Content creators don’t see the point in waiting for an opportunity when you can make the opportunity yourself. YouTube stands as a one-stop-shop for pretty much anything. You can learn how to change a tire, change your operating system, and change your life all from one resource. However, many creators forget about the importance of audio quality. As a reminder, we’ve come up with a list of the best mics for YouTube; no matter your channel, there’s a recording device to improve production value.
Editor’s note: this list was updated on August 5, 2020, to include the Shure SM58 as an option for YouTube musicians.
Related: Best podcasting microphones
The streaming option is the Blue Yeti X
The Blue Yeti X features a four-capsule array, one more than the famed Blue Yeti mic. You can switch between cardioid, omni, stereo, and bi-directional recording patterns depending on your needs. The slew of polar patterns is just one of many features that makes this one of the most versatile USB microphones on the market.
Blue Yeti XFull Review
While the exterior remains similar to the original Blue Yeti, there are a few key differences. For one, the Blue Yeti X records 24-bit/48kHz audio, which means you’re afforded more flexibility in post-processing compared to the original which records 16-bit/48kHz audio. High-res LED metering lets you monitor your voice levels with an 11-segment meter, allowing you to easily adjust the gain on the fly so as to avoid clipping. The knob on the front of the cylindrical body also lets you quickly mute the microphone, adjust the output level to your headphones, and blend the amount of computer audio and microphone audio that’s relayed into your in-ear monitors.
What’s more, you can also take advantage of the Blue VO!CE audio software, which provides presets and the ability to create your own custom sound. This is great for people who aren’t yet familiar with digital audio interfaces like Adobe Audition. This is a great plug-and-play microphone for both Macs and PCs and can be used for podcasting, musical recordings, gaming, and more.
What you should know about the best mics for YouTube
What to look for when choosing a microphone
Generally speaking, picking out a microphone is a daunting process. You have to consider your needs: are you recording in a controlled environment or an unpredictable one? Do you plan to do much editing after the fact or are you more focused on recording an event as-is? Well, fortunately, we have a comprehensive guide on finding the right microphone, but if you walk away with one thing in mind it’s to know that there exist a few different polar patterns. One that repeatedly appears for the best mics for YouTube is cardioid, which predominantly records what’s in front of the microphone, while omnidirectional mics record all surrounding sounds. Cardioid polar patterns are great because you don’t have to be overly precise about placement. Plus, they reject off-axis noise much better than default omnidirectional mics.
Think about the kind of channel you’re developing
How you categorize your channel and what kinds of videos you intend to make, will determine what style microphone best suits you. If you’re planning on streaming for gaming, the Blue Yeti is a great pick because of its versatile recording pattern options and relatively compact size. However, it wouldn’t be realistic or even usable, really, for vlogging. In that case, you’d want something out of frame like a shotgun microphone, or a slim option like the Blue Ember XLR. Remember, these are all excellent options for their specific use cases.
Vlog away with the Rode VideoMic
For run-and-gun content creators, there are few more frequently recommended options than the Rode VideoMic. This easily mounts onto a DSLR or boom pole for instant recording. Its integrated shock mount absorbs movement vibrations and the super-cardioid polar pattern is ideal for directional recording. It effectively filters out off-axis sounds especially when in a controlled environment, making it one of the best mics for YouTube if you’re an aspiring vlogger.
Unfortunately, it does require a 9V battery which weighs things down a bit, yet is forgivable given the shotgun microphone’s petite design. Content creators who record outdoors will benefit from the included windscreen as the VideoMic does tend to register breezes. If you’re planning to travel, be it locally or afar, the Rode VideoMic is a one bag must-have.
For general field recording pickup the Zoom H1n
This is a go-to option for reporters and anyone in need of a versatile recorder, and you can attach a lavalier to if needed. The updated 2018 version here features a new, more protective design with the same X-Y recording format. The stereo condenser microphones are shielded without impeding recording fidelity.
Its slim casing makes it easy to pop into a bag, so you can always be ready to record high-quality audio. Like the others listed, this too records 16-bit/44.1kHz audio, which leaves plenty of wiggle room for adjustments in post. On-board controls are intuitive and if all else fails, just hit the large record button and you’re good to go. From the Zoom H1n, you can adjust playback speed, enable a voice-emphasized filter, and toggle stereo overdubbing features, which are great for musicians. Its ease of use is one of many reasons we’ve highlighted it among the best mics for YouTube.
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Keep things close with the Rode SmartLav+
Yes, this is the second time that Rode is highlighted on our best mics for YouTube list, and the repetition is well earned: the company knows how to make effective user-friendly mics. True, this lavalier is pricy but its omnidirectional condenser capsule is discreet and the Kevlar-reinforced cable makes this one of the more durable lavs available.
