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Best USB Microphone

No matter who you are, you’ll probably need a USB microphone at some point. Whether you’re a gamer looking to get the highest quality communication between you and your teammates or entrepreneur who wants to host online client meetings. Maybe you just want a more personal way to connect with that person you love when the distance between you is too great and text just won’t cut it.

We’ve put together a list of the best USB microphones on the market and weighed their strengths and weaknesses to help you find the best one for your situation, regardless of who you are.

Best USB Microphone – Comparison Table

Below, you’ll find a brief overview of each of our top picks, as well as a couple of relevant specifications for each. Here are our top recommendations for the best USB microphones of 2018, handpicked by experts.

Product NameNoise CancellationFrequency Response
Blue YetiNo20Hz-20KHz
KLIM Desktop USB MicrophoneYes100Hz-10KHz
Blue SnowballNo40Hz-18KHz
CAD U37No20Hz-20KHz

Now that you’ve had a quick look at each product’s features, feel free to take a look at a more comprehensive review of each below. We’ll begin with the Yeti, from Blue Microphones.

1

Blue Yeti – Best Professional Quality Microphone

If your primary concern is voice quality, then this is the one for you. Podcasters and video lecturers alike have flocked to this microphone in droves thanks to the consistent and high-quality results that the Blue Yeti can provide.

Firstly, let’s start by saying that this microphone is not portable. It weighs 3.5 pounds and is almost a foot tall, so once you’ve found a place for it, expect it to stay there for a long time. However, what it lacks in manoeuvrability, it makes up in terms of performance.

The Yeti produces clear and full sounding audio which sounds professional – no small feat considering the relatively low price. This makes it a fantastic choice for anyone interested in doing voice over work such as a radio show or readings. Where the Yeti really shines, though, is in the inclusion of multiple features to help you tailor your voice to your exact specifications.

One such feature is a dial which allows you to choose your recording mode: omnidirectional, cardioid, stereo or bidirectional. This allows you to easily switch mode based on your situation, for example, an interview format with people sat on opposite sides of the mic would benefit greatly from the bidirectional mode, whereas if it’s just you, you’d usually use the cardioid setting.

There’s also your standard volume control, as well as a dial that allows you to change the amount of gain on your voice, and a mute button. We found that the buttons were a little plasticky and cheap feeling in contrast to the overall high-quality finish of the mic casing, but that’s not a huge deal breaker.

The only real issues we found were that the Yeti tended to pick up some noise, such as keypresses when in cardioid mode, which was an annoyance, and that it did pick up a lot of popping noise, however, this can be mitigated using a widely available and inexpensive pop filter.

Overall, we’re very impressed with this microphone. It has it all: high-quality audio recording, numerous helpful settings and features, as well as a gorgeous metallic body. If you’re looking for professional quality, without the price tag, the Yeti is the one for you.

PROS
  • Professional quality sound
  • Multiple sound modes
  • Good range of additional features
CONS
  • Too big to be easily portable
  • Picks up external noise
2

KLIM Desktop USB Microphone – Best Budget Microphone

Maybe you’re just looking for a microphone for casual use, like talking to your teammates when gaming, and don’t really want to spend a lot of money on a professional quality mic. If that sounds like you, you should consider the KLIM model.

It may look like a cheap USB microphone, but actually, this model boasts a couple of features that even the Yeti doesn’t have. The first of these is KLIM’s own audio filter, which helps reduce the amount of external noise that the microphone picks up, and the second is the fact that this mic actually comes with a pop filter.

The audio quality of this mic is above average for the price. We found that there was very little static noise or interference when recording, which is usually encountered when testing inexpensive microphones. It does a great job at isolating the voice whilst ignoring background noise, perfect for people with a loud PC or who live next to a busy road.

Whilst we weren’t huge fans of the design, we recognise that some people will be, and if red isn’t your thing, it also comes in a dark blue. The underside of the base has a foam layer to avoid scratching your desktop too, which is a bonus.

We also liked the simplicity of this model: it’s plug and play, so there’s no hassle involving drivers or tweaking settings. The only settings are on the mute button and combo power and volume dial. Whilst this is a smart space-saving decision, we found it a little obtuse since there were no instructions included. You push the button in to power on or off, and twist to adjust volume.

There’s a lot to like about this model. It’s decent recording quality and simplicity make it ideal for the casual user, and it’s small and light enough to be put in a drawer when not in use. These qualities also make it portable, so if you wanted to take it with you on the move, it’s perfect.

PROS
  • Picks up no external noise
  • Above average sound quality
  • Comes with a pop filter
CONS
  • Design might not appeal to everyone
  • Combined power/volume switch is a little confusing
3

Blue Snowball - Best USB Microphone for Gaming

Another entry by Blue Microphones, and with good reason: they’re known for quality. The Snowball is an instantly recognisable microphone thanks to its distinctive shape. It also comes in a range of seven different colours, so you can choose the one that best matches your setup.

The Snowball features two recording modes: omnidirectional and cardioid. These two modes will cover most of the recording work you’ll undertake, for example, you can use the omnidirectional mode for conference calls and the cardioid mode for chatting to your teammates without picking up the traffic outside.

