In this Blue Microphones review roundup, we’ll cover the Mo-Fi headphones, Blue Yeti Microphone, Radius II shock mount, and The Pop windscreen.
Review unit provided by manufacturer.
Blue Microphones is known for its, well, microphones. I mean… it’s right there in the name. So when the company decided to make its first pair of headphones, one would naturally assume it may take a few iterations before nailing a really solid product. But Blue found in its Mo-Fi headphones a winner on its first attempt.
One distinguishing factor of the Mo-Fis is the built-in amp. Previous analog headphones that I’d plug into my computer had to be turned up to max volume just to be loud enough for everyday use – but with the Mo-Fis, the amp allows you to turn the volume up to truly obscene levels.
A switch allows you to select between three amp settings: off, on, and on with bass boost. Even without the amp on, the Mo-Fis sound fantastic. The lows, mids, and highs are all crystal clear, with a full sound that is neither tinny nor too bassy. Of course, the boost amp setting is available for you bass fiends.
The headphones are wired, but the amp requires battery charge, which can be done via USB connection to a computer, or by using a provided adapter for an outlet. The amp’s battery life is said to be 12 hours of active use, with a “smart” system that automatically turns the amp off when you aren’t wearing the headset, preserving battery life. I mostly used the headphones sans amp, but I liked having the option to turn the volume up higher if I wanted to.
The Mo-Fis can be used with any device that accommodates a standard 3.5mm audio jack and come with a couple different cables to select from depending on whether you’re plugging into a computer or a smartphone. An adjustable tension knob allows you to customize how the Mo-Fis rest on your head and how tightly or loosely they cling to your skull. The “height” of the headphones can be further adjusted thanks to a joint on the side of the earcups, which are shaped like actual ears rather than circles and are truly circumaural. My ears weren’t being crushed by the pads, nor were they floating around in vast emptiness – they were snugly enveloped. While the Mo-Fis possess no active, electronic sound reduction, the thick ear pads do a great job of keeping sound out – and in.
Both aesthetically and ergonomically, I love how the Mo-Fis fit my head. That said, their weight may take some getting used to. The Mo-Fis are heavy, which may be an issue for you, but the upside of this is that they feel absolutely sturdy. Lighter headphones tend to feel flimsy and like they may snap if mishandled, but the Mo-Fis are robust and solidly constructed – I cannot locate any piece that seems like it would snap without some serious attempt at destruction.
If there is one real “con” to list for the Mo-Fis, it’s the price. Currently selling for $350 (on Amazon), they aren’t cheap. However, they are priced competitively for the quality you’re getting. The Mo-Fis are the second set of high-end headphones I’ve owned, and I haven’t gone back to my other pair since I’ve received these.
Bottom Line: Blue’s Mo-Fis are expensive, but with that price tag comes the quality to back it up. Plus, you have to factor into the price the fact that you’re also getting a built-in amp.
Recommendation: For audiophiles, the Mo-Fi headphones are a no-brainer. For an average consumer that may be looking to spend a little more on a high-end pair of headphones to keep for years to come, Mo-Fis are a solid investment.[rating=4.5] [ims_contests=bluemic]
Blue Yeti Microphone
I bought my Blue Yeti last summer, and as a YouTube content creator and occasional Escapist Podcast host, it has been my single greatest investment. The Blue Yeti is a plug-and-play USB mic that is simple to set up and, once you are familiar with the correct way to use it, delivers excellent recording quality.
How difficult is it to use correctly? First, you have to recognize that it is a side-address mic, which means you don’t speak into the top of it like a TV mic. Second, you must ensure that you’ve turned up the mic volume (gain) knob to the correct level for your needs (you shouldn’t be too far from 50% in either direction). Lastly, you need to use the right recording setting for your environment. None of these steps are particularly difficult to follow, but I’ll admit that I had to look up some YouTube tutorials before these were evident to me. The recording quality can seem a lot worse than the Yeti is capable of if these steps are not followed.
The Yeti has four different recording settings, each ideal for a different recording scenario: stereo mode records audio from all directions and captures it in left and right channels; cardioid mode records only sounds directly in front of the mic, making it perfect for podcasts; omnidirectional mode records equally in all directions, which is great for conference calls; and bidirectional mode records from the front and rear of the mic for those one-on-one interviews.
The mic comes on a mount that lets you pivot it to optimize its position, but you can easily remove the Yeti from its mount and attach it to a shock mount or mic stand. Left in its standard mount, the Yeti will pick up vibrations generated on the surface on which it rests, so a shock mount or otherwise isolating the mic from any vibrations is required to perfect your audio quality.
