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As USB microphones experienced a significant surge in popularity, the market has been flooded with lots of quality models and the price for obtaining a decent one is now lower than ever. While USB microphones still have a way to go until they catch up to professional recording models, they are still an excellent solution for a wide range of purposes. They represent an ideal option for anyone wishing to transmit their voice clearer and for this reason, they work great during live chat gaming sessions. For many YouTubers, podcasters, and home studios, USB microphones have become standard tools. Need a smartphone microphone instead? Check out our other article then, or this one, about the best dacs.
Many people are on the lookout for the most high-quality, performant devices that delivers the best sound quality for the price. If you are one of them, you should check out this list that has been created as a helpful guide to make your choice easier. After intensive research, only the most valuable selections have been assembled for your convenience. Getting the most cost-effective USB microphone on the market no matter the budget is the primary objective of this article. To find the right devices worth your time, many important details have been taken into account including the audio quality, design, reliability, and essential features.
How to choose a quality USB microphone?
If you aren’t aware of the right characteristics that your future USB microphone should have, then keep in mind the following important aspects:
Any USB microphone worth the money should be able to accurately capture the whole range of the human voice. There are many distinctive pitches, tones, timbres, and little flaws that should be correctly reproduced to make the sound as good as possible.
A balanced price
Considering the fact that USB microphones could be placed somewhere between built-in recording and expensive studio level microphones, the price point has to be balanced accordingly. USB mics belong in this middle range.
Zero-latency headphone monitoring jack
The reason why this is an important feature to have in a USB microphone is that otherwise, you won’t be able to hear exactly what you sound like without the slight delay due to the processing of the analog-to-digital converter.
In-mic gain control
This one allows you to better control the volume of what’s coming from the microphone and into your computer. There are many situations where this is useful or convenient especially if you’re recording something live or you’re making a switch from different speakers.
Best Buy USB Microphone
The Blue Yeti is one of the best options for a quality USB microphone. It’s a bit pricey but if you want to sound professional, this is a very valuable investment. To obtain studio-quality recordings, it uses Blue Microphone’s tri-capsule technology. Coming with many interesting features and abilities, this one seems truly worth the money.
One of the most versatile aspects of this microphone is the four different pattern modes for recording. It has a stereo mode which makes use of the left and right channels to capture a realistic sound image. The cardioid mode is best suited for podcasts, game streaming, or vocals. Thanks to its ability to record sound sources found very near the front of the microphone, this mode can provide a very rich, full-bodied sound.
Other modes that you can select are the omnidirectional one which is able to register sound equally from every direction. This one should be ideally used in those situations where you wish to capture the feeling of ’being there’. A good example of that is the live recording of a band’s performance. The last mode available is the bidirectional mode. This one can record from the front and the rear of the microphone, both at the same time. It’s used to capture the particular nuance of a musical instrument and can help when you’re recording an interview.
The Yeti’s innovative design gives off a retro vibe which should complement well any computer system. The metal grille combined with the shiny frame seems to be inspired by classic recording equipment. They integrated controls for headphone volume, gain, pattern selection, and instant mute. Thus, every level of the recording process is fully under your control. One of the most sought-after features in any USB microphone, the zero latency headphone monitoring jack, is present here and is very efficient at allowing you to listen without latency delays at what you’re recording in real-time.
Without requiring complicated drivers, the Yeti promises a hassle-free setup. To operate it, you just need to plug and play. After you calibrate it, you’re ready to record in no time. The sound quality is one of the best you can find in this type of units. Considering the amazing versatility, the aesthetic design, and the crystal-clear audio recording quality, the Blue Microphone Yeti is the perfect recommendation for anyone wishing to take their recorded sound to a new level.
- Tri-capsule array
- Zero-latency headphone output
- Mute button
- Gain control
- Compatible with Windows 10
- Multiple pattern selection
- Unique positionable design
Best Cheap USB Microphone
Fifine K668 is a USB condenser microphone that works wonders for many singing and spoken applications, including podcasting. If you want an affordable product that simply gets the job done and significantly increases the quality of your creative work, the K668 looks like an obvious choice.
