15 Best USB Mics for Podcasting, Gaming and Streaming

usb microphone

Are you an up-and-coming podcaster who doesn’t want to be separated from their guests by a mass of cables and equipment? An aspiring singer who wants to plug in and record your performance at a moment’s notice? Or maybe an avid gamer who wants to share your most fun gameplay experiences by sharing voiceovers on Twitch – without giving up desktop space?

If your answer is “yes” to any of the above, then it sounds to us like you need to get yourself a USB microphone which you can plug straight into your laptop, desktop or portable device.

Read on to learn more about the best USB microphones for singing, the best budget microphones for streaming and the best microphones for podcasting we’ve found for 2022:

HyperX QuadCast

HyperX QuadCast

With a convenient mute button located on the top of the unit and the option to switch between 4 different polar patterns, you’ll be ready for any broadcasting scenario with the QuadCast. This condenser mic uses DSP, making it perfect for streaming or talking on Zoom as soon as you plug it in.

Internal pop filter and built-in shock mount

Easily accessible gain dial

Red on light cannot be switched off when mic is on

Sound resolution is of lower quality than other mics on our list

Find on Amazon

Audio Technica AT2020 USB+

Audio Technica AT2020 USB+

This cardioid condenser from Audio Technica is great-sounding for a USB mic, with AD converters capable of working at up to 48 kHz/16 bit (which is equivalent to CD quality). You can also use the AT2020 USB+’s Mix Control to blend your live input signal pre-recorded audio.

Mix Control dial 

Headphone input and level control

Overly sensitive to background noise

Limited to a single polar pattern

Find on Amazon

Blue Yeti USB

Blue Yeti USB

Believe it or not, the Blue Yeti has been on the scene since 2009 – and it still holds up to today’s competition. Despite what the name would suggest, the popular Blue Yeti USB is also available in black and in silver – and also allows you to switch between 4 different polar patterns.

Solid metal build

Great sound quality

Buttons feel flimsy

Overly sensitive to background noise

Find on Amazon

Shure MV7

Shure MV7

Very much a microphone for the age of the smartphone and the tablet, you can control the input gain of the MV7 via a touch strip on the mic itself. And if that wasn’t enough, this dynamic microphone is also compatible with Shure’s MOTIV app, which allows you to control the gain, EQ, and more.

Gain controlled via touch strip

Can also be connected via XLR

Dynamic, so not suitable for quieter, more detailed recordings

No mount or stand included

Find on Amazon

Samson Q9U

Similar in look and in performance to the MV7, the dynamic Q9U’s main difference is its more affordable price. Samson’s offering also features a low cut filter switch that, when engaged, changes the mic’s sensitivity so it doesn’t pick up lower frequencies – which is very handy if you’re recording in an environment with low-level background noise.

Can also be connected via XLR

Low cut filter and midrange boost

Dynamic, so not suitable for quieter, more detailed recordings

Suffers from proximity effect, so some distance between sound source and microphone is recommended

Find on Amazon

Rode NT-USB

Rode’s USB mic has gained popularity for its crisp, clear sound, which is DSP-free – making it great for recording singing, voice acting or other detailed vocals. With a tidy tripod and pop shield combination, you won’t have any trouble with positioning – or plosives.

Sound quality comparable to other professional standard Rode mics

Detachable pop shield

Adjusting the dials can cause noise

Overly sensitive to background noise

Find on Amazon

JLab Talk Pro

JLab Talk Pro

JLab weren’t kidding around when they named this USB microphone – which can convert audio up to an impressive 192kHz/24bit – the Talk Pro. With volume control, a mute button and a polar pattern switch all easily accessible, you can make adjustments on the go without interrupting your flow.

Portable, lightweight and small size

Sturdy design with built-in tripod stand

Polar pattern switch can be noisy

Build quality isn’t as solid as other mics in its price range

Find on Amazon

PreSonus Revelator

PreSonus Revelator

This USB microphone from PreSonus is a revelation indeed. With 8 professionally-crafted presets available at the push of a button and 3 polar patterns to choose from, the Revelator lets you do a lot for less.

