Top USB Microphones: Mic Options for Excellent Audio

Best USB Microphone
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Updated December 2020

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Photo by timlewisnm

Image Microphone Summary Check Price
Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone Blue Microphones Yeti If you need a feature-laden USB mic that can handle anything from voice podcasts to instruments, it's hard to recommend anything other than the Blue Yeti. A bargain considering the quality you get. Amazon
Blue Snowball USB Microphone Blue Microphones Snowball The Best Bang for Your Buck award goes to the Blue Snowball. Solid sound and build quality, but we'd say best suited for voice recordings. Amazon
Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone Audio-Technica ATR-2100-USB Budget-priced USB mic, a #1 Best Seller on Amazon, and we found it to be the most recommended USB microphone for beginners. The option of USB or XLR is a great feature. Amazon
Audio-Technica AT2020USB Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone Audio-Technica AT2020USB If Audio-Technica is more your bag than Blue Microphones, then opt for this one over the Yeti. Perhaps slightly less versatile than the Yeti, it makes up for it in polish and sound quality. Amazon
CAD u37 USB Studio Condenser Recording Microphone CAD U37 Fantastic condenser USB mic offered at an equally fantastic low price. Like the Audio-Technica ATR-2100-USB, it's best suited for casual voice recording, podcasting, etc. Amazon

Buying the right USB Microphone isn’t easy, as is the case with most purchases for your computer setup or studio where you have dozens of options available to you. Lucky for you, we did a massive amount of research, tested some models, and put together this guide to help you choose the right USB mic for your needs.

Why a USB Microphone? Applications and Uses

If you’re reading this guide, chances are you already know why you’re going with a USB mic, as opposed to an XLR microphone. If not, let’s talk about it for a bit. It’s important that you know what the benefits and drawbacks are of choosing this type of microphone.

If we had to sum it up in one sentence, a USB mics are a great choice for their simplicity and ease-of-use. The world of prosumer and pro audio can be quite complicated. Getting into recording using microphones has a steep learning curve that could make a beginner’s head spin. Non-USB microphones typically have an XLR connection, and need to be plugged into an audio interface. Audio interfaces deserve their own buyer’s guide... and you’re in luck! Check out our guide to buying the best audio interface. Audio interfaces contain mic preamps, which power and amplify the mic. So you have dozens of choices for interfaces, hundreds of choices for microphones... you can see how it gets complicated quickly.

Enter the USB mic. USB mics 1) have a built-in preamp, and 2) connect to your computer via USB in easy plug-and-play fashion, eliminating the need for an interface.

USB Microphone Plug and Play

Reasons to get a USB microphone:

  • Your mic’ing needs are not complex - podcasting, voice acting, recording Let's Plays, recording voice-overs over a mix/podcast, getting started with singing and acoustic guitar recording, or you’re generally just looking for simplicity and ease of use.
  • You don’t have or want an audio interface.
  • Budget is important.
  • You want something that just gets the job done, so you can get on with your creative work.

Reasons to not get a USB microphone:

  • Recording quality 8 out of 10 won’t cut it, you need 10 out of 10.
  • You already have a good audio interface or mic preamp.
  • You have a good amount of money to spend.
  • You have ample time to research dozens of interfaces and dynamic microphones.

Final words of advice before we get to the recommendations: A USB mic is very convenient, albeit a little less flexible. Some will say for the same reason, USB mics have reduced sound quality compared to dynamic mics. You simply can’t have the best of all worlds... unless you’re willing to break the bank (we’re assuming you don’t want to). In the end, there’s probably no such thing as the best microphone. You need to choose the best mic for your specific recording needs and price range. If a USB mic sounds like the right choice for you,

Top 5 USB Microphones

Blue Microphones Yeti

Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone

Best suited for: singing, podcasting, Let’s Plays, online tutorials, live performance, home studio recording - vocals, home studio recording - guitar, voiceover use

The overall most recommended USB microphone is the Blue Microphones Yeti. With nearly ten product offerings for USB mics alone, Blue Microphones is solidifying its place as the king of USB desktop mics. And none in the lineup are more impressive than the Yeti. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better USB mic, especially at this price point (check the current sale price on Amazon).

