BEHIND you works better than facing a closet head on.

3. Add carpets

Add some carpets to your recording space to reduce the room sound the Blue Yeti will pick up

  • If you have lots of furniture and carpets in the room, and few reflective surfaces, and can position yourself close to the mic, your Yeti might just work.

4. Get closer

I mean REALLY close to the microphone.

  • Your Yeti recording might result in something called the “proximity effect” – where your voice is being picked up much more loudly than the “room sound” – and all this allows you to reduce the gain during the recording. Try it out and see if you can hear the improvement.
  • Getting really close might also cause more “pops”, so addressing the mic from a slight angle or using a pop filter might help with that.

But be sure to do a test recording and listen to it – before recording that epic 1st one hour episode.

End of rant.

  • Thank you for this, I’ve become more and more disgruntled with the Blue Yeti and the recommendations to use it. I wish I knew then what I know now. Specifically that I’d most likely have been better of with a dynamic mic or simply a communications headset mic.

    I record and live stream sessions about computer programming. This essentially means that there may be a lot of typing or mouse clicking involved in the session, as well as operating several displays at a time. I am actually fine with keyboard sound being picked up, it’s unavoidable in such a session, however…

    When I first setup the Blue Yeti mic, on the desk stand, it did not only pick up the typing but ‘thudding’ sounds from the desk vibration. I tried moving it to a boom arm mounted on the back of the desk, but still the thudding persisted. The mic is incredibly sensitive, which I’m sure works for some use cases, but not for mine. I ended up mounting the mic from the wall to deaden the thud.

    With the wall mounting, I would get a lot of echo from the mic even in directional mode. I did not know at the time that if your lips aren’t within six inches of the mic, it basically not going to pic up your voice without echo. Setting the gain high enough to pick up voice clearly, brings in all the reflections and such. Not understanding this, I sound proofed the walls behind the mic which was ultimately a pointless exercise.

    In order to use this mic then, I must now sit with a giant mic right in front of my face, contorting myself to be sure I’m speaking within inches of it as it hangs off the wall mounted boom, and I must be sure that I am talking in it’s direction. I can’t make the mistake of talking while looking at the screen I’m actually working on…. oh, and I can’t dare run air conditioning. I’ve had cases in which I’ve had to post-process and boost my own audio so that I’m not drowned out by guest speakers in my live streams, which is a chore I could do without.

    I am not an audio engineer. I have little interest in the technical details of how my microphone works, other than wanting one that just does work. The frustration for me is that I am sure the Blue Yeti is a great option from a technical stand-point, for budget use cases, but I wished that those recommending the mic would also discuss it’s limitations and cases for which it is not appropriate. I bought this mic after watching many recommendations for it, from what I now assume must have been infatuated fans of the product, rather than critical reviewers.

    Your post here was refreshing to read.

    • Hi Craig, thanks for that write up! I have to admit you made me chuckle a bit – picturing the giant mic in front of your face and having to contort for your live stream! But your insights are spot on, especially with a noisy environment it is best to have a mic right up close to your mouth – and this way you can turn the gain way down. LOL I have actually seen some streamers with the Yet just as decoration on their desks…

      Talking about streaming, I just posted a video on my favorite way to shape livestream audio to sound NPR / Podcast quality like. https://polymash.com/rodecaster-pro-21-firmware-update/ Of course there are budget considerations, but at some point you might like BOTH a condenser for some situations, and Dynamic for others.