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Best USB microphones

Why sacrifice sound quality for convenience?
By
March 4, 2022
Blue Yeti X
By Blue Microphones
Blue Yeti X product shot against a white background.
Check price
Positives
Great sound
Multiple recording patterns
Gain knob
LED monitoring
Negatives
Expensive
VO!CE software not available on MacOS
The Bottom Line.
The Blue Yeti X offers incredible audio quality for a USB microphone, and it has lots of fun features.Read full review...
Best sound
Shure MV7
By Shure
The Shure MV7 in black against a white background.
Check price
Positives
Superb vocal reporduction
16/24-bit, 44.1/48kHz recording
Set it and forget it interface
Excellent companion software
Build quality
Simultaneous XLR and USB outputs
Versatility
Negatives
Loose windscreen
The Bottom Line.
The Shure MV7 is sure to be adored by professional podcasters, streamers, and DIY musicians alike.Read full review...
Best portable
Samson Go Mic
By Samson
Best USB microphones: The Go Mic in its included carrying case.
Check price
Positives
Compact
Great for travelling
Switchable polar pattern
Negatives
Picks up ambient noise
The Bottom Line.
If you're looking for something affordable, portable, and easy to use, the Samson Go Mic is probably your best bet.Read full review...
Best podcasting
Movo UM700
By Movo
The Movo UM700 USB mic in black against a white background.
Check price
Positives
Sound quality
Build
Four polar patterns
Onboard controls
Price
Negatives
Not portable
The Bottom Line.
This microphone comes with four polar patterns and all the onboard controls you could possibly need while recording a podcast. Its sound quality is great and it is built sturdily. Read full review...
Bang for your Buck
Blue Yeti Nano
By Blue
The Blue Yeti Nano USB microphone against a white background.
Check price
Positives
Great recording quality
Easy to use
Helpful software
Versatile
Negatives
No headphone monitoring level indicator on the device
Not sturdy
The Bottom Line.
It isn't the best, but If you want a mic that is leaps and bounds better than your computer mic this is for you. Read full review...

In the past five years, we’ve seen an impressive rise in the public’s interest in podcasts and accessible content, like YouTube musicians and vloggers. If you’ve thought to yourself, “Hey, I’d like to try my hand at that,” but didn’t know where to start on the hardware side of things. From the enthusiast to the professional, a solid USB microphone will jumpstart your passion project.

Editor’s note: this list of the best USB microphones was updated on March 4, 2022, to include the JOBY Wavo POD in the Notable mentions section and to expand the Buying guide.

The best USB microphone is the Blue Yeti X

We’ve reviewed a handful of great Blue headphones—yes, the company makes headphones—but the real stars of the Blue lineup are its USB microphones. The Blue Yeti X is a condenser microphone and it allows you to choose between cardioid, bi-directional, stereo, and omnidirectional recording patterns.

Blue Yeti X
The Blue Microphones Yeti X in front of sound dampening material.The gain knob on the Blue Microphones Yeti X in the mute state.The bottom of the Blue Microphones Yeti X, along with its stand socket, 3.5mm port, and microUSB port.The Blue YetiX microphone grille.

The Yeti X has a MicroUSB output as well as a 3.5mm headphone monitoring output. It sports a gain knob with LED lights that indicate if you are peaking or close to peaking. The back of the microphone has a knob for selecting your recording pattern. If you have a PC, you can make use of the Blue VO!CE recording software for adding real-time vocal effects, but this software is not available on macOS.

Blue Yeti X microphone demo:

Inside the mic is a four-capsule condenser array, with each condenser angled differently to record omnidirectional sound. This is great if you want to capture room ambiance, but the ability to switch presets to something more focused—say cardioid mode—is just as valuable. What’s more, this is the best of the best USB microphones for a reason: the Yeti X records 24-bit audio at 48kHz, so you’re afforded more wiggle room for edits in post-production than you would be with the Blue Yeti.

