Microphones for podcasts will allow you to jump into one of the most popular forms of online media to share your views on the topic of your choice to a wide, global audience. The increase in mainstream interest for podcasts has nudged audio companies to create hardware geared toward recording veterans and newbies alike. This means catering to people at all budget levels, too. In some cases, a podcast microphone is the only piece of equipment you’ll need to create a show that sounds roughly as good as the professionally recorded ones you’ve subscribed to. There’s never been a better time to start a podcast, but you’ll need the best microphone for podcasting to get to the level of audio quality you want.
How We Picked the Best Microphones for Podcasting
Our podcast microphone recommendations are based on a mix of hands-on testing and research. Below are the factors we considered most highly when deciding which computer speakers to include in this buyer's guide.
Connector: The first choice you have to make when getting a microphone for podcasting is whether you want it to have a USB or XLR port. One type of microphone isn’t better than the other, and each comes with a set of pros and cons
Podcast microphones with a USB port connect directly to your computer, and draw power from your computer. You only need to worry about one cable, and don’t need to get a dedicated recording interface for your show. This type of microphone also tends to have a gain (volume) controller on it, so you can adjust how loudly you’re being recorded in real time. Likewise, USB microphones have a headphone jack, so you can hear yourself as you’re recording, which will alert you if you need to make an adjustment.
We like the all-in-one nature of USB microphones for podcasting, but their drawback is that you’ll only be able to use them with a computer, as they can’t be connected to an amp or mixer for live performances. This inflexibility may be annoying depending on your microphone needs. Additionally, if your USB podcast microphone breaks, your entire recording setup may need to be replaced.
Podcast microphones with an XLR port have no technology or internal amplifier inside. You need to connect the microphone to a USB interface to get analog sound recorded on your computer. XLR microphones don’t have volume or gain controls built into them, so you’ll have to rely on your computer interface for those features. The upside is that this type of microphone can be used with other analog audio equipment, and you can continue to use it even if you decide to upgrade your recording interface, or that piece of equipment fails.
Size: We’ve made sure that the microphones for podcasting we’re recommending fall into a couple of different size classes. Most of them look like a traditional microphone, but there’s an ultra-portable option better suited for video podcasts or recording outside of your typical studio.
Stand: Some of the microphones for podcasting we’re recommending come with a stand, which may not sound like a big deal, but can make a big difference in the quality of your recording. If you have a limited amount of room to record, getting a microphone for podcasting that has a stand will allow you to save as much space as possible. It’s also one less component you need to get separately. If you’re really short on space, or opt to get a microphone for podcasting without a stand, we have additional recommendations for you later in this guide.
Best Microphones for Podcasting: Reviews and Recommendations
Best Overall: Shure MV7
Why It Made the Cut: Shure’s MV7 is a versatile, great-sounding microphone that can accommodate podcasters of any skill level.
— Connector: MicroUSB, XLR
— Stand: Yes
— Weight: 3.1 pounds
— Multiple connectors
— Excellent recording quality
— Intuitive on-microphone controls
— MicroUSB Port
Our default recommendation for any aspiring podcaster looking for equipment is Shure’s MV7. It’s the 21st century sibling of Shure’s SM7B, which is arguably the most popular microphone of all time — seriously, everyone from President Lyndon Johnson to the Red Hot Chili Peppers have used this mic. Although it started with a strong foundation, the MV7 is differentiated from its predecessor in many fundamental ways.
The MV7 is a USB microphone equipped with a headphone jack, and a touch-sensitive strip on its front side that allows you to adjust your gain and headphone volume with a quick swipe. This microphone also has a dedicated mute button, so you can hide a cough or sneeze instead of trying to edit it out later. Shure even managed to address our main complaint with USB microphones — that they’re limited to being used only with computers — by building an XLR output into this mic.
The MV7 can be used on its own, but Shure recommends that you download its Motiv app on MacOS or Windows to use this microphone to its full potential. Shure’s app allows you to adjust the way this mic sounds, with dedicated settings to optimize your vocal quality based on the distance between the MV7 and your mouth. If you’re totally new to digital audio recording, the MV7 and Motiv app will make you sound like a pro in just a couple of days. Shure also ships the MV7 with a tripod stand that ensures it’ll stay stable on your table or desk.
The Shure MV7 has a lot going for it, but there are a couple of problems we found with it that keep this microphone for podcasting from earning perfect marks. The first is technical: This microphone has a MicroUSB port, which at this point is old and antiquated. Most gadgets (aside from the iPhone) have moved to USB-C, which means you’re likely to have one or two spares around your house that you can quickly grab if something breaks.
