The microphones built into most computers do not give your voice the fullest representation. They are able to pick up too much ambient noise, and add too much noise, as well as dull your warm, natural voice. A standalone microphone connected to USB can ensure that you sound at your best, no matter if you take part in conferences or record podcasts. After testing over 30 USB microphones in the last eight years using the advice of audio experts we’ve concluded that Blue Yeti is still the ideal microphone for most people.
The tools to master every Video Meeting
These suggestions will allow you to appear and sound as impressive in videos as the Internet connection (and your viewers’) will permit.
If you’d like to go deeper to record your vocals, or other musical instruments, here’s an article on USB audio interfaces as well. The USB audio interface when paired with a premium standard microphone can provide superior sound quality than the USB microphone and detect more subtle nuances in both acoustic and vocal instruments. However, if you’re only starting out or do not need to buy an audio interface or microphone however, an USB microphone can make a an enormous difference in the way you sound.
We have a choice to make or benefits of USB microphone
To create the most recent version of the guide we relied upon experts’ interviews, our past years of testing microphones and research, as well as feedback from professional and buyer. With these sources to compile and evaluate (or reviewed) the 18 best-rated microphones. We reduced that list to 11 microphones we were looking to test by using the following guidelines:
Price less than or in the vicinity of $100:
Since an USB microphone is in the middle between the built-in recording system and the more expensive studio-level microphones it should cost within the middle of the spectrum as well.
In our most recent test However we did try some more expensive microphones for comparison purposes.
Easy to use:
A good microphone should have the option for those who like to play with it with it, but they should not be too difficult. The more knobs and switches you have, the more complicated the microphone is and the harder it is to set the right settings.
Headphone Jack on the Mic:
A headphone jack with zero latency helps to hear precisely what your mic is transmitting to your computer with no interruptions. If you don’t have this feature it is necessary to connect your headphones to your computer. The small delay that results (due to the processing that the analog-to-digital converter makes to encode your voice) could be a hassle If you’re trying to follow the beat or narration over an audio clip, or if you do not want to realize after your recording that you’re talking about was popping.
In-mic volume (gain) control:
This feature allows you to have more ability to control the level of the microphone while it’s fed directly into the computer. It’s useful when you’re switching from a noisy speaker to a soft one, for instance or switching between a lullaby and an aria. If you’re recording live, like podcasts, it’s simpler to reduce the volume of an actual gain knob than to do it later on in your recording software.
On the mic, press the Mute button:
This feature can be useful to quickly mute, but you don’t require an hardware button if you know your recording software’s keystroke for muting.
A microphone that is compatible with iOS or Android devices, and for Windows as well as MacOS is certainly more flexible however, for the purposes of this article we were looking for microphones that people could utilize in their workplaces.
The majority of the microphones we reviewed have warranties of two years, but the longer warranty is always appreciated.
Pop filter included:
This device helps to prevent powerful explosions of air striking the microphone while the speaker pronounces certain consonants. However, you can buy a pop filters separately for around $10.
A note on the style of pattern:
Most of the microphones that we examined are supercardioid or cardioid that is a different method to say that the microphone picks up sounds most effectively when the source is directly in front of it, for example the podcaster who speaks directly into the microphone. They can also be focused on receiving sounds from different directions, for example, any direction (omnidirectional) as well as from both sides of the microphone (bidirectional).
How did we test
We conducted a test and assessed the microphones using home usage and the simplest recording setups with a clear goal in mind. We recorded us reading the identical Ten sentences of Harvard Sentences (list seven) to each microphone at least a couple of times in a quiet, home workstation (not noise-proofed) and with a loud air purifier playing behind.
In our initial series of recordings we attached all of microphones on a boom arm at the same spot and, in the next series of recordings we put each microphone on their own stands , at the same distance of 5 inches of the microphone. We set each microphone’s gain to the middle setting using the knob and increased the volume of its input to the maximum according to the macOS settings. We did not use any audio enhancement software, and we recorded all of the samples (in QuickTime) in the same time to create a neutral, general playing surface.
