Music has its place in history for more than a hundred years. It’s been around as a creative art since the birth of humankind, where the ancient nomads used to have ceremonious celebrations of their triumphs and landmark events.
Even then, people found a way to create and deliver music. But a lot has changed as we move into the year 2021, where technology is one of the major advantages for creators.
The same goes for creative musicians. If you take a look at the best USB microphone market, you’ll understand what we’re talking about.
But that’s just one case of a USB microphone.
With the rise of the internet, podcasts and videography have made a big impact in creating a worldwide cultural and educational system. And with so many options out there, it’s pretty easy to get lost in the mix.
So, if you are a creative professional in 2021, we would like to keep some of the most coveted and well-designed USB microphones in the market. These options aren’t just for those who are starting out. As a matter of fact, intermediate and high-level professionals can also choose them for their arsenal.
But before we dive into a critical review, it’s probably better to have a first look at what you will be dealing with. A quick comparison table is probably adequate to give you a quick glance at our offerings.
Best USB Microphones in 2021
Rode NT-USB Versatile Studio-Quality USB Cardioid Condenser Microphone
If you’re someone who is looking for the right balance between price and performance, then the Rode NT-USB microphone is the way to go. As far as the brand goes, then it certainly doesn’t need any introduction. It’s one of those brands that you can put your faith in with your eyes closed.
Let’s start with the design and basic specifications.
In terms of the design, there’s pretty much nothing to nitpick here. The black interior looks sleek, with a pop shield and tripod desk stand.
It comes packed with a 16-bit 48-kHz Analog-to-Digital Converter. You also have JFET impedance transferability along with a dual output buffer. Furthermore, it’s a side-address USB mic that can handle almost any musical instrument or basic chitchat.
In terms of monitoring, you have a 3.5-mm headphone jack. This one feature alone increases the overall usability, as the user can now have proper monitoring capabilities to produce the best possible content.
Overall, all the features integrate themselves pretty well. If you compare the price to performance, then it becomes a pretty intriguing choice overall.
- The support for Apple iPad is very convenient.
- The 3.5mm jack offers decent monitoring capabilities.
- The included pop-filter is very capable of canceling out noise.
- It comes with a good number of accessories.
- Features good overall sound capturing capabilities.
- The customizability is limited.
Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone
Audio-Technica has always been one of the top players in the music industry. The impeccable nature and creativity are what turns their customer-base to put their faith in it.
And they’ve managed to keep their word to their customers with the AT2020 USB+ Microphone.
We are happy with the no-hype design language, which is not off-putting at all. It blends in almost any setting (if you are into that whole hype-train of one-color everything!).
As for the inner mojo, you get a solid 16-bit converter with 48-kHz sampling capabilities. You also have a headphone jack with proper controls to keep your voiceovers in check. Furthermore, the mixer control is convenient as well, allowing you to mix your voice with suitable audio, in case you’re looking for a vocal microphone.
This mic, starting from the internal amplifier to the output mixer, comes with all the necessary features you can hope for. As a matter of fact, for podcasts and webinars, there’s no option that can match its capabilities.
- The internal high o/p mic magnifier works like a charm.
- Features solid mixing controls for proper flexibility.
- The sound signature is on point.
- The microphone controls allow proper signal control and delay optimization.
- Hardware optimization needs some work.
Blue Yeti USB Mic
Blue Yeti is a popular brand among YouTubers and podcast organizers. It’s the design and the overall feature set is versatile, which we will talk about in a moment.
The two-legged single pedestal design is very unique and studio-like, which is one of its distinct features. We can promise you that you won’t have any problems with the design.
As for the performance, it’s 3-capsule design allows it to capture sound seamlessly, regardless of the position. Also, the pattern selection feature also does a wonderful job of sound capture. Furthermore, the controllability with gain and voice signals is commendable as well.
If you consider the level of flexibility, software compatibility, and pricing, then it’s obvious why someone would want to go for it. If you are a creator, then this USB Mic should be more than enough for you.
- Features 48-KHz sampling that offers impeccable quality.
- The 3-capsule design works like a charm.
- The pattern selection and 3-capsule design offer superior usability.
- It’s a proper mic for both podcasts and videography.
- It’s maybe a bit heavy for some users.
- The control nob is tough to handle at times.
Blue Snowball iCE USB Mic
In the search for the best USB microphone, we’ve come across another mic from Blue Snowball. It’s just as popular as it’s bigger brother.
The white interior is simple and rigid, you shouldn’t have any problems with the functionality. It’s nothing to fancy.
And that justifies the price point, which is very aggressive, to say the least. And everything else pretty much revolves around the pricing despite the signal output.
If you’re looking for crystal clear audio for a solid price, then you can go with iCE without any doubt.
- It’s the perfect option for newbies with such a competitive price tag.
- The audio quality is more than acceptable.
- It’s very easy to use.
- The design is very portable, which is certainly a plus.
- There’s no volume control or mic jack, which is a bummer.
CAD Audio U37 USB Studio Condenser
The CAD Audio U37 is among our list for the best USB mic because of its usability.
Although the design isn’t too overwhelming, it’s not what you’d want to buy this mic for.
If you want clear sounds with a touch of flavor in the recording, then the U37 has your back. The audio is solid, and the internal controllability is on point as well. To top it all off, the bass-reduction features add a lot of points in favor of quality.
So, with all the features in mind, our recommendation for this would go to those who want their podcasts and voice-overs to be rich with correct consistency.
- The condenser design is on point.
- The first-time setup is on point as well because of no software installation requirements.
