The best podcast microphones capture the full range of one’s speaking voice while minimizing background noises and static. Some users also require a microphone that can pick up multiple voices in an interview, or a mic that can be set up easily on the go.
For this guide, we found the 4 best USB podcasting microphones that cover all of these uses. They range in price from $17 to $169, so truly every budget is represented.
BEST USB PODCAST MICROPHONE: YOUMIC VS GOMIC VS AT2005 VS NT USB
CONDENSER VS DYNAMIC VS LAVALIER: WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
These are 3 different types of microphones that handle sound in different ways. Here’s all you need to know without getting into the nitty gritty:
- If you have a soft voice, go with a condenser like the GoMic or NT-USB. The higher gain and range will add more *umph* to your voice. Condensers are also the best mic for ASMR recordings, as they’ll pick up that airiness in your voice.
- If there’s a lot of background noises in your studio, go with a dynamic mic like the AT2005. This will reduce sound from unwanted sources, including air vents, refrigerators, neighborhood sounds, children in the house, etc.
- If you need to move around while you talk, go with a lavalier like the YouMic. This tiny condenser mic clips into your shirt, and can plug into a smartphone, making it much more portable than the other mics.
Now let’s take a closer look at each microphone:
For a very low price, it doesn’t get much easier than the YouMic Lavalier Microphone. Simply clip to your shirt and plug into your smartphone or computer. As a tiny omnidirectional condenser mic, this guy will pick up your voice regardless of how you position it -- just as long as its close to your body.
The quality is great; a huge step up from any built-in microphones. But to be clear, it’s no audiophile sound. If you want booming lows, or crisp, clear highs in your voice, it’s better to upgrade to one of the more professional microphones below.
For a few extra dollars, the Samson GoMic packs in a lot more features and longevity. Not only is this mic a step up in terms of sound quality and durability, but it can pick up more sound at a distance, making it suitable for interviews, group podcasts, or even musical performances.
The GoMic conveniently clips onto a computer monitor, or rests on a table with it’s built-in stand. The entire apparatus folds into a small carrying case, so it's just as portable as the YouMic-- yet much less fragile.
On the flipside, as a large diaphragm condenser, this mic will pick up a bit more background noise, including air conditioners and refrigerators. If there’s a lot of background sounds in your studio, you may want to consider the YouMic or Audio Technica instead.
As a unidirectional mic, the AT2005 cuts out on background noises. You position it close to your mouth like a traditional vocal mic, and speak directly into the diaphragm. This helps reduce the amount of background noise in your recording, and also gives your voice a richer, deeper, tone.
Because this mic needs to be positioned more closely, it’s not ideal for group podcasts or interviews (unless every participant has their own microphone.) it’s also not as great for quiter, whispery voices, as dynamic mics do not pick up as much high end. On the flipside, it works wonders for loud, boomy voices.
It really doesn’t get much better than the Rode NT-USB, unless you were to buy some full-blown studio gear. This mic will picks up the full range of your speaking voice, and gives it that “larger than life” quality.
If you have a soft voice, or if you need to interview multiple people, you can turn up the gain while barely adding any signal noise (although it will still pick up background noises).
This microphone also works great for recording vocals and instruments -- whether that’s guitar, woodwind, string instruments, piano, etc. This might be more than you need for a podcast microphone, but it also means you’re a lot less likely to upgrade later when you can pack so many uses into a single microphone.
Choosing the right podcasting microphone is really a matter of checking off the factors: Do you record in a noisy environment (AT2005), do you have a soft voice or need to record multiple people (GoMic or NT-USB), or do need something portable that can plug into a smartphone (YouMic)?