The Yeti is a winner on several fronts - sound quality, versatility, build quality, and of course the very budget-friendly price point.

Sound quality: For a USB mic, the Blue Yeti is praised for how good it sounds. Now, remember, we’re not comparing this to a $4000 Neumann mic! But compared to its competition, it’s powerful and clear. One reddit user remarked, "I've done some recording videos with a friend who has a Yeti Blue, and he sounds like he's in the room next to me."

Versatility: The Blue Microphones Yeti is amazingly versatile. The built-in gain control is a particularly important feature. Imagine you’re recording various sources - different speakers with differing voice volumes, or a loud instrument that’s causing distortion or feedback- you can simply adjust this mic’s sensitivity with the gain control. Another standout feature is the included 3.5-millimeter headphone jack. You’ll see the description of the Blue Yeti talk about “Zero-latency monitoring”... what exactly does that mean? Well, imagine if you were singing into the mic and had headphones on to listen to yourself. If there was latency, you would hear your voice with a slight delay after you spoke into the mic. As you can imagine, that would be extremely annoying. Luckily, this mic lets you listen to whatever you're recording in real-time, without any delay from latency.

The four polar patterns are also a feature we love about this mic. From reddit:

...also has a few polarity options, including the ability to record two stereo signals simultaneously on both sides of the microphone. (Good for getting two performers in a "live" setting…)

Build quality: Not much to say here, but to us the build quality feels great. Here’s a redditor’s viewpoint on it:

The stand is pretty good as is the build quality (it's heavy and solid). I would recommend a pop filter since it's a condenser mic and very sensitive…

Aesthetically, you’re in luck - the Yeti is offered in Silver, Platinum, Black/Silver, and the very cool looking Blackout edition.

Overall, for its features, its solid sound quality, and accolades it gets, the Blue Microphones Yeti is astoundingly inexpensive, and our top recommendation.

Make sure to check Amazon frequently for price drops, as you might be able to get this already inexpensive microphone for even less!

  • Power Required: 5V 150mA
  • Sample Rate: 48 kHz
  • Bit Rate: 16 bit
  • Polar Patterns: Cardioid, Bidirectional, Omnidirectional, Stereo
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20kHz
  • Dimensions (in stand): 4.7 x 4.9 x 11.6 inches
  • System Requirements: Windows XP or higher, Mac OS X 10.4.11 or higher, *reported to work on various Linux distributions such as Ubuntu and Debian.

Check Price on Amazon

Blue Microphones Snowball

Blue Snowball USB Microphone

Best suited for: podcasting, Let’s Plays, online tutorials, voiceover use

If the Blue Yeti is our overall choice, the "Best Bang for your Buck" award goes to the Blue Microphones Snowball USB Mic.

The Blue Snowball has the distinction of being one of the most recognized mics, due to its retro/modern appearance (it comes in several colors - we got the Brushed Aluminum version and it looks gorgeous).

The Snowball might be better suited for podcasting, gaming (Let's Plays, etc.), rather than hardcore use for recording instruments and vocals. But fear not - some of the users that reviewed it right here on Equipboard have said they regularly record guitar and vocals with it. That said, if all your budget allows is something in the $60USD range, you would be hard pressed to do better than this little gem. Here’s why:

In terms of features, it has a switch for 3 settings: cardioid, cardioid with -10dB pad, and omni. Some users have complained of issues when recording sounds that are particularly soft or loud. For instance, one user mentioned to get the most defined sound when speaking into the mic, being within 12 inches is necessary (i.e. definition suffers from far away). Another user noted that when recording loud vocals or instruments, the “cardioid with -10dB pad” setting is the only one of the 3 that won’t result in peaking/distortion. Your milage may vary, but the point is you’ll have to experiment with the ideal settings and recording distance depending on your intended use. When you do dial in the right settings, the sound of the Blue Snowball has been described as crisp and clear.

The build quality is also excellent; Blue Microphones seem to know what they are doing in this department. This USB mic comes with a mini tripod, but note you won’t be able to mount it on a traditional microphone stand.

