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How to Record With a Yeti and Audacity (and eliminate background noise)

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Maybe you saw renowned podcaster Marco Arment’s tweet this morning:

But the Yeti is fine for most podcasters too. Just keep in mind that it picks up a lot of background noise no matter what pattern you set.

I use/used a Yeti on my podcast for a few years now. Many others do too (including Jason Snell for what that’s worth)—it’s long been known as the sweet spot of bang-for-the-buck for intermediate-level podcasting. Marco’s probably right that it’s not ideal in some ways, but let me tell you how I eliminate background noise.

In my experience, you can get a very clean signal with very little background noise from just about any mic if you use the Right Technique. That technique is:

  1. Use a pop filter
  2. Turn gain on the mic way down
  3. Speak super close to the mic
My super inexpensive, terrible mic setup.
My super inexpensive, terrible mic setup.

Yes, the pop filter (the $10 Nady MPF-6) is simply held in place with a heavy object. I own no booms or shock-mounts. Not to say I wouldn’t love to have them, but I’m just not about to buy them for now (see further notes below).

Using the above placement, I set the gain knob on my Yeti at 40-45%, and set the pattern to Cardioid (heart-shaped). Then I set Audacity’s input level for the mic to 50%. I speak at a normal volume with my mouth almost touching the pop filter.

Additionally, I run Chris’s Dynamic Compressor plugin on voice tracks after all other editing has been done:

My settings for Chris’s Dynamic Compressor
My settings for Chris’s Dynamic Compressor

I may normalize the track to -2db before or after running the compressor, or both.

You can hear the results on any of the later episodes of my podcast (which I’ve currently not been keeping up with). Which brings me to standard disclaimers: my podcasting is of a different style than most podcasts. My episodes are relatively short (5-15 min), and almost everything I say is pre-written and edited, and I’m the only voice. All of which makes my primitive Yeti/pop filter setup that much more bearable. If I were co-hosting with anyone or doing longer episodes I can see where it would get kind of unworkable, but for what I do I don’t mind it at all.