Top 9 Best USB Microphones (Streaming, PC Audio, Etc.)


USB microphones have become incredibly popular in recent years alongside the rise of personal computers. With USB mics, users are able to quickly and inexpensively improve the audio quality of their computers and other electronic devices.

The top 9 USB microphones are:

  1. Rode Podcaster
  2. Rode NT-USB
  3. Audio-Technica AT2020USB+
  4. Apogee HypeMiC USB
  5. Marantz Professional MPM-2000U
  6. Blue Yeti
  7. Blue Snowball
  8. Samson Meteor
  9. MXL AC-404 USB

In this article, we’ll go over the criteria that make a great USB microphone and discuss each of the listed mics in more detail.

Note that, although USB microphones can yield great results, I’d personally recommend professional analog microphones over USB mics. To read about more of my recommendations, check out the following My New Microphone pages:
Recommended Microphones And Accessories
50 Best Microphones Of All Time (With Alternate Versions & Clones)


What Makes A Great USB Microphone?

  • High-quality sample rate: USB mics output digital audio, which works in sample rates. Sample rate is defined as the amount of times per second the audio is sampled in a digital audio signal. Having professional samples rates (44.1k or 48k and higher) is critical in USB microphones.
  • High-quality bit-depth: digital audio also works in bit-depth. Bit-depth is the amount of loudness levels within the full digital audio dynamic range per sample. Having professional bit depths (16-bit, 24-bit or 32-bit) is critical in USB microphones.
  • Low (or zero) latency monitoring: a USB microphone with internal low or zero latency monitoring is beneficial for recording without any delay between the recorded audio and playback.
  • Quality connectors/connection: USB microphones connect to devices via USB cables. It’s essential for a microphone to have quality connectors for longevity’s sake.
  • Wide frequency response: a USB microphone with a wide frequency response is ideal for capturing a natural-sounding audio signal.

With these criteria in mind, let’s look at each of the top 10 USB microphones on the market today:


Rode Podcaster

The Rode Podcaster is the only dynamic USB microphone on this list. As the name suggests, it works very well for podcasting, especially on a budget and in less-than-ideal (noisy) recording environments.

  • Sample rate: 8-48 kHz
  • Bit-depth: 18-bit
  • Monitoring: zero-latency headphone output
  • Connector quality: Good USB-B to USB-A
  • Frequency response: 40 Hz – 14,000 Hz
ProsCons
Dynamic (less sensitive to extraneous noise than condensers).Low gain.
Very durable.Heavy (655g).
Zero-latency headphone monitoring.Internal pop filter is not super effective.
Excels on voice. Relatively poor performance on instruments.

Rode Podcaster (link to check the price on Amazon).

Rode is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Microphone Brands You Should Know And Use.

If we’re opting for a USB microphone, chances are we’re either on a budget or we’re just starting out in the world of audio. Either way, this probably means that we do not have an ideal soundproof recording environment.

Not to worry. The Rode Podcaster has a dynamic transducer element and so it’s not as sensitive to all the extraneous sounds in its acoustic environment.

Most USB mics are electret condensers, which pick up more of the character of an acoustic space. If the recording environment is noisy or overly reflective, this will translate into the mic signal. Extraneous noise will still be picked up by the Rode Podcaster, only not as much.

The Rode Podcaster is compatible with both Mac and Windows operating systems.

The analog-to-digital converter in the Rode Podcaster gives the microphone a quality audio output. Output sample rate goes as high as 48 kHz (the standard for multi-media audio) and the bit-depth is 18-bit (the two main standards are 16-bit and 24-bit). The ADC of the Podcaster allows us to bypass the computer sound card altogether in order to monitor and record quality audio.

Zero-latency headphone monitoring allows us to monitor our recording directly from the microphone without any latency/delay from the computer. Having low or no latency is essential, especially when recording along to audio.

For more information on microphone latency, check out my article How To Fix Microphone Echo And Latency In Your Computer (7 Methods).

As we see blow, the frequency response of the Rode Podcaster is incredibly flat. This means the mic will sound fairly natural on most sound sources.

The low-end roll-off helps attenuate low frequencies. It the low-end is too much, we can always high-pass the mic signal in our digital audio workstation.

The high-end boost at ~9 kHz helps to brighten voices and vocal performances. A subsequent roll-off in the upper end means the mic isn’t overly bright and will sound more natural in less-than-ideal recording environments.

The physical USB connection of the Rode Podcaster is solid and durable, especially when taken care of properly.

The Rode Podcaster comes with its own stand mount (RM2) for easy connectivity with professional mic stands (both 3/8″ and 5/8″). Rode also offers a basket-type shock mount for the Podcaster called the PSM1.

To wrap things up, the Rode Podcaster has a cardioid polar pattern, which is ideal for single voice applications. It is sensitive in the direction it points while it rejects sound from its rear.

If you’re doing a solo podcast, a cardioid USB dynamic mic like the Rode Podcaster could be the best choice for you!


