Blackout Yeti Microphone Review: Coming in Clear
Ben Sheene / Aug 17th, 2015 No Comments
We no longer live in the dark days of the ’80s and ’90s. We don’t have to wait for next month’s issue of Nintendo Power or a weekend rental to figure out what we want to play next. Finding out what’s good or bad or fun is often a Twitch stream or a Let’s Play away. Players have started consuming their video games primarily through videos rather than actually playing them. There’s just too much out there. And, frankly, very few of us have the time or budget to play everything.
Players and websites now use video reviews, podcasts, and livestreams to reach out to a potential audience. Anyone with a PS4 or Xbox One is able to expose the world to their gaming habits. Yet a good number have the goal of making their channels professional, to grow hits and viewers with quality and entertainment. Showing off gameplay is often just a matter of having a strong internet connection. But what about your voice? Talking to viewers and listeners is one of the best ways to inform and interact with them. A voice coming in clear is a crucial tool in today’s world of Twitch and YouTube. Because of this, players looking for one of the best solutions to deliver their voice out into the internet should look no further than Blue’s Blackout Yeti Microphone.
The Yeti is one of Blue Microphone’s most popular devices. Often targeted as a microphone to be used in a studio setting to record various types of vocal or music performances, the Yeti is meant to capture and preserve a person’s voice with incredible quality. For budding musicians looking to show off their talents it seems like a sensible purchase. But what does a gamer need with a studio microphone? Unless it’s has been through word of mouth or pure research, Blue’s name likely hasn’t come up on your radar. When it comes to peripherals, names like Steel Series, Turtle Beach, or Razer pop up due to the fact these companies market themselves towards gamers.
At E3 2015 Blue made its debut at gaming’s biggest event and targeted a line of products–including the Yeti–directly at gamers. It was a smart decision because the Yeti is a perfect device for players who are trying to put a more refined and professional edge on their livestreams and YouTube channels. PS4 and Xbox One owners are able to stream and upload gameplay with a few button presses. It’s a simple process that requires very little effort on the part of the player.
Because of this simplicity, players no longer have to consider things such as capture cards, software, or streaming devices. What required a costly investment a few years ago is now circumvented by a PlayStation Camera or Kinect, a headset you probably already own, and a stable enough internet connection. Now that Blue is making its presence known to potential streaming pros, the Yeti should be at the top of the list when considering how to elevate your vocals beyond a mic built into your fancy headset.
The Blackout variant of the Yeti microphone is self-explanatory. Giving off a drastically darker appearance than its silver and platinum brothers, the Blackout Yeti is the perfect companion to the similarly black PS4 and Xbox One. On appearance alone the black finish is striking rather than flashy, a subtle compliment to a player’s gaming set up and a device that won’t stand out too much if placed in front of them on camera.
One my favorite aspects about the Yeti is how sturdy and versatile it feels. Out of the box the microphone comes included with a solid, heavy base that has rubberized feet. The metal base weighs down the otherwise lightweight microphone, making it rest solidly on nearly any surface. The actual microphone itself is held onto the base by two screws which allows users to tilt and adjust it to their preferred angle. By removing the microphone from the base, it can be attached to a shockmount for increased movement and flexibility.
As great as the Yeti looks, it wouldn’t mean anything if sound quality was subpar. If it wasn’t already obvious, the Yeti delivers gorgeous, crisp voice across the board. The first time I tested out the Yeti it was in a party chat on the PS4. My primary chat device is the PlayStation Gold wireless stereo headset. Its virtual surround is good and the built-in microphone does the job but can sometimes be a bit muffled or quiet. As soon as I hopped into a party chat with friends, everyone was taken aback with the clarity of my voice. “You sound like you’re about to do a podcast,” commented one of my friends. The word “crisp” was tossed around several times, along with remarks that I sounded as if I was really there.
A crucial feature of the Yeti is the included 3.5mm headphone output located at the bottom of the microphone. By plugging in their favorite or most basic pair of headphones, players will be able to monitor their voice input as they speak without any delays. Not only does this allow players to hear how good their voice sounds, it lets them make adjustments to microphone volume or check for unwanted noise on the fly. Additionally, the Yeti is able to output game and chat volume when headphones are plugged into the jack.