The best USB microphone for your desk, Blue Yeti
The experts on our test panels have always said that the Yeti record some of the best sounding vocals. It’s also an extremely versatile and solidly constructed microphone that you can use for a long time.
- $104* on Amazon
- $100 from Walmart
- $130 at Best Buy
*At the time we published the cost was $130.
If you’d like to connect a microphone to your computer and hear sharp and engaging from the start whether you’re recording as live or not, then we suggest that you use the Blue Yeti. From all the microphones we tried, it delivered the most consistent, well-rounded, natural sound, whether on Windows or Mac as well as whether recording was recorded inside professional studios or an office that is small and square. Over the last eight years, a constantly changing panel of panelists from Wirecutter tests has consistently rated the mic as the most excellent or among the top. It has live headphone monitoring as well as gain control so that you can easily adjust the way you sound. With four different sound-pickup patterns the Yeti is versatile enough for all kinds of recordings, not just voice recordings. From all the microphones we’ve tested within its price range The Yeti feels like the most robust and well-built mic in addition.
In our most recent test we found that the Yeti did pick up lots of ambient noise , compared to more isolation-focused microphones such as Amazon Basics. Amazon Basics microphone, but our audio experts still put it at or near the top of the list due to its clear, natural and clear sound. When we tested microphones that had female and male speakers The Yeti was a good choice for both lower and higher vocal registers. it was the most popular option for a majority of our panelists with regard for recording vocals in the upper register. It also ranked on the top three lists for everyone’s favorite mics on the bottom register. However, our test participants preferred other microphones only for one particular register. For instance, one tester chose the older model of the Amazon Basics microphone as the most effective model for recording voices in the higher register, but placed fourth in lower voice quality. The Yeti will not sound boomy or hiss or enhance high or lower voice dissimilarities as other microphones. It’s a great USB microphone with a price that is affordable for the majority of people.
Some flaws, but not a dealbreaker.
The main flaw with Blue Yeti is its sound quality. Blue Yeti lies not in its sound , but rather in its construction. This is an uncommon instance where a high-quality build can be an advantage. The stand is robust with a heavy weight (2.2 pounds when the microphone is attached) it provides stability and bump resistance however the microphone occupies more desk space and is more difficult to store away than mics with smaller dimensions. After it’s taken off its mount, the microphone weighs 1.2 pounds, which is too much for normal shock mounts, even though it comes with the standard 5/8-inch thread to be used with a standard shock mount. It’s also uncomfortable and unstable with the small desktop mounts, an recurring complaint that is frequently mentioned by owners on Amazon reviews.
Similar to pop filters. Filters that are designed for use with general microphones usually aren’t a good fit on the basic stand of the Yeti. A universal clip-on variant (like this one) is a viable option for a short time, but the appearance of the long wire as well as the amount of space it takes up could be unsettling. If you’re looking for the ideal design, you’ll have purchase Blue’s accessories. That will cost you around 50 dollars for the shock mount , and approximately $20 for Blue’s branded pop filter.
Amazon Basics Desktop Mini Condenser Microphone
A fantastic-sounding USB microphone for just half the price
This USB microphone, which is cheap, sounds quite good and does an outstanding job of recording your voice and removing background noise.
$63* on Amazon
*At the time we published the cost was $60.
At just a fraction of the cost than its counterpart, the Blue Yeti, the Amazon Basics Mini Condenser Desktop Microphone is a bargain. The model we tried is similar to the model we liked when we last updated our article (shown in the image above) but it includes key features that were missing such as a headphone jack and volume control for the headphone, and a gain control. Its audio quality is excellent and it was a standout among our panelists during our tests, scoring and superior to other more expensive models. While it’s less stable and more plasticky than Yeti the microphone, it offers the most cost-effective way to significantly enhance the quality of your audio whether you’re streaming or recording.
But it’s not as easy or as convenient as pressing the dedicated button. The prior version of Amazon Basics microphone had a Mute button, but there was no headphone jack or gain control. We prefer these controls over a mute switch.
