I've had my Blue Yeti for some time but I am starting to see a shift towards using an XLR Microphone with a USB interface. I'm guessing a super low end XLR may not net me an improvement, so what would you all recommend I get if I wish to improve the sound I get. I have a mid-high voice.
That's a tough question to answer in terms of mics. The biggest hurdle is that each mic has different frequency response, which makes recommending a mic for a general voice range a shot in the dark. A lot of the times it'll be suggested to go to a store where you can try the mic for yourself. That way you can determine which mic highlights the best of your particular vocal qualities.
The biggest general suggestion I would make is look over the mics in your budget range and look up to see if the manual for the mic is available online. I'm pretty sure nowadays most companies now host manuals online and they're usually always accessible to the public. Usually these manuals (or sometimes the product description) will tell you what their frequency response range is, that can give you a general idea of what the mic picks up when recording. Otherwise you never really know if a mic will highlight the best of your voice or not until you actually hear it in person. It's also worth it to note you may have a particular taste of what it should highlight also. You can also go on YouTube and listen to different mics, there are probably plenty of videos that showcase different mics, and you can listen to the actual audio yourself if the first way isn't working out.
On the other hand, an XLR mic (depending on if it's condenser) are much more sensitive to their recording environment. If your environment has minor flaws an XLR mic will tend to highlight those issues so it's worth it to consider if your recording environment won't invalidate the pros of getting an XLR mic.
However, in response to about the jump in quality. In my opinion you'll see a jump in quality even if it's in the low end of the price range. One of the big things about that is how each mic has to pack up it's equipment. A USB mic like the Yeti has to cram all the components inside that single unit thus they have physical size limitations of what they can put into the housing of the mic. XLR mics have the interface to handle data translation in a separate unit so they can prioritize the entire housing to the pickup equipment itself. It's also worth to note that USB mics are completely a digital signal while XLR mics are analog which is then converted in the interface to digital (as I understand it).
Sorry if this isn't a terrible ton of help to you. Mics are a thing of personal taste and preference in my opinion. So recommending one is like trying to recommend a particular brand of music without knowing your tastes. You could love it, you could hate it. The only way to know is if you hear it yourself. Part of the reason why people mix projects different ways, everyone has different tastes in sound, some like deep bass, some like crystal clear highs. I'm also not a sound engineer or expert in the field of mics so someone else may also be able to give you better advice than I can. This is just what I've understood by reading articles online, and doing some research myself.
Thanks it's given me a lot to think about, I'll keep looking into it. If do finally bite the bullet and get an XLR set up I'll probably get it from somewhere with a generous return policy, in case it is very much worse.
(Not being a sound engineer, either ...)
XLR is just the connector -- by itself it says nothing about the quality of a mic. Except that for three reasons, it may do:
1) XLR is used in professional equipment, so, high quality mics are more likely to come with XLR than with any other connectors.
2) as soulgig has pointed out, XLR is an anlog conection, so, A/D conversion has to be done outside the mic, which can give better results.
3) the XLR connector allows the mic to be provided with 48 volts phantom power, which offers technical advantages over the 5 volts that an USB mic has to do with.
You'll need a mixer that provides this phantom power, does the A/D conversion, and connects to your computer via USB. If you feed the analog signal into your computer and let its sound chip do the A/D conversion, quality will probably be rather poor.
The one point where I slightly disagree with soulgig is that I wouldn't pay too much attention to the frequency range -- it is rather easy, even for a cheap mic, to come up with satisfactory numbers. More important for the sound (the same as with speakers) is the transient response, but you'll hardly find data about it -- and, as with speakers, it all depends upon the rest of your equipment, upon the characteristics of the recording room, upon your personal preferences, and how they all interact. And, no need to go into extremes, but pay attention to the quality of the cables (both XLR and USB), which you'll probably have to buy separately.
To assess high quality mics, you need a playback device that is at least as good as the mics you are testing. If you listen from your computer, this means an asynchronous USB D/A converter (either built into the amp, or as a separate unit), a decent amp, and an excellent pair of headphones. Unfortunately, this doesn't come cheap, but otherwise you'll listen to the distortions caused by inadequate playback hardware, more than to the sound of the mic ...
Yikes, thanks for the tips. I guess my equipment upgrade is going to have to wait a bit. I think costing u a setup then waiting it out until black Friday may be the best thing to do!
So I actually ended up biting the bullet and ordering some new gear after I got a harsh ( but deserved) crit . Waiting on the XLR cable to ship then I'll try and post up a sample.