Important: Skip this if you want to see a live tracker of the most-used microphones in podcasting. We surveyed 1,500 podcasters and these are the 20 mics they use.
Considering that Blue was only founded in 1995, it’s astonishing how quickly the company — which provides microphones, headphones and all manner of audio equipment — has arisen as one of the biggest household names on the market.
The company was founded by musician Skipper Wise and recording engineer Martins Saulespurens to cater to creators at all skill levels, presenting them with a wealth of options for producing studio-quality sound.
In recent years, Blue has gained attention for its USB microphones, which primarily come in two variations. Both the Snowball series and the Yeti series are bestsellers in their own right but present very different experiences for anyone who may be on the market for a new microphone.
If you’re trying to settle on which would be the best fit for your project, then you’ve come to the right place. Stick around as we evaluate what Blue’s two signature products have to offer.
Also see our comparison of the Blue Snowball vs Ice.
Before we investigate how the Snowball and the Yeti are similar and different, we should probably first establish a baseline introduction for what these two Blue microphones are.
Between these two iconic products, the Snowball certainly feels like more of a throwback. That much is clear from the moment you set eyes on it. The design harkens back to the broadcasting microphones of old — a hint to its intended applications, which include vocals, music, multimedia and gaming — and makes capturing crisp, clean audio as easy as plugging it into your computer’s USB slot and starting to perform. The Snowball also leverages Blue’s condenser capsule technology to great effect, allowing creators to record consistent, quality sound even if they may be new to the world of audio production.
Marketed as “the world’s #1 USB microphone,” the Yeti takes a broader approach to the recording experience, again a goal made clear by its unique aesthetic. Using Blue’s proprietary tri-capsule technology, it boasts a ton of features — such as four distinct pickup patterns — aimed at giving creators like you as many options as possible to customize your recording to fit your needs. Because of this range, the Yeti is equally suited to capture vocals, music, interviews and, yes, podcasting. The objective with this microphone is clear: to create studio-quality sound no matter what environment you’re in. To that end, it is a rousing success.
Now that we’ve laid out the basics about each of Blue’s most well-known microphones, it’s time for the part we know you’ve been waiting for. Let’s run through the various ways in which the Snowball and the Yeti are the same and (mostly) different.
In case the very different appearances of the Snowball and the Yeti haven’t given it away, these two ubiquitous Blue microphones provide vastly different recording experiences. We’ll get into how they are distinctive in a moment, but first, let’s highlight how they are similar.
For those relatively new to audio production, modern microphones come in two primary varieties: dynamic and condenser. Both have their benefits, but condenser microphones are known for delivering a richer, more nuanced sound. In this case, Blue concentrates more on condenser microphones, as both the Snowball and the Yeti demonstrate. Yet, while the two microphones have transducers using a condenser-capsule design, the Snowball has two capsules with a pressure gradient, whereas the Yeti boasts a tri-capsule array. Their designs may imply a difference in how these condenser microphones operate, but on the whole, they share the same basic technology.
We mentioned earlier that Blue makes it a priority to appeal to veteran audio professionals and those who are new to audio production alike. One way in which the company’s microphones prove this is in their plug-and-play functionality. The Snowball and the Yeti share the same compatibility with Windows and Mac operating systems (Windows 7, 8.1 or 10 and macOS 10.10 or higher, respectively). They also both depend on USB 1.1, 2.0 or 3.0 to connect to those operating systems. So if you’re concerned with compatibility when it comes to deciding between these two, then consider this one element you can excise from your process.
A microphone is of little use without a way to connect and/or mount it. Thankfully, both the Snowball and the Yeti come complete with a USB connecting cable (see above) and a fully adjustable metal mic stand. Granted, the stands themselves are very different — the Snowball with a tripod and the Yeti with a more upright desktop stand — but you are able to take either right out of its box, place it on your desk and begin recording mere moments later. That might seem like a minor convenience, but it is pivotal for those creators who need a short route between receiving their new Blue microphone and getting to work.
Here it is, folks. Strap in as we explore what makes the two most popular Blue microphones such different animals.
If your budget is tight, then you’re better off going with the Snowball. Priced at just $69.99, it still packs an impressive punch for such a relatively affordable microphone. Very few microphones out there can compete with it on value to the dollar. That being said, you could always spring for the $129.99 Yeti, which provides a much more in-depth capture process and therefore a more thorough list of features. Perhaps you’re just starting out and just want something simple. In that case, the Snowball could work. If you need a little more oomph for your project, at least consider what the Yeti brings to the studio.