Rode NT-USB

Rode’s NT-USB is a top performer in the family of USB microphones. This small-diaphragm side-address condenser mic sounds great; is easy to use; and has a zero-latency headphone output.

  • Sample rate: 48 kHz
  • Bit-depth: 16-bit
  • Monitoring: Zero-latency monitoring headphone output
  • Connector quality: Good USB-B to USB-A
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz
ProsCons
Clean and clear audio pickup.High gain and sensitivity (bad for non-soundproof environments).
Comes with pop filter.Cheap plastic hardware design.
Zero-latency headphone monitoring.

Rode NT-USB (link to check the price on Amazon).

The Rode NT-USB sounds great in most practical situations. Its small-diaphragm capsule has a consistent cardioid polar pattern, accurate transient response, and is great at capturing the nuances of sound.

For more information on the cardioid polar pattern, check out my article What Is A Cardioid Microphone? (Polar Pattern + Mic Examples).

The downside to the NT-USB’s sensitivity is that it may pickup unwanted noise and reflections in poor acoustic environments. So, if you plan on using the NT-USB, I’d recommend treating your recording environment.

In addition to being sensitive, the NT-USB also has a wide frequency response (graph shown below):

This extended response can be a blessing and curse. On one hand, the Rode NT-USB will capture frequencies across the entire audible hearing spectrum. On the other hand, it may pick up some unwanted frequencies including low-end hum/rumble and high-end brilliance.

The upper midrange presence boost may help vocals to cut though a mix but may also cause them to sound unnatural and harsh when recorded alone.

The Rode NT-USB, like all the USB mics on this list, is compatible with both Mac and Windows operating systems.

With a sample rate of 48 kHz and a bit-depth of 16-bit, the NT-USB outputs digital audio with professional specs.

The zero-latency headphone monitoring from the NT-USB allows us to monitor the microphone and DAW with no latency/delay from the computer.

The included desktop tripod stand is good quality and the USB connection is durable. The mic mount comes with a 3/8″ thread to mount standard stands and the mic is also compatible with other shock mounts like the Rode SMR.

The included pop filter is a great addition for this microphone. It helps to reduce the strength of vocal plosives that reach the mic diaphragm and improve audio quality.


Audio-Technica AT2020USB+

The Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ is a very popular USB microphone for good reason. It sounds great on a variety of sources and makes for an excellent introductory microphone.

  • Sample rate: 44.1 or 48 kHz
  • Bit-depth: 16-bit
  • Monitoring: Zero-latency headphone output
  • Connector quality: Relatively poor USB-B to USB-A
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz
ProsCons
Clean and clear audio pickup.Cheap plastic hardware design.
Zero-latency headphone monitoring.No mute button.
Dial to mix DAW monitoring and direct microphone monitoring.Relatively poor USB connection.

Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ (link to check the price on Amazon).

Audio-Technica is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Microphone Brands You Should Know And Use.

The AT2020USB+ is a go-to USB microphone for the more musical types. This large-diaphragm condenser mic has a cardioid polar pattern and a wide frequency response. It sounds great on voices, vocals, and most instruments.

As we can see from the frequency response below, the AT2020USB+ will sound fairly bright and capture sound accurately. The upper-range boost can help to add brilliance to the sound.

That being said, and this is true for all the condenser USB mics on this list, an extended frequency response will pick up more nuances and noise in your environment, so I’d suggest treating your recording space.

For more information on frequency response, check out the following My New Microphone articles:
What Is Microphone Frequency Response?

Complete Guide To Microphone Frequency Response (With Mic Examples)

The AT2020USB+ features a zero-latency headphone output, which allows us to monitor the mic directly along with the audio from our computer. No latency is a huge deal when recording along to audio.

With switchable sample rates (44.1 and 48 kHz) and a 16-bit bit-depth, the AT2020USB+ will output professional standard digital audio. Its internal ADC converts the mic’s analog signal to digital audio accurately and with great clarity.

The main issues I have with this mic are not with the mic itself, but with its cable and stock stand. The included desktop tripod stand and mount are of relatively low quality and do not provide any mechanical isolation.

Connecting the USB cable to the AT2020USB+ while the mic is in its stand/mount (in most practical positions) causes the cable to bend against the ground/desk surface and puts strain on the cable. This, in turn, puts strain on the USB connection of the mic and cable which may eventually wear them out or break them.


Apogee HypeMiC USB

The Apogee HypeMiC USB is a great USB mic that sounds great and outputs high-quality digital audio.

  • Sample rate: 96 kHz
  • Bit-depth: 24-bit
  • Monitoring: Zero-latency headphone output
  • Connector quality: Relatively good micro-USB to USB-A
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz
ProsCons
Clean and clear audio pickup.No shock mount.
Zero-latency headphone monitoring with blend control between direct and playback monitoring.No mute button.
High-quality built-in analog compressor.
Durable metal chassis and sturdy desktop stand.

