When USB mics first appeared, they were considered a little bit of a novelty by a lot of people. They were input-only devices and served a limited function. However, it didn’t take long for that to change.
There are a good number of USB mics that now can output audio as well. The subject of this Blue Yeti X review is one of those, and allows you to monitor yourself and hear what is going on in real-time.
You can say what you like about USB mics, and some do, they have made a difference. They have given many a pathway into a world that didn’t exist in the past – the world of digital recording. Also, they are easily carried around, easy to use, don’t cost a fortune, and they actually sound quite good. They can take you quite a long way along the road to getting a decent recording.
They do a great job, up to a point…
We are not going to say they can give you an incredibly high-quality studio recording – they can’t. And we are not going to say that within their chosen field of work they are perfect – they are not. They do, however, do a decent job. For the home studio enthusiast or the hobbyist podcaster or music producer, they have been a great success.
One of the fastest growing online outlets at the moment is news, comment, and opinion. They are everywhere about every subject under the sun. For those people, the USB mic is a veritable boon. They are a great way to get started without a sack full of cash.
A quality recording isn’t only about the microphone…
People who claim that USB mics do not produce good results are common. But sometimes with these things, it is the quality of the performer and the skill of the engineer/producer. Perhaps they are the ones that make the difference. Often those people can become more important than just the equipment you use.
Some USB mics have the technology to produce excellent results, within a range of quality levels, of course. The Blue Yeti is one such mic. So, let’s take a closer look and see if it’s a great choice for your setup…
Blue goes marching on
Have you been looking around trying to work out what USB mic to get? If so, then you will have come across the name, Blue. In fact, you have probably come across a mic called the Blue Yeti. If you are in a circle of friends who produce podcasts, interviews, voice-overs, etc., you will find one in there somewhere. In fact, they are everywhere.
Since their introduction in 2009, they have become one of the most used and respected USB mics. For ten years, they have been at the forefront, but now there is an upgrade – the Blue Yeti X.
Bringing out a pumped-up version of a great product is often a dangerous thing for a manufacturer to do. Has it worked, or will people still prefer the original? Let’s find out as we take an in-depth look at the Blue Yeti X.
Blue Yeti X – An Overview
Built for today’s creators, Blue has shifted the goalposts a little, and the Blue Yeti X might be considered by some as one of the best USB mics around. The predecessor was good, but this has gone a stage further in a lot of ways.
It features four condenser mic capsules, whereas the Yeti only has three. That is going to give you options for a richer, warmer sound, especially for vocals. But in all, it delivers a great sound that is focused and has clarity across all four pickup patterns.
It also has some other interesting additions…
These include a high-resolution meter for audio and a smart control knob that is illuminated. Plus, there is access to the inevitable these days, online editing controls to create your own vocal spoken-word sound.
We mentioned how this mic has moved the Yeti performance goalposts. You still get the quality sound of the Yeti, but that has been fine-tuned to allow it to produce excellent audio quality in other fields.
Gaming is one area and also Twitch streaming.
Twitch, of course, is one of the leading live streaming services around. The mic will now perform with those two platforms to a very high level.
Upping the performance…
This mic is not only now a very good USB mic for all the same reasons that its forerunner was known for. It is also a great mic for today’s creators. Whether they be in podcasts, interviews, voice-overs, or through pro-level gaming and streaming services. Blue has moved the goalposts a little to include a whole new level of performance.
It has a similar build and even looks like the Yeti. It has the familiar shape and strong metal build with a heavy-duty wire mesh grille on top. The built-in stand is nearly identical. It is a near-black/dark gray color though instead of the silver of the Yeti.
As we have already mentioned, it has four different polar patterns – Cardioid, Omnidirectional, Stereo, and Figure of 8.
More on these later…
It is quite a large mic measuring 4.33 by 4.8 by 11.38 inches and weighing 2.8 pounds.
A new function on the Blue Yeti X is the multi-function smart control. This allows you to adjust and then monitor the level of your voice in real-time. This gives you full control over the sound being produced. There is lighting around and on the smart control that indicates certain statuses of the mic.
At first, they might seem a little confusing. But you will soon get to understand what all the colors mean. You can also customize the lighting on the mic to match any aesthetic you may need or choose. Most condenser mics need Phantom Power to operate. And this mic draws its power from the USB connection from whatever it is connected to.
Blue Yeti X Review – The Performance
Yeti X can be used in a variety of different ways. This is because the diaphragms point towards the front, back, and sides. It creates a variety of uses but can make it tricky to place it correctly.
However, it does allow the mic to operate in ways that a number of other USB microphones can not. If you are often changing between recording podcasts, interviews, and voices, you will use this facility a lot.