This is a plug and play USB microphone, an excellent choice for Skype conversations, amateur videos and gaming sessions. It uses an advanced audio coding chip which will make a big difference in the quality of your recordings and will allow other people to hear you more clearly. The K668 has an omnidirectional pickup pattern, which means that it can efficiently pick up vocals and leave out the noise from the background to keep a clean audio recording.
Thanks to its smooth, flat frequency response, this mic is able to enhance your singing, speech, and voice-over recordings. Fifine focused on the ability to handle vocals well so as to reproduce them with high levels of fidelity. The wide frequency response delivers a transparent sound and coupled with the high signal output it enables your voice to cut through more easily. At this price point, I’d say Fifine did a solid job in terms of audio quality.
The build quality is decent, the device feels surprisingly light. It comes with a desk mic stand that can help to set it up more comfortably. Considering that this is an inexpensive microphone, the stand is not of a very high quality but it manages to keep the K668 steady enough and that’s all that matters.
Looking back over the features of the Fifine K668, the portability, the ease-of-use, the distinctive omnidirectional pattern, the great frequency response, and the generous audio quality for the money, this is definitely one of the most attractive options for a USB microphone out there. It would make for an awesome podcast or talk show type mic and the impressive value it offers earns it a full recommendation.
- Plug & Play
- Omni pick-up pattern
- Frequency response of 50Hz-16KHz
- Highly portable
- Advanced Audio Coding Chip
- Ideal for singing and podcasting
Best USB Microphone For Singing
Built for the most high-quality sound for your voice and recordings at home, the office or anywhere you go, the Blue Microphones Snowball iCE surpasses by a long shot the audio quality of the built-in microphone from your computer. This is a more balanced option in terms of value per money for a USB microphone.
The first thing that you need to know about the Snowball iCE is how fast and effortlessly you can start recording. Mount it on the adjustable stand, that would be the first step. After that you just need to plug the USB cable into your PC or Mac and quality recording becomes a reality. It works well with PCs and Macs and most Linux distros though it seems Ubuntu needs a bit of additional configuration. After your microphone is recognized, all that’s left is to sit back and enjoy crystal-clear audio recordings for any project.
The Snowball is specialized in many areas including Skype. It guarantees that your online conversations will flow much more nicely as your voice is transmitted in a superb audio quality. It performs well during Skype meetings but it can also make a real difference during Twitch streaming of a gaming session for example. You’ll get more people interested in your channel thanks to the loud and clear quality of your voice.
A versatile microphone, it is equipped to handle any tough audio project. It will add high-definition audio to any YouTube or SoundCloud recordings or it can be effectively used for podcasts or other vocal based applications. You might even try to record instruments and vocals for a band, as it is suitable for that if you don’t want to spend a fortune on recording equipment.
This amazing level of sound quality is ensured by the custom cardioid condenser capsule, a design which provides an excellent level of quality for obtaining great-sounding results. A mute button would have been a nice addition but this is not a big issue.
With a brilliant level of sound quality for this price, the Blue Snowball is a little USB mic packed with great functionality for a wide range of applications. It will turn your fuzzy Skype calls and low-quality recordings into crystal-clear sound projects. A very worthy investment, overall this USB microphone has a lot of potential for taking care of all your audio recording needs.
- Plug & Play
- Custom condenser capsule
- Cardioid Pick-up Pattern
- 6-Foot USB Cable
- Easy setup
Best USB Microphone For Vocals
The Go Mic is part of a diverse line of USB microphones from Samson and it focuses on providing a portable solution to cover all your demanding recording needs. It can be clipped easily to a laptop and you can take it with you easily wherever you want to keep up with your recording projects.
The Go Mic is perfect to enhance the recording quality of music, podcasts, and field recordings. It can be an ideal choice for use with stuff like iChat, webcasting, and voice recognition software. The compact design of the mic is definitely one of the main highlights of the device. It can sit unobtrusively on your desk and it’s able to clip right onto your laptop. Due to the plug and play operation, you won’t need any drivers and the microphone should be quickly recognized by any Macs or Windows computers.
Let’s talk a bit about sound quality. Given the price bracket where this USB microphone belongs, you’d expect a decent level of audio quality but nothing special. You will be surprised to discover quite a remarkable audio reproduction similar to more professional equipment. The clear sound is thanks to the high-quality components and the intricate engineering. Samson integrated switchable cardioid and omni polar patterns so you can pick the right setting according to a specific situation.
