When it comes to microphones, the first question that comes to mind is:
What’s the best mic for recording vocals, youtube videos, streaming, gaming and podcasting?
Well the truth is…
There is no one mic that is best for everything and you have to buy one according to your needs and budget.
In this guide, I’ve mentioned ten best microphones starting from $7 and you’ll find many mics here for your specific needs whether it is podcasting, streaming or for recording vocals.
Best Microphones of 2018:
When buying a decent microphone you don’t need to have a bunch of specifics in your head. But if you’re going to buy a microphone for a specific purpose than you have to remember some technical details like pattern and frequency response etc.
Look at the comparison table. I will provide you with more information that will help you in our Buyer’s Guide later.
All microphones listed here are worth their price and are best of the best as compared to other mics available in the market.
Shure microphones are very good and this particular SM58 microphone deserves to be on number one position in the list.
A standard on stages throughout the world for years, the Shure SM58 Dynamic Vocal Microphone offers a carefully tailored frequency rise at about 4,000 Hz for smooth as silk vocals that stand out in the mix.
Long associated with its unmistakable sound and unsurpassed reliability, the Shure SM58 Dynamic Vocal Microphone is widely considered the most popular mic in the world.
Designed for professional vocal use in sound reinforcement and studio recording, the Shure SM58 Dynamic Vocal Microphone utilizes a highly effective, built-in, spherical filter that minimizes wind and breath pop noise while the cardioid pickup pattern isolates the main sound source and minimizes unwanted background noise.
The tailored vocal response on the SM58 is a legendary tone that has become a world standard.
Shure SM58 Dynamic Vocal Microphone Features:
- mid-frequency presence rise for world-famous SM58 Mic sound,
- Uniform cardioid pickup pattern isolates the main sound source,
- Minimizes background noise,
- Pneumatic shock-mount system cuts down handling noise,
- Rugged construction for extreme reliability in demanding applications,
- built-in spherical wind and pop filter,
- 50 to 15,000 Hz frequency response,
- Supplied with break-resistant stand adapter which rotates 180 degrees,
- Legendary Shure quality,
- and reliability,
- Includes a mic stand adapter and a zippered storage pouch.
|Frequency Response||50 to 15,000 Hz|
(at 1,000 Hz Open Circuit Voltage)
|-54.5 dBV/Pa (1.85 mV)
1 Pa = 94 dB SPL
|Impedance||Rated impedance is 150 Ohms (300 Ohms actual) for connection to microphone inputs rated low impedance|
|Polarity||Positive pressure on diaphragm produces positive voltage on pin 2 with respect to pin 3|
|Case||Dark gray, enamel-painted, die cast metal; matte-finished, silver colored, spherical steel mesh grille|
|Connector||Three-pin professional audio connector (male XLR type)|
|Net Weight||298 grams (10.5 oz)|
|Dimensions||162 mm (6-3/8 in.) L x 51 mm (2 in.) W|
|SM58-LC||Includes Stand Adapter and Zippered Pouch|
|SM58S||Includes Integrated On/Off Switch, Swivel Adapter and a Zippered Pouch|
|SM58-CN||Includes 7.6 m (25 ft) XLR-Male to XLR-Female Cable, Swivel Adapter and a Zippered Pouch|
|SM58-X2U||Includes X2U XLR-to-USB Signal Adapter and 9.8′ USB Cable|
- Frequency response tailored for vocals, with brightened midrange and bass rolloff
- Uniform cardioid pickup pattern isolates the main sound source and minimizes background noise
- Pneumatic shock-mount system cuts down handling noise
- Effective, built-in spherical wind and pop filter
- Supplied with break-resistant stand adapter which rotates 180 degrees
- Legendary Shure quality, ruggedness and reliability
- Cardioid (unidirectional) dynamic
- Frequency response: 50 to 15,000 Hz
Some users have complained that the switch is faulty in this microphone but still this is the best microphone you can get under $100.
This microphone is best for creating YouTube videos and if you need a USB mic then this is the best microphone you can get in this price range. The Yeti uses Blue Microphone’s proprietary tri-capsule technology to produce pristine, studio-quality recordings.
It features four different pattern settings so you can record vocals, instrumental music, podcasts, or interviews in ways that would normally require multiple microphones. With simple controls for headphone volume, pattern selection, instant mute, and microphone gain, you’ll be creating exceptional recordings right out of the box.
Blue Yeti USB Microphone Features:
- The ultimate professional USB microphone
- Tri-capsule array – 3 condenser capsules can record almost any situation
- Multiple pattern selection – cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional & stereo
- Gain control, mute button, zero-latency headphone output
- Perfect for vocals, musical instruments, podcasting, voiceovers, interviews, field recordings, conference calls
- Plug ‘n play – Mac and PC compatible
- Unique positionable design
|Studio-quality audio via digital USB||✓||✓|
|3 condenser capsules in a Tri-capsule array enable 4 recording patterns||✓||✓|
|Color options||Whiteout, Silver, Platinum, Blackout||Black|
|Adjustable Microphone gain control for varying volumes||✓||✓|
|Zero-latency headphone output with volume control for direct monitoring||✓||✓|
|Adjustable angle on its integrated custom-designed desk stand||✓||✓|
|Driverless installation for both Windows and Mac||✓|
|Professional recording via analog XLR||✓|
|Separate analog circuit path||✓|
|Maximum recording resolution||48 kHz/16-bit||192 kHz/24-bit|
Four Different Pattern Modes for Versatile Recording
|Stereo Mode||Cardioid Mode||Omnidirectional Mode||Bidirectional Mode|
|The stereo mode uses both the left and right channels, and is ideal for capturing a realistic, general sound image.||
Well-suited for podcasts, vocals, or game streaming, cardioid mode records sound sources that are directly in front of the microphone. It delivers a rich, full-bodied sound.
Omnidirectional mode picks up sound equally from all directions. It’s best used in situations when you want to capture the ambience of ‘being there’—like a live recording of a band’s performance.
|Bidirectional mode records from both the front and the rear of the microphone. It’s ideal for capturing the nuance of a musical instrument, or recording an interview between two people.|
- Great clarity
- Built-in headphone jack
- Multiple pattern selection – cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional & stereo.
- Perfect for vocals, musical instruments, podcasting, voiceovers, interviews, field recordings, conference calls.
- Hassle-Free Setup
- You can control Your recording in Real-Time
- You can use this for FaceTime and phone calls as well
Now I would not say that this mic is perfect but this is the best microphone within this price range and the best part is that this mic can be used for various purposes as well.
The Samson Go microphone is the best gaming microphone high-quality USB external option. Samson Go Mic Compact USB Microphone is a versatile computer-based miking and recording solution.
Due to its custom compact design, the Go Mic is able to clip directly onto your laptop or sit unobtrusively on your desk. Plug and play operation also means it’s completely compatible with a Mac or PC, with no drivers required.
The Go Mic is perfect for recording music, podcasts or field recording, but its range of functionality extends beyond typical USB microphones. The Go Mic is also ideal for voice recognition software, iChat, web casting and even Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).
Samson Go Mic Portable USB Condenser Microphone Features:
- Portable USB condenser microphone
- Mac and PC compatible, no drivers required
- Custom, compact design that clips to a laptop or sits on a desk
- Perfect for recording music, podcasting and field recording, voice recognition software, iChat, VoIP and web casting
- Switchable cardiod or omnidirectional pickup patterns
- 16-bit, 44.1kHz resolution
- Smooth, flat frequency response of 20Hz–18kHz
- Stereo 1/8″ headphone output for no latency monitoring
- Includes USB cable, cable clip and carry case
- Samson Sound Deck Noise Cancellation Software (Mac OS X/Windows) available for purchase
Communication Clarity: If you’re a frequent online communicator, Go Mic provides an easy, inexpensive solution to enhance the quality of your communication.
Whether your preferred method of interaction is Skype, iChat or VoIP, Go Mic can introduce a level of clarity you didn’t think was available. With Go Mic, you can make any online interaction clearer and more personal.
• Small for travel or for a laptop
• Folds easily for safe storage
• Lasts a long time (I have never dropped mine so I don’t know the extend of that durability)
• Has different settings omni and cardioid
• USB available
• Not the best quality if you’re used to Studio quality mics
• The hinge on which it pivots can wear down after time causing it to drop.
If you’re an advanced podcaster than you definitely need to invest in the Heil PR-40.
According to Dan Benjamin, author of the Podcasting Handbook, the “Heil PR-40 is the best dynamic mic I’ve ever used, and I’ve used most of them.” This mic is also recommended by Cliff Ravenscraft, aka the Podcast Answer Man, because it will help improve the quality of your podcast.
The Heil PR 40 represents completely new dynamic microphone technology designed for a wide range of professional applications such as sophisticated recording, live sound, and commercial broadcast.
Producing the widest frequency range available in a dynamic microphone, the PR 40 outperforms most condenser microphones, and can withstand huge amounts of SPL. At the same time, it maintains the 25 year Heil Sound tradition of superbly natural voice articulation.
Some features of Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone:
- Generating element: Copper-wound dynamic with neodymium magnet structure
- Body: Steel body with zinc die-cast bottom ring
- Frequency response: 28Hz to 18kHz
- Impedance: 600 ohms balanced
- Output level: -53.9dB @ 1,000 H
- Great sounding microphone for multiple needs
- Best for podcast work
- Microphone is very rich in tone
- Good for interviews, Youtube videos and webinars as well
In some cases, this mic needs preamplification. Ideally, you want to use this with a preamp with a good clean 40dBs+ of preamplification. You can use this with Focusrite Saffire Pro 24DSP which works beautifully with this mic, but any comparable quality mic preamp will do.
I wasn’t expecting to make a ‘budget’ category when I began writing this article. The easiest budget answer is to just use your headset mic, even though it’s probably terrible.
But then I used the Zalman ZM-Mic1, and was shocked you could get such an upgrade for only about $7. The ZM-Mic1 doesn’t have top-of-the-line fidelity, but I’m willing to bet it’s significantly better than whatever mic you’re using now.
This mic was so impressive for its price that it demanded attention on this list. Compact headphone microphone of excellent sound quality, ease of use, and sensitivity.
Zalman Zm-Mic1 High Sensitivity Headphone Microphone Features:
- It has attractive & compact design
- Localization – English
- High Sensitivity Headphone Mic
- 3 Mini Clips for Tidy Arrangement
- Decent sound.
- Long cable.
- Clips to route mic cable alongside headphone cable.
- No frills
- Ridiculously cheap
- An upgrade from most headset mics
- Incredibly thin cable.
- Highly sensitive capsule.
- Audible hissing sound from input at all levels.
- No shirt clip. (Only clips onto cables)
- Picks up ambient noise
If you don’t mind spending extra for arguably the best mic for streaming and gaming out there, Razer has you covered.
The Seiren Pro is very versatile in its modes and capabilities, which is why I recommend it if you want a mic that will serve you outside of streaming. Made specifically for streamers, this incredible mic is hard to beat in just about every department.
The Razer Seiren Pro is a versatile multi-pattern XLR and USB digital microphone with the recording capabilities of a professional-grade studio setup.
The Razer Seiren Pro comes with four recording patterns: stereo, cardioid, bidirectional and omnidirectional. Each pattern will give you studio-quality sound. An advanced high-pass filter function eliminates unwanted background noises such as your computer fan, air conditioner, outside sounds, etc. This filter will definitely come in handy if you live in a noisy environment and want your voice to remain clear.
Razer Seiren Pro Elite XLR Microphone Features:
- Built into the Razer Seiren Pro are three 14mm custom tuned condenser capsules in an array that is capable of 4 different recording pattern configurations
- The Razer Seiren Pro can easily switch up to four different dedicated recording patterns to suit a variety of audio capture needs
- Ensure you sound exactly the way you want your audience to hear you, and use the included controls to adjust the mic gain and headphone volume
- Unique to the Razer Seiren Pro is its high-pass filter. It lets you remove low-end rumbles and hums, typical ambient sounds found in home or studio recording environments
- The Razer Seiren Pro gives you the option to plug in the mic directly into a pro mixing board opening up your recording options
- HD recording with outstanding clarity
- 4 adjustable recording patterns (Cardioid, Stereo, Omni, Bi-directional)
- Quick controls for pattern switching, headphone volume and mic gain
- Built-in headphone amplifier with zero latency output
- Play and play recording via single USB or XLR connection
- High-pass filter-filters frequencies below 100Hz
Zero Latency Monitoring: The Razer Seiren Pro comes with a headphone amplifier built-in, compatible with any 3.5mm headphones. With zero latency output when plugged directly into the Razer Seiren Pro, accurately monitor your recordings in real time. Ensure you sound exactly the way you want your audience to hear you, and use the included controls to adjust the mic gain and headphone volume.
Note: This feature is only available when connected via USB.
High-Pass Filter Switch: Unique to the Razer Seiren Pro is its high-pass filter. It lets you remove low-end rumbles and hums, typical ambient sounds found in home or studio recording environments. This creates a cleaner, clearer recording.
- Sizable and seems very durable
- Quality is good
- Very sensitive
- Supports both USB and XLR
Sometimes due to it’s sensitivity, this mic picks up noises but with proper settings you can use this mic to it’s full potential. It will take some time to adjust the settings to find what works best for you.
Even if you’ve never owned a single microphone before…
Odds are you still know the Blue Snowball…because the damn thing is everywhere.
For pretty much any type of vocal recording, whether it be podcasting, voiceovers, Youtubing, or Skype calls…
The Snowball is one of the standard go-to mics that everyone has at least considered at some point. This mic looks cool, it’s super easy to use, it doesn’t take up much space, and it sounds great.
It’s never been easier to get high-quality sound for your voice and computer-based audio recordings. At home, the office-or anywhere for that matter-the Snowball ice USB microphone delivers audio quality that’s light years ahead of your computer’s built-in microphone.
The custom cardioid condenser capsule offers crystal-clear audio for communicating, creating and recording. Snowball ice is Skype certified so you’re guaranteed to get great-sounding results, and comes ready to go with an adjustable desktop mic stand and USB cable.
Blue Snowball iCE Condenser Microphone Features:
- Custom condenser capsule offers crystal clear audio for Skype, Messages and FaceTime
- Record vocals, create podcasts, and add narration to your home movies
- Add crystal clear audio to recordings for YouTube
- Easy plug and play directly to your Mac or PC-no drivers to install
- Ships with desktop stand and USB cable
If you’re looking to step things up even further while still keeping the convenience of a USB mic, the Rode Podcaster may be worth a look.
As the name suggests, it’s designed with voice recording in mind and is similar to Rode’s widely well-regarded Procaster XLR mic.
At $229, the mic certainly isn’t cheap, but that does buy you a solid all-metal construction in addition to great sound, as well as an impressive ten-year warranty.
Rode Procaster Broadcast Dynamic Vocal Microphone Features:
- Broadcast quality sound
- High output dynamic capsule
- Balanced, low impedance output
- Internal shock mounting of capsule for low handling noise
- Internal pop-filter to reduce plosives
- Robust, all metal construction
- Designed and manufactured in Australia
- Includes RM2 stand mount, 3/8 inch adaptor, ZP1 zip pouch
- Broadcast quality sound
- Very little background noise
- High output dynamic capsule
- Balanced, low impedance output
- Internal shock mounting of capsule for low handling noise
- Internal pop-filter to reduce plosive
- Built like a Tank
- Amazing Sound Quality
- Needs a lot of clean gain, noise floor will be very high if paired with bad preamp
- Very bassy, could easily be fixed with EQ
Shure’s microphones are a fairly safe bet across the board, but the MV5 is one standout USB option on the entry-level side of things.
The Wirecutter recommends it as a more portable and slightly cheaper alternative to the Blue Yeti, and it’s consistently well-reviewed among customers and other publications alike.
Another key advantage is that in addition to a standard USB connector, it also comes with a Lightning cable that’ll let you plug it straight into your iPhone or iPad for some really portable recording sessions.
Shure MV5 Digital Condenser Microphone Features:
- Apple MFi (Made for iPhone/iPod/iPad) Certified for direct connection to any iOS device without the need for any additional adapters or connection kits
- 3 DSP Preset Modes (Vocals, Flat, Instrument)
- Automatically applies gain, EQ, compression and limiting for optimal results
- Built-in headphone output for real-time monitoring
- Custom-tuned microphone capsule provides best-in-class audio
- Available in 2 colors gray with black foam and black with red foam
- Included anodized aluminum desktop stand and integrated thread mount compatible with any standard 1/4″ camera tripod thread
- Low-profile, portable design measures only 2.5 inches / 7 cm tall (5.5 inches / 14 cm on included stand)
- Includes one (1) MicroB-to-USB cable and one (1) MicroB-to-Lightning cable
A good USB microphone will be all many people need, but your options really open up when you move to more professional-level mics that use an XLR cable.
At $99, Audio-Technica’s AT2020 is a popular option that’s widely praised, but you will have to also factor in the cost of a separate audio interface.
Audio-Technica’s stringent quality and consistency standards set the AT2020 apart from other mics in its class.
Its low-mass diaphragm is custom-engineered for extended frequency response and superior transient response. With rugged construction for durable performance, the microphone offers a wide dynamic range and handles high SPLs with ease. The AT2020: the new standard for affordable side-address studio condensers.
Audio-Technica AT2020 Cardioid Condenser Studio Microphone Features:
- The price/performance standard in side-address studio condenser microphone technology
- Ideal for project/home-studio applications
- High SPL handling and wide dynamic range provide unmatched versatility
- Custom-engineered low-mass diaphragm provides extended frequency response and superior transient response
- Cardioid polar pattern reduces pickup of sounds from the sides and rear, improving isolation of desired sound source
Microphones: Buyer’s Guide
How Does a Microphone Work?
A microphone has a diaphragm in it. This is just like an eardrum. It allows the mic to hear the music and translate it into an electrical signal for your computer to deal with.
As you sing, you’re pumping out air waves from your lungs that are being shaped by your tongue and mouth. This changes two aspects about these sound waves:
- The Frequency of the Wave
- The Sound Pressure Levels of the Wave
That’s essentially pitch and volume.
The diaphragm in the mic gets hit by these waves and vibrates at different rates and intensities. What this does is move an attached magnet over an electrical coil’s magnetic field (or acts as a second part of a capacitor) which generates a current that is directly analogous to the sound striking the diaphragm.
How Should You Care For Your Microphone?
During use, there are three main dangers to watch out for:
- Knocking the mic over and breaking a tube or the diaphragm
- Getting spit and condensation on the diaphragm
- Exceeding the SPL limit for the diaphragm
It’s all mainly about protecting the mic’s “eardrum”. Make sure your mic stand has a sturdy base and try to route the cable in a way that it can’t get snagged and pull the whole operation to the ground. Also, windscreens and pop filters will keep spit and humidity from the human voice from reaching the diaphragm.
The pop filter will keep the vocalist far enough away to not scream the diaphragm in half. Each mic will come with a pamphlet that tells you what volume not to exceed. The reality in that you’ll have a hard time reaching the limit. Just don’t put it right in front of a guitar amp at max volume, for instance.
When not in use, you can store the mic in it’s hard shell or soft shell case that it might come with. If not, store it in any nice bag you like in a dry place with normalized temperatures. If you keep it on the stand, find a nice cloth bag that you can place over it to protect it from dust.
Microphones are categorized by their transducer principle, such as a condenser, dynamic, etc., and by their directional characteristics.
Sometimes other characteristics such as diaphragm size, intended use or orientation of the principal sound input to the principal axis (end- or side-address) of the microphone are used to describe the microphone.
