Top 6 Best USB Microphones – Quality Sound With Great Functionality
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Last Updated: December-11-2018
In our most recent refresh, we made a few tweaks to our chart on the best USB mics, removing the Aitesco Lavalier and adding one of the best-selling USB mics in the world, the Blue Yeti USB. We also changed some of the content in the article to ensure it was up to date as we approached 2019!
In the not-too-distant past, if you needed a mic for your computer, you would have had to rely on a cheap desktop mic or USB headset designed mainly for gaming or Skype.Thankfully, things are very different these days as USB microphones have evolved to incorporate the same features and core performance you would expect from a fully-fledged condenser microphone.
Whether you are a podcaster, streamer, YouTuber or voiceover artist, you’re in luck! In today’s article we are going to highlight our favorite USB microphones on the market, before taking a look at what you need to consider when buying one. Let’s get started by looking at the chart!
Top 6 Best USB Microphones
|Microphones / Rating
| Rode NT USB
Total of 4.83/5
A taste of higher end performance that is priced rather very competitively.
| Blue Yeti USB
Total of 4.72/5
Impressive performance from the world’s bestselling USB mic!
| Shure Motiv MV51
Total of 4.67/5
An awesome, portable large diaphragm condenser that is full of great surprises.
| Marantz Professional Pod
Total of 4.28/5
One of the most attractive budget options on the market right now.
| Behringer C1U
Total of 4.30/5
Simple, straight forward large diaphragm condenser that brings you that classic sound.
| CAD Audio U9
Total of 3.88/5
A micro package that's highly portable but also capable of good performance.
Kicking off this chart is every podcaster’s dream – the NT-USB from Rode, which promises a complete ‘studio in a box’.
As we discuss in the full NT-USB review, this side-address mic combines the sound quality of a true condenser with the plug n’ play functionality of a USB mic, offering a solid core performance and good versatility for both vocals and acoustic instruments.
Although it’s one of the more expensive mics on this list, the Rode NT-USB still offers excellent value, especially as it comes with a solid desk tripod stand and a good pop shield.
Next on this list is a mic that should need no introduction! The Blue Yeti is branded as the World’s #1 USB Microphone and it’s clear to see why.
With a distinctive design, a quality metal build and a rainbow of cool colored finishes to choose from, this plug n’ play mic proves a very versatile tool in any home studio.
Offering an exclusive tri-capsule design, great clarity and four switchable polar patterns, you can do everything from YouTubing and podcasting to journalistic interviews with ease. We give you all you need to know in the full Blue Yeti review – check it out!
The Motiv MV51 features one of the more interesting designs on this list, with a cool vintage-era chassis packed with modern features, including five distinct DSP modes.
While the aesthetics may be an acquired taste, we can all appreciate the core performance – this is a solid large-diaphragm condenser USB microphone at heart linked to an efficient A/D converter, supporting up to 24-bit audio with a 48kHz sample rate.
With a max SPL of 130dB, it is also just as good at handling acoustic instruments as it is vocals. Make sure to check out the complete Motiv MV51 review.
If you’re looking for a little extra bang for your buck, the Pod Pack 1 from Marantz will be worth checking out. For well under $100 you get not only a decent USB microphone, but a boom arm thrown in.
This adds up to a very convenient solution for up-and-coming podcasters and YouTubers who want good vocals and the ability to position their mic wherever they please.
Overall, the mic itself is a simple one with no advanced features, but one that delivers a solid performance for capturing clear vocals. There’s more on the Pod Pack 1 in the full review.
As the name may reveal, the C-1U is very similar to Behringer’s original C-1 condenser, albeit with a convenient USB connection. Otherwise pretty much everything else stays the same (good news, as the original is an excellent budget mic!).
As we highlight in the complete C-1U review, the overall performance is top-notch, proving a solid choice for podcasters and vocalists looking for easy plug n’ play functionality.
While a little limited in features, it comes in an attractive all-metal body and sports a condenser capsule, offering clear vocals and a large 136dB max SPL – great for capturing acoustic instruments as well as vocals.
For the ultimate convenience – especially for recording on the go – you don’t have to look much further than CAD Audio’s U9, as we point to in the full review.
Despite its incredibly pocket-friendly size, we are still looking at a true condenser microphone. No cables are required as the whole thing plugs directly into your computer or smartphone.
From a purely practical standpoint, the U9 is designed specifically for recording vocals, allowing you to podcast while traveling. Overall, if you need a tiny microphone that offers a true condenser sound, this is a solid choice.
What are the Benefits of Using a USB Microphone?
These days, USB microphones are incredibly popular and prove an excellent alternative to both condenser microphones and dynamic microphones. While USB mics may never replace these two in terms of delivering the most authentic audio or being easier to use in a larger studio environment, they certainly have their advantages.
To start, USB microphones can be used for many applications, although their prime use is to capture vocals, which is why they are so popular with podcasters, streamers, gamers, YouTubers, voiceover artists and other computer-based applications.
Why are they so popular? Firstly, they offer the pinnacle of convenience. You don’t need a full recording studio setup – instead, simply plug the USB lead directly into the USB port of your computer, smartphone or tablet and you are ready to record. More often than not, you don’t even need to install extra software or drivers, just plug n’ play!
Another advantage is that USB mics are very affordable, while offering other financial benefits. For example, if you want to build a recording setup in your house, a condenser or a dynamic microphone may offer you great tone, but they also require an audio interface to convert the analog signals into a digital signal that your computer can read. In other words, just buying the mic won’t be any good. With USB mics, you don’t have to fork out for an extra device, as the A/D converters are built into the mic itself.
USB mics are also unique in the fact that they come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. You can find good old-fashioned full-sized condenser mics as well as tiny pocket-size models that offer great freedom of movement and are perfect for recording on the fly. Instead of having to drag a microphone, laptop, preamp and power supplies around with you, all you technically need with these devices is a smartphone and your USB mic. Talk about convenience!
Finding the Right USB Mic for You
The first thing you need to define is the purpose of the microphone. What are you going to use it for? Skype? Podcasting? Singing? Recording instruments? Without this key piece of information, you are pretty much swinging in the dark. By establishing your intended application, you will be able to determine some of the features you will need.
For example, if you plan to record instruments at higher volumes (such as an acoustic guitar), then you will require a mic with a higher max Sound Pressure Level (SPL) to cope with the added oomph coming its way. If you need to capture singing, a USB mic with a condenser capsule may be best for you as these tend to offer the best sound quality. If you are simply using your mic for casual gaming or Skype, chances are you won’t need to go for a higher-end condenser model.
The next important consideration is your budget. Some people are fortunate enough that they can afford high-end gear, but most of us aren’t! The key piece of advice here is to go for the best microphone your money can buy, as it will usually last longer, deliver a better overall performance and will stop you having to buy twice. It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people go cheap, then regret it a few months later when they’ve outgrown their mic.
Once you have defined the intended application and your budget, the rest of the equation should fall into place. Are you planning to travel with it? If so, consider the size and portability. Do you need accessories such as a shock mount, pop filter, mic stand or boom arm? Some mics come with these, others don’t. If the model you are interested in doesn’t come with one, you need to add that to your overall budget.
The Final Word
As you have probably gathered by now, we are big advocates of USB microphones! While they may fall a little short compared to the performance of a fully-fledged condenser mic, they are so convenient for computer-based vocal applications.
We hope our chart has given you a little inspiration as to what is out there and – most importantly – what is a worthwhile option. Whatever your budget, intended application and ultimate ambition, we wish you the best of luck in your hunt for the perfect USB mic!
If you need more help with setting up your studio, check out the related buying guides for recording gear:
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