Monday, January 2, 2017

The Top 6 USB Microphones for Podcasting and YouTube Commentary

Whether you’re a musician, commentator, or podcaster, USB microphones are a fantastic way to get into recording. Many microphones use XLR, which requires an expensive audio interface and preamp to capture.

USB microphones are basically like a microphone and audio interface all included, which makes them great for people with minimal equipment and who are looking for a very portable solution to make recordings. Though USB microphones are simpler than an interface and microphone, they can still provide professional quality results at a fraction of the price. All the microphones featured on this list are compatible with both Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X.

Floureon BM-800

The Floureon BM-800 is a budget condenser microphone that connects via USB or XLR. The microphone features a XLR output, but comes with a USB adapter for connecting to the computer. This is an advantage, since you can still use the microphone if you choose to upgrade to a full audio interface in the future.

Since this is a condenser microphone, you’ll need a phantom power supply to get a proper recording level. The phantom power supply goes between the microphone and USB adapter, so you also need an additional XLR cable. Due to this limitation, we can’t consider this to be a truly independent USB microphone because it requires an additional component to be functional.

Unfortunately, this microphone does not have a built in stand. This reduces the portability of this model since you’ll also need to bring a small desktop microphone stand if you plan on using the microphone. One advantage of this microphone is that is comes with a shock mount, so any vibrations through the microphone stand will not be transmitted to the microphone.

Samson Go

The Samson Go microphones is a portable USB condenser microphone. This microphone is plug and play and only requires a USB connection to work properly. It works best with a laptop, since it is able to clip to the top of the screen. This microphone also features a headphone output, allowing you to monitor what the microphone is picking up without any latency. Due to its small size, this microphone is perfect for anyone looking for something that’s easy to carry around, since it can fit nicely within a laptop bag, or even your pocket.

One great feature of the Samson Go microphone is that it has multiple polar patterns. This microphone is able to switch between cardioid for directional sound pickup and omnidirectional for 360-degree sound pickup.

Blue Snowball iCE

If you’re looking for a professional sounding USB microphone used by many YouTubers, the BLUE Snowball iCE is a great place to start. This compact microphone is simple to use and only requires a USB connection. This microphone features a cardioid pickup pattern, making it great for recording one voice while excluding noise from other directions.

This microphone features a desktop stand, however it doesn’t have any height adjustment. Many people find this microphone difficult to use since the entire stand must be brought up to the proper height for speech recording. Fortunately, this microphone can be used with another microphone stand to eliminate this problem.

MXL 990

The MXL 990 is a fantastic sounding condenser microphone, that is completely powered by USB. This is a USB version of an already popular studio condenser microphone, and it achieves fantastic results when used to record voice. Though not built in, this microphone comes with a tripod stand for desktop use, but you can also use it with another stand if necessary, and there are also shock mounts available that can be purchased separately.

Unlike some of the other USB microphones, this one has limited features. It does not have a built in headphone jack and is only capable of recording in a cardioid pattern. If you’re only planning on recording your own voice and don’t require the microphone to have multiple pickup patterns, this microphone could deliver better audio quality than some of the others on this list. Keep in mind that this microphone is highly sensitive to plosives, so we recommend using it with a pop filter.

If you’re wondering about the sound of the MXL 990, all the videos on the Your Home Recording YouTube channel are recorded using the XLR version of this microphone.

Blue Yeti

Popular with gamers and YouTube commentators, the Blue Yeti USB microphone is easy to use and provides professional results. This is a condenser microphone, that is fully powered through USB. This microphone includes a built in stand that is sturdy and adjustable. There are also built in controls for microphone gain and mute, as well as a zero latency headphone output on the microphone itself.

This microphone is more versatile than some of the others, since it features 4 polar patterns. The Blue Yeti can switch between cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional, and stereo patterns, making it great for recording in any situation.

Rode Podcaster

The Rode Podcaster provides broadcast quality recording with the convenience of being a USB microphone. Unlike some of the other microphones on this list, this is actually a dynamic microphone. Though dynamic microphones are less sensitive than condenser microphones, this can actually be an advantage since they won’t pick up as much noise or unintentional sounds. The Rode Podcaster features a built in headphone jack for zero latency monitoring of your recording, without any echo.

This microphone features a microphone clip, but you’ll need a separate stand to mount it. There is also a shock mount and boom arm available separately for mounting the microphone and eliminating vibrations. The Rode Podcaster features a built in pop filter. This is an advantage for podcasting and gaming situations where an external pop filter can get in the way and impede your vision. Overall, this microphone is not as portable as some of the other models, but it without a doubt provides the best sound quality of the USB microphones featured in this article.

In conclusion, there are many USB microphones available for those who are not looking to use a USB microphone. Depending on your specific needs, a USB microphone may be the perfect solution. Overall, if you’re looking for portability, we recommend the Samson Go microphone. If you’re looking for a more professional quality microphone, definitely consider the Rode Podcaster.

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