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Best USB Microphone: Blue Yeti Review + Test

Buy Blue Yeti on Amazon

Blue Yeti Pop Filter

A good USB microphone should do two things: sound great and have a quick easy setup. For years the Blue Yeti has been referred to as the best USB microphone from many different experts such as bloggers, podcasters, and YouTubers, and it has a nearly perfect 5-star rating almost anywhere you look online. But just like Big L said people are praying on its downfall, hoping it flops, hoping it stops so in this video I’ll put an end to the debate and show you why the Blue Yeti is still the best USB microphone. First I’ll go over the features and then I’ll show you how to get good sound quality every single time from it and I’ll let you hear some sound quality tests, I’ll even rap for you guys, so stick around for that.

The Blue Yeti is currently $129 on Amazon, but some colors are cheaper than others which can bring the price down even more if you don’t care about the color and just want to save as much money as possible. I’ll put the Amazon link in the description below so you can check it out yourself. When you first open the box you’ll notice the Blue Yeti is not a small microphone by any means. It’s made of a sturdy metal and stands almost a foot tall and weighs about 3.5 lbs. The color I have is the Grey model which looks really good and complements my iMac and Space Grey MacBook Pro quite nicely. I think I just realized grey is my favorite color. Hmm is that good or bad? I don’t know. The Blue Yeti comes with a USB cable and is compatible with Mac and PC right out of the box. No drivers or software needed. Just plug it in and start recording. Even though the Yeti can fold down to make it a little better for storing or packing, it’s still mainly designed to stay put on your desk because of its fairly large size and solid build. It’s going to take up a good amount of space in a backpack.

At its price range the Blue Yeti is the absolute best choice for most people. If you look at mics below $100 you’ll see they lack a key feature that the Blue Yeti has, and if you want something that sounds better than the Blue Yeti, you’ll most likely need to spend a lot more money on a complicated setup consisting of an XLR mic with a separate audio interface. The advantages of having a USB mic like the Yeti are: one, USB mics are much cheaper, and two, USB mics are much simpler. The Blue Yeti already has an internal preamp and analog-to-digital converter that takes the incoming signal, amplifies it, and converts it to digital, and sends it directly into your computer. That means you don’t need any other gear to start recording. The Blue Yeti does a great job at fusing simplicity with just enough pro features, along with high quality sound and physical aesthetics all in one single microphone which is why it’s the best.

On the front of the mic there is the Blue logo, a Mute button which is solid red when the mic is powered on and connected to your computer and it will flash red when the Mute is enabled. I kind of wish the Mute button wasn’t lit up the entire time, but I guess that’s the only way to know it’s powered on. Under that there is the headphone volume knob because when you look on the bottom there is a headphone jack that allows latency-free real-time monitoring of your microphone so you can make sure your recording levels are just right and you’re not peaking, which is a clutch feature to have on a microphone. What’s also cool about the headphone jack is you can not only use it to monitor the mic but you can also use it to listen to your computer’s audio because of the dedicated amp and converter that’s built into the Yeti. There’s also the USB cable port and a standard thread mount for if you ever want to unscrew the side screws and remove the Blue Yeti from the included stand you can use the standard thread mount to put it on a standard microphone studio mount. The bottom of the mic stand has this firm foam on it that allows the mic to stay in one place really well and doesn’t allow it to be moved or slid around easily which is nice. Under the mesh top there are actually three condenser microphone capsules which make the Yeti extremely versatile for almost any recording situation. On the back there is a gain control knob which is a hugely important feature, and this is how you can adjust the sensitivity of the mic or how loud your recording is. Below that there is the pattern selector where you an choose up to 4 different recording settings.

Cardioid
Probably the most popular setting on the Yeti, cardioid mode records sound sources that are directly in front of the microphone, delivering a rich, full bodied sound and it minimizes the pickup of noise from the sides and back of the microphone. It’s perfect for recording your voice, whether it’s a voiceover for a video, a podcast episode, gaming commentary, singing vocals, or rapping. So if I were to hit you with something like “(RAP)”. Or if you’re musically talented unlike myself, cardioid mode is also great for recording solo instruments.

Stereo
This uses both the left and right channels to capture a wide, realistic sound image so it’s good for when you want the listener to hear the movement from one ear to another and also ideal for recording things like acoustic guitar or a choir.

Omnidirectional
Picks up sound equally from all around the mic. It’s best used in situations when you want to capture the ambient noises and want the listener to have the feeling of “being there”—like recording a band’s live performance, a multi-person podcast or a conference call.

