If you’re online, you’ll eventually need a USB microphone. Whether you’re all business or an aspiring e-celebrity, good sound quality is necessary nowadays if you want to be seen and heard. High quality and dependable audio capture is possible with a solid microphone that conveniently plugs into your PC or laptop via USB. Many of these options are well within any budget, though, there are a few offerings for the serious audiophile. Here’s a selection of the best USB microphones available right now.
— Best Overall: Shure MV7 USB Microphone with Tripod
— Best for Zoom: Anker PowerConf S330
— Best for Streaming: HyperX QuadCast S
— Best for Vocals: Elgato Wave:3
— Best Budget: Babbl USB-C Plug and Play Microphone
How We Picked the Best USB Microphones
While there are different styles of microphones out there, many kinds, from gamer mics to condenser mics, connect to PCs and laptops via USB. Here’s what we considered when picking the best USB microphones.
Audio Capture: This is easily the most paramount aspect when it comes to picking out the best USB microphone. After all, just about every laptop comes with a built-in microphone for everyday use. However, if you’re after clear clarity and fidelity, you’ll want to invest in a secondary audio capture device. If the audio isn’t much better than what you get out of the box with a laptop, it’s definitely not worth buying.
Usability: In general, all USB microphones work the same. You plug them into your PC using a USB cable, hit record on your favorite audio capture app, and start yapping. It shouldn’t be any more complicated than that. Ideally, the device itself will have a few buttons and dials for adjustments on the fly like volume control and tap-to-mute functionality.
Customization: The best USB microphones work with a myriad of different workstations, whether you’re going to place them on your desktop, tuck them away on a shelf, or attach them to a professional stand. The best microphones work with any given media creation setup, and should never feel like they’re in the way.
Best USB Microphones: Reviews and Recommendations
Best Overall: Shure MV7 USB Microphone with Tripod
Why It Made the Cut: A solid option for crisp, clear, dependable sound from one of the leading names in audio.
— Dimensions: 9.84 inches L x 4.93 inches W x 12.3 inches H
— Weight: 2.3 pounds
— Polar Patterns: Cardioid
— Digital and analog recording
— Great touch panel
— Intuitive app
— Less than ideal stand
When buying a new USB microphone, you may ask yourself: “Is this device good for podcasting, voice-overs, and streaming?” When it comes to the Shure MV7, the answer is a resounding: “Absolutely.”
Different USB microphones are good for different uses, but Shure MV7 is a fantastic catch-all device. It better be, at its price point. While it connects to PCs and laptops via USB, it’s even ready for professional use with an XLR input. The device itself has great touch controls so you can adjust gain and volume levels on the fly. Pairing it with the ShurePlus MOTIV app amplifies its recording powers, which does everything from optimizing your tone and recording quality in case you’re not recording inside a proper studio. The only downside is that its tripod isn’t as powerful as the Shure MV7 itself. It’s not altogether terrible, but a device of this caliber truly deserves to be mounted to a proper stand. Still, as a catch-all USB microphone, the Shure MV7 easily ranks among the best.
Best for Zoom: Anker PowerConf S330
Why It Made the Cut: Anker PowerConf is a great USB microphone for remote teams of all sizes.
— Dimensions: 4.72 inches L x 4.72 inches W x 1.36 inches H
— Weight: 0.5 pounds
— Polar Patterns: Cardioid
— Captures up to six different voices at once
— Eliminates background noise
— Great price point
— Dubious compatibility with some apps
Meetings are a mainstay of office life, and Anker PowerConf helps teams stay connected across the globe anytime a Zoom meeting is called.
This microphone is powerful and comprises four high-sensitivity mics in one. It can capture up to six voices at once anywhere in a room within a 3-meter radius. Not only will the entire team be able to speak, but with fairly good noise-canceling capabilities, objectives, reports, good news, and everything else will come in crystal clear. Sound comes in clearly from both ends in fact, with some fairly impressive speakers as well. Considering the Anker PowerConf’s budget-friendly price point, it’s an easy upgrade for any small to the mid-sized office or small business. That said, while this device touts full compatibility with popular meeting applications like Zoom and Google Meet, the touch controls on the device don’t always sync up correctly to these apps. It may require some tinkering, but for work applications, this is easily one of the best USB microphones.
Best for Streaming: HyperX QuadCast S
Why It Made the Cut: Great aesthetics and audio capture capabilities make this an eye-catching device for aspiring Twitch stars.
— Dimensions: 5.08 inches L x 4.06 inches W x 9.84 inches H
— Weight: 1.32 pounds
— Polar Patterns: Stereo, omnidirectional, cardioid, bidirectional
— Anti-vibration shock mount
— Gorgeous customizable RGB lighting
— Easy access controls
— Customization app for PC only
Microphones built for streaming are incredibly popular right now, and while there are plenty of super premium offerings out there, the HyperX QuadCast S packs more features than most will ever need.
HyperX’s line of microphones is ever-growing, and QuadCast S remains one of the best USB microphones for gaming and streaming. Its anti-vibration shock mount keeps the audio quality in check even when the action heats up. Go on, shake the table a bit, Quadcast S can take it. The top of the microphone has an easy tap-to-mute button, and there’s a gain knob directly on the mic in case you’re coming in a bit quiet. There are even four polar patterns to choose from, so it can capture your voice as well as any co-op partners that drop by. And like any great stream-friendly microphone, it’s got customizable RGB lighting. Worth noting, though, that the app that customizes everything in the QuadCast S is only available on PC. It will still work as a great microphone with Mac devices, but you won’t be able to customize the colors.
