Best Streaming Microphone Buying Guide

Best Streaming Microphone Buying Guide

So, you’ve just decided you want to become the next PewDiePie. You’ve got everything put together, but you still need one small – but important – piece of equipment: a microphone.

When you plan on using a mic on your podcast, you need the best streaming microphone you can get your hands on, not a second-hand garbage one that has shown up as recommended on eBay.

Using Streaming Mic While Playing Games

This guide is for all those who have been looking for some good microphones for streaming. We will provide a couple of reviewed products you should consider and afterward we’ll present some of the features your microphone must have.

There are many brands of streaming microphones both online and offline, but assessing which of them are worth it and which are not can be somewhat of a problem. Luckily, we’ve done some research and came up with 5 of the best podcasts mics.

Best Streaming Microphones

Let’s take a quick look at each of them and see what makes them qualify as great pieces of streaming equipment.

Winner: Blue Yeti Pro Condenser Microphone

Blue Microphones, best known as simply Blue, was founded in ’95, in California, and has provided high-quality microphones ever since. The Blue Yeti Pro is without a doubt one of their best pieces to date.

Pros

Cons

  • Works just as well for recording music as it does for recording podcasts
  • A lot more versatile than most condensers
  • Plug-and-play (USB)
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    No tricky driver installation
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    It offers extremely clean recording
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    It is affordable
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    No latency & it features a noise cancellation feature
  • Some say it’s overpriced
  • A little bit big, but it’s a condenser, so it’s understandable

You kind of get a sense of how amazing this is just by looking at it but wait until you delve deeper into its features. The best thing about this item is that, unlike many other similar mics, this is a 4-in-1. This means that it has all four patterns of recording at the same time.

You can use it as either an omnidirectional, bidirectional, cardioid or stereo microphone with one turn of a knob. One of the most annoying issues that the vast majority of microphones have is the latency, which is basically a lag of a few milliseconds.

The fact that this has an amplifier that you’d usually find in headphones will take care of that problem. Subsequently, your voice will be recorded in real-time, with no lagging whatsoever.

Blue Yeti Pro USB Condenser Microphone

Source: mwave.com

OUR RATING

Its maximum recording resolution is 16-bit and 48 kHz. Considering that this resolution is usually used in recording music on one’s computer with pretty good results, it will be more than enough for recording clips.

Another thing you’ll definitely come to appreciate is its noise-canceling capability. Even if there’s hullabaloo going on in your mini-studio/room, the mic will pick only your voice and it will be as crisp as it ever was.

If you’re working with a preamp or a mixer, you can easily use this microphone with them. You only have to do some little configuration and equalization and you’re good to go.

It also has an XLR input. All things considered, this is the best USB microphone you can get in the range of $250. Of course, we would not have chosen it as the winner of our top if it wasn’t worth every dollar.


Runner-Up: Rode USB Condenser Microphone

The best streaming microphone should meet two crucial requirements: it should be suitable for recording music and for podcasting. The Rode USB Condenser Microphone has both these qualities. Let’s start with the design: the stylish Rode is mounted on a tiny tripod (it does its job despite its relatively small size) and comes with a pop shield that makes it look even cooler.

Pros

Cons

  • Incredibly clean sound with no delay or pops
  • Equipped with all the accessories you need (pop shield, tripod, a 6 m USB cable and a tiny bag)
  • Endowed with an analog-to-digital converter
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    Plug-and-play
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    Noise-cancelling feature
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    It features 0 latency
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    Insanely cheap for what it does
  • It doesn’t have a gain control

This, too, like the previous microphone, is a plug-and-play type, which means that you can start recording video and audio just by plugging it in the USB port of your computer and enabling it in the software you use for recording.

The Rode is equipped with a jack for headphone monitoring – this accounts for the fact that there won’t be any latency. The knobs on the side can be used for adjusting and equalizing the sound in real time.

Its pattern recommends it as a cardioid microphone. Background noise will not get into the final recording because it is annulled by the shock mount. The best thing about the Rode is that you actually don’t need an audio interface to use it.

Rode NT-USB USB Condenser Microphone

Source: rode.com

OUR RATING

We do recommend you, however, to consider investing in one to make the best out of this purchase. If you’re planning on becoming a podcaster, this will definitely serve you well.

The same thing goes for aspiring musicians who need to record their ideas onto their computers. We know for a fact that many people think this can’t be made out of anything but plastic when they look at the pictures.

We’re glad to inform that it is not plastic, but sturdy metal. Everything about the microphone screams “high-quality”.

If you’re using this with Windows, don’t be scared by the initial delay in sound. It will disappear once the operating system has recognized it as a new audio device. USB microphones are known for the horrible quality they provide generally.

The Rode came as quite the surprise and wiped the bad name this type of microphone has gotten over the years. Undoubtedly, the Rode USB Condenser Microphone is the best computer microphone you can get for just a little above $160.


