Last Updated On December 27th, 2021
Have you been spending more time on virtual calls lately? Or maybe you took the plunge and started that vlog or YouTube channel you dreamed up. From gaming and live streaming to recording music and attending virtual meetings, clear audio is more important than ever.
Unfortunately, the mics built into our computers and gaming systems leave a lot to be desired. Even the best platforms neglect audio features to the detriment of all users.
Purchasing an external microphone is your best bet, but with so many options, how do you know what to get? Read on for our top picks and a buyer’s guide to help you decide on the best microphone for you!
Table of Contents
Best Microphone Reviews – Top 10 Picks
The Blue Snowball iCE uses cutting edge technology to deliver impressively clear audio, and it does so in a chic retro package. It’s an upgrade to your computer’s built-in microphone and works wonders for recording vocals, streaming, and conference calls.
Reminiscent of a vintage microphone, the Blue Snowball iCE uses a modern cardioid pickup pattern to capture sound. It comes in white or black and includes an adjustable tripod for your desktop so that you can set it up just the way you like. One of the best things about this USB mic is that it screws into the stand for a more stable connection.
The Blue Snowball iCE is compatible with Mac and PC devices that have USB ports. It works without any extra software or the need to install extra drivers on your computer, just plug it in and get to work. The frequency response is 15Hz – 22kHz, and it has a sample rate of 44kHz/16 bit.
We love this microphone because it’s easy to use, and the retro look is appealing, but it may not be the best option for everyone. Since it captures omnidirectional sound, some people may pick up too much ambient noise during live calls. This issue mainly occurs because the stand isn’t tall enough to achieve an optimal angle.
The Yeti is Blue’s top of the line microphone, and may be the best microphone for recording. Though there are several versions, the base Blue Yeti X microphone delivers excellent audio quality and an array of features, including four modes to work with. If you don’t love how the Yeti X looks in your studio, you can even upgrade to another version.
The best selling point for the Blue Yeti X is the unique side-address design that makes it capable of taking sound from multiple angles. This USB microphone is known as a multi-pattern because you can choose between four different polar patterns depending on how you want to use your mic.
Blue accomplished this feat with a proprietary tri-capsule design. Choose the cardioid mode for podcasting, streaming, or webinars, then switch gears to stereo mode for recording instruments. The omnidirectional mode picks up sound from all directions, which works well for conference calls. Finally, choose bidirectional mode for a duet or two-person interview.
It comes with a sturdy stand, but feel free to mount the Blue Yeti X to an arm if you prefer. Setup is easy with a USB connection and multiple, intuitive controls. If you like to listen as you record, there is a headphone jack.
Unfortunately, while the Yetis is a high-end microphone, it may be too sensitive for some setups. It also lacks a volume limiter to manage peak sounds.
If you need the best budget mic, TONOR makes a dynamic mic that adapts to work with almost any machine. Don’t let the basic design fool you. This vocal mic proves that you can get great audio quality with even the best value options on the market.
Unlike the USB microphones on this list, this mic has an XLR connector. It features an easy on-off switch, a lightweight but durable design, and a reasonably long cord. For users looking for a classic microphone design, especially for recording vocals, it’s tough to beat this one by TONOR.
It’s tempting to dismiss this as a pure karaoke mic, and maybe one of the best microphones for vocals. However, this particular TONOR product is plenty versatile with some decent power. The frequency response is 80Hz to 12 kHz and uses a super-cardioid polar pattern. With a proper stand or arm, you can work wonders.
No product is perfect, and this microphone is no exception. While the sound quality is decent, the lead leaves something to be desired. You may want to do a cord upgrade to make the most of the mic.
RODE’s mini microphone delivers studio-level audio and manages to look the part despite its compact design. You have a wide range of setup options for your home studio thanks to a 360-degree swing mount that works with a desktop, mic stand, or studio arm.
This side-address microphone features two dials to give you control over monitoring levels and a built-in headphone jack with zero-latency monitoring. You also get some premium accessories with this vocal mic, including a pop filter to limit interference and sound spikes.
RODE opted for a cardioid polar pattern and USB connectivity. For a mini microphone, you get a frequency range that’s competitive with larger mics. Expect a range 20 Hz to 20 kHz.
