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Blue Yeti vs. Yeti Pro

Sunday, December 11th, 2011 | by


Blue Yeti ProIt was 2010. Blue released a new USB microphone that because of its ease of use, pattern versatility (3 mono patterns, plus stereo), price (I paid $99 for mine), and quality of sound, quickly became a bestseller. With its distinctive retro look, built-in zero-latency headphone amp, easy access, adjustable controls, and plug-and-play ability, the Blue Yeti was a mic that could live comfortably on your desk, like a friendly little R2D2 robot, at your service for a podcast or Skype call.

People that do voiceovers, like myself, found it easy to use the Blue Microphones YetiYeti in a pinch: plug it into a USB port, and get a decent quality recording at 16 bit, 48 kHz with no muss or fuss.

Earlier in 2011, Blue introduced an upgraded version of the microphone, the Blue Microphones Yeti ProYeti Pro. The specs were identical to the Standard Yeti. I really wasn’t that intrigued by it, except the fact that that it had the ability to record sound at four times the rate of the Standard, and had an XLR (analog) output in addition to the USB output.

I searched for sound samples, but found none comparing the Standard Yeti to the Yeti Pro. So, I have made some for this review.

Set Up

If you are a Standard Yeti user, be forewarned: there are things you have to do to get the Pro to work. Being mostly a PC user, with Windows 7, I just opened the Pro package and tried to do a simple plug and play, just like the Standard. It didn’t work. When all else fails, read the instructions! You have to download a driver for Windows users, from XP to 7. Mac users, you must have OS 10.6.4 or it will not work. The rest of the setup is a matter of software adjustment and the Yeti Pro manual does a great job of helping you set the mic up on both a Mac and PC.

From there, before making any judgments, get to know the Yeti Pro, because going from digital to analog will require a learning curve as well. More about that later.

Physical Differences

Yeti and Yeti ProComparing the two mics shows the distinct differences between the two. The Pro has a pleasing, retro black studio finish, much like older 60’s tube type processing equipment, with a slight brassy patina.

The Standard is equally impressive looking, but the buttons and knobs on my standard seem to be of a lesser quality and even looser. The headphone volume control on the Pro is digital, spins infinitely and the OS remembers your last headphone level, a nice touch. Other than that the controls are identical. The Standard Yeti’s knob fonts are easier to read, a big difference when in a low light studio or if you are over 45 and need bi-focals to see which pattern you are in. The very handy and easy to see Mute button is the same on both microphones, staying solid red when recording, and blinking brightly when engaged (in USB only on the Pro).

Performance on Equal Ground

How do the mics perform? When it comes to output gain, the Standard Yeti is the champ. To get the same recording level in USB mode, the gain on the Pro has to be turned up all the way, while the Standard gets the same output at less than half of full volume. Blue’s technical support staff confirmed my suspicion, that the Pro has lower output gain to enable the mic to perform better at high SPL.

What I would rather see is higher gain with a 20db pad switch. Reading other reviews, this seems to be the number one issue with the Pro. I hope Blue is listening.

[Ed. note -- we have been notified that Blue will be modifying the gain staging on the Yeti Pro for future production runs, to make its output level closer to the standard Yeti.]

The next difference is the quality of the headphone monitor circuits. Here, the Pro excels. The Standard Yeti has a tinny, breezy, noisy, low-gain headphone amp, requiring nearly maximum gain to get decent output levels. I was amping the Standard Yeti’s amp! In contrast, the Pro amp is dynamic, rich, and does not require full gain (unless you have substantial hearing loss and want feedback).

The 16-bit 48k Shootout

The published frequency-response graphs of these two microphones are identical. But the mics don’t sound the same. My first test had both mics side by side, capsules at the same height and position, both mounted on Blue Radius shock mounts, with digital (USB) output at 16 bit, 48 kHz, to two computers. I used calibration tones to ensure equal signal levels into Audacity. My first test was a non-scripted, let’s say fireside chat, testing both mics simultaneously.

Voiceover Samples

[The two samples below are 16-bit, 320kbps MP3s created from 16-bit, 48kHz WAVs, recorded simultaneously. The Standard Yeti file is first, followed by the Pro.]