Aside from those features, there are few accessories included. However, the windscreen, shirt clip, and carrying pouch are all functional. The great thing about this microphone is, while it does sound excellent when paired with something like the Zoom H1n, it can also be used just as well with a smartphone. If you’re an iOS user, there’s even a dedicated Rode Rec app available via the App Store.
Seeing as it weighs just six grams, carrying it around requires zero extra effort, and if you go onto Rode’s website to register the SmartLav+, you benefit from a 12-month warranty. On the whole, this is a fantastic little microphone for interviews and any instance where you want the microphone to go as unnoticed as possible while still capturing clear audio.
The Samson Go Mic is a tried and true budget pick
Despite being the oldest microphone on the list, the Samson Go Mic deserves a spot in your travel bag . It allows for cardioid and omnidirectional recording patterns and is lightweight with a nearly imperceptible footprint. Plus, the diecast, zinc-molded base holds a shock absorbent pad to minimize vibrations and it serves as a stand or clip for a table or laptop screen respectively.
Samson Go MicFull Review
Just like the Blue Yeti, this on-the-go microphone serves as one of the best mics for Youtube as it can record at 16-bit/44.1kHz resolution for excellent audio quality. And it’s an affordable package that works well for gamers, conference calls, and general content creators.
If you’re a YouTube musician, try the Shure SM58
If you’re singing for YouTube and want the audio to sound good while not obstructing the camera’s view of your face, the Shure SM58 is a sleek and affordable option. The Shure SM58’s frequency response is designed to highlight vocals and it attenuates the bass frequencies to reduce the proximity effect. It has an XLR output so you will need a USB interface to adapt it to your computer, but at $99 this cardioid dynamic mic is hard to beat.
Shure SM58 speaking sample:
Shure SM58 singing sample:
Shure SM58 electric guitar with amp:
Shure SM58 acoustic guitar:
- Blue Yeti: The Blue Yeti microphone features a three-capsule recording array and a host of recording pattern options. It’s $40 cheaper than the newer Blue Yeti X and affords similar sound quality with fewer bells and whistles.
- Rode VideoMicro: This is a great microphone for bloggers; the 3.5mm plug can be used directly on most pro-thusiast cameras and it vastly improves audio quality.
- Sennheiser EW 112P G4: If you’re recording video in the field, you may want to look into wireless microphones. This wireless lavalier mic has a 100 meter range, 1680 selectable radio frequencies, and an omnidirectional pickup pattern for easy placement.
- Shure SM7B: This large microphone yields a fairly neutral recording and is equipped with internals to shield from electromagnetic interference. It requires an XLR interface and is a great option for streamers or studio recording.
- Shure VP83F: Although this seems an expensive option for vlogging, it serves as an all-in-one condenser microphone for DSLRs. It effectively ignores off-axis sounds while effectively registering the target ahead.
- Shure MV88+ Video Kit: Content creators who use their smartphones should keep a close eye on the MV88+. This portable, all-metal microphone packs a punch and produces excellent audio quality. The kit includes a Manfrotto mini tripod and phone mount. Plus, Shure’s comprehensive app suite is an easy way to edit on the go.
- Shure SM SM57: This microphone will attract the ears of musicians. It’s specifically tuned to withstand live performances thanks to its high loudness tolerance. The die-cast steel exterior is durable and can take a few drops while on tour. If you need to record instruments, this is the mic to get.
Related: What to look for in a microphone
Why you should trust us
We believe that audio is both an objective and subjective experience and our work speaks to that. We make sure to perform relevant testing to all products we directly review and approach each unit from the standpoint of the intended user. This perspective allows to have a greater understanding of any potential faults or features worth praising.
Truly, all we want is for you to enjoy your purchase if one is made. While we do operate via affiliate links, no writer may benefit from recommending product A over product B. If a purchase isn’t made, we do hope that you walk away with a greater understanding of audio and if you’re still curious or just want to window shop, check out the lists below.
Frequently Asked Questions
These types of microphones are called electret microphones, and while some modern electret microphones are produced with decent quality, camera manufacturers do not typically put much emphasis on making internal mics sound great. They often pickup unwanted room noise and inaccurately reproduce voices. In addition, if you're recording a streaming video or any sort of narration, you'll want your microphone to be closer to the sound source than a camera microphone would permit. Lastly, if you're recording a vlog or similar style video and want to pick up sound from a different direction than the camera is pointing, you'll need an external microphone to do so.