Best microphone for streaming

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Getting the right microphone for your setup is essential to your stream. People usually prefer watching streams and videos with good sound quality and a low-quality camera rather than a stream with high-quality visuals and bad audio quality.

However, picking a microphone isn’t as straightforward as most people think it is. There are many different types and specs that you should know to find one that fits your setup. Don’t worry, we are here to help you find the best microphone for streaming.

How To Choose a Microphone?

There are a few things that you need to consider when buying a streaming microphone. This includes the microphone connectors, picking a condenser or dynamic microphone, and choosing suitable pickup patterns.

We’ll discuss each to help you find the perfect microphone for your streaming needs.

Microphone Connectors – USB vs. XLR

USB microphone vs XLR microphone

First up, let’s talk about the connectors. There are three main microphone connectors; these are USB, XLR, and 3.5mm. However, microphones that use the traditional headphone jack or 3.5mm connectors aren’t that popular anymore. So you’ll end up choosing between XLR or USB microphones.

USB microphones can be connected directly to your computer via a USB port. Their main advantage is that they are effortless to set up. USB microphones are very beginner-friendly and are often cheaper because they use the standard USB cable as a connector.

Aside from being cheaper, USB mics are very portable and can be set up almost anywhere. They can be used with a laptop, and all you need is the cable and the mic itself. The most popular USB mics include the Blue Snowball ICE USB and the Blue Yeti USB mic.

An XLR microphone, on the other hand, cannot be connected directly to your PC. You’ll have to connect the XLR cable to a mixer or a different audio interface and then connect that device to your PC. However, since you are using an audio interface, XLR microphones are more technical and can be customized to your liking.

XLR microphones are also more durable and feel heavier than USB mics. XLR mics also typically require a shock mount and a boom arm, making the whole setup more expensive overall. The Rode Procaster and the Shure SM7B are two popular XLR microphones.

Generally speaking, XLR microphones sound better because of their adjustability, but USB microphones are cheaper and easier to use. Some microphones offer both USB and XLR connectors which can help you experience the best of both worlds.

The Microphone Polar Pattern – Omnidirectional vs. Bidirectional vs. Unidirectional

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Next are the different microphone pickup patterns. Pickup patterns, also known as polar patterns, are the classifications of how the microphone picks up sound with respect to direction and sensitivity.

The microphones with omnidirectional patterns are sensitive to sound coming from all directions. These mics will pick up sound from all sources no matter where they are positioned. They usually offer a flat frequency all throughout and don’t often pick up the plosive sounds. Omnidirectional microphones are best used in studio or controlled environments.

Bidirectional microphones pick up sounds from the front and rear sides. They are also known as “figure eight” mics. They are generally great for studios where two people talk are in front of each other, and the mic is in the middle. They don’t pick up any sound from either side of the microphone, which usually requires some creative microphone placement to pull off.

Last we have the unidirectional or cardioid pickup pattern. The cardioid pattern is designed to be sensitive to sound only coming from one direction. The cardioid mics are great for most settings and locations as long as the sound source is in front of the mic.

There are other polar patterns out there, but if you’re primarily looking for a streaming or gaming microphone, these three patterns are the only ones that you should encounter.

The Different Microphone Types – Dynamic vs. Condenser

Dynamic vs condenser type of the microphone for streaming

Finally, we have different microphone types. Each microphone type has its own strengths, weaknesses and produces a unique sound. Depending on the situation, a certain microphone type can sound better or way worse, so you’ll have to know when and where to use them.

A dynamic microphone isn’t very sensitive, making them versatile and perfect for loud sound sources. They are usually the cheapest types of mics that you can find and have a unidirectional polar pattern.

They are usually very durable and can withstand drops or accidents. This is why they are usually used at concerts, tv shows, and other stage performances. Dynamic mics are great for general use but don’t sound as accurate and attractive as condenser mics.

This brings us to the next microphone type, condenser microphones. Condenser microphones are usually more expensive but provide a better, clearer, and more accurate sound. They are also more sensitive, providing clearer and less muffled audio, perfect for vocals.

Additionally, most condenser microphones also support different polar patterns. Usually, you can choose between either cardioid, omni, or bidirectional mode. This makes the condenser microphones more versatile and usable in different situations.

There’s also a third type of microphone known as ribbon mics. They were actually very popular between the 30s and 70s but have fallen off since the introduction of dynamic and condenser microphones.

Ribbon mics are also fragile and delicate, making them hard to use on a daily basis. Your best bet is going for a dynamic or condenser mic if you’re primarily looking for a content or streaming mic.

Other Factors To Consider When Choosing a Microphone

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Budget

Budget is one of the most important things to consider when getting a new mic for streaming. If something is out of your price range, it would literally be impossible to buy it.