Blue Yeti
Blue Yeti Pro

After the recording, I lined up the two recordings in Audacity for comparison. My initial impression was that the Yeti Pro has a much smoother, flatter response, whereas the standard Yeti had an audible mid high-end bump in Cardioid, picking up sibilant sounds more readily. Both mics at this bit rate and level seem to have the same self-noise level. My voice on both sounded similar, but the Pro was smoother.

In a test of the patterns, both mics performed equally as well in all patterns. On both mics, my least favorite pattern was the Figure 8. The rear lobe sounded hollow and not as dynamic as the front. I would not use this pattern for duets, as I felt the sound imbalance was too dramatic compared to the Omni and Stereo patterns. This did not change at higher bit rates.

Acoustic Guitar

Acoustic guitar tests were done at 16 bit, 48 kilohertz on the Standard Yeti, and on the Pro at 16/48, 24/96 and 24/192. The Standard sounded colored, with a high frequency bump that at times seemed harsh and unpleasant. The Pro sounded warmer, smoother and more like the guitar at all bit rates.

[The two samples below are 16-bit, 320kbps MP3s created from 16-bit, 48kHz WAVs, recorded simultaneously.]

Blue Yeti
Blue Yeti Pro

Tambourine, Chimes

[The two samples below are 16-bit, 320kbps MP3s created from 16-bit, 48kHz WAVs, recorded simultaneously.]

Blue Yeti
Blue Yeti Pro

Tests with the Pro at Higher Bit Rates

In this next test, I set the Yeti Pro to 24bit, 96-kHz rate. (The Standard Yeti remained at its highest-quality rate, 16/48.) Here is where the sonic differences became more pronounced. This is not surprising, because the Pro’s manual boasts the use of a higher-quality ADC, which “provides incredibly low distortion, high fidelity, and balanced frequency.” This statement is much truer than the provided frequency graphs. Even though the levels were carefully set, I noticed slight differences with each Yeti on the playback waveform. I attribute this to how each mic responds to different frequencies: the Standard Yeti attenuates the mid high-to-high frequencies, thus being louder here and offering more distortion and coloring.

Both mics have about the same amount of self-noise, which is very low. Voice tests with the Pro provided a richer, smoother sound in Cardioid, much like a larger-diaphragm condenser in my opinion. The Standard started to show its armor chinks here. The audible high frequency ring on the guitar test was still there, and individual plucks of the strings sounded colored and slightly distorted. The Pro sounded like the actual guitar, which has flaws, but it sounded real, exactly like the guitar with no coloring, especially at the highs.

[Download comparison WAV files: here.]

I noticed the most distinctive differences between the two mics on voice tests. The Standard was not as warm sounding; sibilance was much more pronounced. The Pro sounded warmer, more like a professional condenser microphone. I also noticed more self-noise with the Standard Yeti here.

Yeti Pro – Analog Tests

The Yeti Pro’s ability to output both analog (via XLR) and digital (USB) makes it even more appealing. It sounds great, going through a console to an external ADC. The ability to record in stereo is an added plus. My voiceover and instrument tests proved to me that it is a worthy opponent to more-expensive large-diaphragm mics.

The mic’s noise level in analog is also very low, and the apparent gain of the mic goes up substantially. Whereas in USB, I was using maximum gain, the analog output requires only a moderate amount of preamp gain.

Another benefit of using the analog output is the ability to use the EQ, pads, and filters on your console or channel strip, as you would with any analog microphone.

The Pro’s Mute button and headphone amp do not work when using the analog output.

As with all condenser mics, the Pro requires Phantom power.

Final Conclusions

I prefer the Yeti Pro to the Yeti. In fact, I liked the mic so much, I decided to buy it.

There is really not much you can’t do with this microphone. I have nicknamed mine the “Proteus,” after the Greek god of the sea, who could change his appearance at will. That describes the Pro in a nutshell.

If you are doing podcasts, or any less-demanding recording, or you don’t have a console and don’t want to invest in one, stick with the Standard Yeti, as you are not going to benefit as much from the Pro. However, if you want to shell out an extra $100.00, you will be getting a much better mic all around.

