A microphone and camera are standard in pretty much any laptop you buy, but they’re often treated as an afterthought. But as podcasting, Youtubing and at-home music recording grow in popularity, a computer’s camera and microphone are used for more than just video meetings. That’s why it’s worth investing in a quality microphone. Even if you just use your laptop for the occasional work meeting, a quality camera will help you make a professional appearance, especially as more and more businesses switch to telecommuting.
What To Consider Before Buying a Computer Microphone
From podcasting to vlogging, a microphone is a crucial tool for making recordings. But it’s also handy for live audio, such as video game streaming or video chats and meetings, where clear audio can ensure you’re heard loud and clear.
Quality audio is obviously the first consideration, but also key to a computer microphone is convenience — you want to be able to connect the mic to your laptop with minimal fuss. After all, you don’t want technical difficulties to hold up your live stream. Cost is also a large factor, especially because of the wide range of choices and features. You might not need the same mic for that biweekly work meeting that you would for your daily live stream in front of thousands of viewers, for example.
There are a few different kinds of microphones that you can buy. Omnidirectional mics pick up noise from all directions, which can be convenient, but it can lead to more background noise. Cardioid mics pick up noise from the front, which helps cut out background noise. Other options include supercardioid, which are even more focused than cardioid mics.
How We Chose the Best Computer Microphones
We turned to trusted brands like Blue Yeti and Shure to find the best computer mics, and we also looked at economical options from lesser-known brands. We picked out options that rely on USB connections, to ensure ease of use for the average user. Our favorite options come in at a variety of prices and have different features, but they’re all versatile options that will suit podcasting, video recording, live streaming and video calls.
Whatever your computer microphone needs are, one thing that unites all these groups is the ability to access an affordable and expert mic that produces clear, crisp and sonically cohesive vocals. What you say on the mic is up to you.
1. Blue Yeti USB Microphone
The number one premium USB mic in the world is the Blue Yeti, which makes professional recording affordable. The Blue Yeti features three condenser capsules that can record in almost any situation, meaning you’ll still get professional quality and clear recording even in the middle of a busy office or living room. The sleek and sophisticated mic includes a gain control, mute button, and zero-latency headphone output. Strong enough for professionals but easy to use for amateurs, the Blue Yeti is a plug-and-play mic that can record directly to MAC and PCs.
Pros: The Blue Yeti comes with four different recording settings including cardioid, stereo, omnidirectional and bidirectional. Convenient onboard controls.
Cons: Some options are less expensive.
Blue Yeti USB Microphone
2. Rode NT-USB-Mini USB Microphone
This stylish microphone from Rode brings a classic look with modern features. It connects to your computer using USB, and the unidirectional microphone features a cardioid pickup pattern to reduce unwanted background noise. The mic tilts on the detachable stand, which has a magnetic base — this gives you a variety of ways to mount the mic. The mic also has a built-in headphone jack.
Pros: Designed for easy setup. Stylish design. Convenient magnetic stand.
Cons: No onboard mute option.
Rode NT-USB-Mini USB Microphone
3. Shure MV7 USB Podcast Microphone
If you’re looking for premium performance, this microphone from Shure is a sure thing. The unidirectional mic is designed to pick up your voice without background distractions, and you can customize the microphone’s features to fine-tune and perfect the audio. For example, you can select one of three tones, and you can switch between “near” and “far” presets depending on your position compared to the mic. The convenient slider on the mic allows you to adjust mic gain or mute yourself. The headphones work with an XLR cable or USB for maximum versatility.
Pros: XLR and USB. Customizable settings to fine-tune the audio. Reduces background noise.
Cons: Some may prefer a more economical option.
Shure MV7 USB Podcast Microphone
4. Blue Snowball iCE USB Mic
Economical and compact, this unique mic from Blue is a great way to get premium audio for less. It has an eye-catching spherical shape, and this cardioid microphone is designed to pick up your voice without picking up unwanted background noise. It connects via USB, and it’s designed to be plug-and-play for your Mac or PC. It’s certified for Skype and Discord, too.
Pros: Unique design. Plug and play. Cardioid design to pick up clear audio without background noise.
Cons: LED light on the front is distractingly bright.
Blue Snowball iCE USB Mic
5. Razer USB Microphone
This compact and convenient microphone is a great option for small workspaces, and it can be easily mounted, or you can angle it using the built-in tilting stand. The supercardioid design cuts out background noise for a clearer focus on your voice, while the built-in shock mount reduces distortion-causing vibrations. This microphone is available in black, white and pink.
Pros: Compact and stylish design. Tilting mic stand with shock absorption.
Cons: No mute button.
Razer USB Microphone
6. CMTECK USB Computer Microphone
Designed for gamers but sophisticated enough to use for recording podcasts, YouTube videos and more, the CMTECK USB Computer Microphone is an affordable and versatile microphone that features a built-in smart chip designed to block out background noise. Like some of our other mics, the CMTECK is a plug-and-play mic that doesn’t require any drivers or installation software and can be used on either a PC or MAC.
Pros: The CMTECK is simple to use and position, with a LED indicator that shows when the mic is muted or live and a flexible gooseneck that makes it easy for users to position the 360 omnidirectional polar pattern mic.
Cons: Cord could be longer.
CMTECK USB Computer Microphone
7. FIFINE USB Microphone
Plug and play on any PC or MAC with the FIFINE USB Microphone, which works with Cortana, Discord, voice chat and voice recognition, making this a great option for video chat, gaming, and recording. Constructed from metal and sitting on a sturdy tripod stand, the FIFNE is easy to adjust with a tilting knob. It also includes a volume knob that has a loud output and is more sensitive to vocals.
Pros: The FIFINE is a cardioid polar pattern condenser microphone that reduces background noise to help make vocals sound crisp and clear without static interference.
Cons: The FIFINE is not compatible with smartphones or Xbox.