Blue Microphones' Yeti Pro
A higher-end sibling to Blue's standard-issue Yeti, the USB Yeti Pro's (MSRP: $249) most significant bullet point is adding 24-bit recording to the equation. Physically, it certainly maintains its presence: When attached to the included stand, it stands nearly a foot tall inside its metal casing. This isn't merely for show, as the weight helps dampen vibration (alternatively, the mic itself attaches easily to any standard threaded mount). In terms of performance, recorded vocals were smooth and accurate, and in omni mode it did a great job capturing a room full of instruments. The built-in 1/8" headphone output doubles as a zero-latency monitoring device and audio output, and you can also plug the Yeti Pro directly into any preamp that provides phantom power with the included stereo XLR cable. It’s not the most portable mic around, but the versatility (read: four mic patterns), plug-and-play simplicity, and sheer fidelity of this beast are tough to ignore.