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Best mics for YouTube
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 to learn 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. To help with this, we’ve come up with a list of the best mics for YouTube; no matter your channel, there’s a recording device to improve your production value.
Editor’s note: this list was updated on December 8, 2022, to update formatting.
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, and our top pick as one of the best mics for YouTube.
While the exterior remains similar to the original Blue Yeti, there are a few key differences. For one, the Blue Yeti X outputs 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 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 to 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 workstations 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.
The Rode VideoMic is one of the best mics for YouTube vlogging
For run-and-gun content creators, there are few options more frequently recommended than the Rode VideoMic. It easily mounts onto a DSLR or boom pole for instant recording. The integrated shock mount absorbs movement vibrations and the super-cardioid polar pattern is ideal for directional recording. It effectively deprioritizes 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 this 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 one of the best mics for YouTube vloggers.
For the best sound quality pick up the Shure MV7
The Shure MV7 reproduces vocals very well, and this truly versatile mic has both a USB and XLR output, which can be used simultaneously. It has several recording settings you can choose from to optimize the frequency response, and though it only has a cardioid polar pattern, this is typically what you’d use for voice recordings anyways. Though the touch-pad controls on the microphone are a bit inconvenient as they require two hands to maneuver, the rest of the mic’s hardware is very useful. Along with the USB and XLR outputs, the mic has a headphone port for live monitoring. All these great features make it one of the best mics for YouTube content.
To access the full benefits of the Shure MV7, you need to download the ShurePlus MOTIV app. Through this app, you can adjust the recording mode, save presets which are stored within the mic itself and are therefore transferable across devices, and download firmware updates. One of the recording modes is auto mode which allows you to adjust the recording based on your proximity to the microphone capsule and select from EQ presets along with various other easy-to-manage controls. If you want more control over the mic’s settings, switch to manual mode for a mini mixing board of controls.
The Rode SmartLav+ is a great lavalier for YouTube videos
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 pricey, 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 field recorder, 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 HyperX QuadCast is a great microphone for gaming streamers
The HyperX QuadCast originally retailed for $139 USD but can be found for less than $100 USD from major retailers. This USB condenser microphone is an excellent option for those who value ease of use and sound quality.
Since this is a condenser microphone, it has a higher sensitivity than its dynamic counterparts. That means you might need to decrease the gain to clearly transmit your voice without background noise.
HyperX gives you three polar pattern options: cardioid, hypercardioid, and bidirectional. We generally recommend cardioid since it’s the easiest to deal with and least specialized of the three options. You can hear a sample of how the microphone sounds here.
The main pain point of the HyperX QuadCast is that you can’t disable the microphone’s large LED, so it will add color to any video. If you like the QuadCast but really don’t like the constant LED lighting, get the HyperX QuadCast S instead. It’s virtually the same thing with added NGenuity software.
Is the Sennheiser MKE 400 Mobile Kit a good mic for YouTube?
Yes, the Sennheiser MKE 400 Mobile Kit is one of the best mics for YouTubers who predominantly record from their smartphone. This super-cardioid condenser microphone uses two AAA batteries that supply more than 100 hours of use, which is perfect for a few days of work. The kit also comes with a Manfrotto PIXI Mini Tripod so you can rest your phone on top of something while recording.
You get two switches on the microphone to adjust the sensitivity and apply a low-cut filter. We like this feature because it makes it easy to adjust recording settings on the fly, and this should save you time during post production. The microphone even has a volume rocker and headphone jack for live mic monitoring, which is impressive given its small size. The kit is fairly expensive at $230 USD, but if you can swing it and it suits your needs, the MKE 400 Mobile Kit from Sennheiser is an excellent shotgun mic.
Can you use the Shure SM58 for YouTube?
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. It has an XLR output so you will need a USB interface to interface it with 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:
If you’re going to be playing an acoustic guitar and singing for your video, you’ll want to get two microphones to ensure the best audio quality. We recommend using a condenser microphone like the Rode NT1 or NT1-A for your guitar, and then sticking with an unobtrusive vocal microphone for your voice. By using two microphones, you can get the best directional sound for each instrument and this will drastically affect the clarity of your audio.
Rode NT1 acoustic guitar:
You may also want to look into the Shure SM57, which is 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 something like an electric guitar amp, this is the mic to get.
Shure SM57 acoustic guitar:
The best mics for YouTube: Notable mentions
- 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.
- JOBY Wavo POD: JOBY is most famous for its Gorillapod flexible travel tripod, and it came out swinging with a fully-featured USB condenser microphone that costs less than $100 USD. You get two recording patterns (cardioid and omnidirectional, though the omni pattern acts more like a bidirectional pattern). Find it for $99.88 at Amazon.
