The Best 5 USB Microphones (2021)

Aspiring podcasters, live streamers and music producers... far is the time when expensive gear and lots of cables were necessary to record! Since their arrival on the market, USB microphones have brought all industry experts together. They provide a portable and affordable solution for recording with no hassle. They are in fact designed to be plug and play! If you're approaching the world of recording and are looking for a high-quality solution, you won't be disappointed.

Anna Colombo

Anna Colombo

If you think microphones can only function with long cables connected to potentially expensive audio interfaces, you’re wrong! The latest technology in recording has allowed many manufacturers to develop USB microphones. They work like any other  USB device: you can plug them into your laptop, mobile phone or tablet, and you’ll be all set up to record! So you won’t need any additional drivers or external equipment.

USB microphones are designed to incorporate everything you need to get recording. Whether you’re just starting out making music, recording your podcast, or you’re already a pro, these mics are an affordable and compact solution to record in any situation.

What’s a USB microphone?

A USB microphone is a microphone with a digital output, that is the USB connection. It’s becoming more and more popular thanks to the rise of podcasts and live streaming, it is also a more affordable alternative to an XLR mic. The main difference is that an XLR mic needs to be pre-amplified and recorded through an audio interface, that acts as a bridge between the analog signal coming from your microphone and the digital information your DAW needs to do its job.

USB mics, on the other hand, have a built-in interface and an A/D (analogue-to-digital) converter, hence you can simply connect them to your laptop or mobile phone and record with no need for other devices. What’s more, some of them will also have a headphone amp for direct monitoring.

What can be a USB mic used for?

USB microphones are great for a variety of activities. First and foremost, they can be a good way to start recording music. Thanks to the latest technology they’re becoming better and better in terms of sound quality. Since they’re plug and play, they’re good for beginner music producers and artists on a budget or on the go, who need an affordable and still good quality mic.

Secondly, USB mics are great for podcasting, live streaming, recording voice-overs and also conferencing. They give everyone access to high-quality audio recordings on a budget.

Types of USB microphones

Most USB microphones are condensers, which are the most common type of mics you find in recording studios. Condensers are built with a diaphragm suspended by a fixed plate; the sound causes pressure against it making it move. Their pickup is very accurate, meaning that they will capture all the details of the sound source.

You can mainly find 3 types of condenser USB microphones depending on their polar pattern: cardioid, omni and figure-of-eight. Cardioid will pick up anything that is in front of the diaphragm, omnidirectional picks up the whole ambience and figure-of-eight (or bidirectional) picks up the equal amount of sound from the front and the rear, but the sound from the sides is blocked out.

The main differentiator between USB microphones is how they use DSP (digital signal processing). Some mics have it and use it in a subtle way. Others don’t have it at all and give the highest bitrate audio they can. Other models have a heavy DSP and use it on thick coats, offering anything but pure signal. This last kind of mics is generally designed for gamers, although it’s not always the case.

Best USB Microphones for Podcasting

The best USB microphones for podcasting are cardioid and super-cardioid, specially designed for vocals. At Andertons we stock a wide range of cardioid condenser and dynamic USB mics, as well as mixers and all-in-one consoles to have a professional podcast studio at home. It might be worth getting a mic with some DSP in it, to avoid laughter and bursts of sound going into distortion.

Best Accessories for Podcasting

Best USB Microphones for Gaming

Similarly to podcasters, Twitch streamers and gamers need a USB microphone with a cardioid pickup pattern, to keep their voice as the main focus. There are many models now with built-in pop filters, which give even more security and control over your recording.

Best USB Microphone for Vocals and Instruments

If you’ve bought a condenser mic for podcasting and gaming, that’s also going to be a good option for your vocals and instrument recordings. There are plenty of options with an integrated stand so they can comfortably sit on your studio desk while you’re recording!

The 5 best USB microphones (2021)

 

5. Marantz MPM1000U

This is probably the best option for those who are approaching podcasting and live streaming and want a good mic at an affordable price point. The Marantz MPM1000U is a condenser microphone delivering high-quality recordings with extended frequency response and low noise. Plug it straight into your laptop or phone and start recording your next episode!

4. Audio-Technica AT2020USB+

Audio Technica have developed a USB version of the AT2020, delivering the same incredible quality in a compact and standalone mic. The AT2020USB+ is ideal for podcasters, YouTubers and anyone who wants to record on the go. It features a built-in headphone jack with volume control that allows you to directly monitor your microphone signal with no delay. It also offers mix control that blends microphone and pre-recorded audio.

3. Shure MV7-K

If you’re looking for a professional solution for your live streams and podcasts, the Shure MV7-K is the right one for you. It’s the brand’s first hybrid USB/XLR microphone, meaning that you’ll be able to connect it both directly into your laptop and into your audio interface!
It incorporates a highly directional dynamic design and voice isolation tech to provide the best rendition of your voice possible. What’s more, the built-in touch panel allows you to quickly tweak and adjust the sound to your likings.

2. RØDE NT-USB

The NT-USB is the USB microphone in the RØDE NT line, that offers high-quality condenser mics for any application. The NT-USB plugs directly into your laptop, mobile phone and tablet and also features a headphone output for monitoring. The cherry on top is that it also comes with an all-metal pop shield, a handy desktop stand and a 6 meter USB cable, allowing you to have your recording studio anywhere you go!

1.  RØDE NT-USB MINI

The best USB microphone in our chart is the RØDE NT-USB MINI compact desk mount microphone. It packs excellent audio quality in a small footprint, making it the best option for podcasters, live streamers or music producers always on the go, who don’t want to sacrifice quality. The condenser capsule is designed to isolate your voice, keeping it crisp and clear, moreover, the NT-USB MINI has a built-in pop filter that eliminates ambient noise and distortion. The integrated free software RØDE Connect also makes podcasting more fun, allowing you to use up to 64 custom sounds.

Best USB Microphones

Conclusion

USB microphones are a great portable addition to your studio gear. They’re versatile and allow you to record podcasts, videos, live streams and music wherever you are. They’re also an affordable and very appreciated Christmas (or birthday, or anything, really!) gift. If you’ve enjoyed this article, keep reading our blog for more inspirations and learning articles:

Anna Colombo
Anna Colombo

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