If you ask a group of young kids what they want to do when they get older, at least some of them are going to answer “YouTuber” or “Twitch streamer.” Content creation is a huge business, and Blue Microphones is one of the companies capitalizing on that. Its Blue Yeti USB mic is the go-to option for anyone looking to add some quality audio to a video or a podcast. Now, the company is updating that device with the Blue Yeti X, and it’s a significant upgrade.

The Yeti X is shipping in October for $170. Blue plans to sell it alongside the original $130 Yeti and the smaller $100 Yeti Nano. But that extra cost is going to get you a better microphone with active visual monitoring of your audio level. It’s also going to get you support for Logitech’s G Hub software, which features the surprisingly powerful Blue Voice software.

All of those features do more than justify the price. They make the Yeti X the obvious next step up for anyone who doesn’t want to invest in a more professional audio setup.

What you’ll like

Blue Yeti X is the best-sounding USB mic yet

The Yeti X is definitely a step up from the Yeti in terms of audio quality. It uses four condenser mic capsules as opposed to the Yeti’s three capsules. And if everything else is equal, you should get a recording from the X that sounds warmer and fuller — especially for voices.

You can hear the difference in the first few tracks on of my microphone playlist below:

But what really sets the X apart is the excellent Blue Voice integration in the Logitech G Hub software. Logitech acquired Blue last year, and the two companies have begun combining their efforts across various gaming products. In particular, the Logitech Pro X Gaming Headset also uses G Hub and Blue Voice. Now, the Yeti X is getting the same option, and the results are pretty spectacular.

Blue Voice gives you full control over how the software processes your voice. You get a slider to control the compressor, the noise reduction, and more. Even better the software gives you a handy explanation of the point of each of those tools. And then even better than that, the software has a built-in mic test where you can record yourself, play that recording back on a loop, and then see how all of your changes affect that recording in real time.

If you don’t want to play around with sliders, Logitech also gives you a number of presets to choose from. I really like Broadcaster 1, FM Station, and Low Voice – Soft. And if that’s not enough, Logitech also enables you to browse and download profiles that other people upload to its service.

These features make the Yeti X the obvious step between an introductory USB mic and a full XLR setup with a dedicated pre-amp and audio interface. Blue and Logitech have made something that is simple and powerful that you can also dial in to sound excellent for Twitch or even YouTube.

Excellent features

On top of Blue Voice, Yeti X has other features that make it easy to love.

You can customize the lighting on the control knob to match your desktop setup. It has instant mic monitoring so you can hear what you sound like. And it has four recording patterns that you can change between by pressing the button on the back.

It’s control knob is capable of adjusting multiple functions. By long-pressing the button, you can switch between your mic’s gain, your headphone’s volume, or the combined volume of the headphones and your mic monitoring.

And as you adjust your gain, the 11 LED lights around the control knob will light up to measure you volume level. This live visual monitoring can help you know if you are hot. If all 11 LEDs light up into the red, then you are producing distorted audio. It’s a brilliant addition to the Yeti X.

What you won’t like

MicroUSB is bad

The Yeti X doesn’t have a built-in cable, which is wonderful. If the cable breaks, you can just buy a cheap replacement, which plugs into the microUSB port on the bottom of the X. And that is less wonderful. Micro USB is often flakey, and I’ve found that’s the case already with the Yeti X. If I try to move the microphone, it’s not unusual for the jostling to cause the cable to come loose enough to lose its connection.

I don’t know what the solution to this is. I’ve had just as many bad experiences with USB-C, so I don’t necessarily want that. And at least most people probably have 50 microUSB cables in their homes already.

Physical buttons

The other issue with the Yeti X is that I don’t love its physical buttons. I find that pressing a physical button on a microphone always creates noise on a recording. So even pressing the mute button can often show up as a pop or a boom on a podcast. And long-pressing the control knob button does exactly the same thing. That can make it awkward to try to switch between gain and headphone volume during a recording.

HyperX solved this with its Quadcast USB mic by using touch buttons. You can mute the Quadcast by gently pressing your finger on the top of that device. That’s more than quiet enough to avoid picking up unwanted noises on a recording or livestream.

Conclusion

The Blue Yeti X USB microphone is so good it is making me consider dropping my XLR setup. XLR has the potential to sound far better than USB, but the Yeti X is beyond “good enough” with the Blue Voice processing. And USB is so much cleaner and simpler.

If you are a part-time creator on Twitch or YouTube, the Yeti X is the ideal upgrade. It has the potential to make you sound more professional and more commanding without having to spend more money than you are making from your content.

The Blue Yeti X is available this month for $170. Blue sent a sample unit to GamesBeat for the purposes of this review.