The Big Blue Yeti, Soft Phones & Audio Sample Rate

dialpad-windows-desktop-yetiA short while ago friend and telecom luminary Dave Michels contacted me about a problem he was encountering with his Blue Yeti USB microphone. While he appreciates the benefits of a headset, he prefers to not use one when there’s video involved.

Dave uses the Yeti when recording videos and participating in various UC podcasts. He’s recently started to use it with the Dialpad soft phone. That’s the service that provides his home & office phones.

The Yeti is a fine microphone for many purposes. The combination of USB convenience, handy level controls and low-latency monitoring makes it an excellent choice for podcasters. I recently wrote a blog post for ZipDX that describes its use by a professional interpreter in the UK.

In Dave’s case, when using the Yeti with Dailpad others on the call would complain that his volume was very low. So much so that he was forced to switch to his Plantronics Savi headset. They also complained that “he sounded bad.”

To solve these problems the two of us set about a quick investigation. What we found is potentially useful, so I’m sharing it here with y’all.
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Podcasting: A Killer Application For Binaural Conferencing

Earlier this week a morning’s news dump brought with it something from Shel Holtz of Holtz Communication + Technology, a communication professional and long-time podcaster. He penned some interesting observations about the use of audio on the web in, “Listen up! You may be producing audio sooner than you think.” His post helped cast a new light on my perspective of binaural conference services like Voxeet and Dolby Voice. While I may have some reservations about their use in business, these could be killer tools for podcasters!

I must admit I was tempted to title this post with reference to binaural conference calls “getting rid of the voices inside my head.” That’s the value of the spatial effect, it expands the soundstage such that the call participants seem to be arrayed around one’s head instead of piled up between the ears.

For a podcast that has two more participants binaural conferencing is definitely an improvement over voices in mono. However, to make this convenient Voxeet et al would need to offer local call recording in their client. At present this is not offered, although it is on the Voxeet wish list.

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Getting Close To A Yeti

Blue-Yeti-200 My ongoing involvement in the VoIP Users Conference has me occasionally pondering my home office equipment. While I make my living in the broadcast television equipment business, in truth, audio was my first love.

The VUC can easily be joined using any phone, but sometimes a phone…even my long-time companion Polycom IP650…doesn’t feel like the right tool for the job. So last year I put a microphone on my holiday wish list, the Yeti from Blue Microphones. Seeing an opportunity to address the my voip-geek habit, my wife decided to put one under the Christmas tree.

The Yeti is in many ways special. It’s a USB-attached microphone, so it plugs directly into a computer. That means that the critical electronics of the pre-amplifier are housing in the mic itself, away from the harsh electrical environment of the computer’s internals.

Further, the Yeti has three microphone capsules under it’s wire mesh head. The output of the three capsules can be mixed in various combinations resulting in several directivity patterns; omni-directional, cardoid, stereo (left-right) or figure-eight (front-back.) This makes the Yeti very adaptable to different  situations.

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Deal Alert: Blue Eyeball HD Microphone & Webcam for $25

This morning’s email dump includes an announcement that BUY.COM is offering the Blue Eyeball USB microphone/webcam device for the modest sum of $24.99. Blue make some well regarded microphones for studio use, and also some innovative designs for desktop and podcasting applications.

The Eyeball in question has a built-in digital-to-analog adapter and presents a USB interface to the host platform. It’s a very good quality microphone. The fact that it includes a webcam is a plus if you use things like Skype for video calling.

I’d buy one of these myself, but my wife gave me it’s bigger sibling, the Blue Yeti not long ago.