The tightly focused cardioid pattern works best when you’re recording vocals like podcasts. The omnidirectional one is more suitable to situations where you want to capture the sound from the entire room. A few examples would be webcasting with a group, jamming with a full band, or conducting an online meeting. The other specs of the like the frequency response and the sound resolution are quite adequate for a quality USB microphone.
In conclusion of this review, the Samson Go Mic is a very powerful little USB condenser microphone worth considering especially if you value portability. As you get used to a new level of quality for your recordings and online conversations, it can become an indispensable accessory for your laptop. The price is also very affordable.
- Plug and Play Mac and PC compatible
- Custom compact design
- Flat frequency response of 20Hz–18kHz
- Stereo 1/8″ headphone output
- Switchable cardioid or omnidirectional pickup patterns
- 16-bit, 44.1kHz resolution
Best USB Microphone for Podcasts
Audio-Technica has won numerous industry awards for its quality and durable products as well as for maintaining excellent price/performance standards. Known for manufacturing a diverse range of audio products, they also seem to get a big share of the USB microphones market. This is an interesting model which comes with a few extra features besides the usual you’d expect from a USB mic, like the XLR analog output.
Designed for more possibilities, the Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB comes with two outputs. The USB one is for digital recording while the XLR output can connect with the standard input of a sound system to allow the use of the microphone in live performances. This is a nice feature that many are going to love it.
In terms of ease-of-use, it is set to deliver a hassle-free experience. It plugs right into the USB port on your computer and can function flawlessly with any recording software you prefer. Due to a headphone output, you can easily monitor directly from your microphone. Adjusting the headphone volume can be done conveniently using the controls placed on the bottom of the mic.
The cardioid polar pattern reduces the pickup of unwanted noise from the sides and rear. As it makes use of a top quality analog-to-digital converter, the microphone is able to provide a solid level of fidelity. Thanks to the low-mass diaphragm which results in an extended frequency response, it’s designed to work best in certain situations like podcasting, field recordings, voiceovers as well as on-stage use and home studio recordings.
The mic is constructed out of durable metal, manufactured with reliability and long-lasting performance in mind. With the help of a threaded stand clamp, it can be securely attached to the tripod or to any conventional stand. The tripod desk stand has folding legs for extra portability. Audio-Technica provides all the needed USB and XLR cables in the package.
Considering everything about the Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB, it looks like this microphone is a very capable device which takes you from the stage to the studio through a superb level of audio quality. If you take a closer look at the full value of this mic, you might come to the conclusion that this represents a relatively cheap investment.
- XLR analog output besides USB digital output
- Extended frequency response
- Headphone jack
- Cardioid polar pattern
- Superior AD converter
- Good for live and home studio recording
In case you wish to achieve some studio-quality recordings, there are some amazing USB microphones out there. The Blue Microphones Snowball has some pretty outstanding sound-capture capabilities thanks to the dual-capsule and circuit design. Say goodbye to distortions and welcome clean recordings. Priced very fairly, this microphone looks like an extremely promising investment.
Because there’s quite a wide range of recording applications, it provides a much-needed level of flexibility through the addition of a unique pattern switch. You can easily toggle between three different settings, recording modes suitable for different situations.
The first is the cardioid mode which fits best for podcasts and other vocal work as this setting allows for recording all the sounds that are right in front of the microphone. This makes for quite a rich and full-bodied sound experience but if you prefer to capture louder sound with a higher level of fidelity, then you can also switch to the cardioid mode with -10 dB PAD which is identical except it has an attenuation.
Lastly, for picking up sounds from all directions efficiently, you can choose the omnidirectional mode which grants the ability to capture a particular ambiance. A good example would be the recording of a band’s live performance.
The Snowball is ready to record directly from the box, requiring no additional drivers promising an authentic plug and play experience. The vintage looks of the USB microphone can fit nicely in any home or office environment, next to your computer system. A brushed-aluminum frame and the metal grille bring back the retro feel of classic microphones. The Snowball comes with a good color variation to select the right one for you.
For this mic, Blue Microphones provided an adjustable tripod which can help you get the right position in relation to the sound source. To take full advantage of the audio quality offered it’s essential to place it correctly. A handy LED indicator glows red when the microphone is powered.
