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View Full Version : Shopping for ~$100 voice/sample mic; Blue Yeti, AT2020USB, or something else?




Makosuke
Feb 4, 2010, 02:46 PM
Like the title says; I'm looking for a mic primarily to do voice recording (voiceover and podcast, though mostly the former so I guess somewhat more range necessary to accommodate shouting/screaming), plus some sound effect/ambient noise recording for fun. I have no budget at all, so I'm looking in the $100 range, and fully understand that I'm not going to get anything really nice for that.

That said, Google searching, reviews, and poking around this forum have me looking at the new Blue Yeti (http://www.bluemic.com/yeti/) and the Audio-Technica AT2020 (http://www.audio-technica.com/cms/wired_mics/c75c5918ed57a8d0/index.html). Price wise they're pretty similar--Amazon currently has the AT2020 for about $100, and the Yeti was $115 yesterday, though if that sale ends it might be a bit before I find another bargain on it.

I'm a geek but don't know much about audio, so I thought maybe someone here might be able to point me in the right direction on a few questions:

1) At first I was looking at separate mic+audio interface, but it's looking like in my price range I may get better quality (if less future flexibility) with a USB mic. If the sound coming out of it is decent, the easier setup is also a plus. Is this reasonable, or are USB mics just too crappy to do the job right?

2) Anybody have experience or a comparison review between the AT2020 and Yeti? On paper the Yeti has a slightly broader range (20-20kHz vs 20-16k for the 2020), and the additional flexibility offered by the three-capsule design sounds great, but does that work in practice?

As for sound quality in practice, I found one c|net review (http://reviews.cnet.com/microphones/blue-microphones-yeti-usb/4505-6469_7-33871254.html?tag=mncol;lst) linked from here with actual voice samples (http://reviews.cnet.com/microphones/blue-microphones-yeti-usb/4505-6469_7-33871254-2.html?tag=txt;continue) (albeit short ones) of each, and the Yeti sounded much better--I don't know if I'd have been 100% pleased if the audio I got out of my new $100 mic was the AT2020 sample, but I definitely would be happy with the Yeti sample.

Was that just a factor of the recording environment, or is it really that much nicer? Anybody have personal experience with either?

3) Any idea if the Yeti is going to be usable on a budget shockmount if I buy one? There are plenty of shockmounts Google shows me that claim to fit the 2020, but it looks visually like the Yeti has different mounting style than most other mics, but I have zero experience to draw on.

4) If appearance isn't important, is the ghetto jar lid + pantyhose solution going to do an acceptable job as a pop filter, or would I be better off buying something proper?

And...

5) If USB mics are a bad idea, what should I be looking at in my price range? Note that I'm not a musician at all, so I'm pretty sure my needs are strictly limited to voice and sampling.



rsoutlet
Dec 6, 2010, 11:19 AM
Hi
I have written a detailed review of Blue Yeti and also have another review of the top five high quality affordable microphones. I hope readers here can benefit from the review in their decisions. It also covers things like mic stands, shockmount, etc.

Blue Yeti Review :
http://redshifter.blogspot.com/2010/02/blue-yeti-ultimate-pro-usb-microphone.html

Top Five High Quality Affordable Mics Review :
http://redshifter.blogspot.com/2010/06/top-five-ultimate-high-quality.html

Makosuke
Dec 6, 2010, 11:23 PM
The previous post appears to be somewhat relevant spam, given that my question was several months old and the poster is new, but since the thread has been dredged up anyway, I'll go ahead and add that I did eventually buy a Blue Yeti for myself, and while I haven't used it heavily yet the performance for voice recording is exceptional once you get positioned correctly and the gain set right. There is a small amount of hiss, but it's quite low and by running a noise reduction in Audacity based on a piece of dead air I was able to reduce the hiss to functionally zero with no distortion that I was able to notice--quite impressive. The sound is smooth, rich, and natural to my ear.

Some brief clips of pronunciation demonstrations I recorded using it are up here: http://animeworld.com/japanese/lesson1-1.html (these were de-hissed with Audacity, and the bitrate is high enough that you shouldn't get much in the way of compression artifacting).