A mute button with a light indicator allows you to easily silence yourself when you need to sneeze, and a 3.5mm jack and volume knob allows you to conveniently plug headphones directly into the mic.
At $130 (current price on Amazon), the Yeti isn’t exactly cheap, but as a thrifty shopper, I can tell you it’s worth every penny.
Bottom Line: The Blue Yeti is one of the best mics a YouTuber or Twitch streamer can get a hold of for a reasonable price.
Recommendation: If you are serious about producing YouTube videos, podcasts, or streaming, then you have to recognize that no one enjoys hearing a voice coming through a crappy headset mic. The Blue Yeti is a vetted mic that will tremendously increase the production value of your content.[rating=4.5] [ims_contests=bluemic]
Radius II Shockmount
Review unit provided by manufacturer.
Keeping a microphone on your desk subjects it to all the thumps and vibrations that your desk endures. Don’t think that’s a big deal? Pick your mic up off the desk and hold it in your hands – has the humming severely diminished? Yeah, that’s how sensitive your mic is. My PC tower sits on my desk, and the humming that produced in my mic was simply unacceptable once I realized that I could easily eliminate that background noise. My temporary solution was to keep the mic on a separate, inconveniently-placed desk that I had to move into and out of position every time I wanted to record. The proper solution was a shock mount.
My full setup is a mic stand, to which I’ve attached the Radius II shockmount, to which I’ve attached a Blue Yeti mic and The Pop windscreen. The Radius II is a suspension mount, meaning it isolates the mic from any vibrations by letting it “float” on a frame that is being held by something similar to bungee cords. The cords absorb the majority of any vibrations, reducing the amount of ambient noise that gets transferred to the mic.
The Radius II does its job, plain and simple. While it is designed for Yeti mics, it should fit other mics that have a standard thread mount. The converse, however, isn’t true – I’ve searched and searched for a shock mount that can fit the Yeti, and apart from MacGyvered homemade solutions, there is no other mic-stand shock mount that fits the Yeti apart from Blue’s offerings (Note: there are “spider shockmounts” available that fit the Yeti, but these mounts sit on your desk and cannot attach to a mic stand). At $70 (current price on Amazon), the Radius II isn’t exactly cheap, and I was willing to settle for lesser quality for a lower price, especially given the reputation of the original Radius.
That reputation is the reason Blue released the Radius II, which is simply a better-quality Radius. The design didn’t need to evolve; it just needed to be built more robustly, and Blue directly addressed common criticisms by releasing the Radius II, which succeeds in being superior to its previous incarnation. That said, I still do have some issues with the hinge loosening and causing the mount to droop – this was a major issue with the original Radius. The Yeti is a heavy mic, and tack on the weight of a pop filter that may be pressing against the Radius II, and you have to screw in the hinge really tight to get it to stay in place. I eventually managed, but not until I’d toyed with it for a long time.
Bottom Line: The Radius II is a great shock mount that has a little difficulty staying in place.
Recommendation: If you want a shock mount for your Blue Yeti mic that you can attach to a mic stand, then you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything else.[rating=4]
The Pop (Windscreen)
Review unit provided by manufacturer.
As its name implies, The Pop is a pop filter. You know how “P” sounds cause litte bursts of air that erupt into microphones like mini hurricanes and are awful to hear? Those are called plosives, and pop filters were developed to heavily reduce them. Designed for use with any microphone, The Pop can clamp to a mic stand, or with some finagling, a standard Blue Yeti mount. It’s solidly constructed and has a wire mesh, so when the marketing claims “years of durability,” I’m inclined to believe that.
My previous pop filter was as cheap as they come, little better than something homemade, but it nonetheless served its purpose. For almost ten times the price (currently selling for $55 on Amazon), is The Pop worth the extra expense? I’m not sure.
Both The Pop and my previous windscreen suffer from positioning issues. Getting them to stay in place is a hassle, though it does seem that The Pop is more inclined to stay in place for longer once you’ve wrestled it into position. And given my cheapo pop filter was little more than pantyhose stretched through a plastic hoop, the quality of craftsmanship of The Pop is undoubtedly superior, both from an aesthetic and practical standpoint. However, even if the cheapo pop filter were to break, I could buy almost ten of them for the price of The Pop, and both seemed to serve their purpose of reducing plosives equally well.
Bottom Line: The Pop is a premium alternative to a cheap product with a simple purpose and suffers from some of the same issues as the cheaper options.
Recommendation: If your career is audio production, The Pop is a good investment. If you’re just a casual audio producer, then it’s fine to cheap out on a pop filter.[rating=3.5]