- The 10dB overload switch is capable of reducing noise.
- Signal pickup can be reinforced with the bass reduction feature.
- The build quality is a bit concerning.
Samson Go Mic Portable USB Condenser Microphone
The Portable Samson Go isn’t just a great option because of its sound signature.
From the design, you can tell that it’s versatile. If you’re looking for something that offers versatility and functionality of use, then the Samson is your bet.
Aside from the obvious, you are also getting a headphone amplifier, which is convenient for voiceover monitoring and control. And the Analog Gain LED is also a nice touch as well.
Overall, if versatility is a priority for you, then you may want to consider it as your daily driver.
- A portable design option with solid usability.
- The unique structure has good mounting capabilities.
- The input-gain LED is a nice little touch.
- The dual pattern pickup option reduces noise by a considerable degree.
- The unique stand design needs proper reinforcement.
Shure MV5 Digital Condenser Microphone
The MV5 from Shure comes with a few distinct features up its sleeve.
Apart from the futuristic design, the signal auto-tuning feature does come out as a superior thing. Also, the custom tuning helps out with the overall quality, which makes the overall functionality more desirable.
In conclusion, if you are looking for something that’s unique and offers quality audio, then the MV5 can be the way to go.
- It features good connectivity with the Apple ecosystem.
- The automatic voice adjustment features are good.
- It features good overall monitoring capabilities.
- The custom tuning does a very good job of keeping the noise ratio low.
- The longevity is a big issue.
Apogee MiC 96k Professional Quality Microphone
For those of you out there who crave professional quality, the MiC from Apogee is the way to go.
It’s not a design that’s a concern here. It’s the internal hardware, which comes with a higher-than-usual sampling rate.
From the quality and controllability, it’s pretty clear that it’s made for both humans and instruments, offering quality signal output along the way.
So, if performance and quality matter to you, not what you’re spending, then the MiC is a solid option overall.
- The 96-kHz sampling rate with 24-bit sample depth offers superior output.
- It’s purpose-built for apple products.
- Voice capturing and output offers top-of-the-line quality.
- There’s no installation involved, very easy to use.
- There are minor software compatibility issues that need attention.
How to buy the best USB Microphone: Things that matter
Something just clicked as we start showing you a checklist to go through before getting the best USB microphone for your creative tasks.
How does it differ from a standard microphone?
Well, to tell you the truth, the change isn’t too distinguishable in terms of quality.
The key advantage of USB microphones is the flexibility of use. You won’t need to carry around separate cards and accessories with a USB option. It’s because all the important stuff is already crammed inside.
USB microphones can offer good quality recordings without the need for any external hardware (except perhaps a mixer or similar audio tool). The digitally built-in hardware is capable enough to produce noise-free audio without much effort.
Now, let’s move on to the checklist.
The Sampling Rate
It’s the most basic requisite for any USB microphone. In general, a USB option with a minimum 44 to 48-kHz range sampling rate should be plenty for creative professionals. The higher it is, the better the sound quality as a whole.
With consumer USB mics, there is always a considerable amount of lag or latency to deal with. We would recommend you to sack the cheap options for the sake of better latency, which is a trade-off that’s not going to hurt you!
The sample depth or bit depth is almost like a screen resolution. It tells you how many bits of information a single sample has. Usually, the more the sample depth, the better the output, which is the general rule of thumb.
Modern USB microphones can have a sample depth of 16-bit and more. If you are looking for crisp detail, then you may want to make this consideration a top priority.
There are different patterns when it comes to any type of microphone. For USB options, the cardioid pattern is probably more than enough. It’s good enough for natural sound pickup and delivery.
But omnidirectional and multi-pattern options are there. They are more suited for production operations, which is a reason for having such large price tags.
The general rule is to go with a larger size as it can respond to the smallest of frequencies. For regular use cases, they are good options.
But, for a production-based environment, small-scale diaphragms are better and have good pickup quality from guitars and other musical instruments.
So, based on your workflow, you need to make a decision on what size is better for you.
Apart from being wireless ones, the controlling capabilities of any microphone are one of the major reasons for a higher price tag. Alongside the regular controls like volume and muting, pad and monitoring controls will be an ideal mix.
But whether you like it or not, it’s up to you whether or not you use these controls regularly. You should look for an option with controls stacks that cater to your needs specifically.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: What is the ideal or standard sampling rate for a USB microphone?
Answer: Usually, 44 to 48 kHz is regarded to be a decent sampling rate for USB mics.
Question: Do I need a super-cardioid polar pattern for a USB mic?
Answer: It would be wrong if we say you don’t need it. But to be frank, a cardioid polar pattern does just fine for USB mics.
Question: What is good between the small diaphragm and the large-diaphragm?
Answer: As long as the response to small frequencies is concerned, small-diaphragm is regarded as a good score for all sorts of mics.
Question: What controllability does a regular USB mic provides the user with?
Answer: The answer is not one-size-fits-it-all. But the gain control and voice signal control are regarded to be one of the most desired controls for recording enthusiasts.
Question: How is the audio converter inside these USB mics?
Answer: The ones that we’ve listed so far, contain around 16-bit converters in the circuitry.
Question: Do I need to do any hardware optimization with these microphones?
Answer: For some of them, you have to. Despite their capabilities, this seems to be a drawback to models like Audio Technica AT2020USB+.
There’s been a lot of discussion on the best USB microphone.
Still, you need to hear the sound quality yourself to understand what works for you. You need to be able to make choices and find out what works for you.
We bid you goodbye in your search. Farewell.