To work this out, I did some heavy-duty overloading of the microphone, forcing the waveform to clip at the hard digital boundaries. Occasionally some devices unaccountably fail to use the full digital scale available in mapping the analog input. But there’s no such problem here. My clipped recordings used the full range of 16.7 million levels in the 24-bit quantisation space. And it was a real 24 bits. The individual samples I checked were all in-between the 16-bit quantisation values.
The default level setting was pretty sensible, and was good for picking up the voice used at a conversational level, at a range of about 300 to 400mm. But it was easy enough to overload it with certain other sounds. For example, I rang my collection of small bells, and easily pushed the analogue output of the microphone hard enough to sound audibly clipped. So, I adjusted the microphone gain level in the Blue Sherpa software – there’s a level meter so you can see what’s going on – and brought the peaks down to under the hard limit. Then the tinkling assumed a delightful sound, without the hard clatter. Blue rates the overload level of the capsule 110 decibels. I’d agree. That will accommodate just about everything you’re likely to record. You just need to be ready to drag down the gain to make it fit into the digital space.
At the default gain setting, speaking into the microphone in the manner for which it was designed, the recordings were first class. The voice was extremely natural and well balanced tonally. There was some fairly good resistance to plosives. I could produce a bass thump with effort, but generally things were clear. I’d still use a decent pop screen, just to be sure. There was some proximity effect – greater bass with closer miking. The bass rolls off naturally so there’s some resistance to handling noise.
But, really, the only reason to touch the microphone is to change the pickup pattern, and you should do that before you start recording.
The differences between the omnidirectional and cardioid patterns were clear. There was little difference in sound all around the microphone when the former pattern was engaged. With cardioid, there was quite good rejection of noise behind the microphone. In general, the microphone will be used in this way. The omni setting is useful, though, if you want to record group conversations.
The recording of the bells I rang were quite instructive. First, there was clear overload. When I eliminated that, I took a look at the frequency spectrum of the recorded sound. The level was maintained all the way up the Nyquist point at 24,000 hertz. That’s unusual. Generally, ADC’s apply a steep low-pass filter as the frequency gets up near that point. You’d expect to see it kicking in, with 48kHz sampling, at perhaps 22kHz or maybe 23kHz. Here it seems to be absent.
Does it matter? These days I’m leaning towards the view that the potential artefacts that may be generated by treatment are inaudible anyway. I certainly couldn’t hear any problems.
One other reason for installing the Blue Sherpa software is that it keeps the firmware of your Blue Yeti Nano up-to-date. The review microphone needed an upgrade. Apparently the files aren’t large because the software did the whole thing in about fifteen seconds.
Portable recording with the Blue Yeti Nano
The Blue Yeti Nano is aimed solely at computer users: Mac and Windows. Phones aren’t mentioned. So, I figured I’d try it with a phone. I plugged it into a Google Pixel 2 XL (using a USB to USB Type-C adaptor), fired up the Voice Recorder app on the phone, and uttered a few phrases into the microphone. All seemed to work okay, but when I played back the recording, it played back much too fast and was full of static.
I suspected a sampling rate mismatch – the phone operating at 44.1kHz and the microphone at 48kHz. It took me a few different apps before I found one that worked well. “Hi-Res Audio Recorder” did the job nicely.
But how about an iPhone? I used the old USB Type-B to Lightning adaptor and the standard Voice Memos app, and it worked perfectly.
The Blue Yeti Nano really is a good investment for anyone using the computer to communicate with voice. Especially if you’re doing something where quality is important, such as recording. It’s surprisingly inexpensive and it works well.