DSP is highly customisable to suit your voice

High quality, low-noise microphone

Some preset vocal effects are more fun than functional

Overly sensitive to background noise

Find on Amazon

Neat Beecaster

Neat Beecaster

Neat by name, neat by nature – create a buzz with the great-looking, great-sounding Beecaster. With a switchable polar pattern, a removable pop filter and a full posable swivel arm, the Beecaster is the full professional podcasting package at an affordable price.

Accessible dials to switch polar pattern and gain

Four polar patterns to switch between

Stand takes up more desk space

Sound quality

Find on Amazon

Shure MOTIV MV51

Shure MOTIV MV51

Combining cutting edge features with a classic look, the MV51 is compatible with the MOTIV app and bears more than a passing resemblance to Shure’s iconic Unidyne microphone. Its front facing touch screen panel also allows you to easily control gain, mute the microphone and switch between its 5 preset DSP modes.

5 useful presets

Touch screen controls

The built-in stand is too low for proper desktop use

Polar pattern is not switchable

Find on Amazon

Apogee HypeMiC

Apogee HypeMiC

One of the highest quality DSP-free mics on our list, the HypeMiC certainly warrants the excitement its name would suggest. One of its most exciting features is its ability to add compression in an analogue, rather than a digital, fashion, resulting in a more level recording without extreme volume peaks or troughs.

Includes a pop shield

Clean, high quality signal

Expensive for a USB mic

Smash Mode compresses the signal a bit too much

Find on Amazon

AKG Lyra

AKG Lyra

The retro style of the Lyra belies its very modern capabilities. Capable of converting audio at a rate of up to 192kHz/24 bit via its high-speed USB-C connection, there’s some very smart stuff underneath its solid metal casing.

4 polar patterns to switch between

Excellent sound quality

Polar pattern switch located at the back

Susceptible to handling noise

Find on Amazon

Tula Mic

Tula Mic

A mic with 12 hours of battery life that you can slot straight in your pocket, Tula have designed the perfect tool for you to record with when you’re on the go. Plus, it comes in Seafoam, Creme, Red or Black!

Wide choice of colours

Sleek, portable design

Noise cancellation less effective than other mics on our list

Struggles with low frequencies past 50Hz

Find on Amazon

Rode Podcaster

Rode Podcaster

This broadcast-style dynamic microphone from Rode will inject your conversation with a pleasing, rich warmth. Plug straight into your iPhone, iPad or laptop and you’ll sound like a professional Broadcaster, YouTuber, Streamer – or, indeed, Podcaster – in no time.

Built-in shock mount and pop filter

Unaltered, DSP-free signal

Stand not included

No gain dial

Find on Amazon

Elgato WAVE:3

Elgato Wave:3

This simple, affordable USB mic from Elgato sits comfortably in the middle of the road – nothing too fancy, but gets the job done well. The Wave:3 uses Clipguard technology and a low cut filter, which work together to help keep your signal level and clean.

Analog/DSP hybrid can be switched on or off

Easy access to mute, gain, volume and crossfade controls

Polar pattern is not switchable

Pop shield not included

Find on Amazon

What are USB microphones?

First of all, there are 2 main types of microphone you’ll come across – dynamic microphones, which are better for picking up louder sounds, and condenser microphones, which are more sensitive and better for picking up quieter, more detailed sounds.

Professional quality microphones of either type are generally connected to a device using XLR connectors, and via an audio interface rather than being plugged directly into your computer or portable device. You can read more about how audio interfaces convert analogue sound waves into digital information in our list of the 15 best audio interfaces for 2022.

However, USB microphones convert sound waves themselves, without the aid of or need for a separate interface. This, as well as the fact that they use USB connectors, which most home computers have a port for, means that you can plug your USB microphone straight into your computer – and start recording right away!

How do I know which USB mic to buy?

Let’s get the obvious out the way first: what’s your budget, and how much desk space do you have to work with?

While, in general, even the best budget USB microphones can’t quite match the impressive specs of their XLR mic counterparts, they will at least be a fraction of the price.

Desk space is important, whatever sort of work you need it for. Fortunately, USB microphones will generally have been designed with this in mind and are usually compact units – and most will include a basic stand (often a tripod) which shouldn’t take up too much room.

