YouTube is an interesting platform – you can create almost any type of content and there will be an audience interested in watching.
I already went over the basic tools necessary to start a YouTube channel in another article, but I really wanted to focus on one piece and that’s audio. While video is an important part to making a video, poor audio can kill your chances of the video being successful.
For the past 2 years of my channel’s existence I have been struggling with making sure that the audio is to my liking without spending gobs and gobs of money. I have only made $100 in the past two years, so I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on equipment if 1. I didn’t know how to use it effectively and 2. I was going to give up if I didn’t make my investment back.
Before I started my YouTube channel, I wanted to start a podcast. The first thing you need to start podcasting is to get a microphone. There were plenty of options, but I chose the Blue Yeti microphone. It was stylish and inexpensive. Best of all, it was easy to set up and get started. Blue has only been around for 25 years, but in that short time, they’ve carved out a market of creators looking to dip their toes into the wide world of recording.
With the explosion of creators looking to up their audio game from a crappy Plantronics computer microphone that cost 9.99 at Staples, Blue has definitely made having a decent audio source all wrapped up into a stylish package accessible to the masses. But ask an audiophile if you should consider the Yeti and you’ll get sneers.
The Yeti, compared to a studio set up is garbage. Which is true of almost anything. Can a Toyota Corolla have the same features and quality as a Ferrari? No. But the Toyota Corolla still functions the way that it should and if used correctly, can offer a great value despite its limitations.
I have been using the Blue Yeti for a while and most people who watch my videos don’t have an issue with the audio. There was a time that my audio would sound like I was in a large hallway and it would echo. It turns out that the microphone wasn’t close enough to my face. Once I brought it in closer, I sounded more professional despite recording in a 1 bedroom apartment. Sure, I had to turn off my AC unit and have my wife wear headphones so that the audio could be as clean as possible, but it worked for my circumstances.
The drawback of the Yeti is that it picks up everything within earshot in addition to your voice, so you need to make sure you have a quiet environment to record the best sound initially. Applying post processing effects on your recording to clean up your mistakes is going to degrade the audio significantly and then when YouTube compresses it even further, you’re not going to sound very good.
But the easy set up really makes the Blue Yeti worth it the setbacks. All you have to do is connect it to your PC or MAC with a USB. Then you can plug into the headphone jack and get a real time monitoring as well. The Blue Yeti also has the ability to change polar patterns to suit your needs on the fly. Most XLR microphones don’t offer multiple settings like the Yeti and even if you do find one, you’ll need other equipment like an Audio Interface and proprietary cables to operate it which will be more expensive than the Yeti.
Although it is possible to find an XLR set up that delivers better sound than the Yeti for the same price, you’ll need a baseline understanding of sound to get it functioning the way that you like it. I currently upgraded to a SHURE SM7B which is a cardioid dynamic microphone. Which means that it doesn’t pick up a lot of background noises and hums and really focuses on your voice. The microphone is so good that a lot of podcasters including Joe Rogan use it for their set ups. However you need a ton of extra parts to get it working for a voice recording set up. I won’t go into the specifics in this article, but a $400 microphone doesn’t work right out of the box like a Blue Yeti does. However, the work you spend getting it to work will make you wonder why you put up with the sound of the Yeti in the first place.
You don’t have to spend that amount of money to get into the XLR format. Guitar Center can provide you with everything you need including a set of headphones for about $200. It’s more than the Blue Yeti will run you, but the quality will be better and you can then start to upgrade the microphone as you learn how to use it properly.
The drawback of the XLR format is that it’s not really portable. I really like how I can bring my Blue Yeti anywhere and plug it into the USB port of my PC. There’s no extra power required which means I can easily pack it away to bring it along if I want to do an onsite interview or something like that.
Overall the Blue Yeti is a really good starting point for quality sound in your videos. I found my Blue Yeti used for $60 and it has served me well. You can get a Blue Yeti new for $90 from Best Buy with a copy of Fallout 76 included. This is exactly the same microphone as the one being sold for $129, but $40 cheaper.
Now that I have a more premium set up, I still might keep it around just in case I need something more portable. If you’re considering starting up a YouTube channel or just want to upgrade from your camera’s microphone, the Blue Yeti is an excellent choice