The on-mic controls are also excellent. There is an eleven stage high-resolution LED meter which will tell you at a glance if the level is too high or low. You can adjust that in real-time from the mic. For vocal recording, you have to be careful, and a distance of about three feet from the mic is optimum. You will though, need a pop filter because there isn’t one built-in.
It has a bit depth and sample rate of 24-bit/48kHz and a frequency range of 20Hz to 20kHz. Blue usually features a high SPL for recording loud sounds, and this mic is no different with an SPL of 122dB. It has a signal to noise ratio of 100dB.
Versatile and practical…
The four polar patterns mentioned offer a higher level of versatility than most USB microphones. They include a stereo option when you need an ambient recording with plenty of space. Or, when you need to record 360 degree sound around the mic, on a mono track, you have omnidirectional.
The most commonly used pattern is Cardioid, which has the familiar heart-shaped pick-up shape. This records just what is in front of it or slightly off-axis. Excellent for voice-overs, and podcasting.
However, if you are doing interviews with two people talking simultaneously, then Figure of 8 would be the best choice. This option will only pick up what is in front of and behind the mic.
Pop Screen needed…
Excellent as these options are, to achieve the best recording, you will, as we have already mentioned, need a pop filter. Despite all the good things in this mic, it can still have some minor problems with plosives.
It is also very sensitive and will pick up ambient sounds easily and so the recording environment needs to be controlled. Also, it is not a good mic to be handed while in use. It is too sensitive for that.
We have briefly mentioned the controls located on the mic, but we will now cover them in a little more detail.
The multi-function control has been added to give you as much control over the sound as possible. It adjusts the microphone’s gain, and if you push the control dial, it will mute the sound. Also, it controls the level through the headphones and allows you to mix together the signal and sound you’re hearing.
Light me up…
It also features a series of lights, which can be a little complicated and confusing at first. There is a circular colored ring of LED’s around the control. There is also a solid ring on the dial itself. They light up in different colors depending on how the microphone is being used. Once you get to know what they all mean, it is all much easier, it’s not difficult but does take some time.
On the bottom of the mic, there is a 3.5mm socket for headphone connection, a micro USB port, and the mounting socket. Apart from the addition of the light show, it is quite similar in design to the Yeti, its forerunner.
Where is it best used?
It is reasonably safe to say this mic can be used just about anywhere. It will, though, perform better in some environments. For streamers, it is a relatively inexpensive option. And for those making voice-overs for Youtube Videos, it provides a little more control than its predecessor.
Users making podcasts will find it fulfills the requirements for a good soundtrack. While, in the home studio, it will also do its job quite well, though not at that level that microphones specially designed for studio work will.
To summarize, the options for its use are only limited by your imagination.
These days it is quite standard to be able to download something that will give you further control access. In this case, you can download G Hub from Logitech or Blue Sherpa, which will give you access to a series of features from Blue Voice.
This is an option you can use to improve the sound quality of your recordings. You can either use some presets that have been specially tuned ready for use or create your own sounds from scratch.
Blue Yeti X Review Pros and Cons
- Excellent audio quality.
- Four polar patterns, including cardioid and stereo.
- DSP-free, although some may want it?
- LED live metering.
- Recording software included.
- Lack of DSP presets which will be an issue for some.
- No built-in pop filter.
- No adapter for a standard mic stand.
Looking for more superb microphone options?
Well, if you’re a fan of Blue, then you may want to check out our comprehensive reviews of the Blue Yeticaster, the Blue Snowball Ice, our Blue Yeti Nano review, the Blue Baby Bottle, and the Blue Snowball USB Microphone.
Or, if you’re looking for more general use microphones, then take a look at our reviews of the Best Vocal Mics, the Best IOS Microphones, the Best Microphones for Youtube, the Best Condenser Microphones, and the Best USB Microphones currently on the market.
Blue Yeti X Review Conclusion
What we think?
If you’re looking for a mic for home use, to stream or record or use for gaming, the Yeti X is a good option. It is easy to use, and the results you can achieve are very good in some circumstances. It is never going to challenge mics designed for professional studio work. But then it isn’t set at their price point.
For the small home studio and the recording of interviews, podcasts, etc., it is fine and will do the job. It has a good sound with options for the polar patterns that provide flexibility in recording, and it has good controls on the mic.
However, it isn’t cheap when compared to the Yeti…
It is a good mic and now includes features that will open the door to streamers and gamers. But we can see many situations where some people might prefer to stick with the Yeti. Or possibly even choose the Blue Yeti over the Yeti X. Mainly because of the price and the extra features that might not be needed by some users.
As a mic, it has moved into a different ‘game’ in some respects. Good for some, but maybe not for others.
Happy recording and streaming.