If you spend an inordinate amount of time on the computer, chances are good that you play at least one multiplayer game. Whether it’s a MOBA, first-person shooter, or indie game, you’ll definitely want a decent mic to be able to coordinate with your teammates—but you don’t need professional equipment to do that. Here are the best gaming microphones on the market for Discord, VOIP, in-game chat, or even Hangouts.
You may notice that this entire list contains some pretty cheap mics, and that’s no accident: unless you’re recording professionally, there’s no need to overspend here. You just need a mic that’ll work relatively okay, right? Why not save some cash for the next Steam sale?
Editor’s note: This article was updated on January 14, 2021, to address an FAQ about headsets.
What you should know about gaming microphones
Some gamers are content using a headset that has a good inbuilt microphone. However, if you’re looking for a detached gaming microphone, here are a few things to look out for.
Know what you need
Knowing what you need in a gaming microphone is important for setting expectations. Quality is important, but if you’re not building a recording studio or a streaming setup, the main goal is clear communication. A lot of gaming microphones prioritize the mids and highs in ways that sometimes aren’t accurate, but are meant to make voices sound clear.
If you’re setting up a streaming station, springing for something with more studio-quality sound might be worth it. There are all sorts of things to consider on that front too, like what kind of microphone you’d like to have and what kind of environment you’ll need for recording.
Depending on what your needs are, you’ll need to figure out what kind of mic you want, as well. If you’re sitting at a desk playing games, a mic with a cardioid or hypercardioid pickup pattern is probably best. Those varieties do well when what they’re recording is positioned directly in front of the mic.
Pay attention to the platform you’re using
Depending on what kind of setup you have, your needs will probably change quite a bit. If you’re gaming on a PC, a USB mic is probably your best bet. You don’t need to spring for an expensive XLR mic and audio interface. Ultimately, simpler is better.
If you’re gaming on a console, things are a little more complicated. The Playstation 4 can handle either 3.5mm or USB solutions. The Nintendo Switch can handle them too, but USB mics will only work while in docked mode. Of course there’s also the particulars of your setup to remember—a detached wired USB mic might not be the most convenient pick if your console of choice is across a den or living room.
Physical switches are pretty useful
Pay attention to what kinds of buttons and switches mics have. Almost all of that stuff can be controlled on your computer or console, but it’s always faster to reach over and flick a mute switch than alt-tab and find the menu option.
The best gaming microphone is the Elgato Wave:3
The Elgato Wave:3 is one of the best microphones around because of its “set it and forget it” interface: all you have to do is plug it into your device’s USB input, and you’re ready to record.
Elgato Wave:3Full Review
This condenser mic affords just the cardioid polar pattern. While this is limiting in some ways, it’s also the most versatile pattern. You can place the microphone virtually anywhere on your desk and it will register your voice. The front of the chassis communicates a few things: microphone recording status, headphone status, and whether the mic is muted or enabled. Tapping the top of the mic mutes it. A gain knob protrudes from the housing, so you can adjust volume levels at a moment’s notice.
Twitch streamers will be hooked on the WaveLink software.
Unlike other software we’ve used, the WaveLink interface is exceptional, especially for streamers. This digital audio mixer is neatly designed, so you can quickly organize your audio sources. A virtual audio mixer gathers different programs from your browser windows and combines them, along with your microphone recording, into a single audio source.
Elgato Wave:3 microphone demo:
The Elgato Wave:3 shines when it records spoken word content: the high-pass filter combats the proximity effect, resulting in clean vocals. Its integrated Clipguard feature automatically condenses the audio to avoid accidentally spiking the recording.
The Blue Yeti X brings high quality to a stream-friendly setup
Blue’s mission is to make your recording experience as efficient and streamlined as possible with its USB microphones. The new Blue Yeti X brings a “four capsule” condenser array, which allows for high-quality recordings in a variety of pickup patterns. It also updates the Yeti’s physical interface, with a single knob that can adjust gain, metering, and blending, and offers live metering via LEDs—perfect when you’re streaming and need a quick indicator of how you sound.
Blue Yeti XFull Review
The Yeti X offers four recording pattern modes, allowing you to choose which one best suits your given situation. Cardioid is ideal for podcasts, as it allows you to record sound which is immediately in front of the mic. Stereo mode acts as one would expect: recording sound from the left and right channels simultaneously to provide a better illusion the listener is in the room with you. Omnidirectional mode will record 360-degree sound, and bidirectional will record sound from the front and rear regions of the microphone. Basically, the Yeti X straddles the line between being a recording or gaming microphone, and can cover you for either. Turns out being a Twitch streamer makes you need to have something for both—how convenient.
