It’s no secret that a good microphone goes a long way, especially if you stream for a living. While you can get by with a run-of-the-mill microphone, a dedicated USB mic geared for your streams will make your chit-chat and interactions sound that much better. Be that as it may, you might be wondering about the best USB microphones for streaming, especially if you’re on a tight budget of say, $100.
Well, fret not, as we have the solution to all your recording woes. Below, you will find a list of five excellent USB microphones that will help your voice stand out amongst your peers.
But, before we get into that, you might want to read about:
- The best microphones for smartphones to record on the go.
- The best camera microphones for vloggers.
- The best ambidextrous mice under $50 to land flick shots on your streams.
With that out of the way, let’s take a closer look at some best USB microphones for streaming.
1. Blue Snowball USB Microphone
Logitech-backed Blue microphones have been the go-to brand for online influencers for quite some time. The company’s Blue Snowball USB microphone is arguably their most popular product, and for good reason. For starters, the microphone is a simple plug-and-play device and it can be set up in no time. To wit, the unit doesn’t require any additional drivers and should work as soon as you plug it into your PC.
More notably, the device comes with an adjustable desktop stand, so you can angle the microphone any way you please. Coming to the meat of the matter, the Blue Snowball comes with two custom mic capsules that can work across two different polar patterns. For the uninitiated, a polar pattern describes the way a microphone picks up sound. In the case of the Blue Snowball, the device features a cardioid and an omnidirectional pattern.
The cardioid mode essentially picks up the sound emanating from the front of the microphone and negates the audio coming in from the back of the mic completely. This is also construed as directional audio by many and is ideal for when you’re streaming alone or recording a podcast. The omnidirectional pattern, on the other hand, picks up sound equally from all directions. As such, you can use the mic with this pattern when you want others to partake in a discussion.
You can also use the microphone’s companion Sherpa app to adjust the polar patterns, or the mic’s gain and playback level on the fly. It goes without saying, then, that the Blue Snowball has been an instant hit. To that end, buyers, as well as reviewers, can be seen singing praises of the mic. Understandably, the Blue Snowball is one of the best streaming microphones for under $100.
Why You Should Buy It
The Blue Snowball is a reliable and affordable microphone with two polar patterns.
2. Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ Microphone
If you’ve done your homework, you’ll know that Audio-Technica is revered in the audio biz. And, the company’s reign is not limited to headphones alone. Besides, the brand’s AT2020USB+ cardioid USB microphone sells like hotcakes too. Notably, the microphone comes with a built-in amplifier which can boost your microphone’s output to desirable levels.
That’s partly why the microphone is considered a fantastic Blue Yeti alternative too. For one, the unit costs less and despite that, the microphone features built-in mix and volume control knobs. You can even plug in a headphone to monitor the microphone input directly.
What’s more, thanks to the aforementioned mix and volume toggles, you can hear pre-recorded audio playing on your PC as well as the microphone’s input, all at once. You can even fine-tune which audio byte you’d want to be louder, which is great.
Moving on, you should know that the microphone uses a cardioid pattern. As a result, the microphone will pick up on your voice eloquently. It will automatically muffle the sounds playing toward the back of the unit too. Unsurprisingly, buyers rate the microphone highly, with many lauding the unit’s recording capabilities. Some buyers have even used the microphone to record vocals for a song, which speaks volumes about the AT2020USB+’s range (no pun intended).
The icing on the cake is that the microphone comes with a host of accessories, including a carrying pouch, a pivoting stand mount, and a threaded adapter. All said and done, the Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ will undoubtedly level up the quality of your streams.
Why You Should Buy It
The AT2020USB+ is an affordable USB mic with built-in knobs for mix and volume control. It also comes with a headphone input.
3. Blue Yeti USB Microphone
No surprises here, the Blue Yeti USB microphone has made it on the list. The microphone is revered as the best USB mic and we tend to agree with the statement too. The microphone comes with many useful features, including built-in dials to adjust the gain, change the pickup pattern, mute the microphone, and adjust the headphone playback level.
That’s not all, as the mic also comes with four distinct polar patterns. These include cardioid, omnidirectional, bidirectional, and stereo polar patterns. Now, we’ve already discussed the cardioid and omnidirectional patterns in the sub-heads above. However, for those unaware, a bidirectional polar pattern is often referred to as a figure-8 polar pattern.