Posted in Microphones, Reviews, Shootouts, voiceover | 43 Comments »




43 Responses to “Blue Yeti vs. Yeti Pro”

  1. Brian Schwartz

    December 12th, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    I am buying a mic for an elementary school classroom, and we can afford just one mic. Prob don’t need the better recording capabilities of the PRO but if we need to put the mic on a boom stand, an XLR extension cable might be better than an USB extension cable.

    Thanks for doing the review.

  2. David

    December 15th, 2011 at 8:22 am

    Great stuff, David. Much appreciated. I recently bought myself a Pro, and am pretty pleased with it. A friend was asking me to help them pick one for a voice over project, and your comparative review was exactly what I needed. As this mike will be needed solely for voice over, and due to it’s simplicity of installation/use, I’m going to recommend that she go with the Blue.
    Have a great end of the year,
    D.

  3. James

    December 15th, 2011 at 8:49 am

    Wait, what?! In addition to making trailer-park quality electronics, Behringer is now making wine?!? Wonder if Neumann will start making beer!

    Just kidding; great review. I love, Luv, LUV this web page. SO many hours wasted doing “research.” (wink)

  4. Ari

    December 19th, 2011 at 11:37 am

    I have a yeti pro and even with the gain on the mic fully open I am still getting really low levels of sound ( best I can pull is -12db) with regular speech.

    I read on the forums that that is a default negative gain that youc an fix on the mac side by accessing the midi player, is tehre a similar solution for PC users?

  5. Johnny Art

    December 20th, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Loved your review! Very much appreciated!!!!!

    Guess i’ll be going with the Yeti Pro!

  6. joseph

    December 30th, 2011 at 8:24 am

    thanks for samples, they are very usefull for chose the mic.
    I bought the yeti pro.

    see u

  7. ingrid

    January 16th, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    Aweosome, you just answered all my questions .

    I am also be using this for voice overs and would like to upgrade my old round Blue .I like your set up too.

    Hope Blue peeps do something about the gain before I buy one …

  8. Kate

    January 27th, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Thank you so much for having the foresight to give us samples… why manufacturers don’t do this is beyond me.

    I’m going with the Pro, you are correct even though I don’t have a console as yet, I’ll be yeti pro ready for it…

    Love your work… thanks again!

  9. The Best Voiceover Microphone … Ever? | recording hacks

    February 1st, 2012 at 9:41 am

    [...] a “Beringer Wine” voiceover script on my smartphone [Ed. note: David used this in his Yeti Pro review.] With the SM7b’s “presence” switch engaged, the mic had that meaty, mid [...]

  10. ReaM

    July 6th, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Hey, what do you think about MXL USB 009? The Amazon review one guy compares it to Yeti Pro and he says MXL is better (although giving Yeti Pro the second place out of all USB mics).

  11. David Beneke

    July 7th, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    I have never used the MXL USB 009, so I really can’t comment which is better. Looking at the MXL, it is a large diaphragm condenser, the Yeti Pro is not. However, the Yeti Pro looks to be more versatile, more patterns and XLR out. The proof would be in hearing the mics side by side, the MXL is a more expensive mic, so maybe that expense goes into better components. Sound is often in the ear of the beholder as well. You would have to test the two and decide for yourself. Is the Yeti Pro the best mic I’ve ever heard, no, but it is certainly the most versatile, and it is a nice sounding mic. It depends on what you want from a mic, does it have to be USB, what is you budget, do you own a good interface and on and on. If you have a place where you can audition all types of mics, do that.

  12. ReaM

    July 8th, 2012 at 1:26 am

    Thanks. You don’t need to answer to me in two places. I was just desperate looking for an answer so I asked in several articles.

    My thinking would be that even Yeti Standard would suffice to me. Budget is small, but I was ready to spend $400 on that MXL, but then I saw the Yeti and your website and the opinion changed, because the sound was great. It picks up musical instruments good too! I want to do some animation: something like Family Guy.

    I am even watching at Sennheiser 416, the shotgun mic. I don’t want to spent so much, but the audio I listened to sounded great.

