The quality of USB mics being produced recently would give any studio mic a run for the money. They are becoming increasingly popular by the day and for good reasons – their quality is amazing, its easy to use, compatible with all kinds of systems, including laptops, Macs and PCs. They are also very versatile and can be suitable for a number of applications. I remember it wasn’t until a few years ago that the market started having a significant amount of USB mics and at that point, lots of people were skeptical about it, even the most enthusiastic mic lovers. It’s a mic that you can just stick into the USB port on a system and it immediately becomes useable without any external source of power, unheard of – at least as at then. The skepticism was much that there was little faith in its capacity to be used for live calls, gaming, YouTube videos or even home studios. I can’t emphasize how wrong we were. Today, USB mics have become a main stay and in this article, we intend to take a closer look at these plug-and-play mics.
Choosing the best USB microphone
When trying to get the best USB mic that suits your need, one very important factor you should consider and possibly the first is your budget. We have some USB mics of great quality that are affordable or even cheap, some of them falling under the $100 and $50 mark. That said, some others are worth hundreds of dollars but will definitely give you the quality, longevity and audio resolution you need. It all depends on what you are willing to sacrifice – quality or money?
Since all you do with a USB mic is to plug and play, these mics can be very versatile and can perfectly work for a vast number of functions. That said, it is important that the major application be identified, as with every other type of mic, you have to decide what it is you want to use it for. Vlogging? YouTube? Podcast? Home studio (for vocals and instruments)? Whatever it is, you need to identify it because it will steer you towards a particular direction in the selection process. You also need to factor in how it will be used. Are you going to be traveling, will you be on the move a lot or will you just have it placed on a table?
When it comes to audio latency, you use will also afford you some lenience. For those who wish to use it in a home studio – probably for recording instruments, or singing. While we may recommend the condenser mics with phantom power and audio interface route, quality of the USB mic you intend to go for should be your main priority. Else, you may technically go lower in resolution when streaming or using mic for calls but if you feel the need to save money and buy the cheaper one, it’s okay as well after all, the person on the other end of the call will still be able to hear you
You shouldn’t consider the USB mic if you are looking for a mic to use on your smart devices, perhaps, you can go through our iOS microphones for the type of mics that are suitable for that purpose. Now lets talk about some of the best USB mics out there in the market.
The best USB microphones
When it comes to microphones in general, this brand is a world-beater and one of my personal favorites. The NT-USB is one of the best USB mics available for people who are looking for versatility since it is suitable for recording instruments and vocals, gaming, podcasts, business meetings, Skype calls, voice overs etc. this mic is a studio quality mic that is suitable for every mainstream application you could do on Mac and Windows systems. It has a zero latency stereo headphones with a 3.5 mm jack, which gives you the opportunity to monitor and mix between you mic input and your system input. It comes with a nifty little stand to enable it sit perfectly on your table. It also has a pop filter that fits directly into the mic’s base. This mic is relatively affordable and in it box pack, there is a storage pouch, a tripod stands and a mount for a solid all round great experience. This ensures you get to start using your gadget immediately it arrives your doorstep.
Apogee MiC 96k
This is another great USB mic. This mic may be small and low profile but it has some of the best features you could want in a mic. It comes with a professional grade studio quality cardioid condenser and can easily be connected to Mac, iPhone, Windows or iPad. It can be connected to the phone and tab with the aid of the pureDIGITAL USB connection. This mic easily captures your best take and can be easily carried out on trips or for outdoor use. The cardioid polar pattern of this mic is designed to perfectly enhance activities like interviews, podcasts, voice-overs etc. the mic has a control knob, which makes it easier to control the sound gain while in use. When looking for a compact design with a USB connector, this is arguably the best option, although it isn’t too cheap.
Razer Seiren Elite
This is another versatile mic. This model is cost effective and suitable to a number of uses including recording vocals, instruments, conference calls, podcasts, interviews etc. people who need mics for multiple recording environments should look into this mic especially if you are working with a limited budget. This model is primarily a gaming model however; it can be easily switched to any of its 4 polar recording patters just by adjusting the knob – versatility. There is an inbuilt head phone amplifier that in this mic and is compatible with just about any 3.5 mm headphone jack. You can monitor recordings in real-time thanks to its zero latency output. For easy control, this mic has 5 adjustable features; the polar pattern selector, master headphone volume, OLED display, mute button and the mic gain control. Buying a new Razer Siren Elite mic is amazing because you don’t have to worry about some accessories like pop filter, shock for noise reduction and a nifty carrying bag. This is definitely great value for money.