Bidirectional
Records from both the front and rear of the microphone while the noise from the sides are not picked up. It’s good for recording a duet or a two-person interview or two-person podcast episode. So it comes in handy when you don’t have multiple microphones for multiple people.

So now let’s talk about how to get great sound quality the Blue Yeti. It records in 16-Bit at 48 kHz and when it comes down to it, the Yeti is perfect for the following uses: Voiceovers (any type of voice recording), podcasts (podcasters), videos (YouTubers or any other audio for video), video chats or live streams (Skype/YouTube Live/FB Live/Hangouts/FaceTime), musicians (vocals/instruments, singing/rapping). The Yeti just does an excellent job at capturing a voice the way it sounds in real life with all the different pitches and tones, but with clarity as well. I mainly use it for video voiceovers for YouTube so let me show you how I set it up and let you hear how it sounds.

First thing you want to make sure is that you’re speaking into the front of the mic and not the top, that’s a common mistake that beginners make. So be sure you’re speaking into the front when you’re in cardioid mode for recording your own voice. I like to use ScreenFlow to record my audio, but you can use any recording software of your choice. GarageBand is a very popular choice for Mac users, and Audacity is very popular free program for Windows and Mac users.

To get good sound quality from the mic you should do the following:

First you want to be fairly close to the mic for it to capture that richness of your voice. I like to be about 3-4 inches away from the mic when recording voiceovers. If you do get pretty close to the mic, you may want to invest in a pop filter like this one. This prevents the loud popping noise you get from when you say certain words like Powerful Puppies on Picnics, or something like that. These are pretty cheap, I’ll leave a link to the best selling pop filter on Amazon in the description below.
Next you want to set the correct gain level using the knob on the back. The more gain, the louder and more sensitive the mic will be. So do a couple test recordings or monitor your audio levels and make sure your levels are high enough but not peaking into the red levels on your recording software.
Also if you’re in cardioid mode you’ll want to eliminate as much background noise as possible. The Blue Yeti does a fairly good job at not picking up a lot of background noise, but no mic will absolutely eliminate all background noise. So just keep that in mind when recording.
Lastly, once your recording is done you can use your audio software to raise the levels if needed or edit the recording in whichever way you want to improve it ever so slightly. I usually record with a lower gain, and then using Final Cut Pro X I will use the Louder feature to raise the audio levels to the correct level and it does a fairly good job at increasing the loudness of my voice while keeping the room hum at a minimum.

Before we get into the last audio test, even though I think the Blue Yeti is the best USB mic overall because it has professional studio sound quality, has a very solid and attractive design, along with the multi-pattern recordings and tri-capsule microphone array, having said that if your budget isn’t enough for the Yeti, you should look at the Audio Technica ATR2100. That is my 2nd recommendation because it’s almost half the price of the Yeti and it is one of my all time favorite USB microphones for under $100. I’ll leave the link to my full review of that in the description below if you want to check that out.

Ultimate HP Setup Under $1,000! Pavilion x360 + 27xw Monitor

Did you know last year I reviewed the 13″ HP Pavilion x360 which was one of the best budget laptops for students? Well for this video I’ve teamed up with HP to showcase the new 15.6″ HP Pavilion x360 laptop along with the HP Pavilion 27xw monitor, and this particular combo is what I like to call the ultimate HP setup for under $1,000 because it’s not only great for productivity but it’s also a lot of fun. Let’s get right into it and I will show you what each item in this setup brings to the table, or desk. Literally.

The main piece of equipment is obviously the star of the show, the new 2017 HP Pavilion x360 convertible laptop, and more specifically this model is the 15-br010nr in the silver finish and it’s a great looking laptop.

I’m primarily a Mac user, but I wanted to try the HP Pavilion x360 because 1. It is a way more budget-friendly option especially for those of you who are students, saving money is a priority. And 2. there are no Mac convertible laptops or Macs with touch screens, and Windows 10 on HP touch screens works really well for productivity which you know I’m a huge fan of. For example if you have a compatible digital pen like this HP Active Stylus you can write with it using Microsoft inking, and the Pavilion x360 (like the name suggests) has a 360 degree rotating screen which is in fact its primary feature. So you can use it like a normal laptop when you want to type, but you can also flip it into Tent mode when you want to utilize the touch screen more or if you just need a break and want to watch some YouTube videos, and you can also flip it all the way into Tablet mode for when you want to use it like a tablet for something like games or reading.

