The Best Podcast Microphones 2020: Top USB Recording Mics for Vocals - Rolling Stone
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The Best Podcast Microphones for Recording Crystal-Clear Audio

Turn any laptop into a home studio with pro-grade vocal mics that record clear, captivating audio

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As many of us are making a habit of logging more hours at home, it’s no wonder that we’re also tuning into more podcasts — or even starting our own pods. Sound like you? Whether you’re picking podcasting up as a hobby or a new venture, one thing’s for sure: Low-quality equipment could make or break even the most compelling content, as otherwise interested listeners might be too distracted by background noise. The best podcast microphones will ensure rich, clear vocals, so even if you’re a one-person show, you won’t sound like one.

What Makes a Good Podcast Microphone?

Unless you’re an analog devotee, we’re guessing that you’re using a computer or tablet (or even your smartphone) to digitally record your podcast, so you’ll need a mic that’s compatible with your operating system and recording/editing software. Here are some other things you should consider before you buy a microphone for podcasting:

USB vs. XLR connector: There are two ways to connect your microphone to your desktop or laptop computer. The most common is USB, which is ideal if you’re looking for easy plug-and-play recording and don’t plan on having guests. If you’re looking for higher quality sound or are recording more than one person and need multiple mics, then an XLR connection is what you’ll want for plugging into a sound system (just note that you need additional equipment to plug in).

Location and number of people: If you plan to record by yourself in one location (say, your acoustic-paneled home studio or living room) using your computer or tablet, then a USB mic is also going to be your best bet. But if you have a more complicated setup (such as recording other people or you have additional sound sources), then an XLR mic may be the better option.

Condenser vs. Dynamic: These are the types of microphones you should consider for recording audio. For studio-recorded podcasts, a condenser mic will capture the richness of your vocals, but know that they may pick up more background noise. If you expect a lot of ambient noise or plan on recording outdoors, then a dynamic microphone is best.

Polar Pattern: This describes the three-dimensional space where microphones best pick up sound. For podcasts, you’ll want to look for a mic with a cardioid polar pattern because it’s more sensitive at the front, less sensitive on the sides, and doesn’t pick up audio from the rear.

Accessories: That popping sound you hear when you say “pop” into a basic microphone? A pop filter (also called a windscreen or pop shield/screen) can help your production sound more professional. Other accessories to consider include a shock mount to prevent the mic from picking up movement or tapping, and a mic stand to make it easy for you to sit and record comfortably.

What Are the Best Podcast Microphones?

Now that you know how to determine which type of microphone is best for recording podcasts, you’re well on your way to becoming a pro host. Whether you’re an aspiring announcer or you’re finally upgrading from a cheap mic, keep reading below to shop our top picks.

1. Audio-Technica ATR2100X-USB USB/XLR Microphone Bundle

If you’re serious about capturing high-quality vocals (be it for podcasting, voice-overs, and more), Audio-Technica’s handheld microphone is a great option. It’s a cardioid dynamic mic, meaning it’s great at picking up sounds from the front and sides and isolating unwanted ambient noise.

What’s great is that this podcast microphone has both USB and XLR outputs as well as an analog-to-digital converter. It also has a headphone jack so you can directly monitor sound levels. We like that it includes all of the accessories you need to start recording out of the box, including a shock mount, pop filter, and suspension boom scissor arm by Knox Gear, as well as two 6.6-foot USB cables, a 9.8-foot XLR cable, and a tripod desk stand with folding legs.

Best Podcast Microphones - Audio Technica ARS-2100X

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2. Rode NT-USB USB Condenser Microphone Bundle

Rode’s USB condenser microphone was designed for recording vocals, singing, and musical performances, so it’s great for getting pro-quality podcasts. It comes bundled with Knox Gear’s TX-100 closed-back studio headphones, which plug into the mic’s 3.5mm jack so you can monitor your audio levels in real-time.

This podcast-friendly mic also comes with a pop filter, standard stand mount, a desktop tripod stand, and a storage pouch.

Best Podcast Microphones - Rode Condenser Microphone

Amazon

3. FIFINE USB Condenser Microphone

If you’re not ready to make a major investment into your newfound hobby but still want professional-quality audio, then you’ll want to consider FIFINE’s USB condenser microphone. This cardioid condenser mic is great at picking up clear, crisp vocals from its front and sides without any background noise. The microphone also has a built-in volume knob and comes with a 5.9-foot USB cable and desktop tripod stand.

Best Podcast Microphones - Fifine USB Microphone

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