  13. ReaM

    July 29th, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    I bought me the Blue Yeti. I’ll be able to try it out next weekend. I’ll let you know, maybe make an audio sample of how it sounds with my voice.

  14. Abe Martinez

    September 19th, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Great review and very helpful. I am looking to purchase one or the other for home VO work on a ProTools setup. I would be fine with the standard, but I have a background in professional studio production and hope to get back to that someday. Knowing that the Pro does have sonic advantages as you’ve explained makes it worth the extra money.

  15. craige mcneil

    October 2nd, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    Thank you for taking the time for this review, very helpful.

  16. Lee Harris

    October 8th, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    Thanks so much!

  17. Jared

    October 26th, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    Listening to all the clips you provided, (yes, the downloadable .wav ones too) I can find no perceivable difference between the two microphones. I think the differences you’re hearing are due to the placebo effect, it seems to me like the only differences in these microphones are the color and quality of the materials, which doesn’t really to justice to the big gap in price they have. For vocal recording (it’s debatable) the AT2020 usb for a bit more money than the Blue Yeti is a tad bit better and picks up a lot less background noise— but lacks many other features. Which is OK, if you’re using it solely for vocal recording. Nice review, it’s helped me narrow my choices by a lot.

  18. Lynn Fuston

    November 14th, 2012 at 2:39 am

    Just read this review: very nicely done, David. I’m getting the Yeti Pro to try out for recording to an iPad 4. Interested to see how it sounds.

  19. Craig Werth

    December 30th, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    I have the Pro and have friends asking me whether to recommend. I like mine, but the great care and effort you put into this comparison is a crucial asset in helping me to advise. I am VERY appreciative. Thank you for your excellent work.

  20. F. William Baldwin

    January 18th, 2013 at 3:23 am

    Dave, the Yeti Pro has a volume control on the back. What kind of volume settings with this control do you use for voiceovers? Thanks!

  21. David Beneke

    January 19th, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    On mine, when in USB mode, I have to have the volume all the way up, to get about – 8db, a very low level, which has to be normalized to a decent level. However when using the analog output, the XLR cable to a preamp, the level needs to be set very low, depending on the preamp. To say the least, I rarely use this mic in USB mode. There is a fix for the low level if you are using a Mac, just Google Yeti pro low level fix for Mac, and that should help.

  22. cezanne

    February 10th, 2013 at 8:12 am

    wow. :) what a review. cleared all my doubts about the “blue yeti pro vs blue yeti” and the blue yeti pro itself. i’m a beginner level “guitarist” , 15 years old -_- and i just wanted to record some of my own compositions directly through the AMPLIFIER because i don’t want to do all the boring stuff :P wiring things , and ..doing those “professional” things! i just want “clarity , a great sound” with a nice quality. so i just have one little question . is this a good mic for recording ‘acoustic guitar , electric guitar’ ? . Please reply! because i’ve been doing researches on this mic from the last 3-4 months!

    Thanks.

  23. DirectorDanielMason

    February 16th, 2013 at 7:46 am

    Hi, thanks for the excellent article- and sorry for the long time sensitive questions- if you can’t respond now, I would still love to know for the future:

    Woot is having a sale on “refurbished” versions of these microphones till the morning of February 18th, 2013 (or sellout). I own the Blue Yeti, which I love. I am a filmmaker with a minimal budget and virtually no background in sound. I was wondering if you had any thoughts on refurbished, but more importantly what you thought if the end goal was to hang 2 mics overhead of 2 actors, following them with extending poles, for independent films- best settings for this or the answer I am not thinking of would be highly appreciated.

    Are the sound differences such that they wouldn’t match? Having the analog option in the future would be nice… In the past I was even wondering about plugging the yeti into a USB backup battery (I was worried about damaging it so I have not yet done this) and using the headphone out to the cheap mini mic in on my DSLR- or possibly recording simultaneously via USB to my Mac when indoors and syncing later (I know, in the end the sound would be much better). Would the mini option make any sense? And if I did get the Pro instead of a twin for the Yeti and cannot afford the expense/ location inconvenience of a console), it sounds like, when recording in analog out from the pro, the decent mini headphones out wouldn’t get anything and I would instead need to go XLR to mini (and would need some device that provides phantom power before my DSLR which probably does not (T2i)?