Do anything and everything with the Shure MV7

The Shure MV7 follows in the footsteps of the legendary Shure SM7B XLR microphone, and the MV7 does not disappoint. This dynamic microphone has a single cardioid recording pattern, and supports the simultaneous use of the XLR and USB outputs. The ability to use both outputs at once grants a lot of flexibility: you can record a high bit-depth audio file for post-production, and a lower-resolution audio file for reference.

Shure MV7
Shure MV7
A woman uses the Shure MV7 USB microphone and adjusts headphones as she monitors the recording.The Shure MV7 USB microphone houses an XLR input and headphone jack for simultaneous recording and monitoring.The Shure MV7 USB microphone with the XLR input and headphone jack in use as a woman turns the knobs on a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 audio interface.The Shure MV7 USB microphone in front of a computer monitor with Adobe Audition in use.A hand adjusts the Shure MV7 USB microphone's yoke tightness.The Shure MV7 USB microphone without the windscreen installed to reveal the recording capsule.A woman uses the Shure MV7 microphone touch controls to adjust the gain while she monitors the recording.A woman speaks into the Shure MV7 USB microphone as it records into Adobe Audition.
Shure MV7

The MV7 is a plug-and-play affair: it includes everything you need to start recording, though you may want to get a mic stand or boom arm to keep it steady. It doesn’t require phantom power to operate, but you won’t damage it if you pair it with a Cloudlifter preamp.

Shure MV7 (Natural) microphone demo:

There are seven different recording modes to choose from—three of which are presets available in auto mode from the Shure Plus MOTIV app, and four of which can be selected from the manual recording mode. To hear all of the audio samples, and see all of the frequency response charts, head over to our full review. Otherwise, the microphone demo above should give you a good idea of this mic’s capabilities.

The Shure MV7 microphone is a stellar performer and can handle nearly any situation thrown at it. Although the recording quality isn’t quite as good as the Shure SM7B, the MV7 gets close and offers a much more reasonable price. This USB hybrid certainly deserves a spot on your desk.

Take the Samson Go Mic anywhere. No, really, anywhere.

The best USB microphones are portable—after all the whole point of them is not to need any additional equipment. However, while most of the other items on this list are excellent choices, they’re most desk-bound options, which makes them a bit of a pain to transport. That’s where the Samson Go USB microphone comes in. This tiny microphone is built to work just about everywhere, just plug it into a laptop or computer and point at the sound you want to record.

Samson Go Mic
Samson Go Mic
Samson Go Mic: The microphone sheathed in the clip-on base.Samson Go Mic: Image of the zippered carrying case.Samson Go Mic: Image of the dampening base with the mic modes switch showing.Samson Go Mic: An image of the microphone in the foreground with the zippered carrying case in the background, upright.The Samson Go Mic clipped onto a Microsoft Surface Book 2015.
Samson Go Mic

At $49, this mic is pretty budget-friendly and very portable. It’s built to clip neatly on top of any kind of monitor, but the folding stand can rest on any flat surface. The Samson Go Mic allows you to switch between an omnidirectional and cardioid pickup pattern, making it versatile for recording while sitting at a laptop or for recording a full room meeting.

Samson Go Mic microphone demo (Cardioid):

The Samson Go Mic record 16-bit audio at 44.1kHz, which is great for something in this form factor, though it won’t compete with the more premium options on this list. Still, as we mentioned above, it’s pretty rare to actually need more than 16-bit audio. The mic doesn’t do a great job of attenuating background noise, but there is a -10dB setting to reduce distortion. If you’re really worried about it’s audio quality, the mic is also compatible with Samson’s Sound Deck software so you can tweak as much as you like.

The Movo UM700 is an easier way to podcast

Whether you’ve been yearning to get a jumpstart on that “Which is better: Ketchup or mustard?” podcast idea or you already have a substantial following, the Movo UM700 is the best USB microphone for you.

