USB microphones are growing in popularity each year, and while they may not yet have reached the level of replacing the XLR condenser microphones that are connected to an audio interface setup, there are various singers, vocalists, and podcasters who have switched to professionally using USB (Universal Serial Bus) microphones.
USB microphones are becoming more prominent given their ease of use which is a simple as plugging it into your computer, and then you start recording as it is powered by your computer. In addition, they’re easy to set up and are relatively affordable. When shopping for a USB microphone, one always has a use in mind. It could either be for live streaming games, creating a podcast or recording your vocals for paid for gigs and such.
However, it’s crucial to note that what works for a podcast may not work for say, a live streaming game. That is to say that all USB mics are not the same which can make choosing a perfect one for you a bit of an arduous task. Not to worry. That’s why we are here for you. Read on to see our review of some of the best USB microphones that you can consider when looking to buy one.
1. Blue Raspberry USB Microphone
The Blue Raspberry USB microphone gives a clean, DSP-free signal coupled with a brightness that will attract lots of vocalists.
• Compatible with iPhone, iPad, Mac, and PC
• Enjoy a clear and crisp signal that doesn’t utilize a DSP
• Quite affordable
• Suitable for recording/creating podcasts
• Has a smaller build that makes it a mobile-friendly USB microphone
• Has an aluminum build for durability
• It has a LED indicator at the front and a grill and a 14mm electret condenser that captures the audio
• The microphone has a cardioid pattern which rejects any unwanted noise during recording sessions
• Two knobs on each side with the right controlling the mic gain and the left one controlling the volume levels for the headphone
• Has a 3.5mm headphone jack
• Package includes two micro USB cables – a USB-to-Lightning cable for iOS devices and USB-to-USB cable
• The mic incorporates a stand that can pivot to any direction, can be tilted backward and forward and has a rubber foot to stop any movement
• The mic can be unscrewed from the stand and mounted on a different stand
• Some users have said that the design seems cheap for the price
2. Blue Snowball Ice Microphone
The Blue Snowball Ice USB microphone is one of the most affordable mics that you can get especially if you are on a tight budget.
• Has a cardioid pattern that helps deliver crisp sound since it’s able to block out any unwanted noise
• Easy to use as it is a plug and play device
• Has a pure signal given that it doesn’t use a digital signal processor
• A budget microphone that can be used for multiple projects
• It is available in two different colors, black and white
• Has a LED light indicator at the top that light up to let you know that the USB cable is connected to a recording source and the mic
• Microphone can be securely screwed to the tripod stand and angled both downwards or upwards
• Compatible with Windows (7, 8 and 10 ) versions as well as Mac OS 10.4.11 or higher
• Compatible with most recording programs like Garage Band
• The microphone stand limits proper mouth alignment as it doesn’t have a high enough angle
• Only has a 44.1kHz/16 bit which is less than what most high-end microphones offer
3. Sennheiser MK4 Microphone
Sennheiser has positioned itself as one of the best brands when it comes to the microphone business and has a wide range of microphones for its customers.
• It has a look and feels that of a pro-level condenser microphone
• Uses a 1-inch gold-plated capsule
• Has a cardioid pattern for the best sound
• Signals can be recorded at bitrates of 16 or 24 bits and 96kHz and a 20Hz-20kHz frequency range
• High-quality output is given that the microphone utilizes an inbuilt A-to-D Apogee conversion
• A professional microphone that is worth every cent
• Compatible with recent Windows, Mac and iOS devices
• Excellent audio quality
• Relatively expensive
• Has multiple accessories that have to be bought separately which adds to the initial cost
• No built-in gain knob
4. Shure MV5 Condenser Microphone
The Shure MV5 microphone is another well-priced USB microphone that delivers high-quality audio, an adjustable DSP as well as EQ settings via a companion app that is free.
• Can be used with a computer or with iOS devices using the USB lightning cable that comes included
• Comes with a free app that can be used for easy recording as well as editing
• Enjoy a flexible digital signal processor given that it has a flat DSP free mode and two DSP recording modes
• Has a cardioid pattern
• Comes with a metal stand included
• Ability to adjust the positioning to a suitable degree for your recording needs
• Control buttons at the back
• High-quality recording given the frequency range
• Compatible with programs such as Garage Band
• On DSP, the voice mode tends to be somewhat heavy
• Given that the stand is lightweight, it’s quite easy to knock down the microphone especially when shuffling things around it or moving the table
Just like buying any other product, there are a couple of things that you have to bear in mind. For starters, the intended use for your microphone is quite important as it’ll enable you to choose a good USB microphone for that purpose. Your budget is also another determining factor. For those looking for cheaper options, there are still affordable microphones that you can easily get while those with money to spend can consider more high-end devices.
Remember that the preferred pickup pattern also matters given that there are three main pickup patterns. Whatever your preference, ensure that you read through the pros and cons so as to make the best decision with no regrets.