Shure includes two MicroUSB cables with the MV7 (one terminates into a USB-A connector, the other into a USB-C connector), but that doesn’t lessen our complaint. If you’re going to make a technically advanced microphone, don’t make technical compromises that limit its utility. The MV7’s audio quality doesn’t suffer as a result of its MicroUSB port, but including it was an anachronistic move on Shure’s part.
Our second issue with the MV7 is its price — this is the most expensive microphone for podcasting we’re recommending by a fair margin. We’re not saying the MV7 isn’t worth what Shure is charging — it is — but you may want to consider how seriously you’re going to get into podcasting before you take the plunge. If your budget can accommodate the MV7, it will likely be the only microphone for podcasting you ever get.
Best Budget: JOBY Wavo Pod
Why It Made the Cut: JOBY’s Wavo Pod has a price and feature set that make it really appealing to podcasters who are just starting out.
— Connector: USB-C
— Stand: Yes
— Weight: 2.25 pounds
— On-mic controls
— Includes accessories
— Large size
JOBY specifically designed its Wavo Pod USB microphone for entry-level streamers or podcasters, and its attention to providing utility and value is pretty impressive. The Wavo Pod has a volume knob on its front side, and it can be pushed in to mute your audio. A button below the volume knob lets you switch between omnidirectional and cardioid modes.
The Wavo Pod’s omnidirectional mode allows the microphone to take in audio from multiple angles, which is helpful if you’re recording a podcast with multiple speakers, but only have one mic. The microphone’s cardioid mode is designed to only pick up sounds that are directly in front of it, which is ideal for solo podcasting. The bottom of the Wavo Pod is where you’ll find its USB-C port and headphone jack.
A big part of the Wavo Pod’s appeal is the fact that JOBY bundles it with both a stand and pop filter, so it’s immediately usable right out of the box. What’s even better is that this microphone for podcasting is also compatible with the company's other accessories. You could attach another pop filter to the backside of this microphone, so two speakers’ voices can sound as clear as possible when it’s in omnidirectional mode. You could also attach this mic to the company’s GorillaPod Mobile Rig and mount a camera or smartphone next to it to record or stream video, as well as audio.
Our only gripe with the JOBY Wavo Pod is that it’s a little on the big and bulky side when compared to some of the other microphones for podcasters we’re recommending. If you’ve got space in your recording area and want a solidly-built USB microphone, this is the one to get.
Best XLR: 512 Audio Skylight
Why It Made the Cut: 512 Audio’s Skylight is not only an incredibly useful microphone for podcasters, it’d be a great tool for any recording or performing musician.
— Connector: XLR
— Stand: No
— Weight: 2.2 pounds
— Made for more than just podcasting
— Includes pop filter and shock mount
— Exquisite design
— Requires additional equipment
512 Audio’s Skylight is a serious piece of recording equipment that’s more of an upgrade pick if you’re unhappy with your current podcasting microphone. The Skylight, which looks like it belongs in a professional recording studio, has been tuned by 512 Audio’s engineers to capture as much detail as possible when you’re recording. The company says this microphone’s circuitry can reduce the amount of noise (typically a light buzzing sound) you’d hear while playing back a recording made on a lesser piece of equipment.
The microphone was also designed to capture sound that’s coming from directly in front of it, and to pick up as little outside noise as possible. This is helped by the fact that the Skylight comes with both a pop filter and shockmount, which will allow you to attach it to a microphone stand or arm. We’d have liked to see 512 Audio include a stand with the Skylight, but that’s typical for an XLR vocal mic.
Our only real complaint with 512 Audio’s Skylight microphone is that it's on the expensive side, and requires an audio interface to work. This is true of any XLR microphone, but you’re looking at an investment of at least $300 to get your podcasting setup started. If you plan on using your podcasting microphone for more than just creating spoken word recordings, the calculus changes dramatically. If you’re a musician who also podcasts, 512 Audio’s Skylight is the obvious choice.
Best for Video Podcasts: Rode Lavalier II
Why It Made the Cut: Rode’s Lavalier II is the perfect microphone for creators of video podcasts who don’t want their equipment to be seen on camera.
— Connector: 3.5mm
— Stand: No
— Weight: 13 grams
— Ultra small
— Plug and play design
— Comes with accessories
— Less flexibility than our other recommendations
Podcasting has traditionally been an audio-only medium, but some of the most popular podcasts also have a video component. If you want to make a video podcast that streams live on YouTube or Twitch before its audio is extracted and posted, you may want to consider using Rode’s Lavalier II as your microphone.
