The best USB microphone you can buy in 2021 depends on your needs, so here’s a choice of 15 winners covering podcasting, vocals, streaming, and more.
Looking for the best USB microphone for your home studio? As COVID-19 ravaged through the audio world, limited access to studios and recording suites gave rise to home production and as they do so brilliantly, audio tech manufacturers adapted to this new breed of remote work.
Rising to the occasion, these engineers and leading equipment companies have provided easy to use recording solutions, so check out this list of the best USB microphones aiding in your trackie and slipper induced home recording activities.
Razer Seirēn X
Razer is the world’s leading lifestyle brand for gamers. Operating out of California and Singapore, they have designed and built the largest gamer-focused ecosystem of hardware, software, and services. So it was only a matter of time before they released a signature USB Microphone.
Designed with an ultra-precise pickup pattern for the voice, Razer Seirēn X is a compact mic developed to “elevate streaming to professional heights”. Whether you’re a streamer looking to produce quality content or someone who requires a solid video call setup for remote work meetings, Razer wants you to “say it loud and clear” with the Razer Seirēn X.
Sennheiser MK4 Digital USB Studio Condenser Recording Mic
This year saw the German audio tech company Sennheiser turn 75. They are world-renowned for the enhanced sonic experiences they have created, especially in the fields of headphones and microphones. When they released the MK4, it became popular for its fine resolution and outstanding sound quality.
The Sennheiser MK4 Digital USB offers the same high-resolution sound like a true condenser mic with customary simplicity and finesse. This true condenser microphone is specifically designed for increasing the resolution of voices, singing and acoustic instruments, imparting Sennheiser’s signature warmth on any signal that passes through it. The MK4 Digital USB combines the demands of modern studio technology with simplicity for the home.
Earthworks Audio are known for their premium omnidirectional microphones, often found mounted around drum kits. However, it’s only recently that Earthworks have dipped their foot into the massive pond of affordable home recording, with their latest microphone, the Icon, being the most affordable and homey yet.
Arguably the most visually stunning microphone on the list, the Earthworks Icon features vintage styling and a simple silver steel colour scheme, looking like something you would expect a 1950s radio host to have used. However, what lies underneath its beautiful shell is what truly makes this microphone an icon.
The Icon features an extraordinary response range of 20Hz to 20kHz, and a maximum sound pressure level of 132db. Where this microphone falls short however is with its signal to noise ratio, with only 70db, compared to most others at least 100db.
While Earthworks also offers the Icon Pro, which boasts a response range of 20Hz to 30kHz, it no longer features USB connectivity and uses XLR instead.
Axino Synergy Core
Antelope Audio has just released their latest in modelling mics with the Axino Synergy Core. A company known for their audio equipment manufacturing, they are dedicated to achieving high-definition sound for professionals and audiophiles alike.
Described as an all-in-one recording system, the Axino Synergy Core is the USB microphone capturing high-resolution audio. With a hybrid preamp design renowned for its discrete circuitry and gold-spluttered diaphragm, this mic is keeping the recording frequency as flat as possible, remaining attuned to your original sound.
The cardioid pickup pattern reduces background noise, whilst its modelling engine enables access to 18 emulations of other legendary microphones, from dynamic designs to those condenser classics.
Now, although we shower Samson in praise with their Go Mic (see further down the list), it is imperative that we also highlight the Meteor, Samson’s alternative answer to your USB recording desires.
A portable USB studio condenser microphone for recording directly into your computer, this little guy is perfect for your home studio music recordings, podcasting, gaming or Zoom sessions. With the aim of producing rich sound for any application, the Meteor Mic features a large proprietary studio capsule with a smooth frequency response that refines every inch of your vocal or instrument performance.
The best bit? Its tripod legs fold up as a protection mechanism around the capsule for when your recordings are on the go.
The RØDE Podcaster can be set apart from the NT-USB as its slightly more expensive, high-quality cousin is about as sophisticated and intuitive as a USB microphone can get, specially designed for broadcasters.
This dynamic microphone blends the sophistication of broadcast-quality audio with the simplicity of USB connectivity, enabling straight-to-computer recording without the need for any audio interface. Along with a built-in pop filter, it captures those nasty plosives that can overload the microphone and distort the audio output.
Based on the much-loved EM-9IC condenser mic, the EM-9ICU is Mackie’s answer to your home recording challenges, offering the same studio-worthy warmth and clarity with the simplicity of USB connectivity. Perfect for remote work, podcasting and live streaming, this microphone is providing incredible tenor without the fuss.
Described as a ‘jack of all trades microphone’, the EM-9ICU has your sonic waves accentuated through subtle low-frequency harmonics, ensuring depth and power.
