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No matter what topic your new podcast is covering, you’re going to need a mic. And if you’re on a budget, choosing from the thousands out there can be a gamble.
But before you start your search, it’s important to know about a couple types of microphones you might consider using for podcasting: condenser and dynamic.
Condenser mics are great for picking up deep details in your voice, but are super sensitive, and they’ll also pick up any audible activity going on around you. If you’re in a studio with properly padded and sound-treated walls, this won’t be a big deal, but for the average person recording at home, a dynamic mic might be a better option.
Dynamic mics are designed to handle high-pressure sound levels, like performances that are live and loud. This makes them a top choice for podcasting, especially if you’ll have multiple people conversing and recording together, and cut down significantly on distracting noise in the background, or even outside. They also have a less complex build, making them more affordable than most condenser mics too.
Another advantage of dynamic mics is that they don’t need an external power supply, unlike condenser mics, which often require a charged battery or phantom power. In rare cases, an “active” dynamic mic would require a power supply, but these aren’t necessary for the needs of a podcast, and will be more expensive anyway.
While traditional dynamics have an XLR input, modern ones generally have an XLR with an additional USB port, allowing a direct hookup into your computer and recording application (and sometimes even a built-in volume control). A mic with only an XLR connection will require an audio interface (as well as cables, if you don’t already own them) before you can plug in to your laptop. But don’t write off XLR completely, as it’s good to have the option in case you want to upgrade your audio setup in the future. Plus they’re extremely durable, able to handle drops and dents, making it ideal for traveling.
These four options provide a mix of everything, depending on what you need, and will let you get your premiere episode started right out of the box while staying on budget.
1. Audio-Technica Consumer ATR2100x-USB Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone
Audio-Technica’s one of the most trusted companies for audio gear, and has been crafting reliable studio products for years. Microphones are just one of its many specialties, and this is a solid choice for getting a podcast up and running.
The ATR2100x focuses on recording vocals from the front, and cutting down on noise from the sides and back, capturing your voice and not other unwanted audio around you. There’s a USB port for fast recording right into your computer, as well as an XLR input if you choose to do any live performances.
This features a headphone jack with level control on it, for direct monitoring right from the mic itself, and also comes with USB-C/USB-A cables and a little folding desk tripod for setting up your podcasting station.
2. Samson Technologies Q2U USB/XLR Dynamic Microphone
Whether you’re starting out on your first podcast, or even if you’re experienced, this little mic package sounds great and makes it easy to get your content recorded.
Background noise is kept down to an impressive minimum on this durable metal mic, and a headphone jack lets you monitor sound in lag-free real-time, with a volume control too.
There’s USB and XLR ports (as well as direct monitoring through USB), and an easy on/off switch makes it simple to quickly cut out.
This works with both Windows and iOS, and comes with all you need to get started, including a tripod, cables and even a windscreen.
3. Fifine Studio Condenser USB Microphone Computer PC Microphone Kit
If you have your heart set on a condenser mic and definitely don’t want a dynamic one, consider this Fifine to get your podcasting setup going. There’s a volume control right on the mic, and USB connection is quick to set up in minutes. It’s sensitive to background noise, as expected from a condenser, but if you’ve got a quiet and insulated space, this should sound pretty crisp. This option also has the most complete accessory kit of the bunch, with an 8.2-foot cable, steel scissor-arm, shock mount, tripod stand, and double pop filter.
4. Pyle 3 Piece Professional Dynamic Microphone Kit
If you’ve got a podcast with multiple hosts, this budget option provides you with three dynamic cardioid mics (as well as cables and clips) for recording crisp and clear audio.
The build quality is all metal, steel and zinc-alloy, giving it a nice weight that feels durable, with an integrated pop filter and windscreen inside. Feedback, interference and background noises are kept to a minimum here, while vocals come through punchy and strong with an ultra-wide frequency response. They also come with a thick black travel case, and though there’s no USB (just XLR), these work just as well for live performances too.