As its moniker suggests, the figure-8 polar pattern picks up sounds emanating from the front and towards the rear of the microphone. In doing so, it completely cuts off the sound projected from the sides. On the other hand, the stereo pattern is useful for recording spatial audio. With the pattern enabled, the Yeti can pick up on the left and right audio channels simultaneously.
Understandably, you shouldn’t use this mode to record podcasts or voiceovers, as your pitch would oscillate a lot if you move your head. That said, the mode is quite useful for recording musicals as it can pick up on the positioning of each instrument with the virtual sound stage. Moving on, the mic also comes with an adjustable desktop stand that should keep it anchored when you’re speaking into it.
You can even customize the audio output by using the Blue VOICE software, which features a bunch of vocal effects and advanced modulation presets. All said and done, the Blue Yeti USB microphone is among the best microphones for streaming.
Why You Should Buy It
The Yeti comes with four distinct polar patterns and offers a ton of customization, thanks to the Blue VOICE software.
4. HyperX QuadCast USB Microphone
The HyperX QuadCast has a lot going for it. For starters, the device is the only microphone on the list to ship with dynamic lighting effects. To wit, the microphone comes with a tap-to-mute button which mutes the mic and disables its red LED light. Ergo, you will know when you’re muted and when you’re not instantly. The unit also offers a higher sampling rate than most products on the list.
While the bit-depth remains 16-bit, the mic can perform 96,000 (96KHz) samples per second. In other words, the mic can churn out a richer recording with more nuanced sounds. That’s not all, as the mic also comes with built-in controls to adjust the gain as well as the polar patterns. Speaking of which, much like the Blue Yeti, the HyperX QuadCast also features four polar patterns.
These include stereo, omnidirectional, cardioid, and bidirectional polar patterns. As prefaced previously, the stereo polar pattern can be used to record instruments or music. The omnidirectional polar pattern comes in clutch for when you want to take a conference call or invite a lot of speakers on your stream. The cardioid polar pattern can help you record podcasts seamlessly and the bidirectional polar pattern can be used for a one-on-one interview, among other things.
Naturally, buyers have left glowing reviews on QuadCast’s product page, with most users citing that the microphone exceeded their expectations. Lastly, you should know that the microphone also comes with a pop filter and a shock mount. Pool everything together and the HyperX QuadCast is a fantastic microphone that will assist you tremendously in your streaming career.
Why You Should Buy It
The HyperX QuadCast features dynamic lighting and comes with dedicated dials to change a lot of settings on the fly. It also supports four polar patterns.
5. Razer Seiren V2 X USB Microphone
The Razer Serien V2 X USB microphone has been designed with gamers and streamers in mind. To that end, the microphone features a supercardioid pickup pattern, an extension of the cardioid polar pattern discussed previously. In fact, a microphone with a supercardioid pattern will also preface the audio projecting from the front of the mic.
That said, supercardioid mics can pick up audio from the rear of the microphone too. While not as adept as a bidirectional mic, they can envelop listeners in an immersive sound stage as well. Moving on, much like the Audio-Technica AT2020USB+, you can plug in a headphone to monitor the audio levels on the Razer Seiren V2 X too. What’s more, the mic ships with an integrated digital limiter, which is programmed to mitigate audio clipping.
As a result, you need not worry about your voice weaning off when you’re speaking into the Razer Seiren V2 X USB microphone. The unit also comes with a dedicated gain control and mute button. Lastly, the device gets a built-in shock absorber, which should keep vibrations at bay. To sum up, buyers looking for a reliable USB mic for streaming will find plenty to like about Razer’s offering.
Why You Should Buy It
The Seiren V2 X is a great bundle, as it comes with a built-in shock absorber that mitigates vibrations when recording. It also features the supercardioid pickup pattern ideal for streaming.
FAQs About USB Microphones
For the most part, the audio from a USB microphone will sound much better than the audio coming out of your smartphone’s mic. What’s more, USB microphones are quite easy to use and as a result, make for a handy tool in any streamer/podcaster’s arsenal.
It is difficult to conclusively say which type of mic offers a better sound output. That being said, USB microphones are easier to use as they come with a built-in audio interface that does most of the heavy lifting. A 3.5mm mic, on the other hand, will need a separate interface or a PC to output digital audio.
An XLR mic is said to offer a better audio output than a USB mic.
Let Your Voice Be Heard
If you’re looking to up the quality of your streams, you cannot go wrong with a USB microphone. They are not only extremely convenient to use but also don’t cost a fortune. Rest assured, if you’re an up-and-coming streamer, you’ll want a USB mic plugged into your rig.
Last updated on 12 January, 2023
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