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There are many uses for a USB mic these days: Content creation, gaming, streaming, voiceover acting, remote learning and video calls, to name a few. And you don’t need to be an audio engineer to get and set up a good one either. These mics all work with a USB hookup, so you can plug it in and get started right out of the box.
What Are the Best USB Mics?
There are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for the best USB mic for you. Here’s what you need to know.
Type: Cardioid and dynamic are the two main types of USB mics you’ll run into when searching. A cardioid mic is a directional mic, meaning you’ll have to speak directly into it to in order for the mic to pick up the most sound. This is what podcasters use, since they’re mostly in one spot the whole time. A supercardioid mic takes it up a notch, reducing the ambient noise around you and auto-balancing the sound.
There are also dynamic mics, which are superior at blocking out unwanted noise, but take way more power to operate and are better-suited for use with a mixer or interface. If the mic you really want only has an XLR connection, you still can get an XLR to USB adapter, but if you’re just getting started with a mic, we recommend sticking with a USB before you level-up.
Controls: Some USB mics have controls built directly into them, so you won’t have to adjust your levels elsewhere in your audio setup. Things like volume and gain knobs can make things much easier when you’re livestreaming and don’t want to take your attention away by going into your DAW application or tweaking your preamp.
Build: A cheap build is going to feel hollow, and sound even worse. That doesn’t mean you can’t snag a great mic at a price within your budget though. But a low-quality mic can sound tinny, grating, and pick up annoying background noise like fans and air conditioners. Plus they’re more likely to get damaged after an accidental fall off your desk or when a mic stand gets knocked over.
Extras: If you’re starting your setup from scratch, some extra included gear can be really helpful. Some of these come with a stand, a pop filter, windscreen, shock mount, even an adjustable boom arm for clamping it on to a desk or shelf. Just like the mics though, these can be pretty cheaply made out of fragile materials that aren’t built to last, and metal is a much better choice if available.
Finally, remember that it’s all about the sound quality. Unless you’re streaming on camera, no one is going to see the type of mic you’re using, so don’t get too caught up in the cosmetics and looks of it.
1. HyperX QuadCast S USB Condenser Mic
This USB-C to USB-A mic includes a shock mount that cuts way down on vibrations, and a headphone jack in the mic itself that makes recording way easier if you’re wearing a wired set for real-time sound monitoring.
While this is primarily built for gamers and streamers, there’s a switch for four different selectable pickup patterns for various things: stereo for vocals and instruments, omnidirectional for events like conference calls, cardioid for podcasts/streaming, and bi-direction for when you and another person are talking face-to-face, picking up sound from the front as well as in back.
The gain knob has a wide range, and an internal pop filter gets the job done without the need for an external one.
Weight-wise, this is still pretty light, but the most noticeably dazzling feature here is the standout customizable RGB lighting. The mute sensor up top is (literally) a nice touch too – one tap is all it takes to mute the mic, which clearly shows you when it’s active or muted by turning off the RGB light, with no loud pops or clicks each time.
Along with the shock mount, there’s also a desk stand included here, and the Quadcast S is ready for Discord, Skype, TeamSpeak, and pretty much every other major gaming server.
2. Blue Yeti USB Mic
For things like streaming, podcasting and video calls, this steadfast retro metal mic is a solid choice.
This mic is equipped with four different pickup patterns to choose from — cardioid, omni, bidirectional, and stereo — to get the exact sound you’re going for every time with different activities. Switching between settings is super simple, with a nicely placed knob right on the mic itself, along with a headphone volume and mute button too.
3. FIFINE USB Studio Recording Microphone
Right out of the box, this mic feels heavy with a solid build, and is especially excellent for gamers.
Voice is captured clearly and authentically true to real-life, with no distortions or latency. The four main mic patterns are available at any time thanks to a knob on the unit, as is a mic volume and a headphone jack for direct monitoring.
This also does a nice job of noise-cancellation on its own, but has a mute button too for when you want to manually go off-mic for a minute.
4. HyperX SoloCast
This stripped-down alternative is a more beginner-friendly cardioid mic, while still having all the necessities you need.
Just like the QuadCast, there’s a tap-to-mute sensor with an LED status indicator, for when you need a moment of silence (or need to sneeze). It comes with a desk stand, and can still fit onto a boom arm.
This works as a plug-and-play mic on multiple platforms, and is even certified by Discord and Teamspeak.
From Rolling Stone US