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The 7 Best Computer Microphones For Podcasting And Home Recording

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Not too long ago, computer mics used to be pretty crappy.  You’ve probably used those cheap headset mics that were popular a few years back (I have a few sitting in a box in the closet).

Well today, with the popularity of podcasts, webinars, screencasts, and YouTube videos, people expect to hear great online audio quality.  Scratchy and tinny sound doesn’t work these days, so you must use a good recording microphone if you plan to produce quality audio productions.

So, in this post I’ve reviewed 7 of the best computer microphones for podcasting or home recording that are available today.

Because many people are new to recording with microphones connected to a desktop computer or laptop, let’s first go over some essentials you need to know.

Microphone Types

Mics used for recording podcasts, videos, and other online media are either dynamic mics, condenser mics, or ribbon mics.

Rather than go into depth describing these mics, please check out my Beginner’s Guide to Buying Microphones For Your Home Recording Studio.  You’ll learn all about these three different types of mics, how mics work, mic polar patterns, when to use them, and much more.

The mics reviewed in this post are either dynamic or condenser mics.  Ribbon mics tend to be quite expensive, so I did not include one here.

Microphone Connections

No matter what kind of mic you have, you’ll need to connect it to your laptop’s or computer’s USB port.

This brings up the first problem people face:  many microphones do not have a USB jack!

So, to connect a mic you need to understand a couple of things:

Some mics can connect directly to your computer (USB mics), and some mics need to connect with a USB interface, which converts the analog audio signal from the mic into a digital electrical signal that the computer can use.  Let’s go over those choices.

USB Mics

USB mics are specialized mics for connecting to computers.  They have an A/D converter built into the mic, so they come with a USB jack that directly connects to the computer via a USB cable.

Standard Mics

Regular mics used for recording instruments and vocals generally connect through industry-standard XLR connectors.  Since computers don’t have XLR jacks, these mics have to be connected through a USB interface.  This interface, which also in many cases includes a mic preamp, has an XLR input jack for the mic and a USB output jack that connects to the computer.

There are a lot of USB interfaces available.  A couple to check out are the Behringer U-Phoria UMC204HD and the M-Track (MKII) USB interface.

What To Choose?

Overall, you will get the best quality with a standard XLR mic connected to a high-quality USB interface.  This path, of course, costs more as you have to purchase both mic and interface.

However, there are some really good USB mics I’ll review that sound great and are quite inexpensive.

Zero-Latency Monitoring

One factor that you need to understand when using any microphone with your computer or laptop is zero-latency monitoring.

When recording your voice, it’s important to be able to hear yourself on headphones. You want to be able to monitor the quality of your recording, as well as listen for pops on Ps or other unwanted audio sounds.

If you plug headphones into your computer or laptop, you will hear a delay as your mic’s signal is converted from analog to digital.  Hearing yourself live and at the same time with a delay on headphones, you won’t be able to focus on your performance.

If you are recording vocals over a track, you will hear yourself delayed to the music, and won’t be able to record at all!

The inclusion of a zero-latency headphone jack on a USB mic or USB interface allows you to hear yourself in the mix without that delay.  It sends the audio signal straight from the mic to your headphones so there’s no delay.

iPad USB Power Issue

There is a potential issue you need to know about that concerns the iPad.  According to Apple, some USB devices need more power than the iPad can provide.

If the USB mic draws too much power, you will either get a message saying “attached accessory uses too much power”, or it won’t connect at all.

The solution is a powered USB hub that provides the necessary power to the USB port.

Review Criteria

With all our mic background info finished, let’s move on to the mic reviews.

All mics included in my reviews were chosen based on their widespread use and reputation in both the professional and amateur audio communities.

I’ve also added my insights gained from 25+ years of experience running a very successful music production company, creating Audio Addiction Music Library, a production music library with global distribution, and recording in major studios.

The 7 Best Computer Microphones
For Podcasting And Home Recording

Entry Level Microphones (in order of price):

Floureon BM-800

Until I researched USB mics for this article, I had never heard of this mic nor its manufacturer.  However, it’s the #1 Best Seller on Amazon, so I had to take a closer look.

First off, it does look cool mounted in its shock mount and looks far more expensive that its price would let on.