Since it’s so compact, you can mount this mini vocal mic on the sturdy tripod stand or attach it to your own setup. It’s portable and features a ring mount for easy attachment to most devices.
It’s not easy to find complaints about this microphone. However, the volume controls may be problematic for some users depending on your setup. Also, an upgrade to the plastic cover would be helpful for preventing scratches.
For people who prefer condenser microphones, Razer’s Seiren X is a solid option with some helpful features, like a mute button. The chic design is appealing and low-profile, so it doesn’t take up too much space on your desk.
One of the best features is the super-cardioid pickup pattern. The Seiren X records at a tighter angle than cardioid mics, so it may be the best condenser microphone on the market. It eliminates more background noise for a clearer audio relay.
In some ways, the Razer Seiren X is similar to the Blue Yeti because you can select your polar pattern.
Though it’s a superficial detail, one of the best parts about the Seiren X is choosing your colour – classic black, quartz pink, or mercury white. In addition to a mute button, the Seiren X has volume controls. It uses USB connectivity and works with most devices, though some may require adapters.
It would be nice to see a better stand or a little more versatility with the setup options. It also seems to lack some of the range that other microphones have, which can lead to a muffled quality if you move too far away.
TONOR touts this microphone, the TC-777, as the best microphone for gaming. This USB mic comes with a full gaming kit and audio interface features compatible with desktops, laptops, and the PS4 gaming system. It’s a desktop device but doesn’t have to remain in the stand.
This USB microphone comes ready to roll in every way – no assembly required! It’s lightweight and portable at 580 grams. The mic comes attached to its sturdy tripod stand that happens to have rubber ball feet, so you don’t have to worry about damaging your desk. You can easily adjust the stand to best meet your needs.
Built-in technology dampens extraneous noise to optimize your experience for gaming, streaming, or engaging in meetings. You don’t need extra software or drivers to operate this mic on Windows, macOS, or Linux operating systems. You get a sample rate of 44.1 kHz/16 bit and a polar pattern of 100 Hz to 16 kHz.
Even though this USB microphone is touted as a gaming microphone, it’s not compatible with Xbox systems. There also seem to be some quality control issues since some users noted the microphone randomly stopped working.
Though Trust Gaming touts this as a gaming mic and possibly the best microphone for streaming. It’s quite versatile because of the noise dampening features of the audio interface. It’s an easy install for most systems, including Xbox, but you need an adapter if you work on a Mac.
The GXT 232 Mantis is one of the more versatile USB microphones on this list. It’s compatible with almost every device, and you can use it on the stand, as a handheld vocal mic, or with a mount of your choosing.
This USB microphone manages to deliver solid quality. It has many of the same features as higher-end mics, and it’s reasonably reliable. The omnidirectional pattern picks up audio from more directions so you can move around or include multiple people.
There isn’t much to complain about with this microphone, and most people seem to like it. However, you need to purchase an adapter to use it with a Mac, and the stand isn’t as high-quality as it could be. Additionally, we saw a handful of complaints about the pop filter attachment failing.
SUDOTACK’s professional microphone offers one of the best accessory packages of any of the mics on this list. It’s a condenser microphone using a cardioid polar pattern, so you get excellent audio quality.
Arguably one of the more versatile mics on this list, SUDOTACK’s product works with most systems, including iPhones (with an adapter). Speak, sing, or play into the side instead of the top of this studio condenser mic to get clear, high-resolution audio. It features a cardioid pickup pattern.
There are multiple options for arranging it to meet your needs because it comes with a stand and a boom arm. Just clamp it to the end of your desk and move it into the best position. It also features a 2.5-meter cable with a magnet ring to limit interference.
We like that it comes with a boom arm, but it’s not the sturdiest setup. While the arm can handle the mic, it struggles when you add accessories, like the pop filter. It doesn’t fall over all at once; it just gradually drops out of position over time. Also, the ST800 is not compatible with Xbox or Android phones.
When you crave professional studio sound but require something easy to use, it may be time to look at YOTTO. This microphone looks the part, but more importantly, it also records great audio.