    Besides telling me how much I am losing with the ways I am considering, could you advise on the best way to do what I am considering and any suggestions besides both USB into a Mac or any other “sync later” solution- and most importantly, if you had to have 2 and even an xlr to mini cable expense is a concern, would these 2 microphones noticebly not match well to most cinema goers (or really distract some audiophiles) in the end? Thank you very much for considering,
    Daniel

  24. matthew mcglynn

    February 16th, 2013 at 9:43 am

    @Daniel, I think refurb gear is likely fine; it usually comes with a warranty of some sort. But I would think twice about trying to use a desktop mic on a boom pole, simply because of the weight and the form factor. I think you’d be far better served by a short shotgun mic.

  25. DirectorDanielMason

    February 17th, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Thanks, do you think they wouldn’t Match up well, given the differences? I’m trying to determine if it would be distracting to most people…

  26. David Beneke

    February 18th, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    As Mathew said above, a Yeti, of any kind is not going to be the best option for recording sound on a boom pole. You should get a mic designed for that purpose. Boom mics, are usually shotgun mics, most have internal suspension, are very directional, and stealthy compared to to a Yeti. They are also tuned to get the most out of the voices you are going to record, usually a hyper cardioid pattern, which focuses on the voices and not on the whole room. Every time, you would move a Yeti, you are going to pick that up, in your recording. There are many mics on this site made specifically for recording film sound, A Yeti is like using a hammer, when you need a screwdriver.

  27. jack lail

    February 20th, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    Do you have a recommended preamp for this mic? Would the Alesis MicTube Duo be a good choice. Not looking to invest a great amount.

  28. matthew mcglynn

    February 20th, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    @Jack, the Yeti is a USB mic, and as such needs no external preamp. Just connect it directly to your computer via USB. The mic has an internal amplifier circuit, and onboard analog-digital converter.

    The Yeti Pro has both analog and digital (USB) outputs; the analog output could certainly be used with the MicTube or any other analog preamp.

    Preamp choices usually fall into two categories: colored or neutral. If your mic has high sensitivity, you end up needing very little preamp gain, which means it doesn’t matter so much if the preamp is colored, as you won’t hear that much of it.

    As it happens the Yeti Pro has relatively low sensitivity for a condenser, and so, depending on the volume of the source, you might hear differences between various preamps. You’ll have to audition them and determine which you prefer. Note that your preference might change based on the sound source.

    In general, I find preamp changes relatively hard to hear. If you’ve seen our budget mic pre shootout, in which we tried six or eight budget USB preamps with the Shure SM7B, the main difference between the tracks was the noise level. The sound of the preamps was only very subtly different. Therefore, shop for features and price, unless and until you come across a specific sonic deficiency that you want to correct.

  29. Alex

    February 23rd, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    David, -

    I do quite a bit of webinars – recorded through both PC and phone lines, and am considering the Yeti Pro mic.

    Would it be possible to connect the XLR output of Yeti pro to RJ-11 input on the stationary phone using perhaps a simple adapter, or will it require more sophisticated way to do so – involving power add-on and/or amplifiers?

    Also – if Yeti Pro does get connected to the phone line (one way or another) – how do I get the output signal from the phone line routed to my headphones?

    Perhaps, I am asking here a much broader question meriting another post – how do I in general interface a mic and headphones to a phone line when performing a webinar?

  30. David Beneke

    February 24th, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    Hi Alex,
    I would use a phone patch, I use a Rolls hooked up to a mixer, that’s the only way I think you can do it. Look up phone patches on the web and you should be able to find exactly what you are looking for. Good luck!

    David Beneke

  31. Alex

    February 25th, 2013 at 12:28 am

    Thank you, David.

    Ordered Yeti Pro. On to researching the phone patches.

    Cheers, – Alex.

  32. Jay

    February 26th, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    Thank you very much for the recording comparisons, it’s deeply appreciated.