Most users said it sounded really good, with crisp sound and minimal noise that makes it unbeatable for the price.

Just know that it won’t deliver pro sound quality but you can’t expect that at this price…

However, there are some caveats you should know:

  • It doesn’t work with mobile phones and tablet computers.
  • The mic will work with a desktop computer as is, but if you want to use it with a laptop computer, you will need a 48V phantom power supply that is not included. Users who use it with a desktop say that the recording volume is low and not very clear, and recommend getting the 48V power supply for much improved sound quality.
  • It does not include a headphone jack, so there will be a delay (latency) between what you hear on speakers or headphones and your actual speaking voice.

The top selling 48K power supply on Amazon sells for about $20, so include that in your calculation if you are interested in this mic.

For about $50 for the combo, this is a deal that is hard to beat!

Floureon BM-800

Check price:
Amazon

Floureon BM-800 Specs:

  • Unidirectional pickup pattern
  • 20 Hz – 20 kHz frequency response
  • Includes a shock mount and anti-wind foam cap

Samson Meteor

The Samsung Meteor is a step up from the Floureon BM-800.  It receives high praise for its sound, and it has a cool retro rocket vibe that makes a nice visual statement.

The Meteor is probably best suited for someone who just wants to have a good mic for desktop recording for webcasts, YouTube videos, Facetime, or Skype calls.

It is a pretty small mic, standing only 4” tall.  It has a built-in tripod that can be folded up for travel that makes it about the size of your fist, so for you traveling podcasters, this is a solid bet.

The Meteor does have a headphone jack that eliminates any latency.  It also includes a handy headphone volume control and a mic mute switch.

And finally, the Meteor has a built-in standard mic stand connector at the bottom of the mic, another nice touch!

The Meteor works with iPads with Apple’s Lightning USB Camera Adapter or Camera Connection Kit (30-pin).

A great value for the money!

Samson Meteor

Check price:
AmazonzZounds

Samson Meteor Specs:

  • USB Condenser mic
  • 16-bit, 44.1/48kHz resolution
  • Stereo 1/8″ headphone jack for no latency monitoring.
  • 20 Hz – 20 kHz frequency response
  • Includes a USB cable and carrying pouch

Blue Microphones Snowball iCE

The Snowball iCE by Blue Microphones is a cardioid condenser mic designed for delivering crystal-clear audio for podcasts, YouTube videos, Skype, Facetime, and more.   It is even Skype certified for guaranteed performance.

It is very easy to install on both Macs and PCs and doesn’t require drivers that frequently cause issues on install.

It’s a best seller on Amazon for its great sound and ease of use, and at under $50 is a great deal!

However, its main drawback is that it does not have a headphone jack and will cause latency when listening to live sound vs. recorded sound.

The Snowball iCE comes in black or white.

Blue Microphones Snowball iCE

Check price:
AmazonGuitar Center

Blue Microphones Snowball iCE Specs:

  • USB Condenser mic
  • Cardioid polar pattern
  • 16-bit, 44.1/48kHz resolution
  • Stereo 1/8″ headphone jack for no latency monitoring.
  • 40 Hz – 18 kHz frequency response
  • Includes adjustable desktop mic stand and USB cable

High-Quality Mics:

Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB

The ATR2100-USB is a dynamic microphone with both USB digital and XLR analog outputs.

Its smooth, extended frequency response ideally suited for podcasting, voiceovers, and computer use.

The inclusion of an XLR analog output gives the user the option to use higher-quality mic preamps for recordings of vocals, instruments, etc.

The ATR2100-USB includes a built-in headphone jack allows you to directly monitor your microphone output without audible latency, as well as a headphone output with level control for monitoring.

The cardioid polar pattern helps reduce pickup of sounds from the sides and rear of the mic.

All in all, The ATR2100-USB is an affordable mic with the excellent sound quality that Audio-Technica is known for.

Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB

Check price:
AmazonzZounds

Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB Specs:

  • Cardioid pickup pattern
  • 5mm TRS stereo headphone jack
  • 50 Hz – 15 kHz frequency response
  • Includes a mic clamp and tripod desk

Blue Microphones Yeti

The Blue Microphones Yeti is my top choice for USB mics under $130.  It sounds great, and it’s inexpensive enough for many people to afford one.