  • Transducer Type: Condenser, Pressure Gradient w/USB Digital Output
  • Polar Patterns: Omnidirectional or Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: Position 1-3: 40-18kHz
  • Sample Rate: 44.1 kHz/16 bit
  • Weight: 460g
  • Dimensions: 325mm (circumference)

Check Price on Amazon

Audio-Technica ATR-2100-USB

Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone

Best suited for: podcasting, Let’s Plays, online tutorials, voiceover use

Not content to let Blue Microphones steal the show, Audio Technica brings to your desk some very strong USB microphone contenders for your hard earned cash. Actually, the Audio Technica ATR-2100-USB Mic takes the least cash from you of any on our list. While definitely at a budget price, the ATR-2100-USB is on this list for a reason. It is actually the most recommended USB microphone for beginners in the /r/podcasts reddit community.

The Audio Technica ATR-2100-USB is almost too good for the price. First of all, it has both a USB and XLR output, meaning you can have the plug-and-play convenience of a USB mic, and the versatility of an XLR mic. It has a volume control for monitoring and a 3.5 mm headphone jack.

Something’s gotta give, right? Does it sound terrible? The answer is no. It sounds pretty great. There is one caveat: If you look at the specs, you’ll notice the frequency response starts out at 50Hz. This means the bottom end rolls off pretty rapidly around that point. The thing about this USB mic is that it comes highly recommended for voice work, particularly podcasting. To all the musicians out there wanting to record instruments, you might want to look elsewhere. It’s not that this microphone can’t handle that, but there are likely better tools for the job, like the pricier Audio-Technica 2020USB Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone.

One redditor from the /r/podcasts community had this helpful remark:

...also have an XLR port that allows them to be brought forward if you ever upgrade to a mixer or audio interface… These are dynamic microphones which means they are quieter but reject room and off axis noise in non sound controlled rooms better.

We didn’t see much written about the build quality, other than the mini stand feels a little cheap. We can attest to this as well, however the ATR-2100-USB feels pretty well built overall. It definitely does not feel as cheap as its unreal price tag!

  • Element: Dynamic
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 50 - 15,000 Hz
  • Power Requirements: USB Power (5V DC)
  • Bit Depth: 16 bit
  • Sample Rate: 44.1 kHz/48 kHz
  • Controls: On/off switch; headphone volume control
  • Weight: 268 g (9.5 oz)
  • Dimensions: 183.0 mm (7.20") long, 51.0 mm (2.01") maximum body diameter
  • Output Connector: USB-type/XLR-type
  • Headphone Output Power: 10 mW @ 16 ohms
  • Headphone Jack: 3.5 mm TRS (stereo)
  • Includes: Stand clamp for 5/8"-27 threaded stands; tripod desk stand; 2 m (6.6') mini USB cable; 3 m (9.8') XLRF-type to XLRM-type cable

Check Price on Amazon

Audio-Technica AT2020USB

Audio-Technica AT2020USB Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone

Best suited for: singing, podcasting, Let’s Plays, online tutorials, live performance, home studio recording - vocals, home studio recording - guitar, voiceover use

If you’re going down this list, haven’t sprung for a Blue mic, and have a little extra cash to spend, you need to take a close look at the Audio-Technica AT2020USB Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone.

To set the stage, based on features, price point, and sound quality, the Audio-Technica AT2020USB is frequently compared head-to-head with the Blue Yeti. We did read a couple claims that the AT2020USB was superior to the Yeti in terms of sound quality, if not as versatile. If the very nice looking microphones from Audio-Technica strike your fancy, yet you require a USB mic capable of taking on tasks like recording instruments, we think the AT2020USB is your perfect match. Owners of the mic has a few comments on the sound quality and usability:

It works wonderfully for guitar, fairly well for vocals, and pretty good for banjo.

it is a Side-address studio condenser microphone, meaning it’s ONLY going to pick up your voice when set up properly.

One thing we’ll add is that musicians and recording artists might favor the fact that this microphone can be mounted to a shock mount and traditional mic stand. It does however come with a small stand for desktop use.

The Blue Yeti has the AT2020USB beat out in terms of sheer number of features. For instance, the 2020 lacks an onboard volume control and headphone jack.

