Are you just getting into the podcasting/sound recording game and need a good microphone to round out your set up?
Are you fed up with the expensive analog microphones, and you just want a simple, affordable USB microphone to use?
Then you may not find better options than Blue’s top 2 USB microphones: the Blue Yeti and the Blue Snowball.
Both of the mics are good options for the aspiring sound recorder, and they’re quite affordable.
However, you need to get educated on which of these are what you’re looking for. If you just hop off and buy one on a whim, there’s a chance you’ll be less than satisfied.
But don’t worry! I’m here to help!
I’ve worked with a lot of different sound equipment as a music teacher for the past 10 years. Read on for our Blue Yeti Vs. Snowball in-depth comparison.
For those who are decided to go for one of these mics, here is the main important comparison table for you to look at:
Pros and Cons
After reading this article you will know all the details, specs and features, but when push comes to shove, you need to also know the pros and cons of these two products.
This table gives you a quick reference chart for direct comparison of the strengths and weaknesses of the Blue Yeti and Snowball.
|Snowball||● Portable and small size
● 3 pattern selections
● Plug and go; no driver downloads needed
● Lower price
● Good for amateur recordings such as podcasting, gaming, and amateur music recording
|● More fragile
● Pop filter needed to cut down on extra “S” sound
● Need an adapter to use with tablets
● Smaller/narrower frequency response range
|Yeti||● 4 pattern selections for ultimate customization
● Metal body and stand for a solid mic
● Stellar sound quality
● Fully compatible with all operating systems
● Good for commercial recording, podcasting, gaming, music recording, video audio
● Plug and go; no driver downloads needed
|● Higher price
● Pop filter is extra to take it to the next level, but not needed
● Larger and bulkier
For a direct side-by-side example of these pros and cons, check out this video:
In this section, we’ll dig into the main difference in the specs between the Blue Yeti and Snowball. There are many areas where they’re the same, but it’s the difference which help you find out the product that’s right for you.
More details follow, but here is a quick chart showing the places the two products differ:
|Sample Rate||44.1 kHz||48 kHz
(More Clear Sound)
|Polar Patterns||Cardioid, Cardioid with -10dB, Omnidirectional||Cardioid, Bidirectional, Omnidirectional, Stereo
|Frequency Response||40Hz – 18kHz||20Hz – 20kHz
|Dimensions w/ stand||325 mm sphere||120 mm X 125 mm X 295 mm|
|Compatible||Mac, Windows (7,8,10)||Mac and Windows (all)|
|Material||High-quality plastic||Metal body and stand
|Ports||USB mini B||USB mini B, USB 2.0, 3.5 mm headphone jack
|Selectors||Pattern||Volume, LED mute, Gain, Pattern|
|USB Cord Compatibility||Mini USB B||Standard mini USB B; USB 2.0
The sample rate refers directly to the quality of the sound which can be recorded. It means how often per second a sound is sampled.
Higher sample rates mean clearer sound.
Polar patterns are the ways which the microphone picks up sound. For example, a cardioid polar pattern is when the microphone picks up sound from in front of the microphone.
The different patterns meet different recording needs, so more options are better. See the individual overviews for details on the polar patterns available.
The frequency response of the microphones is the range which the mic picks up high and low pitches. This also includes any sympathetic vibrations or overtones in specific pitches.
In layman’s terms, a wider FR means the mic can better capture the quality and depth of the sound over a smaller FR.
A guitar may soloing at a high pitch will be picked up by a narrow FR mic, but the sound will be noticeably thinner and “trebly” over a mic with a wider FR.
Dimensions w/ stand
The dimensions refer to the space the microphone takes up. You may be wondering, “Why do I need to know this?”
This spec also lets you know how it may fit into your setup. A bigger mic may end up being better quality, but you may not want to feel so crowded.
In this case, the Yeti is a bigger mic while the Snowball is much more portable.
The same idea takes place here. If you want to carry the mic around with you as you travel, a lighter weight may be what you need.
If that’s the case, the Snowball wins in portability.
One of the main positives for most USB microphones is how easy they are to use with computers. In most cases (including these two), all you need to do is plug in the mic and start recording.
Other microphones will often require additional programs or drivers installed to use the tool. This is pretty inconvenient when you have to switch computers or setups quickly.
The biggest ones to watch for are a microphone’s compatibility with Windows and Macintosh operating systems. Both of these mics work well with both systems.
Some people may also want the USB mic to record into a tablet such as an iPad. While iPads can handle this well, the only thing to watch for is having the correct kind of cord.
In the case of the Snowball, you need an adapter. With the Yeti, your USB 2.0 and mini cord should be able to work right away.
Most microphones are made of either plastic, metal, some form of hybrid. Here is no exception.
Each material has its own pros and cons. Read below for a quick rundown of the materials.