Movo UM700
Movo UM700
Movo UM700 on a table with furniture in the background.Back of the Movo UM700 displaying the gain knob and polar pattern knob.The Movo UM700 on a wooden table.Movo UM700 with a Macbook that has Garageband displayed in the background.Woman using the Movo UM700.
Movo UM700

The Movo UM700 has a sturdy build that is bound to stay balanced on your desk. It comes with a removable windscreen that does a good job of reducing plosives, fricatives, and sibilance. The onboard controls included on the mic are also super helpful—there’s a quick-mute button that glows red when activated, a volume control knob, and a gain control knob. The bottom of the mic also houses a 3.5mm input for direct monitoring as you record.

When you’re recording a podcast you want to choose the cardioid pickup pattern, instead of the stereo, omnidirectional, or bidirectional patterns. Its heart-shaped pattern means sounds directly in front of it get recorded while off-axis noises are effectively stifled. The Movo UM700’s sound quality is incredible considering it only costs $100 USD.

Movo UM700 cardioid pattern speaking sample:

Readers who like how the UM700 sounds but don’t want to spend quite so much should look at the more affordable UM300 or the JLab Talk GO.

If you want a great value microphone, go with the Blue Yeti Nano

The Blue Yeti Nano is really just a miniaturized, pared-down version of the Blue Yeti X. This isn’t going to be the be all, end all of microphones but it certainly sounds better than your computer’s mic. For far less than $100 USD, you get two polar patterns to choose from (cardioid and omnidirectional) and great some nice onboard controls like a gain knob and button to alternate recording patterns.

Blue Yeti Nano
Blue Yeti Nano
Blue Yeti Nano microphone sitting on a wooden table in front of a laptop and a pair of headphones.The Blue Yeti Nano pattern selector button on the back of the microphone.Blue Yeti Nano volume dial with the green LED onThe Blue Yeti Nano sitting on a black table in front of a laptop and headphones
Blue Yeti Nano

You get unfettered access to the Blue Sherpa software, which allows you to control the gain, headphone monitoring volume, and alternate between pickup patterns. It’s also very easy to adjust the EQ or choose between a few presets like “flat” and “warm and vintage.” This is a really great microphone for beginners or anyone who needs pretty good sound quality while traveling.

Blue Yeti Nano cardioid pattern sample:

The Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ is a great USB mic too

A product render of the Audio-Technica AT2020 microphone on a small stand in black.
The Audio-Technica AT2020 is a popular condenser mic at a reasonable price.

Like the Blue Yeti, the Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ condenser mic records in 16-bit, 44.1/48kHz sampling rate. The AT2020USB+ includes a standard headphone jack like some of the other best USB microphones listed, which—again—lets you monitor the microphone’s signal sans delay.

This USB mic includes a high-output, internal headphone amplifier, delivering clear reproduction of your subject. Below the microphone’s grill, you’ll find two horizontal dials that allow for basic audio mixing as you go. The left dial mixes vocals with pre-recorded audio; if done correctly, this could save you ample time in post-production. Then there’s the right knob, which adjusts the volume delivered to the headphones. Listen to these samples of the Audio-Technica AT2020, which is the XLR version of the AT2020USB+.

Audio-Technica AT2020 speaking sample:

Just like the other mics listed, the Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ is a universal USB microphone. You can skip any additional downloads because, well, there aren’t any. Just plug in and record. Oh, and lest we forget, this includes an external pop filter, mic mount, and carrying pouch. Sure, it’s a bit pricey at around $160, but it’ll make your project sound oh, so crispy.

Is the Razer Seiren Mini a good USB microphone?

Man sitting behind the Razer Seiren Mini, speaking into it. Paintings hung on the wall are visible behind him.
The cable of the Razer Seiren Mini is flush with the back of the microphone.

Yes, we really appreciate the Razer Seiren Mini for its unobtrusive design that works well with video calls and YouTube streaming. It isn’t perfect but for just $49 USD, you get a meaning it can easily be used for your video conference calls. Though it has its drawbacks, like how it picks up keyboard clacks and other background noise, it sounds better than a computer mic.