UPDATE: There is a slightly newer version called the Audio-Technica AT2020USB PLUS Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone, which does indeed now have a headphone jack with volume control, and mix control. Last we checked, they were the exact same price on Amazon.

Check price of Audio-Technica AT2020USB PLUS on Amazon

All in all, the Audio-Technica AT2020USB PLUS Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone is one of the best sounding USB mics in its price range (and call us superficial, but it just looks really cool). We recommend going with the updated PLUS version for the added controls.

  • Element: Fixed-charge back plate, permanently polarized condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 20 - 16,000 Hz
  • Power Requirements: USB Power (5V DC)
  • Weight: 13.2 oz (374 g)
  • Dimensions: 6.38" (162.0 mm) long, 2.05" (52.0 mm) maximum body diameter
  • Includes: Pivoting stand mount for 5/8"-27 threaded stands; 5/8"-27 to 3/8"-16 threaded adapter; soft protective pouch; tripod desk stand; 10' (3.1 m) USB cable
  • Bit Depth: 16 bit
  • Sample Rate: 44.1 kHz

Check Price on Amazon


CAD u37 USB Studio Condenser Recording Microphone

Best suited for: podcasting, Let’s Plays, online tutorials, voiceover use

When it comes to budget priced USB microphones, before opening up your wallet for the Audio-Technica ATR-2100-USB, we recommend you take a good look at the CAD U37 USB Studio Condenser Recording Microphone.

The CAD U37 is a condenser mic. Condenser mics are more typical for studio user, as opposed to live use. Generally, they are more sensitive to loud sounds than dynamic microphones.

We have to admit, on first glance the plastic casing threw us off a bit. For this low of a price it’s not too surprising, but we would have preferred a metallic enclosure. But hey, for the most part, it’s the inside that counts!

The sound recorded from this mic is very crisp, with very little background noise or hum picked up in recordings. Like the Audio-Technica ATR-2100-USB, the best use case for the U37 would be casual voice recording, podcasting, etc.

In terms of features, users like the 10dB overload-protection switch, Bass-reduction switch (great for reducing rumbling or room noise), the desk stand it comes with, and the generous length of the USB cable.

Again, the build quality might fall short of the other USB mics on this list, and the sound quality is comparable to Audio-Technica’s budget offering. However, if you need an outstanding USB mic on a budget, the CAD U37 is one of the best options out there. Buy with confidence knowing that it has come recommended several times, but is backed up by 1000s of 4 and 5 star reviews.

  • Transducer: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Pad: Yes, 10 dB
  • Output Connectors: USB
  • Includes: Desktop Mic Stand, Mic Clip, USB Cable

Check Price on Amazon

Honorable Mentions

The following USB microphones fell just short of our Top 5 list. However, due to them being mentioned at least a couple times in community discussions around what the best USB mics are, we felt compelled to give them honorable mentions. While we strongly recommend one of the 5 models we covered above, don’t make a decision until you’ve at least clicked through these models to see if they might offer something very specific that you’re looking for!

Audio Technica ATR-2500-USB

Audio-Technica ATR2500-USB Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone

Budget-friendly, and a very similar offering to the Audio-Technica ATR-2100-USB.

Check Price on Amazon

Blue Yeti Pro

Blue Microphones Yeti Pro

The ultimate USB mic? Check. The priciest one on our list? Also, check.

Check Price on Amazon


Rode NT-USB USB Condenser Microphone

A solid USB offering by a renown manufacturer of quality mics.

Check Price on Amazon

Blue Snowflake

Blue Snowflake USB Microphone

Most portable and budget-friendly of the Blue Microphone USB lineup.

Check Price on Amazon

About the authors
Michael Pierce

Michael bought his first guitar, a Fender California Series Stratocaster in Candy Apple Red, in 1998. He likes rock of all types, from classic to punk to metal. Michael co-founded Equipboard to satisfy his curiosity around what gear his guitar heroes use. Read more

Giulio Chiarenza

Giulio co-founded Equipboard with his friend Michael. He plays the piano, guitar, drums, and had a brief stint signed to a label as an electronic music producer. Read more

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