Blue Vo!ce audio software is new to the Blue Yeti line, which brings all sorts of customization options. It features effects like de-popper, noise reduction, expander, gate, de-esser, EQ, compression, and limiter, and you can even change the color of the mic’s LEDs. After all, if you’re marketing a device at gamers and Twitch streamers, and you can’t change the LED color, why bother, right?
Regardless, the Blue Yeti X offers almost as much versatility as the Yeti Pro, for $80 less.
The Antlion Audio Mod Mic can turn headphones into a gaming headset
Another boom mic, Antlion Audio Mod Mic uses your headphones’ 3.5mm port to make your regular-ol’ headphones a gaming headset for $50. Not bad, all things considered, and there are no messy adhesives. If you want to convert your headphones back, all you have to do is simply yank out the Mod Mic and put in the old cable. Easy peasy.
Antlion Audio Mod Mic
This mic has a uni-directional pickup pattern, so its great for rejecting off-axis sound, but you might need to be a bit more careful with its placement to ensure it picks up your voice. But you won’t get any complaints from your teammates about the clicking noises of your keyboard. Lastly, if you don’t have a set of headphones with a removable cable, you’re outta luck. You’d have to grab something else off this list!
The HyperX Quadcast offers the best sound with a built-in pop filter
HyperX is known for putting out high-quality gaming peripherals, and the Quadcast is no different. It’s pricier than a lot of this list, but this mic offers really great sound in an easy-to-use package that can cover a lot of bases.
HyperX QuadcastFull Review
If you’re in the market for a gaming microphone, this is a great option, but the Quadcast will cover your podcasting or recording needs too. Its gain knob makes adjusting sensitivity intuitive and easy, and you can even set its polar pattern, switching between cardioid, hypercardioid, and bi-directional. Plus it’s built-in pop filter will help you avoid rogue plosive sounds spiking the mic.
The newer HyperX QuadCast S is compatible with Ngenuity
If you have a bit more money to spare and want an RGB color scheme, the HyperX QuadCast S is compatible with the Ngenuity software which allows you to make adjustments to the LED light show of your microphone. The QuadCast S also plugs in via USB-C rather than microUSB. The frequency responses of the two mics are very similar, but the QuadCast S attenuates bass frequencies a tiny bit more than the QuadCast.
HyperX QuadCast S microphone demo:
The Zalman ZM-MIC1 might not sound incredible, but $7 is $7
Rounding out this list is the cheapest possible mic you can get that isn’t total… you get the idea. Zalman’s clip mic has long been the go-to for the budget-minded gamer for longer than it probably should have. Still, it’s tough to argue with $7.
If you pick this up, prepare for some static (depending on your computer’s internal preamp). As it’s not a USB model, the Zalman plugs into your mic port, while the mic itself clips onto your headphones’ cable. Sure, it’s a hacky solution, but it’s a solution nonetheless! I’ve seen people use velcro ties, zip ties, and gaffer’s tape to keep the wires from getting out of control, but personally I’d just get a standalone mic.
Related: What to look for in a microphone
Best gaming mics: notable mentions
- Audio-Technica AT2020USB+: This USB mic has onboard mixing controls, an internal headphone amp, and records 16-bit, 44.1/48kHz audio.
- Beyerdynamic Fox USB: This mic has helpful on-board controls, 24bit/96kHz audio, and a forgiving polar pattern, making it easy to record audio that can be easily edited later on. The main drawback is its price.
- Blue Snowball iCE: If you’re looking for quality at a low price, this is one of the best affordable microphones around. Sure, it’s not the greatest quality mic out there, but it’s capable, and even Discord certified.
- Razer Seiren Mini: Though this little mic doesn’t have the most pristine audio quality, it offers a sleek and unobtrusive design, making it applicable to both your gaming sessions and your conference calls. It’s also supremely easy to use and doesn’t require the installation of any kind of software. And that $49 price tag isn’t so bad either.
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Frequently Asked Questions
There are a few reasons you might want a standalone mic. First, the audio quality on a standalone is almost always going to be better than one built inside headphones or even a boom mic. This can improve the professionalism of your livestreams or YouTube videos, or even just make it easier for your teammates to understand you. Additionally, either the look or feel of a standalone mic might be preferable to a headset. Some people really don't like having a boom microphone right in front of their mouth as it can be distracting, and some people prefer the appearance of a standalone mic in their videos.
If you're going to be sharing the microphone, and only need it for calls, rather than streaming or recording, the Blue Snowball iCE (or the older Blue Snowball) is probably your best bet. It sounds great, and it's simple to use—perfect for calls over Skype, Zoom, and Discord.