It happens all the time. You’re new to podcasting and you saw your favorite influencer using a Blue Yeti microphone. You thought, “Wow! That microphone looks rad!” I don’t blame you. Most Blue Yeti microphones look really cool. They’ve got this vintage looking feel, wrapped with muted colors and come in cool shapes and sizes. Honestly, Blue crushes the marketing game. In fact, for a while I kept getting a Blue Yeti advertisement that would pop up on my Facebook. This ad has a picture of a beautiful, seemingly successful girl, using a Blue Yeti. Don’t get me wrong, It’s not a bad mic, per se, it’s just that it’s a troublesome microphone, because most folks don’t set it up and use it correctly.
If you’re currently using a Blue Yeti microphone for podcast recording and you actually care about sound quality, please unplug it, walk outside, and throw it in a dumpster. Just kidding! You should probably donate it to your local Goodwill, School, or slang it on eBay to some sucker who’s new to podcasting. Again, it’s not so much that it’s a bad microphone – it’s decent for the price point. Simply put, the Blue Yeti microphone is poorly designed and thus, intuitive. So, new podcasters often set the mic up incorrectly and get a terrible sound from it. Then they ask me to improve their audio in post. But as the saying goes: “shit in, shit out.”
Why I Don’t Recommend Podcasting With a Blue Yeti Microphone
- Condenser microphone audio quality. Blue Yeti is a condenser mic, so it picks up a ton of room noise. You want to be using a dynamic microphone for podcast recording. If you’re not recording in an acoustically treated space you’ll get a ton of reverb and ambient noise in your audio. Couple this with the fact that it’s hard to get your mouth close to this microphone and you’ve got yourself some boomy, tinny sounding audio. Bad audio is unacceptable in 2021! If you don’t know what a condenser microphone is and want to learn more about why I don’t like them for podcasting, check out this previous post I wrote about the best podcast microphones.
- Microphone polar patterns knob. The Blue Yeti has a knob on it that allows you to change the polar pattern of the microphone. Cool concept? Kind of, but you’d honestly never use the different polar patterns for recording a podcast. In case you were wondering, a microphone’s polar pattern is how the microphone takes in sound. With the Yeti, the polar patterns you can choose from are cardioid, stereo, omnidirectional and bidirectional. Cardioid microphones, which you want for recording podcasts, record sounds coming from directly in front of them. This knob could easily be confusing for people not well versed in audio. Based on some of the Blue Yeti podcast recordings I’ve edited, I have to assume that some of these podcasts were recorded with the knob on every setting BUT cardioid. With some of the Blue Yeti audio I receive, I often wonder if the person recording TRIED to make it sound bad. That’s how poor a lot of the Yeti audio I edit is.
- Mic stand and mounting design. Blue Yeti mics are difficult to mount onto mic stands. They’re designed with a built-in tabletop stand. Seems cool, right? WRONG. Most folks just plop the mic down on their desk a couple of feet away from them and try to angle the capsule toward their mouth. What happens next? They hit record and their vocal sounds tinny, faint and gets drowned out by the room’s reverb and slapback. It’s truly an auditory mess, and that’s if they read the directions and turned the polar pattern knob to cardioid. If they didn’t do that, bigger problems are going to arise during editing.
Tips for Blue Yeti Microphone Users
If you insist on joining the Blue Yeti microphone cult, here are several tips that will help you achieve better audio quality.
Get Closer to the Microphone
Yank your desk into your belly and prop the mic up on some books to shorten the distance from the mic to your mouth. To get the best sounding audio you’ll need to be within a few inches of the mic capsule. If your recording setup makes it almost impossible to get that close, you may need to invest in the boom arm that Blue makes. Boom arms are great because you can attach them to your desk, and swivel them up toward your face. I recommend boom arm’s for all podcasters regardless of what mic they’re using. But, before you pull the trigger and purchase the boom arm, make sure it fits the make and model of your Yeti.
Speak Into the Correct Side of the Mic Capsule
Make sure you’re speaking into the correct side of the Yeti mic capsule. This may seem simple, but I’ve seen people speak into the back of the microphone. I’ve also seen people point the microphone directly at them, horizontally, like they were about to take a torpedo to the face.
Record in an Acoustically Dampened Space
In a perfect world, you’d be recording your podcast in a professional recording studio or a damn good home studio. The reality is that most people don’t have the resources to make that happen. If you’re going to be recording your podcast at home without a home studio, here are 3 ways to get better audio from your Blue Yeti.
- Record in your car. Yes, I know how that sounds, but, you can get great results from your Yeti by bringing it into your car. You’ll need your laptop too, because it plugs in via USB, but you already knew that. You’ll need to find a quiet street to park on or pull into your garage. You’ll also need to find a way in the car, to position the Yeti close to your mouth. I’ve done this with other microphones and was impressed with the results.
- Record your podcast in your clothes closet. Believe it or not, I know several podcasters who have or still record in their closets. The clothes help absorb sound and the small space creates less boominess. Make sure you shut the door. Try positioning some clothes in front of you and behind you. Winter coats will be your best friend! If for some reason you can’t hack recording in your car or closet, try filling up your recording space with rugs and furniture. A carpeted room is best, but you’d be surprised at how well a couch and a rug can absorb sound. The smaller the space and the fewer hard surfaces around you, the better.
- Wear headphones when recording. This can help you distinguish if you have the Yeti set up in a good spot. Headphones will also let your ears know if you have the gain cranked too low or too high. Can barely hear yourself? Get closer and/or up the gain. Hearing some buzz and distortion? Lower the gain. It’s NUTS to just throw up the mic and begin recording, you’ve got to put on headphones so that you can establish how you sound. Reposition the mic, move into the closet, once you’re dialed in and sounding good you can remove the headphones if you’d like, but you’ve got to establish a solid baseline sound.
The Airing of Grievances
Being that I’m a podcast editor, the Blue Yeti is a huge source of frustration in my life. The aim of this post was to let you know why I think using the Yeti for podcasting is a bad idea. I don’t mean to knock the mic itself, but the Yeti’s sound is an issue that comes up in Google Searches, YouTube videos, and within the various podcast circles that I’m a part of. However, if you’re on team Yeti and insist on using the mic, some of the tips above will help you have a better shot at achieving a good sound. But please do your research and don’t fall victim to Blue’s marketing.