All you really need to start a podcast is a microphone. But all you need to start a good podcast is a good microphone.
Because podcasts are an audio medium, the quality of the microphone makes all the difference to your audience: A good microphone improves the sound of your voice, reduces competing or background noise, and makes even a new podcast sound professional.
For most podcasters, a USB microphone is the best and easiest choice.
These plug-and-play microphones record high quality audio directly to your tablet or computer, with no additional equipment to buy, and with better audio than the built-in microphones on your devices.
USB Microphone for Podcasting Reviews & Recommendations For 2020
Rode NT-USB Versatile Studio-Quality USB Cardioid Condenser Microphone
The Rode NT-USB is a professional, studio-quality condenser microphone that is compatible with a wide range of computers and tablets through USB, and any recording software you choose.
High resolution and dynamic range give clear, detailed, rich audio quality.
It has controls on the microphone that let you adjust the mic input and the monitoring levels.
The microphone also has a 3.5mm headphone jack for zero-latency monitoring of your audio.
For the home or office podcaster, this microphone may be too sensitive for use in a non-sound-proofed environment, and pick up unwanted background noises. It may also pick up fan noises if placed too close to a laptop or computer.
The Rode NT-USB comes with a pop shield, a tripod desk stand, a ring mount, a storage pouch, and a 20 foot USB cable.
This is a fantastic, studio-quality microphone, ideal for vocals. The ability to adjust input and monitor audio directly from the microphone makes it incredibly convenient to use, and it has universal USB plug-and-play compatibility.
Make sure you are purchasing from a Rode authorized seller, to get a genuine product and support.
Blue Yeti USB Mic for Recording & Streaming
The Blue Yeti USB mic is designed specifically for recording and streaming from your computer, and is compatible with Windows and Mac operating systems. It produces clear, powerful, broadcast-quality audio with no learning curve and no complications.
The microphone has on-mic headphone monitoring with volume adjustment, pattern selection, gain control, and a mute button for quick adjustments.
This versatile mic has three condensers and four different pickup patterns, so it can capture high quality audio from a solo vocal, or be used for stereo recordings, interviews, or as an omnidirectional microphone to use for rooms and teams.
The Blue Yeti USB Mic does not come with a pop filter.
This microphone has a USB Type A connection, which is extremely outdated, and you may need an adaptor to connect it to USB Type C ports.
The microphone comes with a handsome matching microphone stand.
The Blue Yeti USB Mic is a great choice for podcasters, particularly if they are just starting out. It’s incredibly easy to use, gives great sound quality, and has convenient built-in controls for your most frequent adjustments.
The ability to adjust the pickup pattern on the fly makes this a good choice for spontaneous moments and versatile recording, allowing you to record interviews, music, streaming sessions, and group chats without needing a wide range of microphones for every situation.
Audio-Technica AT2020USB+PK Vocal Microphone Pack for Streaming/Podcasting
The Audio-Technica AT2020USB+PK Vocal Microphone is specifically designed for capturing high-quality vocals, and comes in a package perfect for podcasters.
The microphone captures smooth, high quality audio that captures the quality of vocals.
On-mic headphone jack for no-latency monitoring with adjustable volume control.
Mix control on the microphone allows you to adjust levels of microphone with pre-recorded PC playback in a single session.
This microphone does not come with a pop filter.
Although it’s a unidirectional mic, it does not screen out or isolate a lot of background noise, particularly when it comes from the connected device (like typing, clicking, etc.).
The Audio-Technica AT2020USB+PK Vocal Microphone comes in a bundle with an adjustable studio boom arm with spring stabilized joints for quick and quiet positioning of the microphone. The arm has internal cable management, a pivoting stand mount, and a clamp mount for secure attachment to desks, tables, shelves, etc.
It also comes with the Audio-Technica ATH_M20x professional monitor headphones, with 40mm drivers and enhanced low-frequency performance. The circumaural headphones provide excellent sound isolation.
It also comes with a storage pouch for the microphone, and a USB cable.
The Audio-Technica AT2020USB+PK Vocal Microphone is a great choice for home studio setups where a full-size boom mic stand isn’t possible. This bundle allows you to place the microphone in a comfortable, natural position for clear vocals, and captures high quality audio.
The built-in headphone monitoring and on-mic channel mixing are incredibly convenient for reducing audio post-production.
Thronmax MDrill One Professional Streaming USB Microphone
The Thronmax MDrill One is a great choice for a podcaster recording at home or in a non-studio environment. It captures clean, clear audio in a compact, portable size, with plug-and-play, USB convenience.
This microphone has noise isolation features that help to suppress background noise while recording.
It has four recording modes for use in different recording environments or different purposes, so you can switch from unidirectional to omnidirectional, or use bidirectional or stereo pickup settings.