A good rule of thumb is to buy a microphone that fits your current build. A thousand-dollar microphone matched with a $500 PC and a $20 webcam wouldn’t make much sense. Make sure not to overspend or underspend when choosing a microphone.

However, I do recommend trying to save up for a good quality mic that you can afford. Buying super cheap knock-off branded microphones usually isn’t worth it, especially if you want to use them long-term.

Even if you are on a very tight budget, there are still a lot of good-budget microphones out there that can provide you with good audio quality. If you’re looking for a budget microphone that offers good quality audio, make sure to keep reading and take a look at our recommendations down below.

Headphone Jack and Other Additional Knobs

Most modern microphones come with some additional features. These features are often used to easily control and adjust your mic without opening additional applications.

Plugging a headset directly into your microphone allows you to hear the way you sound to your audience. This allows you to easily manage and adjust different audio and microphone settings on the fly.

Usually, microphones have at least one or two knobs that control the microphone’s volume and gain. The mic gain control allows you to adjust the levels within an audio system. This essentially controls the intensity of input from the mic and how much the microphone amplifies the sound sources.

Volume control allows you to change the loudness of the audio at the output. This increases the actual volume of your microphone. Volume doesn’t affect the audio quality at all; instead just determines the loudness of the output.

A mute button is probably another thing you’ll want to look out for when choosing microphones for streaming. Having easy access to a mute button allows you to instantly mute your mic when needed.

Some other microphones also include knobs for echo and polar patterns. The echo isn’t that important, and most just turn it off when streaming. While knobs for polar patterns are usually only built-in an expensive microphone if it supports multiple polar patterns.

Compatibility With Other Equipment

Finally, you’ll want to take a look at the microphone’s compatibility with other equipment. These include different equipment like boom arms, a pop filter, shock mounts, and audio interfaces.

Honestly, these are more luxuries and quality of life improvements than needs. But, as your streaming career takes off, you’ll definitely want to use a few of these types of equipment.

The boom arm just holds your microphone in place. It is a good and flexible tool that allows you to easily move your microphone within reach. Although most modern microphones for streaming will be compatible with boom arms, a few aren’t, specifically some cheap microphones.

Using a pop filter can help eliminate background noise and other popping sounds such as plosives. An anti-vibration shock mount isolates the microphone and eliminates unwanted noise from external vibrations.

Both these tools can help improve audio quality by eliminating noise. Some microphones have a built-in pop filter or shock mount, while others require you to use external ones.

The audio interfaces and sound mixers can generally allow you to fine-tune the sound of your microphone. However, they are usually quite expensive and require some technical knowledge about microphones and audio equipment.

Some of the biggest streamers like Shroud and Ninja use mixers worth hundreds of dollars to ensure that they provide the best quality audio they can to their viewers.

Our Picks for the Best Mics for Streaming

Now that you know how to choose a mic for streaming and the other factors you need to consider let’s proceed to our recommendations. We’ve divided the microphones into four different categories to help you find an excellent mic for streaming.

Best Budget Microphones

Blue Snowball iCE USB

Blue Snowball iCE USB microphone for streaming/gaming

Let’s start the list with an old but gold microphone. The Blue Snowball iCE USB is a dirt-cheap microphone that provides high-quality sound. It’s a small condenser microphone with a cardioid polar pattern.

It has a unique round shape and comes with its own three-legged stand. It has a frequency response of 40 – 18kHz and a sample rate of 44.1 kHz.

The Blue Snowball iCE is plug-and-play with its USB connector and requires very few setup procedures. It’s a great starting microphone to use for streaming, especially if you don’t have technical knowledge about microphones.

Razer Seiren Mini

Razer Seiren Mini microphone for streaming/gaming

Next, we have another budget microphone under $50. The Razer Seiren Mini is a small and compact microphone that only costs $49.99. The design is sleek and straightforward and is simply made to get the job done.

Getting a good quality microphone under $50 is definitely a challenging task, a good thing Razer’s got your back. The Seiren Mini is a condenser microphone with a precise supercardioid pickup pattern. It ensures that it only records your voice and not the intense mouse clicks and keyboard clacks in the background.

It uses a USB connector that requires no additional equipment. It has a heavy-duty stand with a built-in shock mount to help dampen table vibrations. The mic also has a sample rate of 44.1 – 48 kHZ, a frequency response of 20 Hz to 20 kHz.

It’s one of the best budget microphones for streaming and is perfect for those intense gaming streams.

Audio-Technica AT2020

Audio-Technica AT2020 microphone for streaming/gaming

For our final budget microphone, we decided to go with the Audio-Technica AT2020. It’s the most expensive microphone from our budget section, but it’s still under $100, making it a reasonable enough price.

The Audio-Technica AT2020 is the only XLR microphone in our budget section. It’s an excellent microphone for creators who want to try the XLR connector and the adjustability of having a separate sound mixer.