Best for Vocals: Elgato Wave:3
Why It Made the Cut: A reasonably priced microphone to capture studio-quality sound.
— Dimensions: 1.57 inches L x 2.6 inches W x 6.02 inches H
— Weight: 1.29 pounds
— Polar Patterns: Cardioid
— Impeccable audio capture
— Superior build quality
— Stream Deck compatible
— Polarizing app (settings reset)
Even if you have the voice of an angel, many mics struggle to truly capture the dulcet tones in the human voice. But the Elgato Wave:3 is perfect for vocals and voice overs alike.
The microphone comprises a condenser capsule with a tight cardioid pattern to capture voices with the utmost precision. Like the Shure MV7, the build quality of this microphone simply can’t be understated. It’s small, but it practically screams professional. The Wave:3 is also small enough to be portable, in case you need to record on the go. Elgato’s proprietary clip guard technology makes distortion almost impossible, no matter what your recording situation looks like. It’s even fully compatible with Stream Deck, making it a great option for streamers and content creators alike. And while the companion app is available for PC and Mac, it’s fairly polarizing, and usually to its detriment. However, it’s still one of the best USB microphones available and should work with your go-to audio capture application.
Best Budget: Babbl USB-C Plug and Play Microphone
Why It Made the Cut: This attractive microphone covers the basics at an affordable price point, making it a good option for beginners.
— Dimensions: 3.86 inches L x 4.13 inches W x 7.48 inches H
— Weight: 1.65 pounds
— Polar Patterns: Cardioid
— Original build and style
— Volume knob with LED light
— Great for work and play
— Shoddy noise-cancellation
When it comes to USB microphones, it often does not pay to save, unless you’re considering the Babbl USB-C Plug and Play Microphone.
This simple and fairly affordable offering packs a surprising level of quality. For simple voiceovers and work meetings, you could certainly do worse. Aside from its kitschy name, Babbl is also built far better than many microphones in its class. The on-mic volume knob even has a small LED light that packs extra form and function, so you know when the mic is muted or not. A simple USB-C connection makes it great for Mac, PC, and even some gaming consoles like the Xbox Series X/S. Just don’t expect the audio capture to be anywhere near the other offerings in this roundup, especially when it comes to noise cancellation. The price point is still incredibly fair for an entry-level device, and it’s definitely quite eye-catching to boot.
Things to Consider Before Buying a USB Microphone
Polar Patterns: Microphones capture audio through various polar patterns, which determine the direction of sounds the device will record. Most of the best USB microphones featured here are cardioid microphones, which place the highest sensitivity in the front of the microphone to capture a single speaker. This pattern is sometimes referred to as “unidirectional.” Cardioid microphones are perfect if you’re looking to capture your voice and your voice alone. For optimal audio quality, every individual speaker should have their own cardioid microphone. However, some microphones offer more options when it comes to polar patterns. The HyperX QuadCast S provides four selectable patterns to choose from, including cardioid, bidirectional, stereo, and omnidirectional, which will accommodate single voices, a duo, or an entire group of people in any given recording space.
Audio Capture Applications: If you plan on recording a voice-over, a podcast, or perhaps even a song, you need a good-quality audio capture application to do so. Splurging on one of the best USB microphones makes little sense if you’re not going to pair it with a reliable application. There are many different offerings out there depending on what you plan on recording, but we recommend two standouts.
— GarageBand: This application comes standard on all new Apple devices, including smartphones and tablets. And while Apple offers a more professional application in Logic Pro, for many, GarageBand will be more than you need. It’s got built-in templates for voice-overs, songs, and even podcasts, and is as user-friendly as any audio capture app has ever been. Sadly, it’s only available to Apple users.
— Adobe Audition: Like many other Adobe applications, Audition is one of the industry standards for media production. It may be a little advanced for beginners, but it’s got every feature an aspiring recording producer or artist needs to optimize and clean up the audio. This is a great option if you plan on using Adobe Premiere, or other media editing software available on the Adobe line.
Q: What's the best mic for voice-overs?
For good voice-overs, we recommend a cardioid microphone like the Shure MV7 USB Microphone or the Elgato Wave:3.
Q: What is the best microphone to use to lead a Zoom exercise program?
Anker PowerConf S330 is a fantastic conference microphone that can capture up to six voices at once, making it perfect for all Zoom-related activities.
Q: Will a USB mic work with a PC or should you get a Mac?
Many of the best USB microphones on the market work with Mac and PC, including every device in this roundup. If it’s not compatible with both, it’s likely not worth buying.
Q: Should you get a USB microphone or XLR mic?
USB microphones work better for digital production and XLR microphones work better for analog production. The Shure MV7 USB Microphone has inputs for both.
Q: What recording quality do you need for a USB mic?
It depends on your needs, but in general, you want a USB microphone that can at least capture sound clearly with minimal editing requirements in post.
Q: Are there any standalone mics that work with Xbox One?
The HyperX QuadCast S is totally compatible with Xbox One.
Final Thoughts on USB Microphones
A good USB microphone is perfect for content creators of all kinds. The Shure MV7 USB Microphone is our overall best pick, with both USB and XLR inputs and some seriously professional sound-capture capabilities. Gamers and streamers alike will love the HyperX QuadCast S, which is dependable and customizable. For a budget offering that is low-profile enough to fit into any workstation, we recommend the Babbl USB-C Plug and Play Microphone.
Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.