Price (RRP): $159.95
Do you Skype? Do you make podcasts or YouTube videos? Or do you ever need to record anything with your computer? Then you likely need a microphone upgrade. The Blue Yeti has been one of the go-to quality computer microphones for years. But now there’s the Blue Yeti Nano. It’s a little cheaper and quite a bit smaller, and it does a fine job.
What’s a Blue Yeti Nano?
The Blue Yeti Nano is a standalone condenser microphone with an integrated stand and a built-in headphone output.
Condenser microphones provide high quality, but typically require an external 48 volt “phantom” power source. They actually consume very little power, but the high voltage is required to charge up their capacitive plates. Well, all that’s built into the Blue Yeti Nano, along with an analogue to digital converter (and a digital to analogue converter for the headphone connection). And it comes with an integrated stand. The power is drawn from the USB port into which it’s plugged.
You can undo the thumb-screws holding the microphone to the stand and attach it to a regular microphone stand or boom. A screw adaptor is included.
Inside the microphone are two 14mm condenser microphone capsules. This is a recording-studio style microphone, so you direct sound at the face of the grill on one side, rather than at the end. The Blue Yeti Nano can operate with either a cardioid or an omnidirectional pattern. The former reserves most of its sensitivity for the front of the microphone and somewhat to the sides, very little at the back. Omnidirectional is of roughly equal sensitivity in all directions. A button on the back flicks between the two and indicator lights show which mode is selected.
At the bottom is a Micro-B USB socket and a 3.5mm headphone output. A cable is provided for plugging the digital connection into a computer. Both Windows and Macs are supported.
On the front is a level control for the headphones. This doubles as a mute button. When working normally, there’s a green ring on the face of this button. When muted, it’s red. Muting switches out both the microphone and the headphones.
It’s important to understand how the signal is routed in any digital recording gear.
In normal mode, the Blue Yeti Nano sends the sound from the microphone to the computer in digital form. And it also sends it to the headphone socket. I don’t know if this is a direct analogue feed or if it passes through an analogue to digital then back to analogue set of conversions. You can cut this feed to the headphone by holding in the pattern selection switch for a couple of seconds. That way you will hear what your computer is playing, but not a direct feed from the microphone. In general, you’re going to want the direct feed. It seemed to have somewhere between zero and imperceptibly low latency.
The Blue Yeti Nano is available in four colours: Shadow Grey (the review model), Cubano Gold, Vivid Blue or Onyx Red. All are somewhat muted, so you don’t need to worry about red looking too lairy. The microphone seems to be well-constructed, with a thick mesh over the condenser capsules and a weight of more than 600 grams.
When I plugged the microphone into my Windows computer, it took about ten seconds to complete installation. The microphone is a USB Audio Class 1.0 device, so no drivers are required, even for older versions of Windows. The Windows microphone properties indicated that the microphone supports, as specified, sampling rates of 44.1kHz and 48kHz, both at 24 bits of resolution.
Windows reported that the built-in audio DAC also supported the same standards.
The microphone defaults to 48kHz sampling. If you do select 44.1kHz, the indicator light on the front changes from its usual green ring to a vaguely alarming amber pulse.
You’d be wise to install the free Blue Sherpa software on your computer. There are versions for both Windows and Mac. These allow you to set the playback level, change between Cardioid and Omnidirectional modes, and set the microphone gain level. That’s the level at which the analogue output from the microphone capsule is converted to a digital signal.
But I’m also interested in whether an ADC uses the full digital space available to it.