You can buy the Audio-Technica AT2020 for $99.99, which gives you a bit of headroom to buy a good quality sound mixer as well. The AT2020 is a condenser XLR microphone with a cardioid polar pattern.

The microphone doesn’t come with a stand, so be prepared to buy a separate stand or boom arm for it. It also supports a frequency response of 20 Hz to 20 kHz and a sensitivity of -37 dB.

The Audio-Technica AT2020 is one of the cheapest good quality XLR microphones you can buy and is a perfect entry-level XLR microphone.

Best USB Microphones

Razer Seiren V2 Pro

Razer Seiren V2 Pro microphone for streaming/gaming

The Razer Seiren V2 Pro is an updated version of their original Seiren microphone. The Razer Seiren V2 Pro is the much older and more expensive brother of the previously mentioned Razer Seiren Mini.

The microphone is available for around $150. Admittedly, it is quite expensive, but it does come with some nice upgrades compared to its cheaper counterparts.

It still retains the USB connector but adds new features such as a headphone port, a volume dial, gain knob, and a mute button. The Razer Seiren V2 Pro is a dynamic microphone with a cardioid pickup pattern.

It has a frequency response of 20 Hz – 20 kHz, a 96 kHz sample rate, and a higher bit rate of 24 bits. The mic also boasts a high pass filter, digital-analog limiter, and a built-in shock absorber and mic windsock.

The Razer Seiren V2 Pro provides professional industry-grade audio and uncompromising voice clarity. If $150 is too much for you, make sure to check out the Razer Seiren V2 X, a toned-down but cheaper version of the Pro.

HyperX QuadCast S

HyperX QuadCast S microphone for streaming/gaming

The HyperX QuadCast S is another high-quality and studio-grade gaming microphone. It’s hands down one of the most beautiful and clean-looking microphones out there because of its RGB integration. Nothing screams “GAMER!” more than RGB.

But the microphone isn’t all about the looks. It’s an excellent USB streaming condenser microphone with a lot of useful features. It supports four different polar patterns, which is very rare for a sub $200 microphone.

The QuadCast S has a dial that lets you choose between its four supported polar patterns. Below the dial, it also has a headphone jack and a USB Type C port for monitoring. It also has a frequency response of 20 Hz to 20 kHz, and it samples at 48 Hz.

The mic comes with a stand and a built-in shock mount, but some mount adapters are also included. The HyperX QuadCast S is one of the best and most beautiful streaming microphones out there. It’ll surely catch the attention of your viewers with its RGB lighting.

Blue Yeti X

Blue Yeti X microphone for streaming/gaming

For our final pick, we’ve chosen yet another Blue microphone. This time it’s the Blue Yeti X. The Blue Yeti X is a condenser microphone with support for four pickup patterns, allowing for a lot of flexibility.

The Blue Yeti X is a good midrange microphone that was originally priced at $169.99 but is now down to $139.99. at $139.99, this microphone is a huge bargain, especially with all the features that it brings.

It has a simple design and comes with a desktop stand. It only has one knob, but it can easily be switched to control gain, mute, headphone volume, and blend modes. It also features a frequency response of 20 Hz – 20 kHz and a sample rate of 48 kHz at 24-bit.

The headphone jack for monitoring is located at the bottom of the microphone. This might be a tricky spot to reach for some people. Overall, the mic produces fantastic sound quality and good durability, thanks to its chunky build.

Best XLR Microphones

Audio-Technica AT2035

Audio-Technica AT2035 microphone streaming/gaming

Let’s start the XLR microphones section strong with the Audio-Technica AT2035. It is a mid-range XLR microphone from their solid 20 series lineup.

The Audio Technica AT2035 is a cardioid condenser XLR microphone. It’s competitively priced at $149 and captures superb sound quality with a crisp and natural feel. Its frequency response is 20 Hz to  20 kHz and has a sensitivity of -33 dB.

It includes a shock mount, a threaded adapter, and a soft protective pouch in the box. The mic is designed to capture clear vocals and instruments, whether you’re working from a home studio or a professional one.

The AT2035 is a great choice if you have a more flexible budget and are willing to spend upwards of $200 for a fantastic microphone audio setup.

Rode Procaster

Rode Procaster microphone for streaming/gaming

The Rode Procaster is one of Rode’s finest microphones built specifically for broadcasting and capturing vocals with no compromises. It has a robust all-metal body that’s perfect for those long streaming or podcasting sessions.

Initially, the Procaster had an MSRP of $369.00. Nowadays, it can be found listed for around $200 – $229, which is a great steal if you can afford it.

The Rode Procaster is a Dynamic cardioid broadcast-quality microphone. It has a frequency range of 75 Hz – 18 kHz and a sensitivity of -56 dB. It also comes with an internal pop filter that helps minimize plosives when speaking.

