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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The LifeSpan Of A Yeti

Last week my Blue Microphones Yeti became completely unresponsive. A USB-connected microphone, when I connected it to my desktop Windows reported that the device was unrecognized. Digging into the device manager on the OS, I found a device connected, but not identified. Since the device was not responding to the OS no driver could be assigned.

I filed a trouble report with Blue Microphones, who responded a day later with a list of questions. They wanted to know if I’d tried a different USB cable, or a difference computer? Of course, I’d done these things. I tried with my desktop, laptop and a Mac Mini…heck, I’d even powered up an old HP 2140 netbook so I could try the Yeti with Windows XP.

No Joy. Beyond being unrecognized by the hosts, the Yeti itself was unresponsive. The microphone mute button was on, and could not be turned off. After a few emails the Blue support team determined that the Yeti was in fact deceased. If I could show proof that it was within the two-year warranty period they’d replace it.

As I recall I received my Yeti as a Christmas gift in 2011. So, he was almost four years of at at the time of his passing. Sadly, beyond the warranty period.

The Yeti had a particular role in my operation. It was the full-bandwidth microphone that I used when recording narration for the tutorial videos that I occasionally create. While I didn’t use it all that often, I do need something to fill that role.

However, I’m not rushing to acquire another Yeti or Yeti Pro. My most recent examination of microphones for telecom, podcasting & production, has me considering something much smaller. Ideally, I’d like to try a headset that features a full-bandwidth microphone element. This has turned out to be a rare bird. Perhaps I’ll revisit stage microphones like the Countryman E6 or the inexpensive Pyle-Pro PMHM2.

Replacing the Yeti will have to wait until after the holidays. Perhaps CES will reveal some new alternative that will prove interesting.

As microphones goes the Yeti is a fearsome creature, but they are apparently short-lived.

P.S. – YouTuber extraordinaire Marques Brownlee recently began a new series on “YouTube Gear” by recommending the Yeti.

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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