Blue’s triple capsule array technology helps the Yeti record and pick up sound in multiple situations. This is made even more important with the Yeti’s ability to record four different patterns with the turn of a knob on the back of the microphone. Stereo, cardioid, omnidirectional, and bidirectional are the patterns available to the Yeti. Stereo and omnidirectional function about the same, allowing sound to be recorded from the four sides or general circumference of the microphone. Cardioid is the perfect solution for players livestreaming or recording their voice to be used in a video. Bidirectional is ideal for potential podcasters who might be doing an interview with one other person.
Microphone sensitivity comes into play often with the Yeti. This microphone is an impressive piece of tech meant to capture noises, voices, instruments and more. Keeping that in mind, the Yeti will pick up on players who furiously press buttons during intense gaming sessions if the microphone is too close to the controller. Cardioid is going to be the best pattern setting while gaming but the Yeti will still pick up a voice even if it isn’t going directly into the front of the microphone. Even though parts of the microphone are turned off and on in certain patters, noise can be heard, even if it is a bit muffled. Surprisingly enough, the Yeti doesn’t really buckle under loud noises. It’s definitely capable of peaking and distorting during a scream or a booming voice. Thankfully a gain knob on the back of the microphone can adjust the sensitivity with a simple turn.
One important tip to keep in mind is that users shouldn’t point the tip of the microphone at their mouth and speak into it. The actual front of the microphone is located directly above Blue’s logo and is where sound will be best picked up on the cardioid pattern. One flaw in the Yeti comes from the fact that there isn’t any shock resistance built into the microphone. When handling the base or microphone, tapping on a desk or surface it sits on, or trying to adjust it, some sound is going to be picked up. Obviously a shockmount would help but this issue isn’t a deal-breaker; just try not to move it when doing live recordings or you might have to rerecord.
Plug and Speak
Even though it is a professional quality microphone, one of the most appealing things about the Yeti is its ease of use. If players are just getting into streaming, they don’t need a difficult bar of entry on how to configure audio, video, and a number of other things. Players should be able to talk to their audience knowing that they don’t need to constantly tinker with settings and making sure they aren’t being too loud or too quiet. Being a USB microphone, setting up the Yeti on console or PC is about as simple as anyone could hope for.
PC users don’t need to worry about installing any new drivers or software. Configuring the Yeti is about as simple as going into a PC’s sound settings and making the microphone the default device. For users with a program like Audacity, it’s no problem watching sound levels and recording. PS4 players have it pretty easy as they can plug in the Yeti, go into their audio device settings and make sure the Yeti is both the input and output device. Xbox players have to take an additional step and plug the Yeti into a streaming device like an Elgato or Hauppauge device. It’s not as seamless as the other options but the setup is still relatively painless and easy.
Because the Yeti is a microphone and not a headset, it’s important to keep some of its limitations in mind. For example, my PlayStation Gold headset is capable of adjusting the volume of game audio and chat audio with the touch of a button. If one or the other is being too loud, it’s a simple fix. With the Yeti’s ability to provide sound monitoring, during a game of Destiny I was hearing my voice, the multiple voices in party chat, and the audio from Destiny. Suffice it to say, it was hard to focus on one or the other. A problem like this can be somewhat alleviated with adjusting the audio settings in the game. A better solution would be if the PS4 allowed for a different input and output audio device. To be fair, I feel that the Yeti’s properties are meant to let it excel at letting players speak to viewers in a stream or have their voice used in a video. It works as a way to clearly talk with friends, it will just take some work. Just know that an easy to press mute button is located right on the front of the microphone in case you need a few moments to adjust.
Blue’s Blackout Yeti microphone is truly an incredible device. Its sleek form factor is enhanced by its ease of use. All the buttons you need are located right on the microphone. Not having to tinker with software means that anyone from audiophile to basic user can easily figure out how to make themselves sound best. The ability to capture sound from multiple directions and at this quality means it is perfect for a budding content creator. Its easy to find the Yeti for around $13o on multiple websites. While it may not have the capabilities of a standard headset, it would be hard to find this kind of quality without dropping some serious cash on a pricey headset. Blue’s Yeti is a near perfect investment that can add a professional touch to any kind of entertainer, gaming or otherwise.
The Blackout Yeti was tested on a review unit provided by Blue Microphones.
tags: Blackout Yeti , Blackout Yeti review , blue , Blue Microphones , hardware , Yeti