The Yeti offers such a high-level recording experience that it goes to great lengths to empower creators like you to really take charge on your project.
Case in point, the microphone offers control features the Snowball simply does not. Adjust your headphone output in an instance, mute your end of the recording without disrupting a recording session already in progress and even manipulate your gain levels to ensure that your microphone picks up the right amount of sound.
This gives you autonomy to better leverage your microphone for optimum results.
One of the most important aspects to consider in any microphone is its polar pattern. Fortunately for you, both the Snowball and the Yeti offer more than one setting for you to use to capture the surrounding sound. Yet, the Yeti still wins out here too because of its sheer versatility. The Snowball offers cardioid, omnidirectional and cardioid with -10db pad, making it a solid choice for individual vocals or podcasts as well as recordings that require a more comprehensive sound. But the Yeti has both cardioid and omnidirectional as well as bidirectional and stereo settings. These allow the microphone to pick up the sound across either the front and back of the unit or the left and right. The choice is entirely up to you.
Neither the Snowball nor the Yeti is tremendously bulky. So you should be in decent shape to travel with either microphone you choose to purchase. The Snowball, for instance, weighs 460 grams with a circumference of 325 mm. Meanwhile, the Yeti stands at 12 cm by 12.5 cm by 29.5 cm when fully extended on its stand, with a combined weight of 1.55 kg. Could the Yeti be carried from location to location for recording purposes? Sure, but the Snowball is easily the more compact of the two, making it a better choice for audio professionals who are on the go.
Because the Snowball has fewer polar pattern options and fewer condenser capsules, it doesn’t endeavor to capture the same level of audio as the Yeti. This is reflected too in the technical specifications of the two microphones. The Snowball has a frequency response of 40 – 18 kHz and a sample rate of 44.1 kHz/16 bit. While impressive, it just doesn’t hold a candle to the 20Hz – 20 kHz frequency response and 48 kHz sample rate of the Yeti. The latter is easily the more technically capable, cementing the Yeti’s status as the more powerful of these two iconic USB condenser microphones.
The Yeti has a lot of built-in features that you may opt in for when you select this Blue microphone. The built-in headphone amplifier is one such example. We won’t get into all the minutiae of this single feature of the Yeti, but it is a distinguishing factor that separates it from the Snowball. Because it includes a headphone volume control, it stands to reason that the Yeti would have an amplifier implanted in it, but this is just another example of the Blue team taking an extra step to create a more streamlined user experience.
We’ve spent a lot of time talking up the technical specs and technology behind how the Snowball and Yeti work. However, the appearance of your microphone is an often overlooked detail that should factor into your purchase decision. After all, your microphone is going to be an lasting investment, one which you need to get comfortable looking at. Speaking of which, the Snowball is available in textured white, gloss black and chrome, while the Yeti comes in silver, blackout, whiteout and cool grey iterations. You will, of course, want to look into the availability of your selected color to be sure they have it in stock.
We’ve finally come to the bottom line. If you’re aiming for the best of the best Blue microphone, should you order the Snowball or the Yeti? For creators looking for the product that offers the most features, the most sophisticated technical specifications and all that this entails, then you have no choice but to go with the Yeti.
That said, the Snowball is a more affordable option and could serve as a solid starter microphone for someone uncertain about what their long-term recording plans are. Take a long and objective look at what you need the microphone for, and let the requirements of this project (and any others you may have in the queue) dictate which you do finally add to your studio arsenal.
But bear in mind these necessities can evolve with time. If there’s any chance you may upgrade to the Yeti but can afford it now, there’s no harm in planning for your recording future.
Perhaps you have your heart set on a Blue microphone, or you might just be in the middle of an exhaustive search for your next audio equipment purchase. If your case is the former, then hopefully the above dissection into the company’s Snowball and Yeti microphones has helped crystallize which would be best suited for your needs.
Although you truly can’t go wrong with either product, each one — as we’ve illustrated — provides a very distinctive experience. Now is your opportunity to decide precisely what you’re looking for in your next microphone. Only then can you make an informed decision about which Blue product will yield the results you’re hoping for.
However, if you are still in the early stages of your research, at least you can proceed with the knowledge of what Blue’s most popular microphones have to offer. USB microphones tend to have more limitations than higher end products, but examples like the Snowball and Yeti exemplify what they are capable of in the right hands.