This condenser mic has the best professional setup for home studios considering the quality sound chip that delivers a sample rate of 192 kHz/24 bit. You also have several options for noise reduction to get the crystal clear audio you want, including a pop filter. Add the foam windscreen to limit interference from wind and saliva.
The setup is as easy as other USB microphones, and you can choose which accessories to add on. Since the microphone attaches to a movable arm, you can easily clamp it to almost anything to find the best angles and height for you.
We didn’t find many complaints about this microphone. However, it would be nice to have a volume control or at least a mute button on the device. Also, some users reported background noise when typing.
Yanmai created a solid USB mic for those seeking quality sound in a compact desktop microphone. It comes with plenty of features, including noise reduction to limit the impact of background sounds for a higher quality relay. Some would argue that it’s the best studio microphone for this reason.
Plug it in and get started with no downtime for driver installation or software updates. This microphone is best for desktop use with the adjustable tripod, but you can remove it from the stand to go mobile. Additionally, Yanmai added a 360-degree flexible gooseneck in this version to give you plenty of room to adjust the mic to the perfect angle.
For sound, it’s tough to complain since it comes with great accessories, noise reduction technology, and a high-sensitivity capacitance mark. This condenser microphone does a fine job of recording vocals, delivering quality recordings, and live streaming audio with a flat frequency response for 20 Hz to 20 kHz.
There’s a good reason we chose this product as our best desktop microphone because it works wonderfully for that setup. However, this may not be the best option for every studio setup, and though it’s marketed for gaming, it isn’t compatible with Xbox systems.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Pick the Best Microphone for You
These are the best microphones we found, and many of them have similar features. To whittle down the list of finding the best microphone and make a choice for your home studios, it helps to understand some key terms. Let’s talk about everything from what a shock mount is to how a diaphragm condenser works and even cover what a form factor is.
What is a form factor? Basically, it is the physical size, shape, and layout of a mic in relation to its function. For now, let’s just stick with some basic explanations about each of these aspects because things can get quite technical.
Small Diaphragm vs. Large Diaphragm Microphones
The best thing to remember when shopping for mics is that the diaphragm determines how it processes and converts audio. A small diaphragm microphone tends to catch more high-frequency audio while large diaphragm mics have more air disturbance, like the hum of speakers or other mics.
Small diaphragm condensers tend to sound more natural. On the other hand, a large diaphragm condenser provides warmth and adds a level of richness that you don’t get with the smaller version. If you want that “studio record” audio quality, you may want to choose a large diaphragm condenser to capture more of your surroundings.
A Note About Tube Mics
You may hear about tube mics during your shopping. It’s not a term frequently used in product descriptions, because the term “tube mic” refers to how a mic works. All you need to know is that a tube mic uses a vacuum tube as an impedance converter and they tend to have large diaphragm condensers.
Understanding Frequency Response
We included the frequency response for each mic on our list because it’s one of the best comparison points. Though some people can get super technical about these ranges, a general understanding of the concept should be enough to pick the best mic for you.
What Is Frequency Response?
The simplest answer is that it’s the range of frequencies that microphones can pick up. It is measured in hertz (abbreviated Hz) and kilohertz (kHz).
To put this in perspective, the audible frequency range of your human ear typically ranges from 20 Hz to 20 kHz. Most of the microphones on this list mimic this range, and the best mics exceed it.
Why Does Frequency Matter?
Gamers, live streamers, and those using microphones for casual meetings may not care as much about this aspect. However, people recording vocals and instruments usually require an impressive frequency response range to adequately capture their highs and lows.
The Differences Between Polar Pickup Patterns
If you read the above reviews and wondered what cardioid meant and why it mattered, then this section is for you. Also known as polarity, these patterns identify the way a microphone picks up audio.
Imagine your microphone as an invisible circle, a 360-degree map, that shows the strength of audio input. Each type of polar pickup would appear as a unique shape on that map to reflect the way the mics receive sound.
Microphones that use a cardioid polar pickup pattern only receive audio from one direction, making them perfect for recording vocals. They have a heart-shaped polar pattern that focusses on the front of the mic.
Most of the mics on this list use a cardioid pattern. It is considered an industry standard for solo users. You can get close and project to the most sensitive part of the vocal mic, so you worry less about surrounding noise to your sides and behind the mic.
