Don’t buy a USB mic till you read this piece
There are many reasons to invest in a good microphone for your computer: For video conferencing; podcasting, to record a studio interview, a song, or even a live music jam for YouTube. But did you know that for each use case, you might require a different kind of mic? Indeed, the model that works well for podcasting, might not necessarily be the best one for music. Well, unless you decide to invest in a multi-purpose Blue Yeti or AKG Lyra that—in effect—are multiple mics rolled into one!
Blue Yeti | Rs 11,999
The Blue Yeti, which sports a classic retro look, has been around since 2009. Build-wise, you get a solid metal construction along with a sturdy ‘adjustable angle’ base that makes it a great travel mic.
Underneath, it has a threaded mount for boom stands, a headphone port for latency-free audio monitoring while you record, and a USB mini-jack port that lets you connect it to your laptop via a USB cable (Mac users with just a ThunderBolt 3/USB-C lightning ports at their disposal will need a buy a cable separately).
At the front, you get a mute button that lights up when active and a volume knob for headphone monitoring. At the back, you get Gain control (to adjust the volume of its built-in pre-amp), and the ‘Pattern’ selector dial that lets you switch between four modes…
Cardioid primarily picks up sound from the front of the mic and is ideal for video calls, podcasts and voice-overs where you want just that one voice to be the focus of your recording.
Omnidirectional picks up sound from all around the Yeti, and works for conference calls where multiple folks are sitting around it; it also works for music recordings where you need a sense on ambience and even outdoor recordings when you want to capture the sounds of your environment.
Bi-directional is for when you are interviewing someone who is sitting diametrically opposite you, and for vocal duets, and finally…
Stereo when you want right and left channel separations.
To control the quality of your recording, you can download the Blue Sherpa companion app for Windows and Mac that allows you to install firmware upgrades and customise mic settings like gain and pattern.
Recordings with the Yeti are crisp, and the multiple patterns make it a future-proof investment for anyone working with computer-based audio.
AKG Lyra | Rs 9,499
For slightly over a decade, there was very little to challenge the Blue Yeti in its price band till AKG introduced the Lyra late last year. Like the Yeti, this mic sports a retro design with a metal grille and a solid stand, albeit with a body that fabricated out of plastic. Now, while the Lyra’s body might not seem as durable as the Yetis if you plan on tossing it into your suitcase during your trips, you still get a solid mic at its price.
Underneath, it comes with a fitting for boom stand, you get a zero-latency headphone port for audio monitoring, and USB-C port for a cable attachment to your laptop. Here, you can also use your Macbook’s USB-C to USB-C charging cable to connect to your Apple computer, so you are set straight out of the box.
In the front, the Lyra comes with a Mute button that lights up when activated, a headphone volume dial that lets you control the monitoring volume, along with four indicator lights to indicate the active microphone pattern…
Front (cardioid) that picks up sound from the front of the mic
Front and Back (bi-directional) for when you are interviewing someone who is sitting diametrically opposite you.
Tight Stereo that works for solo instrument recordings and…
Wide Stereo for dual-channel sound with ambience.
You can switch between these modes by using a knob at the back of the mic that sits exactly over yet another knob that lets you adjust Gain Control.
As a plus, when you pick the AKG Lyra, you get a free license to Ableton Live Lite, an 8-track recording software that comes with 600Mb of samples, drum and music loops.
So which one should you buy?
Whether you choose the Blue Yeti or the AKG Lyra, you get great sound and tone, whether you need a top-class mic for podcasting, music recording on your computer or voice calls.
The Yeti has been time tested, and we quite like its durability and road-worthiness, but the Lyra makes a strong case for itself with its lower price, free bundled software, and the USB-C connector that gets it up and running with MacBooks straight away.
That said, we recommend you invest in a pop filter and also a shock mount for clearer, studio-class recordings devoid of any voice clicks and desk vibrations.