Podcasting seems to have exploded in the past few years; even Google’s cashed in by developing its own podcasting app. The accessibility of the format is what draws so many listeners and creators to it. If you’re aspiring to be the latter, picking out your debut podcasting microphone can be daunting, which is why we’ve made this list to find the best podcasting microphone for you.
Editor’s note: this list was updated on September 26, 2021, to include the JLab Talk GO USB Microphone, and JLab Talk PRO USB Microphone in the notable mentions section.
The best podcasting mic is the Blue Yeti X
Blue’s mission is to make your recording experience as efficient and streamlined as possible with their USB microphones. Specifically, the Yeti X offers four-capsule technology which allows for quality a cut above your average USB mic. You may adjust the gain, and headphone output volume via the 3.5mm headphone jack. You can also view LED metering on the gain knob to make sure your volume level is good. The Yeti X’s main draw is that it makes some of the tougher parts of recording easier.
Blue Yeti XFull Review
Additionally, there are four pattern modes with this mic allowing you to choose which one best suits your given situation. Cardioid is ideal for podcasts, as it allows you to record sound which is immediately in front of the mic. Stereo mode acts as one would expect: recording sound from the left and right channels simultaneously to provide a better illusion the listener is in the room with you. Omnidirectional mode will record 360-degree sound, and bidirectional will record sound from the front and rear regions of the microphone.
Why don’t we recommend the Shure SM7b?
The Shure SM7B is an insanely powerful microphone, and is an industry-standard for radio. It is technically the “best” choice for a podcasting microphone, but we recognize that most podcasters aren’t looking to spend $500 for pristine audio quality because a podcast’s content is much more important than its sound. That being said, it’s an excellent mic that can do just about anything if you know what you’re doing. For podcasting, we recommend saving your money to invest in room treatment, a DAW, or a good audio interface.
What you should know about finding the best podcasting microphone
Different microphone types
There are four major microphone categories: dynamic, condenser, ribbon, and tube. The first two versions are the most popular, while the latter have garnered a loyal following. Most of the microphones you’ll happen across in the consumer space are dynamic. These are great for general purpose and vocal recordings because they don’t require external phantom power and are durable. If you could only choose one type of microphone, chances are the dynamic variant will serve you best in most instances.
Learn more: What is the proximity effect?
Look for a cardioid recording pattern
When it comes to picking out a podcasting microphone there’s a vast expanse of options to choose from. While style and size are important, you need to have a basic understanding of polar patterns. We happen to have an in-depth article on this matter, but if you’re in a rush, here’s the down-low.
There are five recording patterns that you’ll see on microphone packaging from enthusiast to professional-targeted products: omnidirectional, bidirectional, cardioid, hypercardioid, and supercardioid. Each pattern has its place in the world of production, but we’re focusing on cardioid microphones.
Cardioid. The word looks a bit like “cardio” and the pattern is fairly heart-shaped. This is best for recording sound directly in front of the element and allows for some leeway when placing the microphone. Cardioid mics boast effective reject off-axis noise, resulting in a clear, unencumbered recording. This is especially useful in a room with other people on other mics: while the mic may pick up other voices, they will be quieter and easier to edit.
Generally, a consumer podcasting microphone doesn’t require a dedicated interface
For the most part, the best podcasting microphone for a given consumer won’t usually require a dedicated recording interface. This is great as it saves space and money. It only becomes a clear solution if you’re recording several people on separate microphones, as it reduces any latency issues that can come from using multiple USB microphones at one time. If you feel the need to invest in an interface anyway (or your mic has an XLR connector), we recommend the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. It’s effective and a great value with two XLR inputs, 48V phantom power, and a handful of other practical features.
That said, you will need some kind of Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) or recording software to record and edit, regardless of whether you have an audio interface or a USB microphone. One of the most popular options is Audacity, which also happens to be free. Otherwise, if you’re beholden to Adobe products, Audition may be more your speed. Apple users can use the free Garageband app, which will handle most podcaster needs. Regardless, there are many ways to edit your voice, depending on the style you’re going for. That said, we have a few tips to get you started.
Vagabond podcasters should get the Samson Go Mic
When looking for a microphone, it’s hard to decide what’s necessary and what’s overkill. Well, Samson Technologies is renowned for its audio equipment and doesn’t overwhelm users with frivolous features in the Samson Go mic. It’s a great plug-and-play option for people and is a low-risk option to consider.
Samson GoFull Review
The USB condenser-style podcasting microphone allows for complete ease of recording: just plug it into your computer and record. The frequency response is more than enough, ranging from 20Hz-18kHz at 16-bit resolution. The Go mic also offers a cardioid recording option which is ideal for podcasting. And, it can record directly into whatever editing program you’re using. However, for better quality audio, prepare to shell out, and keep in mind the lack of adjustability in getting just the right recording angle.
The Shure MV7 is a versatile workhorse
We deliberately chose to highlight the Shure MV7, rather than the SM7B, for this list because of its versatile form factor, and more reasonable price. This dynamic microphone offers a single cardioid recording pattern, and allows creators to use the USB and XLR outputs simultaneously. Being able to use both outputs in tandem lets you record a low-resolution file for reference, while pocketing a high-resolution audio file for post-production. It also allows you to grow: say you start with just recording via USB but down the road upgrade to an audio interface, you can still use the same mic.