This microphone has on-mic monitoring with a headphone jack, so you can listen without latency. It also has headphone volume control and a mic mute button on the microphone.
This microphone doesn’t come with a pop filter. While it does have some background noise reduction, it will occasionally pick up ambient noise.
It isn’t compatible with all consoles if you plan to use it for gaming or streaming.
The Thronmax MDrill One is designed for the at-home podcaster or streamer, who needs a compact, versatile USB microphone with sound isolation, and isn’t working in a studio environment. It’s easy to use, has adjustable pickup patterns, and records high-quality audio.
To get even better vocal quality from the Thronmax MDrill One, a pop filter is strongly recommended. The Neewer Professional Pop Filter is dual layered and compatible with almost any microphone stand, and is an affordable way to sound even better with this mic.
Samson Meteor Mic USB Studio Microphone
The Samson Meteor Mic USB Studio Microphone is compact, stylish, simple to use, and highly recommended for podcasting.
The large condenser diaphragm of the Samson Meteor Mic captures nuances and vocal details, and brings out the richness in your voice.
The mic has headphone out for real-time monitoring, with volume control, as well as a microphone mute button.
It is not only compatible with USB computers and devices, but, with optional additional cables, you can use this microphone with Android devices, or iPhones and iPads.
This mic does not have a pop filter.
The microphone doesn’t have a gain adjustment, so you can’t adjust the recording volume during the session. The on-mic buttons can also be a bit fiddly to adjust, and the sound of messing with the knobs (including the mute button) and connectors is picked up by the microphone.
The Samson Meteor Mic has an innovative desktop tripod that folds flat for storage, but can also be easily mounted to a boom arm or other microphone stand.
It comes with a carrying pouch and a USB cable.
The Samson Meteor Mic USB Studio Microphone is a compact, convenient USB microphone that will capture the quality, richness, and nuances of your voice.
What to Look for in a USB Microphone for Podcasting
All of our top picks are good choices for podcasting. Condenser microphones (as opposed to dynamic) are better for capturing spoken voices, and they all have good frequency responses, sample rates, and bit depth to create professional-quality audio.
USB connectivity makes capturing, storing, editing, and sharing your audio easier.
There are a huge number of software packages for sound editing and mixing, and even free tools like Audacity do an excellent job of creating and exporting high-quality audio.
Most new computers and devices use USB Type C connectors, which are typically backward-compatible with earlier USB types.
Using a microphone with cables that are the same USB type as your device is preferred, when possible – there is less possibility of audio “noise” from cables, connectors, and adapters, and newer USB types are faster and more reliable.
Some of the other factors to consider when buying a USB microphone for your podcast are:
Your Recording Environment
Will you be at home when you record? Are there other people or sources of noise in the house? Do you have a loud refrigerator, or a neighbor who does lawn work, or airplanes overhead?
If you can’t control sources of external noise and create an isolated environment, you want a microphone with a tighter pickup pattern (unidirectional or super-cardioid), and you may want to consider a microphone with noise-isolating capabilities.
How Many People Will You Be Recording?
If your podcast has a co-host, frequent guests or interviews, or is a group activity, you will either need individual microphones for every speaker, or a microphone with a pickup pattern that will capture all the voices.
Bidirectional or figure 8 pickup patterns are designed for two speakers with the microphone between them, while omnidirectional microphones record the sound from a full 360 degrees.
How Much Audio Post-Production Do You Plan on Doing?
Some of our top USB microphones have on-mic gain controls and simple channel mixing, so you can minimize mixing and editing after recording.
If you will be doing more sophisticated sound design, however, you may want to avoid that and keep your signals clean for processing all at once.
What Kind of Accessories Will You Need?
Depending on your speech patterns, your microphone, and your environment, you may want a wind screen and/or a pop filter to reduce noises while recording.
You may want a microphone stand or boom arm to position the mic in a way that is comfortable for long recording sessions.
You may want a shock mount, that minimizes vibrations to the microphone, particularly if you will be touching the microphone, or there will be tapping, impacts, or vibrations on the floor, tabletop, or other surface where you have mounted the microphone.
How will you monitor your audio? If you don’t have high-quality headphones, you need high-quality headphones, and should listen to signal coming directly from the microphone while recording.
If you plug your headphones into your computer, there is likely to be a small delay as your sound card processes the audio, and that can be distracting.
Good headphones will also help you appreciate the quality of the sound of your microphone, rather than the sound of your computer speakers.
Recording and mixing with good headphones helps you create better, higher quality sound, that your listeners will appreciate.
Having a good microphone helps you produce a high quality, professional-sounding podcast. The better it sounds to you, the better it will sound to your listeners.
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