Tula has designed a high-quality USB mic that is ideal for podcasting, video calls, creating YouTube videos and more. The Tula’s range of polar patterns allows you to record anything from intimate interviews to large ensembles. And with its own internal memory and battery, the Tula can also record on its own without a computer — a standout feature for recording on the go.
Tula was designed in collaboration with the Russian-based Soyuz microphones, which have become well-known for their handmade, boutique studio microphones used by bands like Coldplay and Radiohead. A revolutionary noise-reducing algorithm has been installed in the Tula mic’s firmware, meaning invasive sounds can be eliminated with a single button.
AKG Lyra Ultra-HD Multimide USB Microphone
The AKG Lyra wants to be the “centre of your creative universe”. It’s the perfect one-stop solution for podcasting, vlogging, music and gaming. The Lyra provides Ultra HD sound with the ease and portability of a USB desktop microphone to plug in and play. The four-capsule AKG Adaptive Array offers a range of recording options — Front (for solo recordings), Front and Back (for band recordings), Tight Stereo (for solo instrument recordings) and Wide Stereo (for recordings with ambience).
AKG has installed its cutting-edge Internal Element Overload Prevention and built-in sound diffuser for noise reduction and improved signal levels for optimal performance. The AKG Lyra can be used with your PC, MAC, iOS and Android and is a powerful recording tool for professional sound in an affordable, easy to use package.
AT2020USB+ is an easy plug and play recording device, that is excellent for both the first-timers and more seasoned users who want a light and easy setup. Presented in a slick, all-metal construction, the AT2020USB+ was released in 2020 in a silver-chromed edition, if that’s more your style. But how does it sound?
It has an extended frequency response, which makes it perfect to capture all the details of podcasts, home studio recordings, field recordings and voiceovers. With a built-in analogue to digital converter sampling 16-bit, 44.1/48 kHz, the AT2020USB+ aims to be a one-stop-shop for no compromises desktop recording.
Blue Yeti X World of Warcraft Edition USB Microphone
When the Blue Yeti USB microphone made its debut, Wired said it made “other lesser USB mics look downright abominable”. And that’s a pretty huge claim. This year, Blue released a WOW edition for gamers and streamers to create audio like never before.
Made in conjunction with Blizzard Entertainment, you can transform the sound of your voice using new advanced voice modulation effects with Warcraft character presets. There’s a wide range of legendary WOW character presets to choose from or you can create a custom voice tailor-made for your character. Non-gamers will have just as much fun with these extra features.
RØDE NT-USB Mini
The NT-USB Mini features a studio-grade headphone amplifier where you can monitor your audio with precision volume control. There is even a switchable zero-latency monitoring mode for eliminating echo when tracking vocals or recording instruments. It’s incredibly easy to set up and use, with simple controls, a built-in pop filter, and a class-compliant USB output that doesn’t need extra drives or software installed.
Samson Go Mic
Samson has become leaders in the wireless field and their USB microphones are industry standards. They actually introduced the first professional USB microphones to be used by musicians, broadcasters and podcasters way back in 2005.
The Go Mic’s range of functionality extends beyond typical USB microphones. It’s a multi-pattern, portable USB microphone for podcasters, streamers, musicians or anyone looking to improve the quality of their digital audio. What’s more, you don’t even need a mic stand — it comes with an integrated clip design that allows you to mount the microphone directly onto your laptop! Oh yeah, and it fits right in your pocket with a unique fold-up design.
Blue Snowball and Snowball iCE
On top of a funky design, Blue claim that the Snowball is “the most intuitive USB microphone for any application”. With the Snowball, you can capture studio-quality audio for podcasting, YouTube videos, game streaming, video calls and music. Blue’s industry-leading condenser capsule technology delivers natural sound directly to your desktop.
Available in two designs, the Snowball iCE sports a single high-quality condenser capsule for recording vocals while the Snowball utilises a unique dual capsule design to ensure rich, detailed sound for any project. Getting studio-quality audio quickly is as easy as “rolling a snowball”.
Before Elvis left the building, he not only brought rock ‘n’ roll to the masses but gave the Shure 55SH Series II worldwide acclaim. The MV5 is a fun, modern take on that classic mic, packing the clarity of almost a century of audio experience into a super-portable microphone that Elvis would be singing into today in the halls of Graceland.
This digital condenser microphone records high-quality audio and is supported by the ShurePlus MOTIV app to enable mixing on iOS platforms. It includes a headphone output for audio monitoring, 3 DSP presets to tweak gain, EQ, compression, and a desktop stand. It’s great for both vocal recordings and brings out the warmth and clarity of an acoustic guitar, for example (see below). Thank you very much.
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