Alternative: Audio-Technica Cardioid Condenser Microphone

If you’re shopping on a budget that could use a cash infusion – like most of us are, unfortunately – you probably don’t have more than $100 to spend on a streaming microphone.

Pros

Cons

  • It is affordable
  • Suitable for recording both music and podcasts
  • Using it with compression and some EQ makes it even more efficient
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    Records clean sound even without a pop filter
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    Can be purchased as XLR or USB
  • Lack of shock mount
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    You’ll need an audio interface for the XLR version

What if we told you that you can get an outstanding condenser with this kind of money? The Audio-Technica might be your go-to mic. Even though it’s cheaper than probably 80% of all condensers, it’s really no less effective.

The microphone sounds phenomenal as it is, but if you add some compression, it boosts its value well beyond the $100 mark, which is basically the main reason why many podcasters and musicians choose to go with it instead of more expensive models.

Regardless of the purpose you want to use it for (recording a demo, for instance, or recording clips for YT), this will always deliver a crisp, clean sound.

Audio-Technica AT2020 Cardioid Condenser Microphone

Source: audio-technica.com

OUR RATING

The cardioid pattern functions as a noise-canceling feature since no sounds will be picked from the sides or the rear of the mic. It has a huge transient, as well as frequency response.

The thing with podcasting is that you don’t actually need a $1,000 microphone, not even when you’ve got really into it. All that matters is how you use your gear, not how expensive it is.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a shock mount, but this doesn’t have that negative of an impact on the quality of the sound which, again, stays clear and crisp even after years of heavy use.

If you don’t want to spend more than $100 on a condenser, this Audio-Technica model is definitely recommended. We’ve tested it against microphones that cost thrice as much and the results were not that different.

As many people have specified, this is hands-down the best desktop microphone you can purchase with a minimal investment.


Best Beginner Streaming Microphones

In the following two sections, we will show you the best beginner streaming microphones on the market. 

Winner: Blue Snowball Condenser Microphone

The Snowball looks like something taken out of any movie from the Terminator franchise and it is indeed a “killer” at what it’s supposed to do. This is one of the tiniest condensers you can find nowadays.

Pros

Cons

  • It is extremely cheap
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    Definitely the best microphone for Twitch
  • It has a cute design
  • Easy to use (plug-and-play)
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    Works on all streaming platforms
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    No drivers needed
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    Works on low-end computers
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    Among the highest-rated condensers in the industry
  • Some might find it a tad bulgy
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    The stand could use some improvements because it’s annoyingly unstable

If you’re not a pro, this should be on your bucket list. There are plenty of reasons why this might just be the best mic for streaming if you’re a beginner. For starters, it requires no drivers.

You just plug it into the USB port, enable it as an audio device and you can record away! Another feature you’ll come to appreciate is that it doesn’t need anywhere near as many resources as more sizeable condensers.

Blue Snowball iCE Condenser Microphone

Source: bluedesigns.com

OUR RATING

You can use it on your PC even if it has only like 64 RAM. You wouldn’t expect from a microphone of this size to deliver good audio quality, but it does it with style. Believe it or not, its pattern is the good, classic cardioid and this makes a huge difference in the quality of the recording.

It should go without saying that you can use it for anything you want, from streaming on YouTube and Twitch to recording your instruments. Also, you don’t need to spend money on an audio interface, because it’s an USB-type mic.

The Snowball is certified by Skype, which basically means it was designed to provide high-clarity audio even when in a noisy environment, like an office. The frequency response is 40-18 kHz and the sample rate is 16 bit. Not too shabby for $40.


Runner-Up: Samson USB Condenser Microphone

The problem that many rookie podcasters and/or streamers are faced with is installing their microphones properly. Some of them need a couple of drivers and extensive EQs processes.

Pros

Cons

  • Compact and perfect for on the go
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    It features high-quality audio
  • Cardioid and omnidirectional
  • No drivers needed, just plug it in
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    It is very cheap but with a design that makes it look so much more expensive
  • It might not be as durable as you might think
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    You might have to try a lot of positions if you use it as omnidirectional because it will pick up all sounds in the area

If you’re just at the start of your podcasting career, you should opt for a microphone like this Samson. Plug it the USB – that’s all it takes to start recording podcasts, voice-overs, and even music.

You can use the Samson as a cardioid or as an omnidirectional-pattern microphone. The resolution is 44.1 kHz, which is honestly unbelievable, considering that it’s such a compact piece of equipment.

The word about the unprecedented performance of this microphone has gone around extremely quickly. Also, the over 1,000 reviews from customers that come from all sorts of walks (professional musicians, podcasters, streamers – you name it) serve as proof.

Samson Go Mic Portable USB Condenser Microphone

Source: samsontech.com

OUR RATING

In terms of design, it doesn’t look like a cheap product, even though it is less than $40. It’s actually one of the best-looking condensers we’ve seen to date, and its functionality is on par with its style.

