USB microphones are widely used these days for various purposes: content creation, gaming, streaming, voiceovers, remote learning, and video calls. There is no need to be a professional audio engineer to set up and use one. These mics work with a USB connection, so you can plug them in and begin recording immediately.
What are the best USB microphones?
While choosing the best USB microphone for you, you have to keep a few things in mind. Here are a few things to consider.
Type: While searching for the best USB microphones, you'll most likely come across two types of mics: cardioid and dynamic. Cardioid mics are directional, so you must speak directly into them to get the best sound quality. Podcasters mainly use it since they are primarily in one spot all the time. The cardioid mic reduces ambient noise around you and automatically balances the sound.
Additionally, dynamic mics provide superior noise cancellation, but they use a lot more power and are better suited to use with a mixer or interface. Even if your dream mic only has an XLR connection, you can still use a USB to XLR adapter. As a first step, we suggest getting a USB before moving on to something better.
Controls: Some USB mics include controls built directly into them, eliminating the need to adjust levels elsewhere. Volume and gain knobs can help make things easier when you're live streaming and don't want to take your attention away from what you're doing by changing your amplifier or getting into the DAW program.
Build: Low-cost builds are flimsy and sound inferior, but you can still find a great mic within your budget. In addition, a low-quality mic can sound unnatural, annoying, and pick up irritating background noise, such as fans and air conditioners. They're also more likely to get damaged if you accidentally fall off your desk or knock over your mic stand.
Extras: An extra set of included gear can be beneficial for those who are just getting started. Various accessories are available, such as a stand, windscreen, pop filter, shock mount, or even an adjustable boom arm to clamp it on a desk or shelf. However, like mics, they can also be made of fragile materials that aren't meant to last. Using metal mics is often a better option if available.
The final thing to remember is that it all comes down to sound quality. No one will see the type of microphone you use unless you stream on camera, so don't get too engrossed in the design and appearance of your mic.
Listed below are some of the best microphones for gamers, podcast creators, and streamers. Take a dive and see what works best for you.
1. HyperX QuadCast S USB Condenser Mic at $159.89
This USB-C to USB-A microphone includes a shock mount to reduce vibration and a headphone jack inside the mic, which allows you to hear real-time recording while wearing a wired set. While this product is primarily designed for gamers and streamers, there's a toggle for selecting four different pickup patterns: stereo for vocals and instruments, omnidirectional for conference calls, cardioid for podcasts and streaming, and bidirectional for one-on-one conversations, so the microphone picks up sound from the front and back as well. The gain knob includes a wide range, and the built-in pop filter eliminates the need for an additional filter. Despite the relatively lightweight, the mic's most visually striking feature is standout adjustable RGB lighting. Having a mute sensor up top is a nice feature. One tap is all it takes to muffle the mic, and the RGB light changes to indicate when the mic is active or muted, without any loud pops or clicks each time.
In addition to the shock mount, the QuadCast S also comes with a desk stand, and it's compatible with Discord, Skype, TeamSpeak, and other major gaming servers.
2. Blue Yeti USB Mic at $129.99
Streaming, podcasting, and video calls make this sturdy retro metal mic a great choice. This mic features four different pickup patterns to choose from - cardioid, omnidirectional, bidirectional, and stereo, allowing you to get the sound you're looking for every time. It is super easy to change the mic's settings, with a conveniently placed knob right on the mic, along with a mute and volume button.
3. FIFINE USB Studio Recording Microphone at $89.99
This mic is a great choice for gamers with a heavy build and a solid feel out of the box. There is no interference or latency, and the voice is recorded correctly and accurately. There are four main mic patterns on the unit at any time, as well as a microphone volume knob and a headphone jack for direct monitoring. In addition to noise-canceling, this device also has a mute button so you can manually turn off the mic for a moment.
4. HyperX SoloCast at $59.99
The stripped-down alternative is a better cardioid microphone for beginners, but it's still packed with all the essentials. For peace of mind, there's a tap-to-mute sensor integrated into the QuadCast, with a LED status indicator. As well as being able to fit on a boom arm, it also comes with a desk stand. With the ability to plug and play on multiple platforms, this microphone is even certified by Discord and Teamspeak.
5. Blue Snowball Ice at 50$
If you only have $50 to spend on upgrading your recording setup, you can't go wrong with the Blue Snowball Ice. This desk mic offers outstanding audio quality, perfect for recording voiceovers or starting your streaming career. It is also easy to use - plug it in and hit record; it requires no software or additional equipment to be installed. However, with only one recording pattern, you miss some features compared to the more expensive models.