Audio quality is one of the most important features of any live stream, many viewers will forgive low-resolution video and are even happy to watch streamers without a webcam, but if the audio quality is bad then viewers often leave very quickly.
So investing in a good quality microphone is essential for growing your channel and creating high-quality content.
In this post we will focus on the best USB microphones for streaming, however, check out our post on the best XLR microphones for streaming if you’re interested in XLR mics.
If you are unsure which type of microphone you should be buying/using, then I recommend checking out our post on the difference between XLR and USB microphones.
Our Top 5 USB Microphones for Streaming:
Price: Amazon ($106.41 / £95.00)
The Rode NT-USB-mini is an affordable condenser USB microphone built with professional-grade quality. This streaming microphone has an easy-to-use design and it delivers a clear, crisp, and deep DSP signal. This condenser capsule features a headphone volume knob on the front panel, complemented with two LEDs which signal to the user when the mic is on zero latency mode or powered via USB. By simply pressing the volume knob, you can either turn on or turn off the zero-latency mode.
This compact microphone delivers a 24kbs sample bit, and a depth of 16 bps, these features are complemented by the directional cardioid pickup pattern to give your audience crisp and soothing audio with minimal noise. However, the absence of a low-cut filter makes this capsule pick up some table rumble sounds.
The device features a 360 swivel base with a diameter of 3.5 inches, which means, you can rotate it to suit your rotating angle. The swivel base features a magnetic base which makes mounting and unmounting the mic easy. This microphone is ideal for podcasting, live streaming, and gaming, and does not need any software or external power to operate the device. All you need is a USB cord to transmit the audio to your computer.
This device is easy to set up and it is compatible with Windows 10, and MacOs 10.12 computers.
Blue Yeti X
Price: Amazon ($336.02 / £299.99)
Blue Yeti is known for producing durable and high-quality microphones, and the Blue Yeti X is no exception. The Blue Yeti X is an update to the line-up and it features retro 50s-style metal construction with a sleek and solid base. This mic was engineered with a multi-functional knob which allows the user to adjust between four mic patterns to meet all recording needs. The multi-function smart knob allows you to adjust the gain and volume so you mute the device and mix sound from your microphone and computer together.
The Yeti X is a four-capture array condenser that allows you to capture broadcast sound from all angles crisply and clearly. The mic is mounted on a sturdy computer-like stand which together gives the whole microphone a dimension of 12.2X11X28.9 cm. The mic can be easily dismounted from its original stand and used with any standard microphone stand.
This device has exceptional performance featuring an audio sensitivity of 100 dB and a frequency range of 20Hz to 20kHz which can record up to 48 kilohertz of sound at 24 bits of audio, which applies to the internal headphone amp. It comes with an 11-level LED meter, which helps you visualize how low or how high your voice is. The mic has a 3.5mm jack which allows you to hear what is going on from your PC while allowing you to adjust the audio level directly from your headset.
For professional streaming services, you have the option of accessing an array of Blue voice broadcast vocal effects to achieve your perfect sound quality. This microphone complements your aesthetics by allowing you to adjust the LED lighting of the mic to match any setting of your room.
Elgato Wave 3
Price: Amazon ($170.76 / £152.45)
Number three on our list, we have the Elgato Wave 3. This microphone is built for gamers and content creators who are looking to live stream on Twitch or YouTube. It is compact; however, has tons of features which make it an optimal choice for beginners and professionals. The design of the mic is straightforward featuring a multifunctional dial that gives you an onboard microphone control. The dial allows you to adjust the gain, tweak the volume of the speaker, and crossfade between the PC and mic mix.
The mic is mounted on a sturdy U-mount padded base, which gives the mic a dimension of 1.57X 2.6 X 6.02 inches. The Elgato Wave 3 features a unidirectional cardioid polar pattern that captures and fine-tunes every detail of your voice. The multi-layered shield ensures that every plosive noise is filtered out to give the listeners a great hearing experience. The in-built headphone jack allows you to monitor your signal quality and low latency.
This device has exceptional performance and can record up to 96 kilohertz of sound at 24 bits of audio. It features a proprietary Clipgaurd technology which ensures that you experience no distortion while recording.
The Elgato Wave 3 allows you to use the wave app to utilize between 3 and 7 audio sources, not only that but you get to perform 2 independent mixes with these 3 or 7 audio sources.
Price: Amazon ($144.49 / £129.00)
Unlike most microphones on our list, the HyperX Qaudcast is the first ever built microphone from HyperX; however, HyperX ensured that they built it to fit all the needs of live streams and gamers. The 8-inch height makes it shorter and less obstructive compared to other microphones.
At first glance, you will appreciate the eye-catching blazing red and black color complemented with a sturdy yet lightweight design of the device which ensures the longevity of the device. Unlike most microphones on our list, the HyperX QaudCast features an anti-vibration shock mount that absorbs any table rumble to give you a crystal-clear sound output.