The best USB microphones: Notable mentions

The JOBY Wavo POD being used in front of a computer running Audacity.
To record audio from a USB mic, you need a digital audio workstation like Audacity.
  • AmazonBasics Mini Condenser Microphone: Amazon’s been making big strides in the affordable consumer electronics space for a little while now and its recent mic entry is a strong budget contender. This unidirectional desktop condenser mic will work with just about every recent version of macOS, Windows, and Linux. It has a decently long 5-foot USB cable, and an included stand, all for under $45.
  • Beyerdynamic Fox: The Fox is the only USB microphone listed that provides 24-bit audio recording; though, it’s at 96kHz.
  • Blue Snowball: Similar to the Blue Yeti, the Blue Snowball has managed to accrue a wide base of avid users. Its appearance is similar to that of the Shure MV5 but the stand and general aesthetic are less graceful.
  • HyperX Quadcast and HyperX Quadcast S: These gaming microphones have excellent sound quality and light up in attractive LED colors. To access the Ngenuity software and an RGB color scheme, get the more expensive HyperX Quadcast S. But, if you’re satisfied with the basics, stick with the original HyperX QuadCast.
  • JLab Talk PRO: The Talk PRO has a few notable features like four polar patterns and its intuitive UI. If you want a great mic with onboard controls and nice software, this $150 USD microphone could be in the cards for you.
  • JOBY Wavo POD: JOBY is yet another company that focuses on creatives, and its Wavo POD USB condenser microphone is a great value for just $99 USD. JOBY includes a removable pop filter and its mic feature two recording patterns (cardioid and omnidirectional, though the omnidirectional pattern behaves more like a bidirectional pattern). We like this for its sound quality and compact build, though the desktop stand is a bit short.
  • Samson Meteor: The Samson Meteor is a step up from the company’s Go Mic. It records at a 16-bit, 44.1/44.8kHz resolution and works with Apple’s iPad when using the appropriate USB adapter. It’s a trite complaint, but the Meteor uses a 1/8-inch headphone jack instead of the standard 3.5mm option.
  • Shure MV5: It’s easy to set up and takes up less space than a majority of our picks, save for the Samson Go Mic. It’s easy to transport and provides pretty good sound quality. Though, it’s going to cost you about $100.
  • Shure MV51: This is great for users who want to podcast or record in style. The mic resembles the company’s signature Elvis mic design, and it includes five recording presets

Related: What to look for in a microphone

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 any USB microphone

So, you’re in the market for an easy-to-use USB microphone. Well, there are a handful of things you should know first.

What is a recording (polar) pattern?

An example of a polar chart detailing the pickup pattern of a cardioid microphone
A cardioid pickup pattern can record sound from the front and sides of the unit.

There is a variety of recording patterns offered from one USB microphone to the next, but not all of them are available with each pick. In brief, cardioid patterns are your best bet; they do a great job at recording sounds directly in front of the recording element, while simultaneously reducing distracting background noise. That said, if you want to record a certain background presence, you may want something with omnidirectional capabilities like the Blue Yeti Nano.

Will a USB mic work with a PC or should you get a Mac?

You can always plug a USB microphone into a computer so long as the USB type is compatible between the microphone and your laptop. Let’s say the microphone terminates in a USB-A plug, but your computer only has a USB-C input. If that’s the case, you’ll need to purchase a USB-A to USB-C adapter, but then you shouldn’t run into any recording issues.

The HyperX QuadCast S stands in front of a monitor running HyperX NGenuity.
The HyperX QuadCast S is compatible with Ngenuity, which is only available for Windows.

Compatibility issues arise with USB microphones when you address software though. Oftentimes, the specifications (online or on the box) will inform you of a specific product’s compatibility, and this mainly pertains to its software. You’ll normally run into software compatibility issues with gaming microphones, and more often than not, gaming mic software is only available on Windows and not macOS.

What recording quality do you need for a USB mic?

While it’s always nice to have more data to play around with in post-processing, there are few instances where you’ll need anything greater than a 16-bit, 44.1kHz recording. We promise.