Shure MV7Full Review
This is one of the easiest mics to operate because it doesn’t require any kind of external audio interface in order for you to operate it. You can get the most streamlined, least involved interface by connecting via USB output, and enabling Auto Level mode from the ShurePlus MOTIV desktop app. The app is a great piece of software because it doesn’t make any assumptions about the knowledge you may or may not possess when it comes to audio production.
Shure MV7 (Natural) microphone demo:
Shure MV7 (Presence boost) microphone demo:
There are seven different recording modes for you to choose from between Auto Level mode and manual mode within the app. To hear all of the recording samples, be sure to check out our full Shure MV7 review. Otherwise, the demo above should give you a good idea of the mic’s audio quality.
Whether you’re a YouTuber, podcaster, or budding musician, the Shure MV7 is a great option. It can handle almost anything you throw at it, even in imperfect recording conditions. If you can only get one microphone, you can’t go wrong with Shure’s hybrid mic.
Related: Best podcasting mics
The HyperX Quadcast is an excellent USB mic that’s affordable, too
As is the case with nearly all USB microphones, the HyperX Quadcast requires minimal setup or know-how. It’s elevated by a tilting stand paired with a dual-shock mount to mitigate vibration. Near the bottom of the capsule is again dial, and the back knob lets you alternate between pickup patterns.
HyperX QuadcastFull Review
On the top of the microphone is a dedicated mute touchpad, which allows you to mute at the drop of a hat. This is great if you live with others and don’t want unpredictable sounds to bleed into your recording. It’s also easy to tell when the mic is on or off via the lighting behind the grill.
This unique podcasting microphone doesn’t require a pop filter because it uses a foam-like material just behind the grill. Said material does a good job at combating plosive sounds (p, pf, etc). Another great feature is that it’s compatible with an array of systems by nature of it being a USB mic.
While there are a few recording patterns to choose from, podcasters should stick with the cardioid pattern: it performs well at recording directly ahead while minimizing echoes. Above is a clip recorded with the HyperX Quadcast; for less than $150, it’s not too bad.
Related: Best USB microphones
If you have a bit of money to spare, check out the HyperX Quadcast S. It’s very similar to the HyperX Quadcast except it has a customizable RGB color scheme and is compatible with the Ngenuity software, which can be used for changing the colors or adjusting headphone volume levels.
HyperX Quadcast S (cardioid) microphone demo:
HyperX Quadcast S (bidirectional) microphone demo:
For a versatile XLR podcasting microphone, get the Blue Ember
The Blue Ember is a spartan XLR microphone in the sense that it provides few—if any—frivolous features. This doesn’t detract from the Ember’s value, however; in fact, it’s likely why it’s such a great mic for the $100 price. The side-address design means you speak directly into the front, not the top, of the microphone. That coupled with the slim form factor make this a great option for content creators working in tight spaces or for those who don’t want to worry about obscuring a microphone from view in videos.
Blue EmberFull Review
Despite the Ember’s slim design, it packs a substantial heft at 380 grams which adds a premium feel to the microphone. The XLR input at the base requires a dedicated XLR cable, rather than an adapted instrument cable. What’s more, you’ll need a recording interface with +48V phantom power to operate the microphone. Fortunately, there are plenty of USB interfaces out there to get you started. The cardioid recording pattern bodes well for voice recording and effectively rejects off-axis noises.
Blue Ember guitar demo:
Blue Ember voice demo:
Additionally, this podcasting microphone is great for instrumental recordings as it doesn’t place an excessive amount of emphasis on any particular frequency range. As you can hear in the example below, the sliding of my fingers up and down the fretboard of a guitar is audible without sounding too exaggerated. If you want to hear an example of vocal recordings, be sure to play that clip too.
How we chose the best podcasting microphones
While we typically subject headphones and earbuds to our in-house, objective testing, a podcasting microphone is no different. Over the past couple years, we’ve had the opportunity to kick the tires on a bunch of high-end microphones, and we were able to test the ones we found in the entry-level a bit more to find the diamonds in the rough. Our charts bear this out.
We made sure to do plenty of research on third-party forms and by scouring reviews on popular retailers. What’s more, we accounted for the reality of podcasting: it can be done from virtually anywhere. We wanted to respect the format’s versatility by picking out a wide array of options for readers to choose from.
Podcasting microphones: Notable mentions
- Audio-Technica ATR2500: Sound quality is excellent for a sub-$100 microphone. It’s easy to use since it’s a USB interface, too.
- Blue Snowball: This is a great alternative to the Blue Yeti microphone. It’s even easier to use and features a smaller, albeit more spherical, form factor. This USB microphone is available for ~$50.
- Beyerdynamic Fox USB Mic: If you want a versatile USB microphone that’s appropriate for gamers, podcasters, and musicians alike, the Beyerdynamic Fox USB Mic is a great option. It’s a bit pricey but users pay for the convenience, versatility, and slick design.