Metal – When a microphone is made of metal, it’s often a better microphone overall. Metal mics are tougher and carry sound better.
On the downside, metal makes the microphone more expensive and heavier. If the mic is completely metal, it also limits the number of switches and dials you can use.
Plastic – Plastic microphones have garnered something of a bad reputation over the years. Many consider them to be “cheap” and poorly constructed.
Plastic can be made durable as with the Snowball. The material is also much lighter making it the better choice for portable microphones.
Perhaps the biggest plus is how much more affordable plastic is than metal. Because it’s more affordable, they can then also back it with dials and switches if they want.
Their biggest downside is how they’re more breakable than metal. Even a tough plastic can’t match metal in durability.
Hybrid – Hybrid microphones use both metal and plastic in their construction. The most common combination is shown with the Yeti microphone.
The body and stand are made of metal. This gives all the benefits of metal in solid construction durability.
Incorporated into the metal are all the plastic selector options.
It’s still heavier and more expensive than the plastic options, but they are tough and packed with technological goodies.
See “Selectors/Options” below for a better idea of these goodies.
Cost is never a feature to ignore. If you spend more money on a microphone fancier than what you need, you’re going to be frustrated with your purchase.
That being said, both the Yeti and the Snowball aren’t expensive. Make sure to check the current prices on Amazon, but both are reasonably priced.
The Yeti is a higher quality model, so it costs more than the Snowball. Unless you find it on sale!
The ports refer to the number of compatible cords you can attach to the microphone. As a USB microphone, you can expect it to fit with the USB mini B. The Yeti also works with the USB 2.0.
Anything after this is extra. The Yeti also has a 3.5 mm headphone jack. This is nice because it allows you to listen with your headphones while you record.
With headphones on, you hear exactly what is being recorded, so you know earlier on if there is a problem.
Selectors and options on microphones take many shapes and forms depending on the model. In this section, we’ll go over quickly the selectors you’ll come across in this comparison.
Headphone Volume – This dial helps you determine how loud you want the sound to be through your headphones. Naturally, if the microphone doesn’t offer a headphone jack, it won’t have this option.
Gain – The gain dial allows you to control the volume level of the sound input. This is useful if you’re recording things that are really loud or really soft.
If the music or voice is soft, turn up the gain to catch more of the sound.
If the music or voice is loud, turn the gain down to limit the distortion.
Note: Messing with the gain while recording may result in a poor quality recording. Your best bet is to do some sound checks before doing a final recording and set the gain where you want it beforehand.
LED Mute – If you don’t want to shut your recording off but you don’t want to pick up microphone sound, this mute button is for you.
This feature is useful for when you need to record a lead on the talking or music (as with podcasting) or you want one long track for later editing.
Polar Patterns – Polar pattern (see detail in the overviews below) selectors are nice because they change how the mic records sound.
The switches themselves can be as simple as a two switch labelled “Cardioid” and “Omni” or as unclear as a “1,2,3.”
Make sure you reference your microphone’s manual for what each pattern is, or check out our descriptions in the review below.
USB Cord Compatibility
Not all USB cords are made equally.
The most common is USB 2.0. This is the kind you see for charging phones, plugging in desktop keyboards, and many other places. Of these two, the Yeti is USB 2.0 compatible.
The USB mini B is the next most common with its smaller USB end. Both can be used with this, but the Snowball is also used with the mini B.
The downside of this USB cord is its rarity. If you lose your USB 2.0, you may have another one just lying around. But you probably don’t have another mini unless you have a digital camera.
In terms of their functionality, they both work exactly the same.
Blue Snowball Overview
Blue Snowball is like the smaller more portable cousin to the Yeti. Both are designed and manufactured by the same legendary USB microphone company, Blue.
Snowball gets its name from the small, spherical shape of the microphone. It’s just like a snowball.
This microphone only comes with one USB mini B port, but it works well in connecting to computers.
This isn’t a big problem unless you lose the cord because the mini USBs are less common. You can still pick it up from any store, but you may not have one just lying around.
You won’t be able to instantly monitor the sound it’s picking up unless you connect headphones to your computer.
For this reason, you don’t have a headphone volume switch. You also don’t have a gain dial for controlling this feature.
However, the Snowball does offer a three polar pattern selection switch on the back of the microphone. Unlike the Yeti which is clearly labeled, you may need to reference the owner manual for which type of pattern you’re picking because the switch is labeled with only “1,2,3.”
Here are the three polar pattern options you can choose from with the Blue Snowball:
- Cardioid – Sound is picked from the front of the microphone. This is the universal choice for most recording.
- Cardioid with -10db – Same as the first one, but it limits the volume. This option makes up for the lack of gain control. If you’re recording something loud, pick this pattern.