This is one of the best mics designed to digitally capture music or any acoustic source with the aid of a special software. This model is the USB version of the popular AT2020 condenser mic that has been used and trusted for many years now. As a result of its cardioid condenser design, it is music inclined even though it can be perfectly suited for other tasks like podcasts, field recordings, voice-overs etc. This model has an inbuilt headphone jack with a volume control so you can easily monitor and adjust the mic with no delay. You can also blend your mic signal with pre-recorded audio with the aid of the mix control feature present in this mic. The A/D converter provides a solid sound production with its 16-bit, 44.1 1/48 kHz sample rate and with the cardioid pattern, you are sure to get a very good off-axis rejection from this mic. This is a relatively cheap mic so if you are looking for a music-centered mic which can be adapted for other uses and is a USB mic, then this might just be your best option.
Blue Yeti Microphone
This is one very popular model and it is popular for good reasons. The Blue Yeti Microphone is one of the best makers of mics with USB connectivity. This exact model is very versatile and can be perfectly used for a number of tasks like gaming, and interviews. It has a tri-capsule technology and 4 distinct pattern settings – bi-directional, stereo, omnidirectional and cardioid – that you can easily switch to with just the push of a button. This mic was specially designed to ensure a very rich and solid sound production and with the presence of features like mute, mic gain, headphone volume etc. you will always be in total control f the mic. This mic has a 3.55 mm headphone jack that enables you to listen with zero latency delay – just plug and play. The mic is to be connected to the USB port in your system and this mic is compatible with Mac OS and Windows. This mic features in almost all lists of top USB mics I’ve seen and it definitely deserves its place as one of the very best USB mics out there.
Samson Go Mic
Now its time to take a look at the very affordable Samson Go Mic; this mic is the perfect traveler’s companion. If you are looking for a computer-based mic that you can easily carry along anywhere you go, then this is your mic. It’s an easy to use plug and play mic. All you have to do is connect it to your Mac or Windows and you’re good to go. This mic is perfect for podcasts as well as for voice recognition software, voice overs, web casting iChat etc. that said, it might not be the best mic for recording music – it’ll work but there are other models better for this particular task. It comes with a 2-pattern setting – the omnidirectional and the cardioid thus giving you options to pick from when needed. This mic offers 20Hz – 18 kHz as well as a 16-bit resolution despite its very compact nature. If you are in need of something affordable, low profile and easily carried around, then this is for you. Imagine a mic that can be folded into wallet size.
This is one of my personal favorites. It’s a compact model like the Go mic and is also pocket friendly. This mic is perfect for people who need a simple plug and play mic. This mic has a 2 in 1 iOS and USB connectivity to enable you set up easily even while on the go. This mic is aesthetically appealing and it maintains a low profile, very similar to the vintage designs that are obtainable with the adjustable desktop stand. This mic is specially made to capture human voice and as such, is perfect for voice overs, music, podcast recording etc. with the aid of some software – like ShurePlus MOTIV – you can record edit and share content on the go. This is not one of those high-end mics so you need not fear for how much it would cost you.
When in need of a USB mic that is extremely cheap, this is the model you are looking for. It’s head and shoulders above others in this price category and its quality is amazing for the amount paid. That said, if you intend to record music, it might be wiser to save up and go for a different model. If there’s a need to carry it everywhere, it’s compact enough to fit into your pocket. This mic has a bigger condenser cardioid pattern microphone and as such, its capable of direct use once you slot into the port on your laptop. For those in the TV and broadcasting business, this mic is suitable for side address. You can easily capture speech, instruments and singing thanks to its smooth extensive frequency response. It is also capable of minimizing distortion from loud noises thanks to its -10db overload protection. It is perfectly compatible with Mac and Windows, so if you need a mic that combines affordability, decent quality and perfect for beginners.
As we draw closer to the end of our list, we just had to keep a spot for this amazing USB mic. They may not have been among the first set of brands to begin the USB mic production but their delay is worth. They made up for it with a sleek solution. The tempo offers users one of the best experiences they’ll ever get from a USB mic and it is suitable for vocal recordings, dictation and legal decomposition to name a few. It has a lightweight condenser design thus making it easy for users to record whatever they want on the go. The tempo of this mic still produces a frequency response of 40Hz to 48kHz despite being such a small mic. It comes with a headphone jack to help you with record wit ease several computer programs such as Google Hangouts, Skype, etc. will be enhanced by this mic.
Blue Snowball iCE
Our list wouldn’t be complete if we don’t include the Blue Snowball ICE model. This mic is used by beginners and experts alike. Its features are extremely easy to understand and use while remaining affordable. This mic is perfect for small desk application however, people in need of mic for their laptops and Macs. This mic is highly flexible thanks to its cardioid polar pattern and its custom condenser capsule offers a very clear audio quality. Considering the price you are paying, the 40 – 18kHz seems a steal. This mic works perfectly for Mac and Windows. This mic is a good all-purpose mic and needs no extra driver to enable you use it. This mic offers convenience like no other.