The Lavalier II is a lot smaller than the other microphones we’re recommending, and its cable, which terminates into a standard 3.5mm jack, can be easily hidden under your shirt. If you wear dark colored clothing, many viewers may not even notice that a microphone is clipped onto your clothes. Part of this microphone’s appeal, beyond its small size, is the fact that it can be plugged directly into any computer without any additional gear. The computer will immediately recognize it, and you can begin recording.
Rode bundles this microphone with a pop filter, mini furry (used to keep the mic from rubbing up against your clothes and causing audible friction), and a zip case for traveling. If you do remote podcasts more than twice per year, it’s worth keeping the Lavalier II around for those occasions, so you don’t have to pack a bulkier mic, travel with it, and set it back up when you return home.
The Lavalier II’s small size is its biggest asset, but it’s also a liability. You can’t move around as much with this microphone attached, or you might accidentally knock it off a table. It’s not possible to set it in the perfect position and leave it there the way you would with a microphone that has a stand. These tradeoffs are worthwhile for video podcasters or travelers, but they’re limitations you need to keep in mind when making your microphone decision.
In some ways, this specialized microphone is similar to 512 Audio’s Skylight. Both mics are designed for a purpose beyond podcasting — music recording and on-camera audio recording respectively. If you’re someone who wants to record both sights and sounds for your show, this is the microphone to get.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Microphone for Podcasting
Your Room: Unsurprisingly, microphones for podcasting will record any sounds, not just your voice as you speak. If you’re recording in a square room with very little furniture, or right in front of a wall, your recording will likely have some echo. Your listeners will immediately be able to tell that something sounds off, which may distract them from your show.
If your room conditions aren’t ideal, you can solve the issue by picking up an inexpensive isolation shield, which is basically a wall of padding that goes around the back and sides of your microphone. The shield will absorb the sound of your voice instead of having it bounce back at the mic.
Another factor to be aware of is the amount of ambient sounds in your room. The microphone for podcasting you use will record everything from the whirring of an air conditioner to the tapping of your fingers. If possible, let the people in your home know you’re recording by sending them a message or putting a recording sign on your door. Finally, be sure to put your phone onto airplane mode, or at least disable sounds, so an errant dinging sound doesn’t marr your recording.
Microphone Arms: If the microphone for podcasting you’ve selected doesn’t come with a stand, or you want to construct a more professional-looking setup, you should consider getting a microphone arm. This accessory clips onto the top and bottom of your desk with a vice grip, and suspends your microphone mid-air on an articulating arm. This allows you to move the microphone freely. Most microphones are compatible with most microphone arms (weight is typically the limiting factor), so consider this microphone arm option if you’re interested in this idea.
Pop Filters: Some sounds (particularly words that contain the letter p) can make an unflattering “popping” sound that may be jarring to your listeners. You can fix this audio abnormality by getting a pop filter, which sits in front of your microphone and softens those sounds. Any pop filter will work with any microphone, and they’re generally inexpensive.
Recording Software: This guide deals with the audio hardware you’ll need to start your podcast, but you’ll also need computer software to actually record your audio. We have an entire guide dedicated to the best music production software, which we recommend checking out. If your budget is limited, you can always use free software — GarageBand on MacOS, Audacity on Windows — to get the job done.
Q: Are vocal mics good for podcasts?
Yes. If you have a vocal microphone that produces quality audio, and have already invested in an audio interface, you’re set to start recording a podcast.
Q: Do you need a special microphone for a podcast?
No. Microphones for podcasting can also be used to record any other type of audio.
Q: Can I use the microphone on my laptop to record my podcast?
Yes, although the quality of your recording will be a lot worse than if you used a dedicated microphone.
Q: Can I use the microphones built into my webcam to record my podcast?
Yes, but the audio quality will be a lot lower when compared to a dedicated microphone. Your recording will likely sound better than if you’d used a laptop microphone.
Q: Can I use my smartphone’s microphone to record a podcast?
Yes. In a pinch, a smartphone microphone can be used to record a podcast, and the results are surprisingly good. The microphone will pick up a lot of ambient noise, but will be usable if you’re recording in a relatively quiet environment.
Q: Can I use my headphones’ microphone to record a podcast?
Yes. The microphone built into your headphones can be used to record a podcast, but the quality of the results will vary wildly based on the hardware you’re using.
Final Thoughts on Microphones for Podcasting
The microphone you use for podcasting will always be less important than the content of your show, but presentation counts a lot in this medium. It’s hard to listen to a podcast with subpar sound when a professionally recorded one is just a few taps away. We’re lucky that there are a lot of great microphone options available at every price tier, so just about anyone who wants to start a show can make one. This is especially true as USB microphones begin to get more popular and less expensive. You no longer need a room’s worth of equipment to sound good, and the podcast medium is a lot healthier because of that.
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