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Blue mics have cool factor. People decide on a Blue before they know which model they want.

Budding podcasters and musicians often have a tough time choosing between the Blue Yeti and its smaller cousin the Snowball.

It’s a difficult comparison because these mics couldn’t be more different in terms of design. The Yeti is a solid, butt-kicking USB microphone. And the Snowball looks like a prop in an old science fiction flick.

Which one is better for your purposes? Let the games begin.

Recording Settings

First off, both Yeti and Snowball are more flexible than their closet competition from companies like Audio-Technica. This is because they offer a number of recording modes while others merely have a cardioid pattern that accepts sound from up front.

With the Yeti you have four settings you can switch between: stereo, cardioid, omnidirectional and bidirectional.

This opens up a lot of possibilities for recording. You can do everything from recording a one-on-one interview with just one mic or capture all the sounds in the room in 360 degrees. For full descriptions of what each recording mode does, read my Blue Yeti review.

The Snowball has three settings: cardioid, cardioid with a -10db PAD (for recording loud drums or guitars), plus omnidirectional. I describe these in more detail in my Blue Snowball review.

So, in terms of flexibility, the Yeti wins but the Snowball is certainly no slouch.

If you plan on recording your voice head-on, all this is gravy. You might be leaning toward the Snowball if you don’t plan to use your mic for different production applications. Blue mics with fewer recording patterns tend to be less expensive, and this is no exception.

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Blue’s orb-shaped Snowball is just as much a piece of modern art as it is a microphone. Although the company is known for innovative designs, nothing breaks the mold as much as this one.

It’s about the size of a softball. The front of the device has a sexy, future-retro grill similar to what you’d find on a sports car. With the red LED light glowing you know it’s powered up and ready to pick up anything from voiceovers and singing to guitar cabinets and acoustic instruments.

Looks aside, there are a couple of key advantages to picking it up instead of other USB microphones in its class.

Why Go with Snowball?

Firstly, it’s really cheap these days. If you look in the right place (hint:, you should be able to scoop one up for less than $75. It comes in its classic textured white finish, gloss black, or brushed aluminum.

Secondly, the Snowball offers a variety of recording modes making it useful for a wide range of applications. At the back of the unit, there is a three-position switch that allows you to select cardioid, cardioid with -10db PAD, and omnidirectional.

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With every passing year, it gets easier to record professional-quality audio at home. This is partially due to software improvements and partially due to the advancements in recording hardware. One such development is the introduction of USB microphones.

You don’t need an audio interface to start recording anymore. A USB mic is essentially a digital microphone with a tiny one-channel audio interface built-in.

Why Go with a USB Mic?

While it isn’t very useful to recording engineers seeking to record multiple sound sources, a USB mic is indispensable for simple applications. It’s best when used to record artists doing vocals, overdubs, or online broadcasters creating podcasts or audio for their YouTube videos.

Another benefit of USB mics is the fact you can get a quality device for under $150. If you go the traditional route by purchasing an audio interface plus XLR microphone, you’ll need to spend at least $500 for a decent setup.

Granted the best USB microphones can’t match up to high-end offerings in the XLR category. However, if you’re looking for a budget microphone, USB options are well worth considering.

It’s a particularly good fit if you prefer the portability of using a laptop. With a USB mic, you don’t need to mess around with all that extra gear.

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Some mics never go out of style. It’s true of analog condenser mics like the Neumann U 87. And it’s true of the Blue Yeti. In the USB mic category, it’s the closest thing we have to a classic.

Released back in 2009, the Yeti quickly became the most popular USB mic out there. And it has remained an iconic choice for podcasters.

But is Blue’s Yeti right for you? Let’s explore that.

Yeti’s Design

If you think of USB microphones as flimsy, scaled-down versions of pro XLR mics, think again. Blue’s Yeti is a substantial beast measuring 12 inches high and weighing in at 3.5 pounds (with the stand affixed). It towers over other USB mics; including two models offered by Blue: the Snowball and Snowflake.

Overall the Yeti is very solidly built, thus the weight. The only area to nitpick at is the wobbly volume knob. It feels a bit cheap compared with the rest of the unit.

Its design is a big reason it’s seen as a workhorse for podcasters. It sits just right on a desk. Its positioned high enough to capture clean speech, yet low enough to avoid covering people’s faces when shooting video.

Gear lust is one of the most common reasons for procrastination among recording musicians.

“I really need to work on my song. But I want to get high-end mic XYZ first, so it sounds amazing. And I can’t afford it just yet.”

Did that sound familiar?

Sure, many of your music heroes recorded at lavish studios equipped with only the finest gear. And top producers can sometimes pontificate about how a rare vintage microphone or wildly expensive condenser mic from a boutique maker was essential to the perfect vocal take.

However most of them didn’t start out that way.

You may have read about how ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)’ by Eurythmics was recorded on a TEAC Portastudio in a hotel room. Annie Lennox’s famous lead vocal was captured with a humble Beyer stick microphone typically reserved for hi-hat. The track reached #3 in the UK charts in 1983, and the group’s career shot up like a rocket. But it was primarily talent, arrangement, production skill, and a great song that got them there.