You can use the Samson on either PC or Mac and has been created with voice-recognition in mind, as it can be used alongside iChat and VoIP. The quality of the audio recordings it provides is phenomenal.

If you go in any electronics store, you’ll see that a pair of in-ear headphones can go over $30. This is unbelievably cheap, and it returns a value none of us were expecting. All in all, this is what people call “a steal” and the best Twitch stream mic that can be yours for the money you’d spend down at the grocery store in one day.


The Purpose

Streaming microphones come in various shapes and sizes and many of them aren’t all-purpose. When it comes to streaming, there are three main things you could use a microphone for: going live on Twitch, YouTube or podcasting.

Twitch

Twitch is the biggest live streaming platform at the moment that’s intended for eSports and live gaming in general. Audio Technica microphones seem to be fan-favorites for Twitch streamers.

They are affordable and more than sufficient for getting a crystal-clear stream on the air. The thing with Twitch streaming is that viewers are usually put off by having half of the box eclipsed by a huge microphone.

If possible – and if this is something you’re willing to go with – opt for a smaller cardioid microphone that doesn’t take much space on the screen.

YouTube

You can use any type of microphone for streaming on YouTube as long as it suits your needs. All cardioids, for example, are good microphones for streaming on YouTube.

If you have a channel on which you upload clips with music you’ve worked on or you teach people to play a certain instrument, an omnidirectional one could be a better purchase than a cardioid. But then again: it all boils down to your needs.

Podcasting

Most podcasters use omnidirectional or at least bi-directional microphones because they need to record the voices of their interviewees, as well.

Podcasting With Bi Directional Microphone

If you’re recording your podcasts in an environment where there’s a lot of background noise, you might want to opt for a bi-directional microphone.

This way, the sounds from the sides will be annulled. Condenser microphones are very suitable for podcasting purposes, yes, but make sure the directionality will allow you to record voices clearly and without any cracking and pops.

Features To Take Into Consideration

Purchasing a microphone just because the phrase “best microphone for YouTube” is written under the name of the manufacturer is out of the discussion.

This is a practice that can make the difference between ending up with a mic you’ve overpaid for and getting one that will last you for a good couple of years.

There are 5 main things you should keep an eye on if you don’t want to make a decision you’ll regret afterward. If you’re looking at a batch of best podcast mics, for instance, don’t just believe they’re truly the best unless you’ve assessed they are so.

Type Of Microphone

Microphones can be dynamic or condenser. The latter are used in professional recording studios, podcasting, streaming and other fields that require a higher transient and frequency response.

Condensers are a bit more expensive than the dynamic ones because they have more features and provide – although not in all cases – a much clearer sound. The main downside of a condenser is that it needs external power – Phantom Power, to be more precise.

The dynamic microphones are the most common type. Pretty much all artists in the world use dynamic mics on stage. Why don’t they use condensers? The explanation is quite easy: they’re more durable.

Throw a condenser on the floor and the chances of it never working again are extremely high. Condensers are fragile pieces of equipment and require a lot more care than their dynamic counterparts.

Unlike condensers, the dynamic microphones do not require external power, but you may still have to spend some more money on an audio interface since many of them have XLR cables instead of USB.

To wrap it all up: if you need a clear, crisp sound and a great transient/frequency response, a condenser is definitely the way to go, particularly if you’re into podcasting and many people are talking all at once.

Recording Direction

Microphones can be: cardioid (they record sound in a heart-shaped pattern), bi-directional (sound from the front and the rear but none from the sides), omnidirectional (from all directions) and unidirectional (only if you speak in front of them).

Having a clear purpose in mind will help you assess which of these you need in less than 10 minutes. A hasty decision can make you pour money down the drain, and it’s less likely you’d want that to happen.

Connection Type

XLR and USB are the main connection types. The XLR cable usually goes into an audio interface or mixer and is easily recognizable through the fact that it has a round head and usually 3 pins.

XLR To USB Connection

The USB cable is put on microphones that have been designed to work on the principle of plug-and-play. If you get an XLR mic, you will have to purchase an audio interface. If you’re opting for the USB, you won’t have to spend any more money.

Stand

A microphone without a stand will be extremely difficult to use. You can’t keep the mic in your hand when you stream live on Twitch, for example. A stand is crucial, so make sure your microphone comes with that in the package.

Accessories

Let’s suppose that you get a microphone that already has a stand and a pop filter – that’s a good deal right there. A windscreen is also a nice accessory to have if you record outdoors.

You should consider getting an acoustic shield if you want to isolate the sound even more (i.e. when you record vocals).

Conclusion

Beginners might feel like the best streaming microphone is something as elusive as the Holy Grail, but if you know how to hit the bulls-eye, you can get that product in no more than half an hour.

We do believe we did a good job at explaining some of the tricky concepts that could have caused trouble and at providing some reliable products that are worth taking into consideration.

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