It’s got a cool Star Wars vibe and is available in 5 colors. For whatever reason, the black version is the #1 Best Seller on Amazon for computer mics.

A number of pro independent reviews have put the Yeti to the test and have given it tons of praise, and there are literally thousands of positive reviews on online sites.

I’d say it is the best value for a USB mic, as for about $130.00 you get a really good, pro quality mic with all the features you will need:

  • Microphone gain control
  • Headphone jack for zero-latency monitoring
  • Headphone jack volume
  • Mute button

PLUS, it uses Blue’s proprietary tri-capsule technology that allows you to record in cardioid, omni, and figure-8 polar patterns.

Amazingly, the Yeti can also record in stereo, which many owners use on instruments like acoustic guitar.

The Yeti is not a small mic, so it’s probably best for work at home or office, not for traveling.

It is plug ‘n play for Mac OS X (10.4.11 or higher) and PC (Windows 8.1, 8, 7, Vista, XP).  USB 1.1/2.0, 64 MB RAM (minimum).

No other USB mic offers all these features at this price!

Blue Microphones Yeti

Check price:
AmazonGuitar Center

Blue Microphones Yeti Specs:

  • Cardioid, omni and figure-8 polar patterns
  • Stereo recording switch
  • Zero-latency headphone jack
  • Mute button
  • 20 Hz – 20 kHz frequency response
  • 48 kHz/16 bit sampling rate
  • Includes an adjustable stand and USB cable

Blue Microphones Yeti Pro

The Yeti Pro is a step up from the regular Yeti.  It’s more expensive, but it offers two more “pro” features:

  • Both USB and XLR jacks
  • A higher recording sampling rate of 192 kHz/24 bit for higher resolution in a recording

Blue Microphones Yeti Pro

Check price:
AmazonGuitar Center

Blue Microphones Yeti Pro Specs:

  • Cardioid, omni, and figure-8 pickup pattern
  • USB and XLR jacks
  • Stereo recording switch
  • Zero-latency headphone jack
  • Mute button
  • 20 Hz – 20 kHz frequency response
  • 192 kHz/24 bit sampling rate
  • Includes an adjustable stand and USB cable

Rode Podcaster

The Rode Podcaster is a professional broadcast-quality USB mic for users looking for the best audio quality for their audio productions.

It produces clear crisp recordings at an audiophile-quality 48 kHz/18 bit sampling rate. All audio processing is done within the mic, resulting in superior audio by bypassing your computer’s/ device’s typically much lower-quality sound card.

Listen to the Podcaster here.

A headphone output on the microphone body provides zero-latency monitoring, so users can hear exactly what is being recorded, free of any echo.

The Podcaster features an internal pop filter that minimizes plosive sounds like Ps that can ruin an otherwise good recording.

It can also be used as an iPad microphone for the Apple iPad (in conjunction with theiPad Camera Connection Kit and a powered USB hub) to provide high-quality recording to various iPad audio applications such as Garageband.

Rode offers a very nice 10-year extended warranty when you register your microphone at Rode’s website.

NOTE: Rode recently posted this announcement about purchasing from Amazon in the U.S.:

“RØDE Microphones does not authorize Fulfilled By Amazon. We have purchased counterfeit RØDE products using Fulfilled by Amazon and highly recommend that you only purchase RØDE products from authorized dealers.

If you purchase any RØDE microphone from an unauthorized dealer via Fulfilled By Amazon you will not receive any U.S. warranty or technical support.”

Doing a quick check, I see lots of authorized dealers on Amazon that include Sam Ash, Music 123, and GearNuts. 

So, make sure you buy from dealers directly, not when it says “Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.  You’ll find other sellers than Amazon under the “New” section (ex: “9 New from $399.00”).

Please use this link to find authorized Rode dealers both online and for brick and mortar shops.

Rode Podcaster

Check price:
AmazonzZoundsGuitar Center

Rode Podcaster Specs:

  • Dynamic USB mic
  • Cardioid pickup pattern
    48 kHz/18 bit sampling rate
  • 40 Hz – 14 kHz frequency response
  • Max SPL: 115 dB
  • Includes mic stand and USB cable

Heil PR40

The Heil PR40 is known as the “podcaster’s/ broadcaster’s choice of mic”.

