Type to search

The Best USB Microphones

Share

Your Ultimate Guide to the Best USB Microphones

Recording from your laptop’s built-in microphone may work in non-professional settings, but it simply won’t do if you want to produce good quality audio. Too often, these microphones pick up too much background noise and make your voice sound fuzzy or muted. They can also pick up static and air popping sounds because they normally have no wind filter. It goes without saying that recording music or videos on your built-in mic could spell disaster.

Which brings us to the point of this guide — if you want to enhance your audio output quality without wasting too much time on learning how to set up an entire sound system, worry not. Universal Serial Bus or USB microphones are perfect because all you have to do is plug the USB cables into your computer, cellphone, or iPad, and you’re done.

The ease and utility of USB mics have made them more popular than ever, especially among individual content creators, so it’s no surprise that they are everywhere. Take a look at our guide on the best USB microphones to find out which of these are worth investing in.


Which is the Top USB Microphone?

Editor's Choice

The Best USB Microphones
Best Overall
The Best USB Microphones
Best Hybrid
The Best USB Microphones
Best Premium
Blue Yeti

The Blue Yeti is the classic and best mic in terms of price, quality, and mic sensitivity that professionals and amateurs can work with.

Shure MV7

The Shure MV7 combines multiple mics into one device with the ability to function as both USB and XLR mics.

Blue Yeti X

The Blue Yeti X delivers simplicity in design but quality audio results for a variety of recording applications.

Sound Quality: Design: Features:
Sound Quality: Design: Features:
Sound Quality: Design: Features:

Let’s Go Over Each Top USB Microphone

The Best USB Microphones

Sound Quality:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Design:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Features:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

A classic for a reason, the Blue Yeti Microphone is our choice for the best USB microphone. Despite being one of the brand’s older models, the Blue Yeti mic manages to wow us and pretty much blow other USB microphones out of the water in terms of sound profile, output, and sensitivity.

The design is classic, too. You’ll find it comes with a sturdy build as well as a robust little mic stand mount perfect for propping onto a desk or other flat surfaces. Thanks to its wide frequency response, the mic can capture human voice without having to position the capsule close to your mouth. It can also block out ambient noise successfully.

The Blue Yeti contains physical controls on the mic itself, including an instant mute button, volume dial, headphone volume knob, gain control knob, and polar pattern switches that allow you to move from one polar pattern to another.

The last one, in particular, is something we want to emphasize: the Blue Yeti Microphone features four recording patterns, namely cardioid, omnidirectional, stereo, and bidirectional, which offers users the option to switch between different recording styles depending on the application. Cardioid patterns are perfect for single-subject recordings; in this setting, the mic picks up sound from the front and side of the capsule. This makes it the best USB microphone for video conferencing.

Furthermore, the Blue Yeti mic comes with a boom arm that can clamp to a chair, table, desk, or any other surface. It also includes additional equipment such as a shock mount, pop filter, and a basic desktop stand, making recording easy for anyone.

Pros and Cons of the Blue Yeti

ProsCons
✔️ Classic and sturdy design
✔️ Affordable
✔️ Great recording software
✔️ Four different recording patterns to pick up a full range of sounds
✔️ Uses standard Type C input
✔️ Has a headphone jack and microphone stand
✔️ Has several physical controls such as a gain knob and instant mute button
✔️ Mic’s sensitivity is impressive
✖️ Capsule can be too sensitive
✖️ Boom arm is difficult to set up

The Best USB Microphones

Sound Quality:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Design:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Features:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 

The next on our list is considered a classic in many audio circles. Known for its bright, radio-friendly sound, the Shure MV7 is technically a USB/XLR hybrid rather than a discrete USB microphone.

Technicalities aside, the Shure MV7 is a beautiful device that is able to recreate the natural warmth and tones distinct to the human voice. The Shure MV7 is the more beginner-friendly version of some of Shure’s more iconic models, the SM7B and SM58, which have been used for decades in radio shows and by vocalists.