  33. Directordanielmason

    March 19th, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    I thank people for the advice and know something like the Sennheiser 416 or my Rhode would be the best for recording virtually nothing but directional sound, but again (forgetting some of the other setups I mentioned), just for two actors doing voice overs simultaneously with (and without) a mixing board (which I just inherited for the foreseeable future!:), would there be any circumstances where the quality difference between a Pro and a regular Yeti would be noticeable enough to distract a relatively discriminating viewer or a Hollywood buyer at a film festival, in most mivie theaters, or on a good surround sound system (as I have already purchased the original Yeti)?

  34. David Beneke

    March 22nd, 2013 at 11:06 am

    No, I don’t think so, especially if you do post processing and editing.

  35. Directordanielmason

    March 27th, 2013 at 9:34 am

    Thank you. It was also neat to recently discover that they can be powered by and record to a device such as an iPad, Even if they will not serve the same purpose as a Shotgun mic :-)

  36. Peter

    June 4th, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    Actually yesterday I purchased the standard one…. The shop didn’t accept AMEX so I could’t go for the PRO. Either way, I did some tests using my voice (I used to make shoutcasts) and the Yeti Blue is awesome!
    Also I tested me playing riffs with my harps and with 0 gain it sounds great too!…

    So the reason why I got it is I want to record an emergin band my friends and I are forming (we met at the Church’s Choir). One plays the guitar, the other piano and me… well THE BLUEES!!!

    But I would like to go for the PRO when we get PRO LOL….

    Thanks for the review it is pristine…

    Cheers from Mexico!

  37. Herb Burnah

    July 6th, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    Is it possible to use the Blue Yeti USB in Pro Tools SE? If so, how?

  38. David Beneke

    July 7th, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    I would say no Herb, with one caviat, if you are using an M Box interface some where in your chain, you may be able to run that and a Yeti simultainiously. Also if you have a Pro Yeti, you could run it Xlr though an M Box interface. The SE edition of Pro Tools gives you very limited choices of what you can use. You would have to upgrade to a better edition of Pro Tools to be able to use it without an M Box interface. You may want to contact Pro Tools customer service to see if there is a patch of some sort.

  39. Yancy

    December 23rd, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    I just wanted to thank you for your exhaustive work and information! You saved me a ton of time (even though we all know I was going to get the pro anyway)!

    Cheers mate,

    Yancy
    yancysimon.com

  40. Steve Coombs

    January 16th, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    Dave,

    Thanks for the great review. I plan to go with the Pro. I have a PC with Windows 7. What additional software is needed or that you would recommend? I will be using the Pro for podcasts. Any help to this newbie is appreciated.

  41. David Beneke

    January 24th, 2014 at 11:52 am

    Hi Steve,
    You Need a DAW, or Digital Audio Workstation to record with. There are many available from very complex and expensive i.e. Pro Tools, but for your purposes overkill. I would just go with the free, easy to use and very powerful program Audacity, just do a Google search and it will take you to their site. I often use it just for recording.

  42. Mac

    February 1st, 2014 at 6:19 am

    I have the Yeti Pro and looking to do voiceover work. What equipment to you recommend using with a windows 7 comp? Xlr over usb? Mixing board? Etc. I want to get the right equipment for that studio sound. Thanks!

  43. matthew mcglynn

    February 1st, 2014 at 10:55 am

    @Mac, the most critical piece of gear in getting “that studio sound” is the microphone. If you change the mic, you’ll hear it. If you change the preamp, converter, or cable, you probably won’t hear it, aside from a possible change in noise floor.

    But more important than the mic is the room. You need a very dry, treated space to do professional VO recording. In a lousy room, the best mic in the world won’t sound good.

    Take a look at these resources. They cover a lot of territory, but serve to paint a more complete picture of how to create professional voice tracks on a budget:
    http://recordinghacks.com/2012/12/03/10-voice-recording-essentials/
    http://recordinghacks.com/2010/03/21/realtraps-pvb-review/
    http://recordinghacks.com/2013/07/28/the-awesome-vocal-booth-you-already-own/
    http://recordinghacks.com/2011/06/02/ultimate-podcast-mic-shootout/

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