The Pavilion x360 offers pretty good performance while only sacrificing a couple of features that higher-end laptops have, mostly hard drive speed. With this being budget-friendly, it’s not going to come with a blazing fast solid state drive. Instead it has a 5400RPM mechanical hard drive that is slower than an SSD, but based on my benchmark tests it does read and write at around 100MB/s which isn’t bad and since it is a hard disk drive you’re able to get a lot more storage for the price. This model has a 1TB hard drive which can store almost double of what my MacBook Pro can store, but at a much cheaper price point.

It’s also sporting a 7th generation Intel Core i5-7200U Dual-Core Processor at 2.5GHz with max turbo up to 3.1GHz so it’s been able to handle a lot of tasks that I’ve thrown at it such as having multiple browser tabs open while listening to Spotify and typing a document which is a normal work day routine for me. And if you’re into numbers, on the official GeekBench test it scored 2997 for single-core and 6613 for multi-core. For things like HD video editing it’s not as fast as some other quad-core i7 laptops, but it does have 8GB of fast and efficient DDR4 SDRAM which helps out a ton so it certainly is capable of editing videos, something that I personally love doing.

Now if you’re not doing intensive tasks that require a lot of CPU rendering, you can expect to get very good battery life from the Pavilion x360, usually around 8-9 hours on average for me, possibly 10 if you’re very conservative. Long battery life is a very important factor for laptops these days, and it seems to be a nice benefit of this laptop.

This setup is perfect for people who are like me and want a lot of screen real estate. It’s definitely not the most mobile laptop. It’s fairly large and is built for getting work done, with its full size keyboard and number pad along with a nicely sized trackpad. It has Bang & Olufsen speakers for some crisp sounding audio, HP wide vision HD webcam with built in microphone, and a super smooth finish on the inside. On the left side there is the power button, headphone jack, and volume rocker, and on the right side there is the charging port, a full size HDMI port, two USB 3.1 ports, one USB-C port, and an SD Card reader so it definitely has a wide variety of ports. But one of its best perks is the beautiful 15.6″ Full HD IPS WLED backlit screen that is of course multi-touch enabled from edge to edge. The touch is responsive and it has great viewing angles. Watching videos and movies is definitely something that this laptop was built for. But since I’m a YouTuber and filmmaker, I probably create more videos than I watch, and that’s where the next item in the setup comes into play. With the HP Pavilion 27xw monitor I’m using this setup as a way to finally learn how to use Adobe Premiere Pro which is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. When I’m on my Mac I use Final Cut Pro X, but that’s not available for Windows so it’s the perfect time for me to learn a new program.

The Pavilion 27″ monitor is currently on Amazon for just under $200, and it’s one of the best looking monitors in its price range. You can tell that HP took some inspiration from Apple in the way they designed this monitor. It’s sleek, thin, but also simple. It has a white and silver finish and the way the stand is made it gives you easy accessibility to the VGA and HDMI ports on the back. And yes this does come with an HDMI cable which is always nice and to connect it to the Pavilion x360 all you have to do is connect the HDMI cable to the HDMI port on the monitor and the other end of the cable into the HDMI port on the laptop and you’re all set. The monitor can be tilted back and forth and similar to the Pavilion x360 display, this also has In Plane Switching IPS technology for amazing viewing angles.

The Pavilion 27″ monitor is a Full HD 16×9 display with 10,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio and a Technicolor Certification, and only 8ms response time so it’s a great monitor for designers and content creators who are still on a fairly small budget. And the bezels on this monitor are pretty thin, it’s just a very attractive monitor. As a video editor it’s so much easier to edit footage when you have multiple displays because you can have the editor in full screen on one monitor while being able to import or organize your media files on the other monitor. I would highly recommend getting some sort of stand to put the laptop on so it’s more aligned with the monitor, and you’ll also want a Bluetooth keyboard and a wireless mouse, such as this HP Z3700 which is super portable and the battery life is outstanding. And once you have those things you’ll have yourself a fantastic looking dual-screen setup so you can increase your productivity while also being able to kick back and be entertained, all for $1000 or less.

So that’s my ultimate HP setup for under $1,000. I hope you enjoyed it. Thanks to HP for sponsoring this video. If you have any questions, just leave a comment below!

Panasonic GH5 Review: Top 5 Features for Filmmakers!

In this video I’ll be reviewing the Panasonic GH5 by going behind the scenes of my first wedding that I filmed with the GH5 and how well it works out for me as a videographer and YouTuber.

Best Headphones Under $250? Meze 99 Neo Review!

If you’re looking for a new pair of headphones stick around with me for a few minutes to find out if the Meze 99 Neo headphones are right for you.