If you’re looking for a great high-quality microphone for streaming, you definitely can’t go wrong with the Rode Procaster. If you purchase this microphone, make sure to register it on Rode to get up to 10 years of additional extended warranty.

Shure SM7B

Shure SM7B microphone for streaming/gaming

We’re ending this section with an absolute banger of a microphone in the Shure SM7B. It’s a dynamic cardioid microphone that delivers warm and studio-quality recordings.

Shure’s SM7 series is a tried and tested lineup that has dramatically improved since the first SM7 in 1973. This specific microphone was originally released in 2001. However, it’s still one of the best XLR microphones that you can get today.

The microphone supports a frequency response of 50 Hz – 20 kHz and a sensitivity of -59 dB. It also has internal shock mounting, a detachable windscreen, and a switch cover plate.

The Shure SM7B is perfect for capturing vocals and helps deliver the best possible sound quality for your stream. It’s currently available for a whopping $359.00. But, at least you know you’re getting an excellent quality microphone since streamers like Shroud, Lilypichu, Sykkuno, and Ludwig use it.

Best USB and XLR Microphones

Blue Yeti Pro

Blue Yeti Pro microphone for streaming/gaming

The Blue Yeti Pro is the most expensive and best microphone that Blue has to offer. It’s their top-of-the-line model Yeti microphone with support for dual systems giving the mic a lot of flexibility.

It’s a condenser microphone with support for cardioid, stereo, omnidirectional, and figure-eight polar patterns. It has a frequency response of 20 Hz – 20 kHz and a sample rate of 192 kHz at a 24-bit rate.

The best thing about the Blue Yeti Pro is that it supports both USB and XLR. USB is a quick and easy way to use the microphone, while XLR allows you to adjust the audio more. It costs $249.99 but is a great versatile choice if you’re willing to spend that much.

Shure MV7

Shure MV7 microphone for streaming/gaming

Next up, we have the Shure MV7 microphone. The MV7 is inspired and based on the SM7B that we already mentioned above. This time we’re recommending the Shure MV7 as one of the best streaming microphones with both USB and XLR support.

The Shure MV7 is a dynamic cardioid microphone. Its frequency range is from 50 Hz to 16 kHz and has a sensitivity of -55 dB. It can record using both digital and analog signals, depending on what you need.

The microphone has an all-metal body and an amazing touch panel that you can use to control different settings. It’s available for $219.00 and is a great choice for beginners and enthusiasts alike.

Samson Q9U

Samson Q9U microphone for streaming/gaming

We’re down to the last streaming microphone on this list. Let’s close things out with the wonderful Samson Q9U microphone. Produce high-quality audio and maintain great flexibility without breaking the bank.

The Samson Q9U is another amazing dynamic cardioid microphone that will instantly improve the audio in any streaming setup. It has a frequency response of 50 Hz – 20 kHz, a sensitivity of -57 dB, and a bit rate of 24-bit, up to 96 kHz.

Available for only $169.99, the Samson Q9U is the cheapest USB and XLR microphone on this list. It’s a good microphone to try out if you want an easy-to-use and flexible microphone for under $200.

Conclusion

We’ve created a table for you to help you narrow down your choices and get a better grasp of each category.

Streaming Microphones Comparison chart

USB microphones are perfect for streamers and content creators looking to get a microphone that’ll simply sound good and get the job done. For more experienced streamers who have extra money to spend and want the best possible audio quality, XLR microphones are your best bet. And finally, USB and XLR microphones are perfect for streamers who want the best of both worlds, USB while traveling and XLR while in your home studio.

USB microphones are the best category for most people. They sound good enough, are budget-friendly, very easy to use. They also don’t require any additional equipment aside from a spare USB port.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do I Need a Microphone Boom Arm, Shock Mount, or Pop Filter?

A microphone will do just fine without any of these. However, these accessories can help make your audio sound better through better positioning and eliminating unwanted noise.

Where to Buy Good Streaming Microphones?

You can usually buy these microphones directly from their specific brand websites or through Amazon. You can also check out your local retailers to see if they have some in stock.

Where Should I Put the Microphone for Streaming?

It depends on the pickup pattern of the microphone that you are using. Most require you to place them right in front of your mouth to capture your vocals. But some work better when placed a little bit below or above your mouth.

Is a Streaming Microphone Worth It?

Yes. A streaming microphone is definitely worth it if you want to provide the best possible audio quality to your audience. Any streaming mic on our list is way better than any headset microphone available out there.

How Much Should I Spend on a Microphone?

Spend what you can afford. A streaming microphone doesn’t have to be expensive. A few of our budget options above are under $50 yet are a great upgrade over any headset microphone. But, make sure to upgrade your equipment as your stream grows.

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