- Movo UM700: This is an excellent mic that comes with four polar patterns, onboard gain and volume adjustment, a removable windscreen, and more. Its sound quality is great, especially when you consider it only costs $100. You can pick it up for $67.95 at Amazon.
- Razer Seiren Mini: This plug-and-play mic couldn’t be easier to use, and though its sound quality isn’t flawless, it’s more than fine for a casual YouTube video. It’s available for $37.99 at Amazon.
- Samson Go Mic: Despite being the oldest microphone on the list, the Samson Go Mic deserves a spot in your travel bag. It has 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. You can get it for $32.39 at Amazon.
- Rode Wireless Go: This little wireless mic comes with a receiver for attaching directly to your video camera and a transmitter microphone for speaking into. It has a 70 meter range and is affordable and easy to use.
- Samson Q2U Dynamic Handheld USB: This mic is versatile as it has both an XLR and USB output, is compatible with smartphones, and has a headphone port for live monitoring.
- Shure MV5C: This little mic is unobtrusive so your viewers will remain focused on you when you use it. It connects to your computer via a USB cable and has a unidirectional pickup pattern. It also features a Voice Enhancement Mode which will equalize the audio input to focus on your speech. You can pick it up for $89 at Amazon.
- 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. Pick it up for $649.99 at Amazon.
- Zoom H1n: If you’re looking to record outside or anywhere on the go, this field recorder is a great option. It records 16-bit/44.1kHz audio which leaves plenty of wiggle room for adjustment in post. It’s very easy to use and you can attach a lavalier mic to it as well if you want to.
The best mics for YouTube vloggers: Notable mentions
- 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 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 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.
Hold up! Something’s missing:
This section is typically where we display a frequency response chart and standardized microphone demos to show you exactly where the audio output shines and where its deficiencies lie. We will update this list (and many others!) once we’re able with improved sound quality measurements and performance plots. These will be made obvious by an announcement explaining the change, and a new chart aesthetic. The standardized samples begin with the phrase, “This is a SoundGuys standardized microphone demonstration …”
Thank you for bearing with us, and we hope to see you again once we’ve sorted everything out.
What you should know about the best mics for YouTube
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 here’s a rundown of the basics for choosing the microphone for you from all the best mics for YouTube
What is a microphone polar pattern?
A polar pattern just tells you how a microphone picks up sound. Do you need to be directly in front of the microphone for the best sound quality? Can you sit a bit away and have wiggle room? There are different polar patterns (aka, recording patterns)to accommodate any use case.
A recording pattern that repeatedly appears for the best mics for YouTube is cardioid. A cardioid (heart-shaped) pickup pattern 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 omnidirectional mics.
What’s the difference between a dynamic and condenser microphone?
A dynamic microphone has a low sensitivity compared to condenser mics, which are highly sensitive. If you’ve ever gone to a concert or comedy show, they’re all but guaranteed to be using a dynamic microphone. Dynamic mics are great for live performances because they can handle loud volume inputs before introducing distortion. Another benefit: dynamic mics won’t register as much background noise, if any, compared to condenser mics.
Why, then, would anyone choose a condenser microphone? There are plenty of great reasons to buy a condenser mic: they’re more sensitive and pick up more subtle nuances. This makes condenser mics a great option for studio vocalists. The main downside to condenser mics is that they almost always require phantom power, which is throwing more money down the hole. If you can completely control your environment and are really only recording one person at a time, a condenser microphone will serve you very well.
What is the proximity effect?
The proximity effect happens when the sound source is so close (nearly touching) a microphone that the bass becomes disproportionately loud. If you get too close and cause input overload, you may introduce distortion to your recording. You only need to worry about the proximity effect with directional microphones. In other words, it’s a non-issue with omnidirectional mics. The more directional your microphone’s recording pattern, the more exaggerated the effect.
While the proximity effect is usually undesirable, there are instances where you may want it in your recording. Vocalists tend to like the proximity effect because it can make their voices sound “bigger” or give the track a more intimate feel.
What kind of YouTube channel do you want?
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.
Why you should trust SoundGuys
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 about the best mics for YouTube
The Blue Yeti Nano is a $79 USD microphone with two recording patterns (omnidirectional and unidirectional), while the Blue Yeti costs $99 USD and has four recording patterns (bidirectional, cardioid, omnidirectional, and stereo). Both are USB condenser microphones with onboard gain control, but only the Yeti Nano works with the Blue Sherpa desktop software. The Nano also records higher quality audio (24-bit/48kHz compared to 16-bit/48kHz). Bit depth and sample rate aren’t everything, though, since the standard Yeti houses three condenser capsules compared to the Yeti Nano’s two condenser capsules. Both mics support live headphone monitoring and allow you to adjust the headphone volume.
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.