If you’ve never heard of Meze, they’re an audio company out of Romania who is focused on making high quality professional headphones for people who not only appreciate sound quality but also the aesthetics and design.

The Meze 99 Neo is a more affordable version of Meze’s higher end headphones called the 99 Classics. The 99 Neo headphones start at $249 while the 99 Classics are over $300. There are two main differences between the two. First, the 99 Neo ear cups are made of ABS plastic instead of the walnut wood ear cups on the 99 Classics. The other main difference is that the 99 Neo impedance is 26 ohms compared to 32 ohms on the 99 Classics. Fewer ohms means they require less power to deliver high audio levels. The sound is very similar between both models so if you don’t want to spend over $300 and you’re looking for something at $250 or under, the 99 Neo headphones are a great option.

This is the black and silver model of the 99 Neo so let’s open up the box and show you what you get. Inside there is a very convenient and protective hard-shell case with a zipper to keep it closed, inside the case there is the 99 Neo headphones themselves , and there’s a small pouch that contains two detachable Kevlar cables, one that is almost 4 feet long and one that is almost 10 feet long, along with two adapters, one being a 6.3mm gold-plated jack.

Let’s talk about the 99 Neo build quality. These are contemporary closed-back high-fidelity headphones. They feel very sturdy and you can see they are well designed. A polarizing feature for some will be the outer band that kind of sticks out a bit and could be a nuisance if you’re a tall person under a low ceiling like in the backseat of a car and the tops of the headphones were brushing the ceiling. However, they are made like this because they have a really nice self-adjusting headband which is designed to fit any head without having to deal with notches like the ones that are on my Audio Technica ATH-M50s. The 99 Neo headphones are a bit tighter on the sides of my head than my ATH-M50s but that’s probably because they’re just newer and have been worn a lot less. But the soft cushioned ear pads which are made of medium density memory foam are very comfortable and I can wear these for hours without getting a headache or anything like that. They do have a fairly tight seal so they help drown out any noise on the outside and you definitely feel like you’re in your own head, and if I do wear them for hours I can feel my ears start to get sweaty. They’re definitely made of premium materials. One thing to note is that the ear cups cannot swivel like the ATH-M50s which would be handy if you want to listen to one ear cup DJ style but it doesn’t affect me since I don’t use them that way anyway.

Now let’s talk about the sound quality. I’m not an audiophile by any means. I mainly like to use over-ear headphones to edit the audio in my films and YouTube videos and to also listen to music on Spotify. Compared to the Audio Technica ATH-M50s which are probably the most popular professional headphones under $200 and have been my go-to headphones for the past few years, the 99 Neo headphones sound pretty much just as good. They produce very natural audio and they sound crisp with a clean full sound. I listened to Neutral Milk Hotel, and I was able to hear all the instruments in the songs, the slightest whistle that you may not hear over speakers is nice and clear through these headphones. It really makes the listening experience that much more enjoyable. The mids are clear, everything is balanced. However, the thing that jumped out to me at first listen was the bass is deep and powerful on the 99 Neo compared to my ATH M50s. That was the biggest difference for me. For the test I was listening to my favorite album of 2017 so far, Kendrick Lamar’s new album. The bass in those songs were booming on the 99 Neo headphones. It wasn’t distorted either, just very powerful so if that’s something you like in headphones, you’ll like definitely like these.

The Audio Technica ATH-M50s (which are now the M50X but I don’t have the newer model yet) are $100 cheaper than the Meze 99 Neo headphones, but they also look like it too. They’re very plasticky. If you have a budget below $200 and you prefer headphones with just one cable coming out of an ear cup instead of the two that come out of the 99 Neo headphones, then I would suggest the Audio Technica ATH-M50X headphones. But if you like a slightly more powerful bass with the same audio quality with a more pleasing design and build, then check out the Meze 99 Neo headphones. Let me know what you think of these headphones in the comments below!

HP Envy 34″ Curved All-in-One Review! (2017)

One of my most anticipated reviews of 2017 so far: This the HP Envy 34″ Curved All-in-One

Thanks to HP for sponsoring this video and allowing me to review this.

If you’re watching this then you’re either generally intrigued by this being the world’s widest curved all-in-one and you want to see it up close and personal, or you’re actually in the market for an all-in-one desktop. So I will say if you’re looking for the best alternative to an iMac, this may be your answer. The model I have was released in early 2017, and it’s currently $1899 on Amazon which I will link to in the description below.