Though great on voice and voiceovers as its deep bass response delivers rich sounding voice tracks, those same qualities make it a very versatile pro studio standard mic for recording bass, kick drums, electric guitars, and more.

In a PR40 review, Radioworld stated, “While the PR40 is a great voice mic, it is equally at home with musical instruments, amplifiers and even kick drums. The PR40 was taped to the side of military cannons for the soundtrack of the movie “Letters from Iwo Jima,” which won an Oscar for its sound.”

As it is a pro-quality mic, it only has an XLR jack and no USB jack.  So you will need to use it with a USB interface that has a mic preamp.

It is often compared to the Electro-Voce RE20 (see review below), another mic used in countless records, live concert sound, and more.  The PR40 retails for about $100 less than the RE20.

The PR40 is available in champagne, gold plate, or chrome plate color.

Heil PR40

Check price:
AmazonGuitar Center

Heil PR40 Specs:

  • Dynamic mic
  • Cardioid pickup pattern
  • 28 Hz – 18 kHz frequency response
  • Includes a mic holder and leatherette bag

Frequency response chart:
Click image for larger popup

Shure SM7B

Best Dynami Microphones - SM7B used on hit songs

The Shure SM7B is another classic dynamic mic that was originally designed as a mic for spoken word use and has been a standard mic used in radio, post production and voiceovers for decades.  It has recently become a favorite for podcasts.

However, engineers and producers soon found that the SM7B excelled for vocal use also.  Its design helps thin sounding voices sound fuller, and it’s become a mic of choice for hip-hop and rap vocals.

The SM7B is capable of handling loud vocalists and is widely used in the rock/hard rock/ metal genres.

Bass roll off and midrange emphasis (presence boost) controls help tailor the sound to capture the best vocal performances.

Hear the SM7B in action at the Shure Mic Listening Lab.

Shure SM7B

Check price:
Amazon | zZoundsGuitar Center

Shure SM7B Specs:

  • Cardioid pickup pattern
  • 50 Hz – 20 kHz frequency response
  • Bass rolloff and midrange emphasis (presence boost) controls
  • Built-in pop filter
  • Includes a standard windscreen plus a A7WS detachable windscreen for spoken word broadcast use

Frequency response chart:
Click image for larger popup

Electro-Voice RE20

The Electro-Voice RE20 large diaphragm dynamic mic is another industry standard used by broadcasters and sound engineers around the world.

Its cool vintage looks makes it an attractive addition to any studio.

The RE20 was the 2015 TEC Technology Hall of Fame winner for its place in recording and broadcasting history.

This is a workhorse microphone equally at home recording vocals, electric bass, kick drum, guitar amps, snare, and toms.

Its smooth sound and flat frequency response make it a great choice even for overhead drum miking or acoustic guitar, applications not the norm for a dynamic microphone.

The RE20 gets rave reviews for its ability to sound good on just about any voice. Vocals recorded with the RE20 cut through mixes with their upfront sound.

It also is remarkable that, due to its Variable-D design feature, the proximity effect is virtually non-existent, which is unheard of in a dynamic mic.

The RE20 is also known for its sound rejection at the rear of the mic, which helps minimize room ambiance in close-miking situations.

For podcasters, the RE20 won first place in The Ultimate Podcasting Mic Shootout. This article includes audio samples of the RE20 and different mics, so check it out if you’re looking for a high-quality podcasting mic or just want to hear the different mics on a spoken voice.

Electro-Voice RE20

Check price:
AmazonzZoundsGuitar Center

Electro-Voice RE20 Specs:

  • Dynamic mic
  • Cardioid pickup pattern
  • 45 Hz – 18 kHz frequency response
  • Bass roll-off switch
  • Built-in pop filter
  • Includes a standard windscreen plus an A7WS detachable windscreen for spoken word broadcast use

Frequency response chart:
Click image for larger popup

Conclusion

The seven mics I’ve covered here will all do a great job of recording professional sounding voice tracks.

Your choice of the best microphone for you will depend on your budget and your own recording needs.

My advice is to think ahead to what you may need in the future, and rather than buy the cheapest mic, invest in one that you can use for many years.

 

 

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