The Shure MV7 has a few key differences. For one, it’s a lot more compact. It’s also a little limited because it is meant for those at the tail-end of beginner recording. That said, the Shure MV7 is one of the best mics anyone could make if they want to prioritize sound quality in whatever they do, whether it’s streaming or creating YouTube content. It’s also regarded as the best USB microphone for meetings.

This mic is equipped with a gain control knob and a headphone jack. Another huge advantage of the Shure MV7 is the app that comes with it. The MOTIV app lets you tweak your vocals, adding sparkle or depth according to your needs.

Pros and Cons of the Shure MV7

ProsCons
✔️ Can work as a USB and XLR mic
✔️ Comes with both a USB and XLR cable
✔️ Bright sound
✔️ Great for music recording and streaming
✔️ Easily replicates mid and high-end tones
✔️ Built-in headphone port
✔️ Touch-panel onboard control
✔️ Strong form factor
✖️ Expensive
✖️ Only has a cardioid polar pattern
✖️ Uses touch controls
✖️ Does not have a boom arm included

The Best USB Microphones

Sound Quality:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Design:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Features:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Want a larger microphone that works well in a variety of recording applications? The Blue Yeti X is the older (and bigger) sibling of the Nano and Yeti classic, standing 12 inches tall and weighing 2.8 lbs – its size may be a con for some, but a huge pro for others. 

For one thing, having a larger capsule means your mic will be positioned closer to your mouth, which helps with vocal emphasis and muting room sounds.

Size aside, the microphone performs really well. The sound profile is simple and clean. Users can choose between four different recording modes depending on the type of recording they want to achieve, much like the Blue Yeti classic version. To get a little technical, the microphone has an output of 24-bit/48kHz. All of these combined make the Blue Yeti X one of the top mics and most well-rounded options out there no matter what level you’re at.

We were also able to significantly tweak the audio samples using the software that came with the mic – perfect for adding a little sparkle to one’s vocals. If you’re thinking about getting the Blue Yeti Pro but find that it’s a bit too bulky, then the Blue Yeti X is a good alternative as it’s narrower by 15mm and has 12.35% less body volume.

Pros and Cons of the Blue Yeti X

ProsCons
✔️ Sturdy and robust build
✔️ Clean sound profile
✔️ Offers 5 polar patterns
✔️ Comes with versatile audio software
✔️ Gain knob with LED lights
✖️ Bulky

Sound Quality:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Design:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 
Features:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 

If you want style, portability, and great-sounding audio rolled into one, the Blue Yeti Nano is what you should buy — particularly if you’re hesitant to splurge. At under $100, the Blue Yeti’s younger sibling is a mic that has the best value for money as it packs multiple features that make it ideal for budding content creators, streamers, and podcasters. After all, the top USB mics are also ones that don’t break the bank while still giving you more than you paid for.

The Blue Yeti Nano has two distinct microphone polar patterns or recording modes, cardioid and omnidirectional, which can be accessed through the microphone’s software. The cardioid recording mode of the Blue Yeti Nano is perfect for delivering full-bodied and natural tones from a single speaker while the omnidirectional polar pattern makes recording and speaking to a group of people easier than ever.

Despite standing only 8 inches tall, the Blue Yeti Nano looks incredible and sleek, designed with a robust casing that can withstand wear and tear. Its size makes handling the mic easy, and if needed, one can place it inside a bag and take it to the office, a studio, or a cafe.

Pros and Cons of the Blue Yeti Nano

ProsCons
✔️ Condenser mic
✔️ Professional design
✔️ Solid build quality for its price
✔️ Low-latency monitoring
✔️ Portable USB microphone
✔️ Has a headphone jack for live monitoring
✖️ Offers only two polar patterns or recording modes
✖️ No gain knob

Sound Quality:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Design:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Features:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 

Gaming aesthetics have evolved over the past few years, but RGB-themed equipment seems to be a trend that’s not going anywhere anytime soon (no, really — try to find a streamer on Twitch that doesn’t have RGB backlit equipment). That said, the HyperX QuadCast S is the only mic in this list that has an RGB feature.

