Recently we looked at the petite, portable Samson Meteor Mic, a pocket-sized fold away USB microphone that's perfect for capturing those moments of inspiration while out and about. Today though, it's the turn of a more serious, heavy-weight microphone, and we mean heavy weight.
The Blue Yeti Pro is, like the Samson Meteor Mic, a USB microphone designed to make it as easy as possible to get great quality recordings on your computer without having to invest in complicated sound cards with mic inputs - just plug in and play. However, it packs in much more than a just a USB output - it has an XLR output, you can switch pickup patterns, and there are mute and gain controls. It also provides ultra high-quality 24-bit/192KHz digital sampling. This isn't just a mic, it's a mini recording studio.
Sadly, you do pay a price for all this features. Well, actually, you pay two prices. First there's the hefty £180 financial burden, and then there's the bulk. While the Samson Meteor folds up to around the size of a twinkie and weighs just 263g, the Yeti Pro with its included stand is 29.5cm tall, 12.5cm wide and weighs in at 1.55Kg. That's not unfeasibly heavy for portable use but it's not the sort of thing you'd take everywhere with you. The Yeti Pro does at least make some concession when it comes to bulk - you can either fold it in on itself or remove the stand as there's a standard 5/8in microphone stand thread on the bottom of the mic. Without the stand it weighs 550g and is around 19cm tall and 6.5cm in diameter - something akin to a 500ml can of beer.
All that weight has benefits for build quality. To all intents and purposes the whole thing is made of metal so will withstand plenty of knocks. There's also a tough, rough black finish to the mic body and the top of the stand's base, which provides a good grip as well as scratch resistance. The metal used is so thick and sturdy you literally can't flex any piece of it (not even the wire mesh covering the capsules), and there's no give in the pivot mount for the stand. That is unless you unscrew the mounts to use the mic without its stand.
The stand itself only provides tilt adjustment so you will need to remove the mic and mount it on a proper stand if you want to adjust height without resorting to balancing it on copies of the Yellow Pages. On the base of the stand are three thick foam pads that provide a good firm grip on most flat surfaces and a modicum of vibration reduction as well. Again like the Meteor Mic, you'll need to mount it properly if you want to completely avoid ambient noise.
The knobs for the mic mounts, along with the Mute button and various dials are the only plastic bits on show and though they feel relatively less satisfyingly hardy than all the metal bits, they're all sturdy, responsive and easy to use.
One oddity is the headphone monitor volume knob, which is of the infinite spin variety and is very stiff. This means you have no visual reference for the volume level and it isn't a quick and effortless task to turn it to the right level. Conversely, the mic gain dial on the back is quite low resistance, and it has a very definite low and high point.
Below this is the pickup pattern selector dial, which is a very stiff, four-position knob used to change how the microphone listens to the world around it.
Microphone pickup patterns represent what directions the microphone can listen in and there are four main types; omnidirectional, bi-directional, cardoid, and shotgun. As you may have guessed, omni-directional mics can pickup 360 degree audio while bi-directional picks up what's in front of and behind the mic (great for interviews). As for cardoid, it represents a forward facing directional mic but with a bit of leakage round the sides. Its heart shaped pattern gives rise to its name. Finally, shotgun mics are highly directional - yes, they're the ones they use for survealiance.
The Blue Yeti Pro uses three condenser capsules (the actual parts that convert sound waves to electronic waves) to allow it to switch between some of these pickup patterns. You can choose from omni-directional, bi-directional and cardoid as well as stereo, that latter of which results in a sort of cross between an omni-directional and a cardoid effect, with the stereo imaging you'd expect of a two-channel setup.