The little Yeti that could.
I’ve spent the last six years or so recording a goofy Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan podcast with my friends, and for the majority of that time, I’ve used the Yeti from Blue Microphones to capture my voice. The original Yeti is arguably one of the most well-regarded USB microphones for podcasting and streaming, but the brand new Yeti Nano (See it on Amazon) offers many of the original’s great features in a much smaller package. I spent some time recording with the Yeti Nano to see if it’s worth an upgrade for existing Yeti users, or even those just looking for a decent mic to start podcasting and streaming.
Blue Yeti Nano – Design and Features
While the original Yeti is an excellent USB microphone, it certainly lived up to its name with its huge size. The Yeti Nano, as the name implies, is a smaller USB microphone with a similar design. Overall, I would say the Nano is about half the size of the original.
For the most part, that’s a good thing. A smaller, lighter mic offers less weight on a shock mount or boom stand, and packing it up into a bag for field recording is much easier. But on the negative side, the Nano doesn’t have the height to feel as comfortable as a desktop mic. The included stand is wonderfully sturdy, but I found this little mic works better on a mic stand to be the right distance from my mouth. Luckily, Blue included an adapter that makes the Nano compatible with just about any stand or mount.
The volume dial on the mic’s front—assuming you’re using the 3.5mm headphone port on the underside of the Nano for monitoring audio—is actually an improvement over the old model. This dial has a smoother rotation and muting the mic takes a simple press. When the mic is hot, the dial features a green LED ring. When it’s muted, the ring turns red. The finish on the mic itself is very attractive with a smooth metallic surface offered in a range of four colors, including grey, red, gold, and blue. If your mic is going to show up on-screen while streaming, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better looking option.
Under the hood, the Nano includes a dual-capsule design for capturing audio in either cardioid (for recording narration and podcasts), or omnidirectional (for recording multiple speakers or environmental audio). Personally, I feel like these are basically the only two settings any podcaster or streamer is going to need, but this a step down from the original Yeti. That model offers both of the Nano’s capsules, as well as options for bidirectional and stereo. In any case, the Nano is much improved when it comes to selecting cardioid or omni sound, thanks to a super convenient push button on the mic’s back and indicator lights showing which mode you’re using. The original Yeti was a real pain in that department and if you spent much time switching modes, it was easy to set the mic to the wrong setting.
Another missing feature on the Yeti Nano is a gain adjustment knob. Depending on your recording setup, the gain knob can make a big difference in how your audio sounds. Since the Yeti is a semi-pro mic, and is closer in audio capture to an XLR-input mic than a cheap USB model, you can easily blow our a recording due to its sensitivity. While the original Yeti has a gain knob built in, the Yeti Nano requires software—appropriately called Sherpa—to make those adjustments. I almost never touch the gain knob for my setup, but it is a hassle having to open an app to make those adjustments.
Blue Yeti Nano – Setup and Recording
If there’s one thing I want from a USB mic, it’s simple plug-and-play setup. And once again, Blue has delivered on that promise with the Yeti Nano. I hooked this mic up to both a MacBook Pro and Windows 10 desktop and encountered absolutely zero issues. On the Mac, the Nano was ready to go from the jump in GarageBand and setup was just as simple using Adobe Audition on my PC. Windows 10 did of course require me to set the Yeti as the default input, but that’s also simple enough. Amazingly, even without Blue’s Sherpa software installed, everything just worked as it should—beyond adjusting gain, obviously.
The Sherpa app was, for my use, kind of unnecessary. But on the bright side, it’s extremely easy to use and works flawlessly. There’s a simple menu for selecting cardioid or omni capture (albeit you can do that with the press of a button on the mic), and there’s a slider for adjusting the volume (again, there’s a knob on the mic). Similarly, gain is set in the Sherpa app using a slider and is straightforward. The software also makes it very easy to update firmware, should it be needed.
The Yeti Nano is capable of recording audio in a 24 bit, 48Hz format, a jump up from the 16bit original Yeti. In terms of what that means in the real world though, I honestly couldn’t tell much of a difference, but the Nano sounded great. Cardioid vocal tracks sounded very crisp and much like the original Yeti, the high and mid-range was excellent as well. The Nano does a decent job of recording low-end tones in a deeper voice, too, but I wouldn’t refer to the captured audio as very “bassy.” Generally speaking, that high and mid-range clarity is what I want from a vocal mic anyway.
What I did notice is the Nano seems to handle vocal pops—that puff noise when a speaker says a word beginning with the letter “P,” for example—much better than its bigger brother. In any case, a pop filter is highly recommended, but I was fairly impressed with how well the Nano handled the issue.
The Blue Yeti Nano has an MSRP of $99.99, and since it just came out that’s what it’s listed for on Amazon: