Our microphone test for the best USB mic this year led us to some old friends as well as new ones. There is a huge difference in the price you will have to pay for a budget microphone and a high-end version. So first you should know what is your primary concern; is it staying within a budget or getting the best you can?
We, however, suggest a middle way so that you get enough bang for your buck and also manage to save a few bills.
Best USB Microphones to Buy
The key here is, in the very basic of terms, to make your voice sound better across a wide spectrum of situations. There could be some microphones that do well in a certain situation while others don’t. The best USB microphones however, will be those that not only perform well in a vast range of situations but also sit well feature wise.
These mic test results going to be a tad more technical as compared to buying simpler items like a bluetooth speaker or a key finder. So we suggest you stick with us through the list. But first, here are two of the featured products that we found deserving.
Blue Yeti USB Microphones
Best in all weathers
Tried and tested, the Yeti Blue is the finest USB mic for all conditions, easy plug and play for iPads and laptops, professional studios or offices. Blue has got you covered.
Best Budget Alternative
Blue Snowball USB Microphone
Bang For Your Buck
With a compact design you have a true plug and play solution at 40 –18 kHz, crisp and clear voice with very less distortion. What’s more it goes wherever you go and doesn’t take much space.
You have at your hands one of the best USB microphones that Razer has produced so far. With the Seiren Elite, Razer boasts a built-in high-pass filter, a digital/analogue limiter all in a single capsule. There is a 16-bit/48kHZ Resolution and the company promises a professional grade experience with very less electronic interference.
As for us, a Yeti microphone could have serious competition from this old guy. Even back in 2015 microphone tests between the two proved a lot of areas with similar performance. The value adding features make it deserving to be one of the best USB microphones of the year. It packs a headphone jack, low latency monitoring, a gain knob as well as DSP.
However, one problem that we faced in the mic test for Razer Seiren Elite was the level of hiss between mid to high levels of gain. At times, this could be a problem if you are looking for extreme detail. There is an LCD display but you might need to take your eyes off of everything else to focus on it. Although it is a multipurpose LCD which is certainly a plus for any good USB microphone.
Yet, the microphone test proved that we have at our hands a pretty solid product. Its signals are crisp and clear which is a big plus for the live streamers as well as podcasters. These normally form a majority of people preferring a USB microphone.
What further reiterates the Razer Seiren Elite’s position among the best USB microphones to buy in 2018 is the zero latency headphone monitoring.
- Solid Design
- Adjustable Gain
- Crisp Signals
- Audible Hiss at High Gain
- Utility Concern of LCD
The Rode NT-USB is a Condenser based microphone which competed with the best despite not being treated as the best condenser mic itself. Rode, the company behind it boasts of ultra low noise, an on-mic control panel, as well as Apple iPad compatibility.
However, almost every contender in our list of the best USB microphones comes packing those features.
The tripod stand that the Rode NT-USB condenser microphone comes with is of fairly good quality; very less complaints. Similarly, you get a handy zero latency jack for the headphones allowing quick replays of recordings. There also is a solid pouch to keep it safe. We are not complaining!
It is true that the price tag is a little on the up side and still it is not the best there is. But we think the quality is quite reasonable for studio quality USB mic like this one. You can record pretty well with 16-bit / 48 kHz resolution whether it is vocals, instruments, voice overs or simple stuff like Skype calls and meetings.
With the help of an intelligently placed pop-filter, the Rode USB mic effectively manages to reduce the pop sounds from the air when recording. Giving you a clearer and more shielded sound.
- Studio Grade USB Mic
- Mix Control on Mic
- Impressive Design
- High Price as Compared to Features
By far, this THX certified round beauty has been the best choice of not only our testers but reviewers mostly everywhere in the past half decade. The Yeti mic is actually a legacy for some who believe in ease of access and quality.
One thing that everyone who was a part of our mic test for the Blue Yeti USB Microphone experienced was that the quality of sound produced was high as well as consistent.
You can even add versatility to your recordings by picking one of the four different pattern modes of the Yeti Blue and take charge of quality with gain control features as well as in built headphone jack for live monitoring.
For those of you who are a little more interested in the technicalities, it has a tri-capsule array which allows it to literally record anything with studio quality.
On the downside some could say that the control buttons on the product are filmsy. This might even be true, but looking at the rounded design of the Blue Yeti, we just let it pass.
It is about $50 higher in price as compared to the best USB microphones in his league, but we believe that is justified.
- Natural Quality of Sound
- Different Pattern Modes
- Live Headphone Monitoring
- Slightly Expensive
- Control Buttons Could be Better
Whoever has had some linkage with music and recording has definitely heard of Gibson, which is why their mic making company NEAT can simply not be ignored. The NEAT Widget B Desktop is a successor to the Widget A that primarily compete with Blue mics on price.
A first look at the NEAT Widget B Desktop makes you double back as it is pretty colorful and doesn’t look like your regualar USB microphone. The frequency is lower at 20Hz – 20kHz, a shock mounted Condenser, has compatibilty with iOS and Windows both.
As far as the sound quality is concerned, we would not be comparing it with the likes of the Blue Yeti or the Rode NT-USB, but it has a presentable quality that will suffice for you in offices, podcasts, live streaming and so on. Clearly, things could have been better if it came with some added features like gain control and live monitoring with a headphone jack.
It might not look the part but the design is pretty sturdy and also lets you adjust the height. On the same front, the footprint of the device is rather large but that was a requirement so that you could get a stable design. Oh and it also doesn’t weigh more than 1.4 pounds.
By far the funkiest design available to you for a USB mic that can also be regarded as one of the best USB microphones available now.
- Funky Design
- Economical Alternative
- Stable Stand
- Sound Isn’t Not Studio Grade
- No Live Monitoring
- No Gain Control
This is the most expensive product in our list of the best USB microphones to buy in 2018, and why not. As you might have noticed, most of the products here are either focused of podcasting or keeping a check on the budget in which you can buy. The Sennheiser MK 4 Digital, on the other hand is based purely on the need for a pro-level music recording.
And it does that better than the lot!
Like most USB microphones these days, it is a Condenser type mic with a Cardioid pattern and a sample rate of 44.1 kHz. What it has different from the others is the higher frequency range of 40Hz – 18kHz.
You are getting a professional grade result for sure, but at the cost of some other value adding features. For instance, the Razer Seiren Elite has a headphone jack, low latency monitoring, a gain knob as well as DSP. The Sennheiser MK 4 Digital has none.
Clearly it is a “music mic” and for that matter it doesn’t even need a DSP, but what if someone wants to record something else? However, our mic test did pick up that Sennheiser is sticking with the trend towards iOS usage. With the included cable, you can use the MK 4 to record directly on an iOS device as well.
For us, this is a product only for those who go premium always. Otherwise it is lacking in a number of ways. Even in terms of box contents and accessories, you won’t be getting any mic stand or a pop filter. So apart from being expensive itself, this bad boy will need you to spend on its accessories too.
- Pro Level Recording
- Music Recording Focused
- Flawless Sound
- Very Expensive
- Lacks Added Features
- No Stand
At first glance, the Shure MV5 doesn’t really give you the impression of a top notch quality of sound. Primarily that is because of how small it is in size. Basically it is an orb sitting atop an arc that makes it look all too attractive.
However, it is one of the best USB microphones out there because Shure manages to push a solid performance. Some would even go as far as saying that the Yeti mic takes much more space and weight than Shure MV5 (just over one pound) which makes it an even better choice.
Bearing some of the good plug and play features, it can easily be set up and plugged directly to iOS or Android devices. Also, with the size of the Shure MV5 you will be consuming very less table space as well as backpack space.
There are three DSP modes to choose from, and a near perfect score for voice settings. With live headphone monitoring facilities, you can tune your quality on the g as well as even share the content on the go with the ShurePlus MOTIV app. The app allows basic editing.
While the compact size has plus points, it also comes with some drawbacks. For instance, the round design is prone to getting knocked over until you buy yourself stands that are more suited to your height levels. On the same front, you will need an external pop filter to block the plosives on this one.
Last but not the least, who not go for an alternative that is cheaper than the Yeti, one of the best USB microphones, and still manage to compete with it on sound?
- Cheaper Alternative to Yeti Blue
- Amazing Sound Quality
- Good Design (Compact and Easy to Set Up
- Easily Knocked Over
- Short Stand Height
- Needs External Pop Filter
The most efficient way of making a space in the market is by catering to the needs of everyone. Blue does so with expertise as with the Blue Snowball USB Microphone, the company has managed to provide very decent sound quality to budget buyers.
Despite some flaws, the Snowball ICE is easily one of the best USB microphones to buy in 2018 simply because it packs enough bang for your buck . Not only that, it does so in one of the most portable of sizes.
Specifications wise, you have got a Condenser type with Cardioid pickup pattern, 16 bit depth at a 44.1 kHz sample rate. There is a lightweight stand included in the package as well as omni polar patterns if you are going with the regular Snowball that packs a dual capsule.
We are all praises for the crispy clear voice recording quality a from our microphone test as well as the lack of distortion that the Snowball mic has to offer. With the regular model you can even switch patterns for a podcast or a music recording.
While experienced recorder could also make use of it, so far we think the blue mic is better suited to new comers. You will be thanking us after you have paid for it. It is the cheapest out of all the Blue mics!
On the flipside, both the ICE and regular models of the Snowball have no direct monitoring as there is no in-built headphone jack. Also, it is lacking any gain controls to keep you in charge on the go.
The final word is, this is not one of the best USB microphones in the professional line of work but otherwise it is the best budget alternative.
- Best Budget Alternative
- Sound Quality is Impressive for the Price
- No Live Monitoring
- No Gain Control
In the simplest of forms, the Dynamic or traditional type mics are better suited for powerful sounds. Like strong vocals, live performances, and basically stronger signals. Some of the best USB microphones these days are Condenser mics which on the other hand are better suited for higher frequencies, delicate voices and basically an in-doors recording.
What is a pop filter used for?
A pop filter is basically the cover filter that is attached to the USB mic in order to protect the recording from any plosives being produced. The pop sounds that are created by air during the recording basically distorts the audio and the pop filter helps avoid that. Some USB microphones have pop filters in the package while others don’t.
How much money do I need to spend on buying one of the best USB microphones out there without overspending?
It is fairly simple, worth buying USB mics start as low as $40 and go up to cost you more than $400. If you are looking to podcast and simple record meeting minutes or do voiceovers, you can simply get a Blue Snowball, but if you are into professional music recording then a Sennheiser MK 4 Digital will set you back between 300 to 400 bucks.