Should you get a USB microphone or XLR mic?

A womans hand using the JLab Talk PRO USB microphone with an armchair in the background.
The JLab Talk PRO USB Microphone is a plug-and-play device.

Well, if you need something portable with zero learning curve, yes get a USB mic. Though most of these are just fine (if not superb) for vocals streamed as a compressed MP3 file, there are instances where a non-USB microphone will better serve you. For one: if you make your living on recording and mixing audio, then you’ll want to look at an XLR mic like the Rode NT1A. Its recording capabilities surpass any of the listed following microphones, but it also requires an external recorder, which will cost much more than any of the following options. We can help you out if it comes to it, but a USB mic sidesteps this issue.

Even if you are a professional in the audio industry, you may want a USB microphone as a go-to backup. As they say, “redundancy saves lives.” By having something as easy as a USB microphone, having a backup recording will be a thoughtless process that could save you from a world of frustration.

If you plan to take a more on-the-go approach to record audio, you’ll be better off getting a digital voice recorder. These can be cheaper than USB microphones as well as being more portable, and some can double as audio interfaces.

Related: The best podcasting mics

How we choose the best USB microphones

A man singing into the Neat Bumblebee II while playing a guitar.
You can use the Neat Bumblebee II with its included desktop mount, or you can attach it to a different microphone stand with the thread adapter.

We make sure to run each product through a battery of objective tests to present you with accurate information about how it performs. We measure things like isolation (headsets), frequency response, and more through our Bruel & Kjaer 5128 head and torso simulator (HATS). When applicable, we even go so far as to record standardized mic samples, through an artificial mouth that iterates pre-recorded phrases. That way, you can be the judge of how one mic compares to the next.

After we collect this data and publish our reviews, we decide as a team what products deserve a top spot, and what products deserve to be highlighted or added into the Notable mentions section. After we hit “publish,” we continue to keep tabs on each best list category and update the document with worthy products as they come out.

Why you should trust SoundGuys

The JBL Quantum 600 on a desk next to some Razer peripherals
We test a product’s hardware and software, so you don’t have to.

Through the countless hours spent testing a wide array of audio products, the team at SoundGuys can identify a good product from a gimmick, saving you time and energy. Ultimately, we want this site to serve your needs and understand that researching audio products can be tiresome and time-consuming, albeit enjoyable too.

We’re not invested in any purchase you much, but we do want you to be happy with whatever product you pursue. None of us may benefit from championing one USB microphone over another and, while the site makes money from referrals, the writers are paid based on their work, period. If you feel compelled, feel free to read our ethics policy.

Next: The best Shure microphones

Frequently asked questions about USB microphones

There are no standalone mics that are easily compatible with Xbox One but some users have found workarounds with the Blue Yeti USB mic.

If you’re leading an exercise class over a video call, you’ll want a microphone with an omnidirectional pickup since you likely won’t be right up next to your computer while demonstrating exercises. The Blue Yeti X has this functionality, but keep in mind it will be picking up the noise of the whole room, not just your instructions. For a more directional sound, it might be worth looking into a Bluetooth headset or workout earbuds with a decent microphone, such as the Bose Sport Earbuds.

XLR mics produce higher quality audio than USB microphones because of the inner mechanisms in each type. In a USB mic, the electrical currents that exit the microphone share a channel with the currents that enter it, often resulting in distorted sound. XLR microphones, on the other hand, have separate channels for the incoming and outgoing currents, so they don’t interfere with one another. This is what the three-pronged output is for. Think of it as a roadway: if you’re driving up a very narrow road and a car coming the opposite direction is trying to pass you, it’s likely you’ll scrape against each other. However, on a highway, the oncoming traffic is separated from your lane by a median, so there’s no danger of collision.

The Shure SM7b is the endgame microphone for many studio artists, but it’s rather pricy. If your budget is more limited, check our list of the best podcasting microphones, most of which should meet your needs.