The first thing you’ll probably notice is the huge 34″ curved display. It’s an ultra-wide Quad-HD LED-backlit micro-edge display with a screen resolution of 3440×1440 and let me tell you, this is a cinema lover’s dream. Watching movies and videos, especially ones that are shot in 21:9, is an immersive experience. The slight curve to the monitor along with the thin bezels, the anti-glare matte finish and just how wide the display is really makes you feel like you’re a part of whatever it is you’re watching. I’m not a gamer by any means, but playing games that don’t require an extremely powerful PC is a blast on this 34″ screen. On the other hand, I do edit a lot of videos and that’s where the HP Envy Curved all-on-one truly shines. The amount of screen space I have when editing videos is so convenient. It’s a Technicolor Certified Display so the colors are vibrant and bright but still true to life. Since this is a larger display, it does not have as many pixels per inch as the Retina iMac, for example, so you are sacrificing pixel density for the bigger screen, but there’s no doubt that the 34″ curved display is one of the best features about this computer. If you’re a multi-tasker like me who always has at least one YouTube video on while working in Evernote and doing other things, you’ll love how much space this display gives you. Just make sure your desk will be able to fit it. That’s important because this thing is big.

When I first saw the HP Envy Curved All-in-One, the design really stood out to me. It’s impressive how elegant yet simple they made this. The display is connected to the base by a sturdy aluminum stand which allows you to tilt the display forward and backwards but be aware that you cannot swivel it from left to right or raise its elevation. A nice touch is the 720p HD webcam that’s hidden by default. You can pop it out by pressing down on it, and then you can press down on it again to keep it hidden if you are taking part in private matters. But I am a little disappointed that that’s not a 1080p full HD webcam because that just would have made more sense with such a big display, but on the other hand it does have an infrared camera that’s great for signing onto Windows using facial recognition, something that I wish MacOS had.

Now, the base is where all the computing parts live as well as the sound bar. It’s packing some nice specs too: A Quad-core 7th Generation Kabylake Core i7 processor with 16GB of DDR4 RAM, a dedicated AMD Radeon RX 460 with 4GB of memory, and one of my favorite features: a 256GB Solid state drive alongside a 1TB hard drive. So with these high specs you’re definitely getting fast performance along with ample storage space. It also has built-in WiFi and Bluetooth and comes with Windows 10 pre-installed. Now the first thing I do recommend you do if you get this is to update all the drivers along with the BIOS because updating the drivers will help reduce the fan noise when the computer is hard at work. With the old drivers the fans seem to make quite a bit of noise during intensive tasks like gaming and rendering HD videos, but updating to the latest drivers should help with that. But from the fast bootup to loading apps very quickly and managing multiple browser tabs with ease, the performance has been very snappy.

On the back of the base there are four USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI out, one HDMI in, a display mode switch, an Ethernet port, power in, and a security slot. On the right side there is a headphones jack, a memory card reader, and a Thunderbolt 3 port. HP also put in a Qi wireless charging pad on the base so if you have a compatible smartphone unlike me you can place it there to charge wirelessly.

Other than the design and the display, my other favorite feature is the built-in sound bar made by Bang & Olufsen who are known for their high quality audio products. This soundbar is made up of quad front-facing speakers along with two passive radiators mounted upwards at a 45-degree angle so if you position yourself right in the middle you’ll get a brilliant sound experience. The speakers sound rich and full but most of all they get super loud. Like really loud. And a very convenient bonus is the circular touch-dial on that base that you can use to quickly adjust the volume, which actually works really well and it’s my preferred way to turn the volume up or down.

My biggest pet peeve, and you can take that literally, biggest pet peeve is the hefty power adapter that powers everything. On one hand I love the fact that with an all-in-one there is only one cable coming out of the back. However, this thing is pretty massive and it’s not easily hidden so keep that in mind.

The HP Envy Curved All-in-One does come with its own wireless keyboard and wireless mouse. The mouse is powered by the included AA batteries and despite the thin plastic top, it feels pretty good and decently solid when using it. The keyboard is rechargeable and can be charged using the included USB cable. It’s a condensed laptop-style keyboard so if you want to game you’ll be better off getting a separate full size keyboard, but for most it does the job well.

So if you’re looking for a well-designed Windows alternative to the iMac or you’re just looking for a fast elegant all-in-one desktop for watching movies, listening to music, playing mid-tier games, or doing any type of productive work, the HP Envy Curved All-in-One is something to definitely consider. The link will be in the description below if you want to check it out. As always, give this video a thumbs up if enjoyed it and subscribe if you want more tech videos like this in the future. Thank you for watching. My name is Andy, and I will see you in the next one.

 

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