There are, however, a couple of extra accessories you might want to consider purchasing too to maximize your desktop recording experience:

Boom arm

A boom arm, studio arm or boom mic stand will in most cases be sold separately from USB mics (though not always – we’re looking at your, Neat Bee) but will prove to be a worthwhile investment as your recording journey continues. Most microphones have a thread hole – the standard size in Europe is ? inches with 16 TPI (that’s threads per inch), whereas the standard size in the USA is ? inches with 27 TPI, so make sure the stand and microphone you’re looking at match up, or you’ll need to invest in an adapter.

Simply screw your microphone to the boom arm via the mic’s thread hole, then you’re free to angle and position your microphone wherever you want to in relation to the sound source – plus, since you position the base of the boom arm on the floor, you can simply sweep mic, arm and all out of your way when you’re done recording, leaving your desk completely free!

Shock mount

This is a device that suspends your microphone in an elastic frame, designed to absorb vibrations that are caused by accidental knocks or bumps. This is vital for maintaining a clean signal, since vibrations can add unwanted buzzing, and can easily be attached to a boom arm.

Other than factors such as your budget and the desk space you can spare, there are a few other things you need to take into consideration when selecting your USB mic:

Button functions

USB mics tend to have more adjustable controls on them than XLR mics, since XLR mics are controlled via a separate audio interface, whereas USB mics serve as their own interface. Functions such as gain, which can be increased to boost quieter sounds, and

You can plug your headphones directly into most USB microphones as well (again, if you were using an XLR mic, you’d plug your headphones into your audio interface rather than the mic), so most USB mics also feature a headphone output level control. Some USB mics also feature a mix control dial, which allows you to blend how much of your live input signal (such as your singing voice) you can hear with how much of your pre-recorded signal (such as a backing track) you can hear.

Digital Sound Processing

A feature of many USB mics – which adds to their ‘plug in and play’ convenience – is their Digital Signal Processing (DSP) system. Put simply, a microphone which uses DSP will change the input signal (your voice, in most cases) automatically to boost certain aspects of the signal and reduce others, as opposed to a DSP-free microphone, which would give you a clean signal that you would mix separately.

How useful DSP is to you depends on what you want to use your microphone for. A USB mic which uses little or no DSP may be more useful if you’re a singer, as you may want to work with a cleaner signal which you can edit however you like after you’ve recorded it, whereas a USB mic with more pronounced DSP may be more useful if you’re a gamer, as DSP can be aimed at reducing tapping keyboards and clicking mouses, or if you’re interviewing someone who isn’t used to speaking into a microphone or being recorded, as it can regulate the gain on their input signal if they’re speaking too loudly or quietly. 

Frequency response

This tells you how good your microphone is at responding to certain frequencies, from the low frequency of bass to the high frequency of treble. It’s generally agreed that our human ears can hear as low as 20 Hertz and as high as 20,000 Herts – which is usually written as 20Hz-20kHz

Condenser mics typically have a better frequency response than dynamic mics, which is why most of the USB mics we’ve covered are condenser mics which can pick up frequencies from 20hz to 20kHz. However, dynamic USB mics still have their advantages – not being able to pick up lower frequencies means that they don’t pick up low level background noise, which is useful if the environment you’re recording in is not silent, plus they can handle louder sounds than condenser mics without distorting.

Polar pattern

As opposed to dynamic microphones you’d sing into onstage, your desktop is an entirely different environment. Dynamic microphones used for live singing performances pick up sound from an area that forms a heart-like shape in front of it – which is where the pattern gets its name ‘cardioid’.

The cardioid pattern, which not only picks up sound in front of the microphone but also shuts out sound from behind it, may well be of use to you in your streaming or singing pursuits, but if you have bigger ideas, you may soon tire of this one-trick pony. This is where USB mics with switchable polar patterns come in.

Several mics we’ve covered on our list offer a function to switch between the front-facing cardioid (also known as ‘unidirectional) pattern, the ‘bidirectional’ pattern (also known as ‘figure eight’ due to the shape of the area it picks up) and the ‘omnidirectional’ pattern (which picks up sound from all around). It’s great to have these options if you’re planning on having a guest come into your studio to chat with you on your podcast, or if you want to record a choir or group of instrumentalists gathered around you.