The final verdict for the Blue Snowball is a very positive one. This gorgeous device has everything you’d want from a USB microphone, including a stunning audio clarity. The quality of its construction and the intuitiveness of the modes combined with the simple way to use it, paint a highly favorable picture for this mic. It can handle anything effectively, from soft vocals to a loud garage band.
- Award winning dual capsule and circuit design
- Sleek, modern looks
- Unique pattern switch for recording
- Easy Setup
- Adjustable mic stand
- 40-18kHz response
Another great product from Fifine is the K669 USB condenser microphone which comes in two stylish variants, full black and rose red. It operates with ease right out of the box without the need for drivers and scores high on durability and audio quality. Considering its low price, it is a solid buy for anyone wishing to improve their recording and chatting capabilities beyond the built-in computer microphone.
Any audio project can benefit tremendously from the smooth frequency response. It was designed to fit best certain vocal applications like podcasting, voice acting or YouTube videos but it can work well for a home studio, for the recording of instruments and stuff like that.
The unit is constructed out of metal, giving a sense of robustness and with the addition of a tripod desk stand, it can be used more securely. On the front, you can find a volume knob to adjust the volume precisely to the required level for obtaining the right quality for any recording. There’s no dedicated mute button but at least you can turn the volume down to the minimum and get basically the same muting effect.
Even if you’re streaming a gaming session online or just chatting via Skype, you can benefit from its loudness and clear sound quality. In fact, there’s absolutely no need for raising your voice as even your normal speaking voice will be transmitted clearly thanks to the crisp recording quality. The cardioid pick-up pattern is pretty good at leaving background noise behind and only retaining your voice. Fifine also makes a considerably long USB cable to move around the microphone comfortably. The cord is surprisingly sturdy with appropriate built-in strain relief. It’s nice to see such thoughtful design.
There may be better solutions for professional singers but for casual streaming and gaming, this one is probably the best condenser microphone for the price. The Fifine K669 has little to no noise during recording and that’s without a noise gate. With impressive audio results and many quality features and a reliable construction, this is definitely one of the most attractive choices for an inexpensive USB microphone.
- Solid sturdy construction design
- Cardioid polar pattern
- Plug and Play
- Smooth, extended frequency response
- Volume control
Designed with convenience in mind, the Shure MV5 is one of the most portable and elegant USB microphones out there. Due to its flexible design, it can be placed to stand tall on a desk or, if you prefer, you can have it detached and set somewhere else. The MV5 comes with a custom-tuned microphone capsule that delivers incredible audio quality. It’s a bit more pricey than some other similar units in this article, but if you want something more premium, you can’t go wrong with this.
This USB microphone comes with two color variants and features a low-profile design to ensure the maximum level of portability and flexibility. It can connect to a PC or Mac and to Android and Apple devices.
Shure offers integrated headphone output for the device to monitor in real time and to get the best audio results. It also has many customized settings for different applications, for podcasting and video chats as well as for music. There are three DSP preset modes: vocals, flat, and instrument. To obtain a quality sound, this microphone is able to apply gain, EQ, and compression automatically.
In the package for this unit, depending, of course, on the seller you buy it from, you can also find the desktop stand made of anodized aluminum which gives the MV5 a truly premium look. An integrate thread mount should be compatible with all the standard 1/4″ camera tripod threads.
One interesting aspect about it is that it’s Apple Mfi certified. This means that it’s capable of connecting to any iOS device directly without any connection kits or additional adapter so this mic offers a very simple way to capture great sound anytime and anywhere.
Another solid control feature is the ability to use the it with the special MOTIV app. This free app comes loaded with smart features for sound optimizations and allows you to transmit your files via text or email enabling real-time adjustments.
Taking everything that’s been said into account, the final conclusion for the Shure MV5 is quite clear. It’s an outstanding product in all regards. It will attract a lot of fans of Apple’s smooth aesthetics and it’sure to please many people in need of a quality USB microphone.
- Low-profile, portable design
- Custom-tuned microphone capsule
- Apple Mfi Certified
- Headphone output
- Anodized aluminum desktop stand
- 3 DSP Preset Modes