- Omnidirectional – The microphone picks up sound from every direction at the same time. This is perfect for podcasting with guests.
Note: Make sure when you look for the Blue Snowball mic, you don’t accidentally buy the Snowball ICE model unless you want to. This model looks the same, but it doesn’t have these switches.
Material And Design
Despite being made out of all plastic, the Snowball is built sturdily. The plastic itself is tough, and the spherical shape lets it roll when bumped instead of just flopping over.
The tripod stand which is attached consists of three durable legs. These legs are adjustable and help keep it steady on most surfaces.
Perhaps the strongest aspect of this microphone is its look and portability. This sphere-shape is very sleek with the nice-looking Blue company logo right in front.
The Snowball is much smaller than the Yeti, weighs less, and is very easy to carry around.
Like the Yeti, you can plug and go into Mac and Windows computers with the Snowball easily.
Though Blue claims otherwise, some customers report having some minor issues with certain Windows operating systems. Windows 7, 8, and 10 are the only three which appear to have no known glitches.
The main drawback of the Snowball when compared to the Yeti is its more limited frequency bands. While the Snowball is still much better than other microphones on the market, it lacks the range of the Yeti.
Another problem users note is that the Snowball picks up a lot of the “S” sound when recording. A foam, pop filter fixes this easily.
If you’re a professional musician or you record a lot of music, it may not pick up as much of the depth of sound you’re looking for.
If all you need is an amateur recording or some podcasting-types of activities, the Snowball will do just fine.
Blue Yeti Overview
If you’re unfamiliar with microphone and sound companies, Blue is one of the world’s top ones when it comes to USB microphones.
The Yeti model is one of their flagship options due to its great sound quality, features, and reasonable price.
Material And Design
Because the microphone body and stand are all made of metal, you can expect this heavy-duty mic to last even through accidental bumps. You can get the Yeti in black, silver, or white.
On the base of the Yeti is a USB mini B for connecting to the computer easily. In addition to this is a 3.5 mm headphone jack which allows you to listen and hear the quality of your recording as you make it.
This headphone jack is a nice feature which other USB microphones don’t always have in cheaper models.
Clearly labeled on the Yeti are some simple but effective selector options. There is a headphone knob where you can adjust the volume of the headphones.
There’s also an LED mute button in case you don’t want to shut the whole mic down, but just stop the input for a while.
On the back of the Yeti are two dials for the gain and pattern selection. Gain controls the decibel level for the USB mic’s input. If your sound data keeps peaking or distorting, you can lower the gain.
However, it’s the pattern selection which makes the Yeti stand out from other USB microphones. Most have no options, let alone four like this one has.
Here are the four polar pattern options for sound recording:
- Cardioid – Captures sound in front of the mic. Good for all general applications.
- Stereo – Captures left and right sound directions. Perfect for music recording.
- Omnidirectional – Picks up sound from all directions. Great for podcast recording with multiple guests.
- Bidirectional – Picks up sound from the front and behind. Good for podcasting with one guest.
The Blue Yeti is fully compatible with every operating system on Windows and Mac of all editions. This means you take this mic and plug it into any computer you need to.
You’ll never be stuck in your recording because your computer is down. Just borrow another, and it’ll work just fine.
It’s normal for USB microphone to sacrifice some sound quality when compared to analog options just because of the nature of USB. But the Yeti’s sound quality is just as crisp and clear.
The sound will make anyone (even professionals) happy.
There are several ways in which these two products are the same. Here is a quick breakdown of these similarities.
Both microphones are condensers as opposed to dynamic microphones.
Condenser microphones are mostly found in studios because of their larger frequency range, sensitivity to louder sounds, and delicate machinery.
Both Yeti and Snowball are 16-bit microphones. This means they sample audio at a 65,536 sample rate.
At the current time, 16-bit is accepted as the most effective bit rate. There are higher bit rates (24 being the gold standard currently), but the portable technology doesn’t have the capacity to support the audio quality from these higher amounts.
SPL stands for sound pressure level. The max SPL refers to the highest decibel amount a microphone can handle before it distorts. In these cases, it’s 120db.
For a studio condenser mic, this is above average. It means you can record louder sounds without distortion.
When it comes to USB microphones, Blue’s Yeti and Snowball mics are great choices for many situations.
If you’re someone who’s looking for the best sound quality and willing to spend a little more, then your choice is clearly the Blue Yeti.
Its sound quality, polar pattern options, tough design, and deep compatibility make it ideal for a quick but great quality plug and go microphone.
Even amateurs may prefer the Yeti over the Snowball. But if you’re in a situation where professional-grade sound quality isn’t as important as portability and price, the Snowball may make you completely happy as well.
Now that you know the difference between them, go buy one and start recording! Let us know about your experience after you’ve tried one yourself.