You can switch between the four polar patterns with the simple knob, to help you focus on the sounds that matter the most. Not only that, but by simply turning the control gain found at the bottom of the device, you can select how sensitive you want to mic to be to help you pick up the sounds you want to be heard. The LED mute sensor, allows you to simply mute or unmute the device with just a touch of a button.
Just like every other device on our list, the HyperX QuadCast device has exceptional performance with a frequency rate of 20Hz to 20kHz and a sample rate of 48kHz/16 bit.
Finally, the device features a built-in pop-filter that blocks any noise from interfering with the audio input. The headphone jack allows monitoring your sound to ensure that your audience is hearing exactly what you want them to hear.
Price: Amazon ($256.51 / £229.00)
Shure is a very well-known brand for providing high-quality equipment which is adored by musicians, podcasters, and streamers.
The Shure MV7 is a new microphone inspired by the massively popular Shure SM7B, however, it was designed for podcasters and streamers rather than professional musicians.
The Shure MV7 multi-connection technology features an XLR cable and USB cable to give you various input options which you can use simultaneously. This is great because it gives you the best of both worlds, and giving you the chance to choose either XLR for a professional audio interface or USB for connections to your laptops or both at the same time.
This is great for new streamers who are on a lower budget as the microphone can initially be used by connecting directly into a computer using USB and can still be used in the future if you decide to upgrade to an audio interface setup using the XLR connection.
The sound of the Shure MV7 is epic, and it features an optimized frequency response and voice isolation technology which makes your voice rich, laser-focus on your voice, and cuts out all background noises. You have the option of choosing between dark, natural, and bright tones by using the Shure MOITV app. It comes with an in-built headphone jack that allows you to connect your headset to the mic to monitor the sound been produced.
Unlike the other microphones on our list, the Shure MV7 allows you to control features such as gain control, volume, and mic positions all from the Shure MOTIV app.
What Factors to look for when choosing a USB Microphone
When we are looking at different microphones, there are certain things which we are looking for to ensure the microphone is going to be good; Price, Audio Quality, and Special Features.
Price: Obviously the price is one of the most important factors when it comes to buying any type of equipment, and as USB microphones target beginner streamers especially, the price becomes even more important.
Audio Quality: The quality of the audio is another major factor when it comes to microphones as there is absolutely no point purchasing a new USB microphone if the quality is only marginally better than a laptop microphone for example.
Special Features: Some microphones have some nice features which can definitely give them the edge over the competition when it comes to choosing a microphone, so we have also taken that into consideration.
Should I choose a Condenser or Dynamic microphone?
When choosing a microphone for streaming, the first feature to look out for is the audio quality. When it comes to audio quality, there are various options to choose from; however, the two most common ones are condensers and dynamic microphones. These microphones are great at picking up all relevant sounds without any delays.
Choosing between a condenser and a dynamic microphone depends greatly on your setting.
Condenser microphones are an excellent choice for streaming in a treated room or a sound studio. Because these microphones are sensitive, they pick up every detail (mids, highs, and lows) in your voice to give your audience a clear and soothing sound. So, if you are live streaming your music, ASMR, or capturing your instruments, then a condenser microphone will be a great option. However, these microphones are expensive, so you want to ensure that it is within your budget range.
Dynamic microphones, on the other hand, are cheaper than condenser microphones. In most live streams, podcasts, and radio shows, you will notice that they use dynamic microphones because of their proximity effect and distinct broadcasting sound. The proximity effect simply means the closer you get to the microphone, the more prominent your bass or low frequency becomes.
Dynamic microphones are great for live streaming because they are less sensitive than condenser microphones. This means, dynamic microphones wouldn’t pick up any background noise(any sound 6 inches away from the mic), which is good because it would only focus on your voice, and there wouldn’t be any interference in your live stream.
What is Polar Pattern in Microphones?
Every microphone has polarization or direction with which a microphone picks up the best sound.
There are three types of polar patterns to choose from:-
- Cardioid: These types of microphones pick up sound that is directly in front of the microphone. This means any sound behind or at the side of the microphone will completely drop off.
- Omni-directional: Omni-directional microphones pick up sounds in all directions.
- Bi-directional: Bi-directional microphones pick up sound in front and behind the microphone.
For streaming purposes, we highly recommend you choose a microphone with either a bi-directional or cardioid pattern because these patterns help cancel out all irrelevant background noise you do not want in your audio, such as mouse clicks and a computer’s fan noise.
There are many good USB microphones for streamers available on the market and while you can’t go too wrong with any USB microphone which costs around the $100 mark, you also don’t want to be wasting your money on a USB microphone that will only be good for a year before you need one which is valued at around the $100 mark, there are still some USB microphones which are that little bit better than others.
Check out our other lists of top equipment to use for streaming on Twitch.