In comparison to those of Yeti (left) or The MV5 (right) The microphone stand Amazon Basics microphone (middle) is less stable, but we do like the fact that the tripod allows you to tilt the microphone upwards, just like is the case with the Yeti. Photo: Sarah Kobos
Amazon Basics offers only a one-year warranty, which is half the length of Blue’s 2-year warranty. Additionally, the tripod stand isn’t as sturdy than the stand of the Yeti. However, after a full year of testing long-term the previous model and the new one, we’ve discovered that the microphone remains in great shape and is solid.
A more mobile USB microphone that records your voice clear, Shure MV5
A small orb with excellent sound quality The MV5 is small enough that you can put it away with ease or carry it with you in the bag of your choice.
$99* on Amazon
99 dollars from Guitar Center
*At the time of publication the book, the price was $100.
If your workspace or storage space is constrained or you frequently transfer your microphone from one recording space to another, you should consider using the Shure MV5. In earlier rounds of testing it was a good score with our panelists for the quality of voice recordings. Some panelists considered it to be better over The Blue Yeti. However, the MV5 isn’t as strong and stable or tall as the Yeti which means you need to work harder to ensure it is in the correct height to record at. Additionally, it comes with only the cardioid pickup and is not as flexible as the Yeti’s four patterns that you can choose from. However, the MV5 offers the right recording features, including a direct-monitoring headphone jack as well as an powerful automatic gain control that makes it an excellent choice for those who prefer the smaller dimensions and mobility. If you’d like to make use of your microphone directly with an iPhone or an non-USB-C iPad via the supplied Lightning cable The MV5 can do this in contrast to it doesn’t. Yeti or The Amazon Basics mic don’t.
In 2021, we have decided to test the brand new Shure MV5C microphone , instead of testing the MV5. We would recommend that you use the MV5 instead of the MV5C since it’s more versatileand has iOS support and modes for recording instruments as well as vocals.
The MV5’s lightweight weight lets it fit on all microphone stands on desktops without any issues with tipping.
Competitors that are not in the list: JLab Audio Talk
Its JLab Audio Talk is a excellent value, often comparable as that of the Amazon Basics mic and half the price of Yeti at the time of writing. Much like the Yeti the JLab Audio Talk has four different patterns of pickup (cardioid stereo, omnidirectional and bidirectional) as well as a headphone jack as well as volume and gain controls and a quick-mute feature. The appealing LED light that surrounds the large knob lets the user in a glance if you’re muted, which is the sound pattern that you’re using and the volume setting.
What are you looking forward to?
When we finished our latest test an audio engineer recommended the AKG C44 USB Lyra to us. It’s typically priced around $30 more than Yeti however, among musicians they are highly praised for its sound quality and ease of use. We’ll look into the device in the next round of tests.
Our tests showed that we found that the JLab Audio Talk Go and Talk Pro microphones didn’t perform like their MV5 counterpart the Talk. Talk Talk Go is lightweight but not as compact than it is the Shure MV5, and we observed that the latter picked up a lot of ambient noise and noise from outside. Talk Pro Talk Pro has nice LED lights and stylish controls, but its audio quality was at the bottom of most people on our panel. The vocals in our test were extremely compressed and processed that they sound depressed.
It’s the HyperX QuadCast S usually costs around $20 more than Yeti and the voice samples were between the middle and the top of the range. The vibrant RGB lighting (this microphone is specifically designed for gamers) may be distracting to use in a workplace however, even though this mic comes with a sturdy build quality and an integrated shockmount we did find it difficult to take apart for mounting to a microphone boom.
We were enthralled by the Earthworks Icon, a $350 microphone (at this time). The all-stainless-steel appearance is stunning and the microphone is particularly easy to use. However, it came in last in our tests, and recorded the voice of ours with a sharp edge. Our audio engineer expert who has used Earthworks microphones for vocals while on tour with musicians, described the situation as follows: These mics are great, but they’re not “flattering” as they aim towards an “flat” tone. “If you own an instrument like a Stradivarius flat sound, that is desired..