The days of having to own pro-level audio equipment to produce a professional sounding podcast may be far behind us, but a bad mic can still ruin your credibility and cause an audience to flee. Fortunately, Blue Microphones has produced a pair of pro/am mics that are not only affordable, but produce an audio quality that comes within shooting distance of systems that cost thousands of dollars. Yeti mic

The company offers two mics – the less expensive Snowball and the higher-priced Yeti. Determining the best for you will largely depend on your needs.

If you're doing your digital recording primarily for pleasure and want a clean sound but not necessarily studio quality, the Snowball is the better choice. It's cheaper (under $60) and works without a lot of fuss. First released in 2005, the Snowball has a rather ubiquitous design – specifically, that of a ball – and comes with two microphones within the head, allowing it to record at a high quality rate.

The system eschews stereo for mono, however. And while it offers three types of recording modes, they're not clearly labeled, which can lead to some confusion. Snowball mic

Those are nitpicks. The sound quality of the mic is terrific, with a minimum of hiss and perfect for close-range sound recording – part of the reason podcasters have fallen in love with the brand.

For stereo recordings – and interviews that will involve more than one person – the Yeti is a much better choice, however. At $150, it's the pricier of the two, but it comes with four recording modes and will dramatically improve the quality of your recordings.

The Yeti also has a number of bonus features, including a headphone jack and three embedded mics, as well as a mute button and gain control.

I had some concerns about the stability of some buttons on the device, though. And the sheer size of the thing (it's almost a foot tall!) borders on ridiculous. But you can't argue with the sound quality. It's outstanding.

Blue Microphones has made a pair of quality products – either of which will perform admirably in home-recording studios. They may not measure up precisely with products from Shure or other pro equipment, but they hold up well.

The only overarching problem is today's world is more and more about quality AND portability. Neither of these is something you'd take out of the house as you record – and the company needs to find a lighter, high-quality alternative if it wants to stay ahead of the competition.

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