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. Operating through a simple USB connection, you can plug them in and begin recording immediately.
You can find out more about how to create an amazing set-up with our Ultimate guide to Podcasting Equipment.
What are the best USB microphones?
While choosing the best USB microphone, a few key considerations should be on your radar. Here’s what to keep in mind:
Type: While searching for the best USB microphones, you'll most likely come across two common types: cardioid and dynamic. Cardioid mics are directional, so you must speak directly into them to get the best sound quality. Podcasters mainly use these mics since they don’t tend to move around a lot. 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: While budget builds might feel fragile and yield inferior sound, there's still potential to uncover exceptional mics within your budget. Low-quality mics can produce unnatural, bothersome audio and catch unwanted background noises like fans or AC units. They're also more susceptible to damage from accidental falls or knockovers.
Extras: Beginners often benefit from bundled accessories. Stands, windscreens, pop filters, shock mounts, or adjustable boom arms can enhance your setup. However, remember that accessory quality matters, as flimsy materials might not stand the test of time. Opting for metal mics and accessories, when possible, is often a wiser choice.
The final thing to remember is that it all comes down to sound quality. You will only see the type of microphone you use if you stream on camera, so there’s no need to 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 look and see what works best for you.
1. HyperX QuadCast S USB Condenser Mic: $139.99 at Amazon
A versatile powerhouse tailored for gamers, streamers, podcasters, and content creators, this microphone combines a suite of cutting-edge features to enhance your recording experience. With four selectable pickup patterns—stereo, omnidirectional, cardioid, and bidirectional—you're equipped for any scenario, from vocals to conference calls. Real-time monitoring is at your fingertips, thanks to the built-in headphone jack, ensuring latency-free interactions while wearing your wired headset.
Fun and functional, the customizable built-in RGB lighting transforms your recording space, while the tap-to-mute sensor with LED indicator offers convenient audio management without disruptive noise. The gain control knob, complete with a pop filter, ensures crystal-clear sound and eliminates plosives. The included anti-vibration shock mount and desk stand guarantee stability for consistent, professional-quality recordings.
Cross-platform compatibility with PC, PS4, PS5, and Mac, as well as integration with popular gaming servers, keeps setup easy. With HyperX NGENUITY software, you can personalize your RGB lighting to suit your style. In one small package, this USB-C to USB-A microphone delivers exceptional sound, intuitive controls, and a fun aesthetic to elevate your content creation game.
2. Blue Yeti X: $139.35 at Amazon
Hailed by SoundGuys as the best in its class, this robust and retro-styled metal microphone is a great choice for a range of applications, including streaming, podcasting, studio recording, and video calls. It boasts four distinct pickup patterns: cardioid, omnidirectional, bidirectional, and stereo, ensuring you capture the perfect sound in any scenario.
The intuitive multi-function smart knob makes it super easy to change the mic’s settings, and it’s conveniently located alongside the equally handy mute and volume controls. Additionally, the Blue Yeti X microphone includes the innovative Blue VO!CE software, allowing you to enhance your voice with an array of effects and filters. The LED meter on the microphone provides real-time insight into your input level and mode, ensuring optimal recording conditions.
Designed to cater to the demands of content creators, this microphone offers an array of features ideal for streaming, podcasting, studio recording, and more. With its sturdy construction, superior pickup patterns, and user-friendly controls, the Blue Yeti X microphone is a solid pick for all your audio production endeavors.
3. Blue Yeti Nano: $89.99 at Amazon
The compact and slightly stripped-down alternative to the Blue Yeti X, this mic is still packed with all the essentials. Despite its small stature, the Blue Yeti Nano delivers professional-grade sound that's perfect for podcasters, streamers, and content creators on the go. It features two versatile pickup patterns – cardioid and omnidirectional – ensuring adaptability to different recording scenarios. Just like its larger counterpart, the Yeti Nano boasts plug-and-play simplicity, allowing you to dive straight into recording without a hitch.
4. FIFINE USB Studio Recording Microphone: $69.99 at Amazon
A versatile choice for podcasting, streaming, and gaming, this attractively priced microphone is compatible with PCs, Macs, and the PS4/5. Equipped with a headphone jack for direct monitoring and a three-capsule array for exceptional broadcast and sound quality, The FIFINE USB provides easy versatility for various recording needs.
Built with durability and quality in mind, this microphone is particularly suited for gamers seeking a robust and reliable tool. The sturdy construction provides a reassuring feel upon unboxing, and its quality internal parts ensure interference-free and accurately recorded voices. The microphone's intuitive design features a handy volume knob and manual mute button, while its noise-canceling capabilities effortlessly enhance your recording.
5. Blue Snowball iCE: $39.99 at Amazon
If you have less than $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.