Updated on Apr 15, 2021
One of the most common questions we’re asked here at Musician Nerd is, Blue Yeti or Blue Snowball iCE? If you’ve been researching affordable USB microphones, then these two are sure to pop up frequently. Blue is a key player in the USB space, offering high-end electronics for the average consumer, with products ranging from the low price of $49.99 all the way up into the several hundred ranges. The Yeti series alone can give you tons of flexibility, from USB to XLR, letting you define your own wants and needs.
A lot of our readers do videos, home recordings, and streaming, so it’s no surprise these Blue microphones are always in their minds. When I watch my favorite YouTubers, I notice them go from the Blue Snowball iCE to the Blue Yeti to even more advanced microphones throughout their career. So, it begs the question, the Blue Yeti or Blue Snowball iCE? Do I need to spend over $100 right away? It depends on your wants and needs!
For today’s article, we’ll be breaking down the key differences between the two. There is a lot more than just a price difference for you to consider, and our objective is to make sure you leave today knowing exactly which one you want. There are a lot of factors to consider, especially around what you’re using the microphone for, so let’s dive into it!
The first notable difference between the Blue Yeti and the Blue Snowball iCE is the number of condensers. The Blue Yeti boasts a tri-capsule array with 3 condensers, allowing you to record in almost any situation. The Blue Snowball iCE on the other hand, while still impressive, only offers two.
The biggest role this plays in the two microphones is their polar patterns. A polar pattern controls where on the microphone capsule audio can be picked up. For example, a cardioid polar pattern will pick up a wide range of audio from the front of the microphone, muting out audio from behind. Omni-directional polar patterns, on the other hand, pick up audio from all sides of the capsule.
What I will say is that this feature is very niche, and most microphones only offer Cardioid & Omni. If you’re planning to do one-on-one interviews and stuff like that, then the Blue Yeti’s bi-directional feature will be of particular interest to you. The Stereo mode can also be useful for instruments, but honestly, if you want the best mic for acoustic guitar, the Blue Yeti wouldn’t be my first choice.
Microphone frequency response refers to the audio wave frequencies. Capturing the low end accurately gives you rich warmth while capturing the high end gives you a crisp sharpness. Capturing both gives you massive depth to your audio, which is why many studio microphones use the standard of 20Hz – 20kHz (the full spectrum of the average human ear).
The Blue Yeti follows this standard, offering the wide-range frequency response of 20Hz – 20kHz, whereas the Blue Snowball iCE only offers 40Hz to 18kHz. This isn’t to say the Blue Snowball iCE is going to be drastically worse, but it won’t have as much depth as the Blue Yeti. It’s like comparing 1440p screen resolution to 4k.
So now that we have this covered, let’s talk about another important step. Sample rating. A Sample Rate refers to how many samples per second a digital audio system uses to record the signal.
The low end for a sample rate would be 16bit/24kHz, while the high is 24bit/192kHz. While up for debate, many agree 24bit/96kHz is enough for most situations. And this is where the Blue Yeti & the Blue Snowball iCE are pretty tied.
The Blue Yeti offers 16bit/48kHz, or up to 24bit/192kHz on their high-end X/Pro models. The Blue Snowball iCE offers 16bit/44kHz, very close to what the base model & studio model of the Blue Yeti show. That difference is so minimal that it’s not even worth comparing.
For this article, we won’t bother getting into the higher rates of the high-end models, as we assume if you’re debating between the Snowball & Yeti, you’re looking for something affordable & easy to use.
Now, let’s go over a few unique features.
Both the Blue Yeti & the Blue Snowball iCE are easy to use. You plug them in via USB and you’re ready to go. Sweet! But one thing the Blue Yeti offers that I love is the zero-latency monitoring. This allows you to plug in your own headphones/speakers to playback the audio without any delay. This is especially useful for long videos & streaming.
You also get a volume knob & mute button. Once again, if you’re doing anything live, like streaming, or doing long recordings, these features will be super useful. You can even control the microphone gain!
Lastly, the Blue Yeti has an optional radius shock mount. This stand will absorb any vibrations and shock that occur from bumping your desk or anything similar. Simple vibrations can be enough to ruin any audio recordings if you want to sound your best.
So that about covers the main comparisons between the two! They’re both amazing microphones, but of course, the Yeti, being more expensive, has some better features.
To summarize the pros and cons of each microphone, we've created separate lists to help highlight the strengths and weaknesses of each one.
So, in conclusion, which microphone is better, the Blue Yeti or Blue Snowball iCE? That’s easy. The Blue Yeti is a much better microphone with the wide-range frequency response, optional models with higher sample rates, on-mic controls, zero-latency monitoring, and a shock mount base!
In my honest opinion, if you’re going to be spending your hard-earned money, you’d as well go for the Blue Yeti. You’ll want to upgrade from the Snowball anyways, so why not avoid making two purchases and go straight for the Yeti. It’s the perfect beginner/intermediate microphone for USB recording and gives you massive versatility.
If you can’t stretch the budget, or it’ll get you really close to breaking the bank, then no worries! The Blue Snowball iCE still sounds amazing. Like I said at the beginning of this article, some of my favorite YouTubers used that mic, and I didn’t think the audio was bad at all.
At the end of the day, the choice is yours. I hope that we’ve provided enough information for you to make a logical purchase decision. So, let us know in the comments below which one you went with and why. And good luck!
Posted on Feb 06, 2021
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