It's also built like a tank and comes with a nice, extra-long, heavy-gage USB cord so you can get away from your fans if you don't have a dedicated recording area. I'm very happy with it, personally (plus it makes for some very nice Skype phone calls, or so my wife on the other end of the line tells me).

polaris20
Dec 7, 2010, 10:05 AM
The previous post appears to be somewhat relevant spam, given that my question was several months old and the poster is new, but since the thread has been dredged up anyway, I'll go ahead and add that I did eventually buy a Blue Yeti for myself, and while I haven't used it heavily yet the performance for voice recording is exceptional once you get positioned correctly and the gain set right. There is a small amount of hiss, but it's quite low and by running a noise reduction in Audacity based on a piece of dead air I was able to reduce the hiss to functionally zero with no distortion that I was able to notice--quite impressive. The sound is smooth, rich, and natural to my ear.

Some brief clips of pronunciation demonstrations I recorded using it are up here: http://animeworld.com/japanese/lesson1-1.html (these were de-hissed with Audacity, and the bitrate is high enough that you shouldn't get much in the way of compression artifacting).

It's also built like a tank and comes with a nice, extra-long, heavy-gage USB cord so you can get away from your fans if you don't have a dedicated recording area. I'm very happy with it, personally (plus it makes for some very nice Skype phone calls, or so my wife on the other end of the line tells me).

What's interesting with the Yeti is that not only is it a nice mic, but it can also be used with the iPad in conjunction with the camera connection kit. When used with something like Multitrack DAW, it becomes quite a nice little ultraportable recording kit. The only thing I do not like about it is its size. It's nearly as long as the iPad itself is!

rsoutlet
Dec 10, 2010, 04:16 PM
The previous post appears to be somewhat relevant spam, given that my question was several months old and the poster is new, but since the thread has been dredged up anyway, I'll go ahead and add that I did eventually buy a Blue Yeti for myself, and while I haven't used it heavily yet the performance for voice recording is exceptional once you get positioned correctly and the gain set right. There is a small amount of hiss, but it's quite low and by running a noise reduction in Audacity based on a piece of dead air I was able to reduce the hiss to functionally zero with no distortion that I was able to notice--quite impressive. The sound is smooth, rich, and natural to my ear.

Some brief clips of pronunciation demonstrations I recorded using it are up here: http://animeworld.com/japanese/lesson1-1.html (these were de-hissed with Audacity, and the bitrate is high enough that you shouldn't get much in the way of compression artifacting).

It's also built like a tank and comes with a nice, extra-long, heavy-gage USB cord so you can get away from your fans if you don't have a dedicated recording area. I'm very happy with it, personally (plus it makes for some very nice Skype phone calls, or so my wife on the other end of the line tells me).

Sorry if my post appears to be spam but that was certainly not my intention. Being a Yeti user myself, and having been thoroughly impressed with it as you have, I decided to do a review blog back in Feb '10. As I was searching the net recently for folks asking questions on Yeti, I came across this post and thought it would be worthwhile sharing my review link to help anyone who walked into this forum through a search engine.

Also thank you for sharing the bit on the hiss reduction technique through Audacity. Certainly something I could use in my recordings.

best wishes

Fishrrman
Dec 11, 2010, 08:47 AM
Have you considered a "standalone" portable digital recorder such as the ZOOM "H1"?

Makosuke
Dec 15, 2010, 07:45 PM
Sorry if my post appears to be spam but that was certainly not my intention.Yeah, it's always tough when you see a new poster linking to blog posts along the lines of "5 X Products Compared"--more often than not those are essentially link spam, and link spam plugging contentless articles on top of it. I confess to not having done more than glance at your comparison, and obviously--there aren't many similar reviews with good info--there aren't enough like it out there. Maybe my paranoia comes of seeing way too many similar "Yeah, I was thinking about that myself, here's a link to my recipe site..." blog comment spam posts.

Have you considered a "standalone" portable digital recorder such as the ZOOM "H1"?It was one of the things I'd considered, and may well have some inherent advantages--portability, no ground loop issues, no need to run any software on the recording end--but I decided that the advantages of live monitoring on the computer and the reduction in relative cost for the same mic and A/D conversion hardware won out. After all, I have no need for whatever indicators, card writers, data encoders, and battery management circuitry are involved in a portable recorder, all of which should (at least in theory) increase the cost of a device with an otherwise identical mic capsule and A/D converter.

Plus the Yeti looks very cool, and at least makes you feel sorta pro, even if you have no idea what you're doing and it's really just consumer hardware. (Also doesn't help when you add the coathanger-pantyhose pop filter.)