Of note, some microphones use hyper-cardioid or super-cardioid patterns. These options retain the heart-shape common to a cardioid pattern but have a tighter area. They pick up more direct sounds and less ambient noises from around the mic.
If you do a lot of interviews or duets, it doesn’t work well to have the focal point on one side of the microphone. You may want to choose a mic with a bidirectional polarity. The 360-degree map resembles a figure-eight shape with focal points on two sides of the mic.
Now that you know about cardioid and bidirectional polarities, it’s probably rather easy to figure out omnidirectional ranges. Choosing a microphone capable of omnidirectional polar pickup patterns receives sound equally from all sides. It’s the ideal option for conferences or including ambient noise in a recording.
Understanding Transducer Types: Dynamic Mics vs. Condenser Mics
Microphones are transducers, which means they convert sound into electrical readings. Though there are other types, people using mics for vocals usually choose dynamic mics or condenser mics.
Dynamic Mic Basics
Dynamic microphones rely on magnetics and coils to transfer and convert sound. They tend to be more durable than a condenser mic, even when you expose dynamic mics to heat and humidity. The audio signal tends to come out a little rough, but you don’t end up with distortion at higher volumes.
How Condenser Mics Work
Instead of using magnets, condenser microphones rely on charged backplates. Popularized by Audio Technica in the 1980s, the conductive receptor vibrates against the backplate and converts the sound into electrical energy.
Using a condenser mic means you end up with a smooth frequency response and clear sounds. They handle low-frequencies well and give you crisp highs. However, hot and humid settings can have a negative impact on condenser mics.
Compatibility: USB Microphone vs. XLR Mic
What ports does your device have available? The most common options are USB or XLR connections. Keep in mind, even if you have USB ports, if you have to unplug another device to plug in your mic, you may want to choose one with an XLR cable.
USB microphones are easiest to set up since you just plug the cord into the port on your device and start. However, it’s challenging to record multiple USB mics on one device. Most home studios can’t support more than one USB mic.
XLR mics remained the industry standard for podcasters, radio pros, and rock bands because of the sound quality. They use a cable with male and female connectors designed to deliver high-quality audio. You gain a lot of flexibility with XLR cables, but you may need additional equipment to record.
A Word About Phantom Power
Phantom power refers to the voltage running through two pins on an XLR cable. It’s known as phantom power because it uses the same cord as the audio. A condenser mic needs phantom power to reduce impedance. A dynamic mic can use phantom power, but they don’t need it to function.
Additional Features and Accessories
Each microphone comes with different features and accessories that may make them better suited for certain setups or tasks.
Stands and Boom Arms
How do you want to set up your microphone? Setting it on your desk requires a stand or a clamp and arm. If you hope to go mobile at some point, you will want one that’s detachable so you can hold it in your hand and move around.
Many mic stands include a shock mount to mitigate certain sounds and movement of the surface. If your stand doesn’t have one, you may want to upgrade for the best results. Tripods and adjustable stands tend to be the best options because you can move them around enough to find the optimal recording angle. Plus, in a studio setting, it helps with aesthetics.
Boom arms offer something different because they don’t take up space on your desk, you can move the mic out of your way, and they often provide better angles. However, not all arms are durable enough to hold a mic and all accessories you use, so it’s a good idea to do your research before buying one.
Several of the mics on our list include pop filters. These handy little accessories don’t look like much, usually a circular device attached to a flexible wire that you connect to your mic setup, but they work wonders on sound quality.
These accessories, also known as pop shields or screens, filter excess noise. As you might guess from their name, these accessories mitigate the popping noises caused by fast-moving air on the mic.
Best of Luck Choosing Your Next Microphone
That was a lot of information about mics! You should have everything you need to decide on the best microphone for your studio. Just take the time to consider your options, including your preferences and workspace before choosing a product.
Of course, if you’re still not sure what mic to choose, we suggest Blue’s Snowball iCE as the best microphone you can get. It’s super easy to set up and delivers quality audio. Plus, the fun retro design looks great in every setting.
We would love to hear your opinion on the best microphones available. Leave a comment below to share your thoughts about your favourite mic!