The Blue Yeti is one of the most well-known microphones in the streaming world. It produces fantastic sound at an affordable price but its stature is only matched by its size. For years, gamers have asked Blue for an official solution to getting it off the desk and away from the rattle. Today, we have it in the form of the Blue Compass Broadcast Boom Arm. It will hold the Yeti, but for $99, is it worth buying in?
- MSRP: $99.99
- Boom Type: Extruded aluminum
- Desktop Mount: C-clamp
- Rotation: 360 degrees
- Max Horizontal Reach: 32”
- Max Weight Hold: 2.4lbs (including mic and shockmount)
- Cable Management: Hidden-channel cable management
- Threading: standard 5/8” threading, adapter for 3/8” threading
Let’s get this out of the way first, the Blue Compass boom arm isn’t for everyone. It’s a fantastic accessory that will definitely make your stream more professional but if you’re looking for a simple solution to get your Yeti (or any other mic) off the desk there are cheaper ways to go. But should you? I spent the last year with a budget boom arm and am ready to help answer that question.
If you’re new to the world of streaming and content production, a boom arm like the Compass serves an important purpose. Even though most microphones come with decent desk stands, simply being on a desk can cause a lot of noise to get picked up on your recordings. Keystrokes, mouse clicks, picking up or setting down drinks, it all gets recorded and can destroy an otherwise good track. Likewise, positioning a mic on a desk positions it below and farther away from your mouth, which can also make recordings sound less than their best. A boom arm attaches to the microphone and allows you to position it where you think best.
A quick look on Amazon shows a huge array of cheap boom arms, usually coming in for less than $20. Amongst that group, are a few standouts from professional audio companies like Blue or Rode that immediately spike the price to $100 or more. What you’re seeing is the difference between professional audio gear and cheap, mass produced knock-offs. Amongst the professional group, the Compass is one of the most cost-effective options and, in my opinion, one of the best designed.
By looks alone, Blue’s new arm definitely looks professional. It’s cleanly designed with nice thick aluminum arms. There aren’t any exposed springs or bits of silver hardware to stand out against the black, and in fact, the circular joints with their stylish Blue logos lend it the distinctive vintage look the company is so well known for. Opposite the logo side are concave tensioners to help lock the arm in place.
The Compass uses a tensioned spring system for easy maneuverability with different weights of microphone. As any streamer will know, there are times when you need to stand up and move it out of the way. With the hidden internals springs, the mic virtually slides out of the way it’s so smooth and, more importantly, quiet. Turning it is also easy since the arm connects to its mount through a central joint in a tube with virtually no resistance.
When I first set it up, I did find that spring was a bit too tight. In my recording space, setting the arm into the mount meant pushing it almost to a right angle which was incredibly difficult. Once it was mounted, the arm kept wanting to pull away from where I positioned it. Rather than loosening multiple bolts to decrease the tension, the Compass allows you to adjust a single screw in the base. This is a HUGE improvement over the cheaper options out there, and if you don’t have an ancient desk like me, this shouldn’t be an issue at all.
I was also pleased to find that that the back of the arm also had a channel with built in clips to hide the wire from the mic. Many others will include Velcro straps or nothing at all, so having this built in was a nice touch.
What you’re really paying for here is quality. The Compass is a boom arm that’s made to last while the cheap options out there just aren’t. Sure, they’ll get the job done but it doesn’t take long before you start to notice the compromises.
Like many of you, when I first when shopping for a boom arm, I saw the masses of same-looking $20 options and chose one I felt would meet my needs. I settled on this one from Etubby that was supposed to be able to hold the Yeti. It was utilitarian but got the job done. It held my Yeti… at least for a while. Within a month, I was having to ratchet down the tensioners to keep it from dropping. Not long after that, I had to get out the wrench to tighten the bolts. Every now and again, it would let out a nicely spring pop that would resound through the whole arm. Always nice for a stream.
Like you’d imagine, a $20 arm is made of cheap materials and isn’t made to last. Have a look at where the arm connects to the desk mount:
Notice how that connection point is not only gnarled but also starting to crimp at the base? Now compare to the Compass. That connection point is a solid piece of metal without the need to be tightened at all.
Coming from a cheaper boom arm, I’m surprised at just how much better the Compass is. Both get the job done, but the Compass feels like a professional audio product whereas the Etubby and masses of copycats instead feel like thrift store versions of the real thing.
So, is it worth it? If you’re a hobbyist that only streams once in a while, then no, probably not. If you’re using an arm regularly, however, or would simply like something you know won’t break in a year, then the Compass is a good bet. The Compass might seem expensive when compared against the legions of cheapies on Amazon but against its more professional competition from well-known brands, it becomes one of the most cost effective and well-designed options you can buy.
- Heavy duty aluminum construction
- Included cabling channel with retention clips
- Single spring tension screw (no more bolts!)
- Smooth, silent motion
- Spring tension a bit high out of the box
- Will inevitably be compared against cheap knock-off and seem unduly expensive as a result. This is an inappropriate comparison.
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.