Sound quality is crisp and clear with very little noise. For a microphone without any dedicated noise cancellation, it does a great job. We found that when gaming, we couldn’t hear our keypresses when chatting, which is a major issue for PC gamers on a budget. Whilst it does sound great, however, the quality is below that of the Yeti and so we wouldn’t recommend trying to use this for professional work, but for light musical recording or gaming, it’s perfect. 

This model is plug and play, so there’s no issue there. We do wish there was a little more information on the mic itself, though, since the switch that changes sound modes is labelled simply “1 2 3”, and requires you to check the manual for information on what exactly that means.

We love the retro-inspired design of this microphone. It looks fantastic and the detachable stand makes the whole thing small enough to take with you if you’re travelling. Whilst it won’t do the job for someone looking to record music professionally, it’s pretty good for the price and handles other tasks like Skype calls and gaming chat very well indeed.

The Snowball aims to bridge the gap between budget and professional quality microphones, whilst keeping costs low, and for that reason, it’s perfect for people without much knowledge about the science behind audio recording. The end result is a microphone that sounds great and allows for clear and concise communication, whilst costing less than $100. 

PROS
  • Switchable sound modes
  • Good range of colours
  • Very low amount of external noise pickup
CONS
  • Sound mode switch isn't marked as clearly as we'd like
  • Not quite good enough for musical or voice over work
4

CAD U37 – Best Microphone for Musical Recording

If you’re looking for a mic to record your music with, but don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars, the CAD U37 is a great choice. It’s an attractive, USB-powered cardioid microphone, which means it’s great for musicians since it doesn’t pick up ambient noise.

To help accentuate this, there is a bass reduction option you can use to filter out low frequencies, just in case it still picks up noise from your surroundings. Another useful feature is this mic’s -10dB option. This helps get rid of distortion from loud noises, so if you’re the kind of singer who likes to belt, this will most likely be your go to setting.

This microphone produces very warm, sharp and crisp sound, free from interference or crackling, however, we’d recommend getting a pop filter since they make a huge difference and the -10dB option can only do so much.

The microphone’s body is made of plastic, which helps keep the weight down, but also has the effect of making the whole unit less durable, so try not to drop it. The grille is made of metal, though and looks high quality. We found the overall aesthetic of the microphone to be pleasing to the eye, which can only be a good thing.

If we had any complaints about this model, it’d be the lack of monitoring. Musicians like to be able to hear themselves whilst recording, but this microphone doesn’t have any kind of headset output. This means that you have to wait until you’re finished and play the recording back to hear yourself, which can be a nuisance.

This microphone is fantastic. It produces high quality and focussed audio and comes with a couple of features that musicians will find invaluable, whilst being pretty inexpensive. It looks great and sounds even better, and whilst it lacks monitoring capabilities and other features found on much more expensive microphones, this is absolutely the best product for your home recording studio, given the price.

PROS
  • Decent noise filtering options
  • Output is warm and crisp
  • Output is warm and crisp
CONS
  • No monitoring functionality
  • Cardioid sound only

Best USB Microphone- Buyer's Guide

Before you buy a microphone, it’s important to know the important specifications so you can make an informed purchase. Below, we’ll cover some of these.

Frequency Response

The frequency response of a microphone refers to the way it reacts to sounds of different frequencies. A model that leans toward high frequencies would produce an output with higher treble. Ideally, you’d find a model with a wide range of frequencies that doesn’t favour bass or treble, but realistically, there will usually be some compromise one way or the other, based on the purpose of the microphone. If you’d like to read more about frequency response, there’s a useful guide here: http://www.mediacollege.com/audio/microphones/frequency-response.html

Signal to noise ratio

Microphones will often have a signal to noise ratio on the packaging that denotes how loud the signal (your voice) is to the noise produced by the mic itself. This noise is usually a very quiet humming sound, and if you buy a very cheap mic, you’ll hear it clearly. A higher number is better (meaning quieter noise), but don’t let that be the only deciding factor, you should also check out the other features that the product has.

Sound modes

There are a wide variety of sound modes that a microphone can have. The sound mode you need will be dependent on what you plan to use it for. A cardioid sound mode means that the mic will pick up sound from whatever is directly in front of it, whereas an omnidirectional mode means that it will pick up sound from all directions around it. A lot of high-end mics offer switchable modes and more advanced setups, but you should really put thought into whether you might need them before spending more money than you have to.

Noise cancellation

Sometimes a microphone will mention that it is noise cancelling, but what does that mean? Well, exactly that. It does its best to remove unwanted noise from your surroundings through one or more methods. The most common that you’ve probably seen is where the diaphragm is covered in a foamy material. This is a basic pop filter, and it’s there to prevent the sound waves from sharp sounds like “P”, “B”,”D” and “T” from creating a popping sound by striking the diaphragm directly. They might also use software to remove ambient noise from the signal, but that’s a bit more advanced.

Conclusion


So there you have it. We’ve reviewed each of our top microphones and weighed the pros and cons of each. Every model in this list is a great microphone in its own right, but to us, there’s one that really stands out. The versatility of the Blue Snowball makes it perfect for a wide range of situations, from gaming to conference calls, and its attractive design and low price really help cement it as the best low-cost USB microphone.

We hope that this article has helped you come to a decision as to which is the best microphone for you. We’re looking forward to hearing you on a podcast or performing soon and we hope that the next time you need product advice, you’ll come back to us. Thanks for reading!