When it comes to the best microphones for streaming, the uses are limited only by your imagination. Whether you’re a gamer just getting into Twitch streaming, or you’re coming for Serial‘s throne by launching your own podcast, a great microphone opens up opportunities to turn your pet project into a professional product. Even if you’re not looking to launch a lucrative creative career, a streaming microphone can be handy for business video calls. There are a lot of factors to consider when shopping for a streaming microphone — sound quality is obviously important, but it’s far from the only factor you should be looking at when shopping for mics.
XLR vs USB
You can spend a lot on a microphone, but it’ll be useless unless you have a way to connect it to something. That’s why it’s crucial to consider whether you want an XLR or a USB mic. XLR has been around for a long time, and XLR mics are trusted by audio professionals. The trouble with XLR mics is that your laptop or desktop doesn’t have an XLR port, so you’ll need an interface to stream to your computer or a recorder to write to an SD card. The advantage is that with an interface or recorder, you can easily add more mics, which is great if you’re a podcaster who occasionally has guests. USB microphones are as intuitive as they sound — you just need to plug them into your laptop or desktop, which more likely than not has a USB-A port. The advantage is that you don’t need to buy an additional interface that could clutter up your desk, but you’re also sacrificing the versatility that an interface affords.
Omni Vs Uni
Another factor to consider is whether to buy an omnidirectional or unidirectional (or cardioid) microphone. As the prefixes imply, an omnidirectional microphone picks up sound from everywhere, while a unidirectional microphone picks up sound from one direction. Unidirectional microphones can require more skill to ensure you’re at the best angle, but they have the benefit of cutting out unwanted noise, allowing for a clearer focus on the speaker’s voice. Omnidirectional microphones can be easier to use and more flexible, but some elements will be harder to control.
We’ve rounded up some of the best microphones to buy for streaming, including options that work well for podcasting.
1. Blue Yeti Professional USB Condenser Microphone
The Blue Yeti microphone is one of the most popular options — it’s a versatile mic that’s not overly expensive, but also simple enough for beginners yet boasts high enough quality for serious streamers. You can customize the mic for omnidirectional, cardioid, stereo and bidirectional pattern modes. It plugs in using USB for a quick and seamless setup. An adjustable microphone stand is included. It’s also available in a few different colors.
Blue Yeti Microphone
$99.00 (Was $129.00)
2. Elgato Wave: 3 Microphone for Streaming
Elgato is an audiovisual company that was acquired by Corsair, so their current line of products combines Elgato’s audio expertise with Corsair’s gaming knowledge to create products to suit gamers, vloggers and podcasters of all stripes. The sleek mic includes a knob to make quick adjustments, and a mute button on top silently cuts off the mic as needed. And if you get a little too excited, built-in technology helps reduce distortion from clipping.
Elgato Wave: 3
3. Shure MV7 Dynamic Cardioid USB Microphone
If you’re looking for a premium option, the Shure MV7 is a worthwhile investment. It’s a versatile microphone that includes both XLR and USB, making it easy to vary your setup depending on your needs, without needing a separate mic. It can be mounted in a variety of different ways depending on your desk setup or where you’re sitting.
Read More: Best Computer Microphones
4. HyperX QuadCast S RGB Microphone
BEST FOR GAMERS
If you’re looking for something with a little more flair, then consider the HyperX Quadcast microphone from HyperX, which boasts unique RGB lighting on the microphone, which can be personalized. The mic has a built-in pop filter and comes with an anti-vibration shock mount. You can choose between cardioid, omnidirectional or bidirectional.
5. Audio-Technica Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone
MOST VERSATILE HANDHELD
The Audio-Technica Dynamic microphone is a good handheld microphone for streaming, podcast and other kinds of recordings. It’s a handheld option with a surprising amount of built-in features. It works with both USB and XLR, and a variety of handy accessories are included. There’s a USB-C to USB-C cable, USB-C to USB-A cable and XLRF to XLRM cable, plus a clamp and tripod desk stand.
Audio Technica Dynamic Microphone
6. Blue Microphones Snowball USB Microphone
The snowball is a compact and affordable microphone from Blue, and it’s a great option for recording and streaming audio. It easily plugs into your computer or laptop using USB, and you can use it as an omnidirectional or cardioid microphone. Its small size makes it easy to set up on your desk without taking up too much space.
Blue Yeti Snowball
7. RØDE PodMic
As the name implies, the RØDE PodMic was designed with podcasting in mind, and it’s a great option for streaming as well. It’s a cardioid mic, so it’s designed to pick up your voice without additional unwanted noise. It’s an XLR microphone, so you’ll need to invest in an interface, recorder or mixer depending on your needs.
8. Blue enCORE 100 Studio Grade Dynamic Microphone
BEST FOR PODCASTS
The Blue enCore 100 mic is marketed primarily as a vocal microphone for music performances and studio recordings, but it can also work as a microphone for streaming or podcasting. It’s an XLR microphone, so you’ll need to invest in a handheld recorder or audio interface if you don’t already have one. That said, the easy handheld shape makes it a good option if you like to record while seated on a chair or couch, or you can attach it to a mount if you’re sitting at a desk.