Things you should look for in Microphones:
Condenser mics continue to be staple equipment for recording vocals, but don’t brush off dynamic mics just yet because even pros opt to use them for certain scenarios. While the boundaries can be blurred from time to time, the general idea is that condenser mics capture more sonic detail at the expense of having limited sound pressure handling, while dynamic mics can handle louder sources and have better noise rejection.
The safest and most versatile of the two would be the condenser, but if you’re into recording loud sound sources, or full band performances, then getting a dynamic one is the better choice. Note that condenser mics usually require phantom power or their own power supply to work, while dynamic mics don’t need any kind of preamp or power supply. If budget permits, it is recommended to get one of each so you have a go-to mic for virtually any type of vocal recording.
Polar patterns describe how a mic captures sound, to be more specific, the location and direction of the sound relative to the mic’s position. Cardioid, with its front capture and rear rejection is the most commonly used for vocal recording. Other patterns like the Figure 8 and Omnidirectional allow more of the ambient sound to be captured, and can also be used for recording a singing group or multiple sound sources.
This specification indicates how strongly a mic responds to various frequencies, usually shown in the form of a chart to show the specific frequencies that are emphasized and de-emphasized. The resulting sound should ideally be as neutral and flat as possible, however there are who prefer subtle coloration like additional warmth and low-end. Singers with a low pitched voice will appreciate those with strong frequencies below 200Hz, since they can reproduce the tone of their voice better. On the other hand, you’ll want one that can tame some of the highs if your voice tends to be naturally high-pitched. The more familiar you are with the voice that you’re recording, the more useful the frequency charts will be to you, and this is the reason why professional studios have multiple mics to accommodate various voice types. A good rule of thumb is to start with a flat EQ and make adjustments as necessary before switching mics.
Pop filters are essentially “wind screens” that stop excessive air movement while allowing sound to pass through. Sudden air movements from strong “p” pronunciations can cause unwanted volume jumps or worse cause signal clipping, which is unwanted in a recording setting. Many mics come with bundled pop filters – but some have expressed concerns about the quality of some of these free filters. More expensive condenser mics have pop-filters built into the casing itself for convenient pop and noise protection.
Most audio interfaces, mic preamps and studio mixing desks today provide phantom power, but in case you have an old one that doesn’t you’ll need a separate mic preamp or a channel strip that can supply power to condenser mics. Note that there are some condenser mics that can’t run on phantom power, rather they have dedicated power supply to feed them with the power they need, which is usually the case for tube driven mics. Dynamic mics don’t require any power so no need to worry if you’re going that route.
This indicates the maximum volume, measured in decibels (dB), that you can expose a mic to before it starts to degrade the signal. This is not a primary concern for vocal recording, but if you want an all-around mic that you can use for louder instruments like drums and amplifiers, then you’ll want to consider those with high Max SPL. Most of the mics mentioned in this guide feature switchable attenuation pad(s), which allow them to handle louder sound sources without distorting the sound. In line with this, an SPL meter is a good tool to have, even for home studios. You can either download an SPL meter app for your smartphone or buy a hardware SPL Meter for more accurate measurements.
Two Main Types Of Vocal Mics:
The two main types of microphones used for recording vocals are:
- Condenser Mics
- Dynamic Mics
Technically, the difference is in how the diaphragm generates the electrical signal. In a dynamic, its movement passes a magnet over a coil. In a condenser, it acts as one of two parts of a capacitor, changing the distance between them to release energy.
Superficially, you can normally tell the difference because a dynamic usually point at the source of the sound while a condenser’s diaphragm faces a side of the mic. You can see both below with arrows showing what I mean, pointing right into the center of the cardioid pickup pattern:
Other differences are that dynamics are typically less fragile. That’s why you see them in live concerts and speaking events instead of condensers. They generally can withstand louder sound pressure levels without distorting or becoming damaged. Because they are less sensitive in this way, they also don’t always capture the very subtle nuances of a source.
Condensers include vacuum tubes which need to be powered. If a mic needs a special amount of power, it will come with its own external power supply. If it just needs the typical 14 volt Phantom Power, it won’t because your interface or preamp will come with the ability to supply it.
In case you feel that we left out some other great microphones, don’t hesitate to let us know.