But aesthetics are not the only reason gamers seem to gravitate towards the HyperX QuadCast S, an all-metal and satin-black encased microphone, though design is a huge part of its charm. With such a gamer-centric design, one might ask, “will this USB mic work with gaming consoles?”, and the answer is yes! The mic is compatible with gaming consoles, including the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox, PC, and Mac. It’s also Discord and TeamSpeak certified, making the device perfect for multiplayer voice chats.

If you want to further maximize the HyperX QuadCast S, then you can also download the HyperX’s Ngenuity software. This software will allow you to adjust headphone volume controls, microphone volume, and monitoring volume. You can even play around with the RGB lights using said software!

Unfortunately, this mic is a little expensive for beginners/hobbyists, which you might realize by now is the largest and most profitable market for USB mics. So, if going professional is something in your horizons, then we recommend putting your money towards something with an XLR output cable or at least a hybrid if convenience is non-negotiable.

That said, the QuadCast S is by no means a bad mic, as its advantages make it a worthy option. Its sleek design can add visual excitement to any video, and as for its performance, the microphone offers four standard polar patterns for capturing natural-sounding vocal tones. Experts and users rave about its audio reproduction quality with good reason. If you want a stylish yet high-quality gaming setup, the QuadCast S should be your first option. It’s also one of the best standalone mics out there.

Pros and Cons of the HyperX QuadCast S

ProsCons
✔️ Compatible with gaming consoles
✔️ Offers four polar patterns
✔️ Beautiful sleek design with RGB lights
✔️ Solid microphone build
✔️ Solid sound profile
✔️ Built-in headphone jack and gain knob
✖️ Steep price

Sound Quality:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Design:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Features:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

If you’re thinking of getting the QuadCast S but aren’t sold on its price tag, then the Elgato Wave:3 might be just what you need. Like the QuadCast S, the Wave:3 is designed with streamers in mind, although it has no shortage of uses outside the realm of gaming content creation.

The Elgato Wave:3 is a first for the brand that wasn’t always known for its audio recording equipment. However, despite this being their earliest foray into USB mics, you can’t really tell and it has earned its right to be hailed as one of the top USB mics currently out there. Everything from the sleek matte black casing to the physical controls on the mic is solid, classic, and robust.

This is also a condenser microphone, which is typically more sensitive than dynamic microphones in its ability to pick up even the smallest background noise. The good news is that this condenser microphone in particular has uncanny vocal replication capabilities without being too sensitive. 

And while the Wave:3 doesn’t have the four standard polar patterns available, it makes up for it with a high frame rate. Recording at 24-bit/96kHz, audio recordings made with the Wave:3 are flexible and easy to manipulate without distortion. 

Speaking of editing, the Wave Link software by Elgato is a huge advantage that not many other mics have. The software serves as an audio editor as well as a digital mixer that can work with multiple mic recordings from separate audio sources.

Pros and Cons of the Elgato Wave:3

ProsCons
✔️ Lightweight and simple design
✔️ Little to no distortion
✔️ High frame rate
✔️ Uncomplicated physical dials
✖️ Plastic material can be flimsy
✖️ Only 1 polar pattern

Sound Quality:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Design:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Features:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

An entry-level mic perfect for beginners, the Audio-Technica ATR2100 is a mic that’s up to par with many professional mics in the market. Equipped with both USB and XLR outputs, this mic is highly versatile and convenient, offering great sound quality even with its compact size. 

With its cardioid polar pattern, the ATR2100 can reduce the pickup of unwanted sounds such as keyboard clicks, and can also reduce background noise. This mic delivers well in vocal applications and allows anyone to monitor themselves with its built-in headphone jack. You can also use the headphone jack to test any pair of headphones directly. 