- Electro-Voice RE320: If you have some extra cash, but don’t want to spend Shure SM7b-money, this is a traditional XLR dynamic microphone with a built-in pop filter blocks plosives, and the “Variable-D” capsule pattern rejects off-axis sounds and minimizes the proximity effect. Its big brother, the RE-20 has been used for years in radio stations.
- Heil PR40: If you need professional-quality audio but don’t want to shell out for an interface with phantom power, this is a great option. It’s a durable dynamic microphone that’s built like a tank and as a bonus, it includes a really nice carrying case.
- JLab Talk GO USB Microphone: At around $50 the JLab Talk GO USB ranks as a close competitor for the best cheap mic. It may not be the hardiest or best sounding, but the sound quality is still decent and unlike the Samson Go Mic, the stand is better. It doesn’t reject off-axis noise especially well either, so aim to record in a quiet room.
- JLab Talk PRO USB Microphone: A genuinely good sounding mic, it’s a close competitor for the Best ranking, edged slightly ahead by Blue Yeti Pro which has XLR and USB. However, if you can get it at a good price, the JLab Talk PRO records 192kHz/24-bit audio giving you room to edit, and it has four polar patterns at about $150.
- Razer Seiren Mini: If you’re looking for a plug-and-play option, you can stop at the Razer Seiren Mini. It’s small and lightweight but remains sturdy on your desk, and it doesn’t have any convoluted setup process. While it’s not the best sounding microphone in the world, it’s only $49.
- Rode NT-USB: The NT-USB is much like Beyerdynamic Fox: both are USB microphones designed to perform well in a variety of situations. Rode’s version is slightly more expensive but it really comes down to personal preference. Alternatively, you could go in for the Rode NT1-A flagship microphone instead.
- Rode Procaster: Anyone in video production will likely sing the praises of Rode, and its Procaster mic is a great option for professional and enthusiast podcasters. It doesn’t require phantom power and is an excellent rugged solution for podcasters whose setups require a precise recording pattern.
- Shure 55SH Series II: The iconic Elvis microphone is about more than just shiny and chrome looks. It’s tuned to emphasize vocal frequencies and has excellent off-axis rejection. The die-cast metal construction is durable and attractive. Even though the mic is rather large, it can be adjusted easily thanks to the tension swivel.
- Shure SM58: Performers all around the globe rely on Shure’s audio products, and the SM58 is legendary. This microphone can take a bruising whether you’re on tour or moving studios. Its cardioid recording pattern does a great job of rejecting off-axis sound while accurately transmitting vocals. For the price, it’s hard to beat this mic.
Why you should trust SoundGuys
The SoundGuys team has accrued multiple years of reporting on the consumer audio industry. When it comes to the best podcasting mics, we understand that users podcast in vastly different environments from a hotel bedroom to a full-fledged studio. Thus, we wanted to account for that diversity in our picks.
None of our writers benefit from recommending one product over another; as a matter of fact, they’ll never know if a link was ever clicked. Collectively, we want you to be happy with your purchase and, in the case of podcasting mics, we want it to be easy to use and increase the quality of your end product. If you have the time, we encourage our readers to learn more about our ethics policy.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you want to go the easiest route, try Anchor, the podcast-making app. If you want a little more free reign with your editing process, we'd recommend checking out our article about how to choose a digital audio workstation. If you have a macOS, you should try out Garageband, which comes with your computer. If you have a PC, we'd recommend downloading the free software Audacity.
The Shure MV7 is quite versatile and easy to adjust according to if you're singing or speaking at any given moment. Its clear audio reproduction makes it very effective for both use cases.
The HyperX QuadCast S is about $100 more than the original QuadCast. The two mics are almost identical, but the QuadCast S has a mellower bass response than the QuadCast, so if you want to avoid the proximity effect, the newer model could help you out with that. Alternatively, if you have a very deep voice and want to ensure accurate vocal reproduction, you may want to go with the original QuadCast. The other differences between these mics lie mostly in aesthetics, but if you really prefer the RGB adjustable color scheme over just red LED lighting, you'll want to go with the QuadCast S. It is compatible with the Ngenuity software through which you can adjust the colors.
The Shure MV88 iOS is a great podcasting microphone for iPhone. It plugs in directly to the iPhone via Lightning adapter and includes five DSP presets (speech, singing, flat, acoustic instrument, and loud) for users to choose from depending on the project. It can be rotated 90° for more precise recording and includes a foam windscreen, which is great for field recording. You can up your game with the Shure MV88+ which includes a Manfrotto Pixi tripod and smartphone bracket. The Shure MV88 Plus is great for podcasters who may want to dip their toes into vlogging.
If you're working with a desktop setup, the On-Stage DS7200B is a great option with a small footprint. Alternatively, the InnoGear Microphone Arm Stand is a great heavy-duty option. It doesn't damage your desk at all since it can be mounted on via a screw clamp. Since it's a boom stand, it can be rotated out of the way when not in use. The built-in spring mechanism has a max load capacity of 1.6kg and is made of steel.