The Best USB Microphones – October 2018
Long gone are the days when an up-and-coming recording artist or podcaster needed to dish out an exorbitant amount of money for a great microphone. Whether you’re a novice musician or a professional broadcaster, you can now land an incredibly powerful USB microphone that plugs directly into your computer—eliminating the need for a variety of cumbersome and expensive third party adapters and preamps. As always, we’ve set up and reviewed some of the best USB microphones on the market so you don’t have to. Enjoy.
Any serious recording artist or producer knows that Blue makes some of the best microphones in the world. Known for their incredibly clarity, depth, and warmth, these microphones have been used to record some of the world’s most famous artists. This is why the Blue Snowball is such an incredible steal. It packs the same punch as some of Blue’s more prominent and expensive microphones without forcing you to break the bank or invest in a series of preamps or modulators.
This supremely portable mic features a custom condenser capsule that delivers supremely crisp audio for an almost limitless number of applications—ranging from Skype calls and FaceTime to vocal recordings and podcasting.
With a frequency response of 18Hz to 40kHz this mic is able to capture the rich dynamics or any vocal, and doesn’t distort when you introduce unusually low- or high-pitched voices or instruments. You can easily attach this mic to pretty much any device that features a USB 2.0 or 3.0 port, and you don’t need to install any obnoxious drivers or third-party content.
The Snowball also features a sample rate of 44.1 kHz with 16-bit rendering (meaning you won’t have to worry about dodgy or lagging audio when you record), and you can even attach a pop filter (sold separately) in order to eliminate those all-too-familiar and annoying “pop” sounds that accompany some specific lip movements and syllables.
And unlike most USB microphones that are only suitable for vocal recording, the Snowball also does a great job capturing a wide range of instruments, including piano, guitar, and drums.
We promise we’re not exaggerating Blue’s ability to create truly awesome microphones. And as always, we take price into consideration when ranking the best tech gadgets around, which is why this incredible USB mic (which is a bit more expensive than the Snowball) came in a very close second. Priced at $128, this mic is for audiophiles and recording artists who want a little more punch and clarity in their recordings, and we promise you that if you have the cash, it’s worth the upgrade.
Available in a variety of colors ranging from blue to red and grey to black, this powerful mic features a tri-capsule array—meaning it has three individual condenser capsules that can record practically anything in any environment.
It consumes only 5V of power and allows for multiple pattern selection—cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional, and stereo—so you’ll be able to capture and record sound in a variety of settings while maintaining the full sonic integrity of your source.
This mic’s frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz is more than enough to capture the intricate details of a wide range of audio sources (from the lowest podcasting voice to the highest violin pitch), and there’s a gain control, mute button, and zero-latency headphone output that lets you control every aspect of the recording process.
Like the Blue Snowball (and almost all of the other mics on this list), the Yeti is plug n’ play compatible—meaning you simply have to attach it to your device’s USB port and you’re good to go, without having to worry about driver installation.
The Yeti is fully compatible with most Windows and Mac operating systems, and only demands 63 MB of ram while its in use—far less than similar mics require during most recordings.
Much like Blue, Rode has earned an impeccable reputation in the world or recording for making incredibly versatile, clear, and rich microphones at affordable price points. And their NT-USB does not disappoint.
This high-quality mic is just as comfortable in the studio recording a guitar as it is on the desk of an up-and-coming or professional podcaster, and even features an on-mic mix control system that lets you dial in the perfect levels before every session—a feature that’s extremely useful for those who don’t have a fancy recording platform such as Pro Tools or Ableton.
Your order comes with a tripod stand, pop filter and ring mount, and if you have the right adapters on hand you can even plug this intrepid mic into your Apple iPad.
You’ll be able to monitor the microphone’s input in real-time through the NT-USB’s zero latency headphone jack, and it’s completely powered through the USB port—meaning you won’t have to attach a separate power cord in order to get high-quality recordings.
Next up, we have the FIFINE USB microphone, which offers exceptional quality at a lower price point than our last two mics.
The only reason this mic was rated behind our winning Blue Snowball (which is listed at the same price), is that it seems to lack some of the “richness” and warmth that comes from Blue products. However, this is not necessarily a problem, and may in some cases actually be a preferable alternative for those who prefer a flatter and less colored recording.
This mic’s 16mm diaphragm catches transients and high frequency notes with perfect clarity, and also rounds out the lower frequencies so you don’t have to deal with that obnoxious “booming” that comes from less nuanced mics.
This mic’s finest quality, however, lies in its extraordinarily well-defined and crisp high-end frequencies. Without sounding shrill or overbearing, this mic articulates the most desirable and important elements of a vocal’s higher register—making it ideal for users with a higher voice who don’t necessarily need to have an abundance of low-end definition.
Again, we promise we don’t have some sketchy endorsement deal with Blue—it’s just that these microphones are that good. The only reason this reasonably priced mic isn’t at the top of our list is that it’s relatively limited in what it can do in terms of sonic quality. It’s meant to be used almost exclusively as a podcasting mic (thus the talk-show-host design), but it does this one job brilliantly.
Featuring patented Blue premium capsule circuitry, this mic delivers incredibly detailed and nuanced audio. It’s Internal Acoustic Diffuser focuses vocals while minimizing room noise, and there’s a headphone volume control along with mic level controllers for easy onboard adjustments.
As always, this mic features plug-and-play functionality, and is fully compatible with virtually any PC or Mac gadget (assuming you have the right adapters on hand).
You’ll also enjoy 24-bit, studio quality sound without the need for a third-party preamp, and this mic’s compact size and portable design means you’ll be able to take it with you wherever your podcasting journey takes you.
The second you start recording with this mic, you’ll notice just how incredibly rich the sound is, which is why it’s preferred among podcasters who want to emulate that low, warm feel that most talk-show and radio hosts are able to accomplish through much more expensive equipment.
Last but certainly not least, we have the TONAR Gaming Microphone. Again, the only reason why this mic didn’t earn a higher spot on our list is because of its relatively limited functionality. Meant almost exclusively to be a gaming mic, this gadget highlights more of the low and mid-range frequencies that are often sought after by avid gamers in the midst of an online battle.
It features a long-distance omnidirectional pick-up pattern (meaning you can twist and turn in your gaming chair and have the mic still pick up the nuances of your voice), and it’s ideal for picking up multiple voices at once in the same room.
There’s a top-quality sound chip that lets you pick up sound from surprising distances, and there’s even a built-in pop filter underneath metal mesh that will eliminate even the most pronounced pops and low-end rumble from your broadcast.
The TONOR Gaming Microphone is fully compatible with almost all Mac and PC systems, and if you’re not an avid gamer, it does a surprisingly good job of picking up podcast-level sonics along with some basic instruments like piano and guitar.
And of course at this price, you’d be hard pressed to find a more affordable mic to get the job done.