The mic also has easy-to-use controls on the bottom, allowing users to adjust the headphone and mic sound levels on the spot. The on/off switch of the ATR2100 microphone also doubles as a mute button, how cool is that? Additionally, the ATR2100 comes with a desktop stand for convenient use with your computer.

Pros and Cons of the ATR2100

ProsCons
✔️ Ideal mic for beginners
✔️ Impressive sound quality that surpasses home recording standards
✔️ Excellent value for money
✔️ Built-in headphone jack
✔️ On/off switch doubles as a mute button
✔️ Comes with a tripod desktop stand
✖️ Pricey despite being an entry-level mic
✖️ Does not have its own pop filter or boom arm
✖️ Offers only a cardioid polar pattern

Are USB Mics Any Good?

There is a misconception that USB mics are third-class citizens in the world of recording audio, and that simply isn’t true. The finest USB mics offer versatility, natural vocal output, and ease of use, often without costing as much as other mic types

USB mics are great at picking up and emphasizing vocals while muting room noise. They’re certainly a step up from built-in computer microphones and can even go head-to-head with mics that require a separate interface.


What is the Difference Between a USB Mic and a Regular Mic?

Mics using a USB connection are essentially plug-and-play. This is because they have a built-in audio interface and preamp which allows users to simply plug in their microphone to a computer and start recording.

The main benefit of a USB microphone over an XLR mic is the setup’s ease. An XLR setup tends to be a little more complicated because XLR microphones require the use of an audio interface with onboard controls. They also have separate channels so that the sounds don’t interfere with one another. On the other hand, with a USB microphone, all you have to do is plug the USB cable, either a USB-A or a Type C one, into your computer or phone.

Most of these mics will have onboard controls on the microphone itself. You’ll often find a mute button, a volume control knob, a knob for gain control, headphone volume control, and a polar pattern button on the interface. Port types will vary depending on the mic, and they’re usually mini USB, micro USB, and USB-C.


What Do You Use a USB Microphone For?

Anyone can use a USB microphone. Because of their wired nature, they are best for indoor recording applications, such as podcasting, streaming, and vlogging. Its functions usually vary with the mic’s features.

A good example is the Audio-Technica Cardioid Condenser mic. Because it has an onboard headphone jack, a cardioid pickup pattern, an internal headphone amplifier, and an analog-to-digital converter, many regard the USB Audio-Technica as a streaming-focused mic. The headphone jack allows users to record headphone output. 

In our list of the finest USB mics, you’ll find that their main function will vary but all of them can be used in multiple applications.


Can You Use a USB Mic for Studio Recording?

Generally, regular microphones are better for a studio recording environment as having audio interfaces allows an audio engineer to tweak recording devices better. But that’s not to say mics with USB connectivity, especially premium ones, are completely ruled out for studio sessions. 

In fact, most USB mics have excellent recording quality, frequency response, and higher sound pressure levels that make them excellent studio performers. The top USB mics are often great for studio sessions especially because they usually have various polar patterns in one mic, letting you set up a few presets for simpler use.


Is a USB Microphone for Singing?

Yes, USB microphones work for singing. Some of the leading USB mics are condenser mics, which are great for picking up subtle sounds thus enhancing your recording quality.

Additionally, most USB mics come with multiple polar patterns and recording capabilities, which are an advantage over many XLR mics. The Blue Yeti, for example, is an industry-standard mic that has both a cardioid recording pattern and omnidirectional capabilities. 

The cardioid mode can allow you to focus on recording voice, while an omnidirectional pattern records sound from all ends of the mic, which is ideal for capturing multiple instruments at once.


How Much Does a Good USB Mic Cost?

The truth is, there are plenty of reliable USB microphones at almost every price point — don’t let people fool you into thinking only the expensive ones are worth a buy. But if you’re looking for something that can go head-to-head with professional content creators, then shelling out a little money is necessary. 

Based on our research and testing, the finest USB mics are within the $90 – $200 price range, although we do feature one $50 USB microphone below.

One thing you should look at when buying a USB mic is the accessories included. An external pop filter or windscreen is a great inclusion to have. Many mics have a pop filter included in the overall costs, while others require you to buy one. A pop filter can be pricey and not every pop filter will be compatible with your USB device. Blue microphones are great for this because they also sell pop filters.

Other handy features include a desktop mic stand, shock mount, micro USB compatibility, and a Type C connection, all of which can turn a decent microphone into a great one based on functionality alone.


Frequently Asked Questions

The Blue Mics series is one of the leading USB mics out there. Trusted by professionals and amateurs alike due to their crisp audio quality, consumer-oriented design, overall solid build, convenient portability, and a price tag that won’t break the bank, the Blue Mics series is at the top of the list for many.

What is the best USB microphone for recording vocals?

While most USB microphones are designed more for speech applications rather than vocal or instruments, there are those that have audio settings and mic gain that can take on the task. Some of those are the Elgato Wave:3, Shure MV7, and the Blue Yeti Pro, which are included in this list.

One USB mic that’s not on the list though is the Røde NT-USB Mini. The Røde NT-USB Mini has impressive audio engineering and design sensibility that many creatives can attest to. With a cardioid pattern that will block out unnecessary noise and a frequency response of 20-20,000 Hz, this microphone can churn out crisp audio without any hiss or white noise pickup.

However, this mic is quite sensitive so it’s best to invest even in just a standard mic stand and a shock mount when using this so as not to pick up any nuisance noises.

Another mic that you can look into is the AKG Lyra. This mic is ready to use right away and comes with its own desk stand. It is flexible, offering four polar patterns for any kind of recording.

What USB microphone has the best audio quality?

While all the USB microphones found in this list have professional-quality audio, one mic that stands out the most is the Blue Yeti. It is hailed by plenty of content creators and users as the best overall due to its audio quality, build, design, features, and price tag. Although, it’s still best for you to test USB microphones as the quality can differ due to preference and intended application.

There are also models that make use of digital signal processing so it can definitely affect the quality of the track, may it be a pre-recorded audio or a live one.

Is a USB or jack better for a microphone?

There isn’t a general consensus on this quality-wise, so you should pick a connectivity mode that works best for the equipment that you already have. If you’re using an audio interface, go for a microphone with a 3.5mm wire. If you prefer digital recording, go for a USB mic. 

Will a USB mic work with both a PC and a Mac?

Any USB mic can connect directly to a computer as long as the type is compatible between your devices. Compatibility issues may arise when it comes to software, however, especially when it comes to gaming mics. More often than not, gaming mic software is only available on Windows computers and not Macs.


Final Note

While choosing the best microphone will primarily rely on a person’s preference, applications, and budget, having a guide to help in determining what makes such a device a great microphone is handy. Having said that, if you are looking for a portable plug-and-play microphone that is generally not as expensive as other mics but can still produce great sound quality and an overall decent audio quality, then a USB mic is the best choice for you!


The Best USB Microphones

Editor’s Choice

For the best overall, look no further than the classic Blue Yeti, one of the oldest USB mics yet still the best in the game — whether you’re recording music or managing video calls daily. 

While Blue Microphones has come out with modern products over the last few years, its original Yeti model is still an industry favorite and patronized by some of the most famous streamers, YouTubers, and content creators around.

The best mic with USB connectivity, the Blue Yeti has multiple polar patterns in one device – cardioid, omnidirectional, bidirectional, and stereo – which allows creators to record all types of audio using one single device where one would normally need multiple.

Tags::
Ash Burnett

Hailing from Chicago, IL - Ash made his break into journalism at the age of 23 writing music reviews for a local website. Now in his late 30's and after being pulled closer towards the technical side of the music and live gig industry, he founded Shout4Music to write thorough microphone reviews.

  • 1
Previous Article