Apogee HypeMiC USB (link to check the price on Amazon).

Apogee is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Audio Interface Brands In The World.

Though I’m personally not a huge fan of USB mics, I really do like this one.

The Apogee HypeMiC USB is the most expensive mic on this list, but also has the best features and highest-quality audio. It is a small-diaphragm condenser microphone with a cardioid polar pattern.

Starting with the HypeMiC’s digital audio output, the sample rate is high-quality 96 kHz and the bit-depth is 24-bit. This is the highest quality output on this list. Most professional recordings only use 44.1 kHz or 48 kHz sample rate. 24-bit is common, though “CD quality” only requires 16-bit.

Apogee’s HypeMiC has a zero-latency headphone output for excellent monitoring. This headphone out has a “blend” feature, which allows the user to manually mix the direct signal of the microphone with the audio from the DAW. This nifty feature makes it easy to get the right balance in the headphones without messing with the mic gain or the levels within the DAW.

The HypeMiC is fairly sensitive and has a wide frequency response. So do your best to acoustically treat your space. This microphone is good. It will pick up the full character of the room, whether the room sounds good or not.

No frequency response graph available.

The coolest part of the HypeMiC, in my opinion, is the analog compressor with 3 settings:

  • Low: minimal compression helps to shape vocals and instruments in music recordings.
  • Medium: a fair amount of compression sounds great on most podcasts, interviews and streaming in order to make speech more present.
  • High: high compression will get us that big in-your-face announcer voice.

These compressor settings are great to have at our disposal. Note that when using any compression, it will bring up the noise floor and accentuate any extraneous noise. Therefore, using the higher compression settings works best in acoustically treated spaces.

The physical build of the HypeMiC is also quite nice. It has a durable metal chassis and sturdy desktop stand. The USB and headphone connections are built to last as well.

The HypeMiC comes with the necessary cables to connect directly to both computer and smartphones!


Marantz Professional MPM-2000U

The Marantz Professional MPM-2000U is a lesser-known USB microphone but is deserving of a place on this list. This large-diaphragm condenser does an incredible job of capturing vocals and is very easy to use with a computer.

  • Sample rate: 48 kHz
  • Bit-depth: 16-bit
  • Monitoring: N/A
  • Connector quality: Good USB-B to USB-A
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 18,000 Hz
ProsCons
Clean and clear audio pickup.No internal headphone amp for monitoring.
Comes with basket-style shock mount.Somewhat flimsy shock mount and USB connection.
Solid die-cast construction.

Marantz Professional MPM-2000U (link to check the price on Amazon).

The Marantz MPM-2000U is marketed as a studio-quality USB condenser microphone. Its capsule and internal ADC are designed with professional quality and affordability in mind.

This microphone outputs professional standard digital audio with a 48 kHz sample rate and 16-bit bit-depth. The audio captured by the microphone is very accurate due to the mic’s fast transient response and relatively flat frequency response (shown below):

As we see above, the MPM-2000U has an aesthetically pleasing frequency response graph, which directly translates to the fine sound of the mic’s output.

The low-end roll-off helps to attenuate mechanical and electromagnetic noise while still providing a nice low-end in the mic signal. A boost of about 5 dB in the upper frequencies helps to accentuate speech and provides a certain brightness to the mic signal.

The main downside of this USB microphone is the lack of a headphone output for monitoring. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though relying on a separate interface to act as the audio output of your computer could be less-than-ideal.

First, the output device of the computer may not be high-quality and second, the latency of the mic, computer, and output device may be noticeable and the delay may affect performance.

I’ll end on a positive note and say that the physical build of this microphone is superb.

The MPM-2000U’s body is made of solid die-cast construction. Its basket-style shock mount easily connects to standard thread sizes and provides excellent mechanical noise isolation.

For more info on microphone shock mounts, check out my article What Is A Microphone Shock Mount And Why Is It Important?


Blue Yeti

The Blue Yeti is arguably the flagship microphone of Blue Microphones and is certainly one of, if not the most, popular USB mics on the market.

  • Sample rate: 48 kHz
  • Bit-depth: 16-bit
  • Monitoring: Internal headphone output
  • Connector quality: Relatively poor micro-USB to USB-A
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz
ProsCons
4 polar pattern options.Overly coloured frequency responses.
Durable build and desktop stand.Weak USB port and cable.
Headphone output for zero-latency monitoring.Very sensitive to background noise.
Mute button.

Blue Yeti (link to check the price on Amazon).

Blue Microphones is also featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Microphone Brands You Should Know And Use.

I suppose this list wouldn’t be complete without the famous Blue Yeti. The Blue Yeti is a tri-capsule multi-pattern electret condenser USB microphone with 4 polar pattern options (omnidirectional, bidirectional, cardioid, and XY stereo).

For more info on all the microphone polar patterns, check out my article The Complete Guide To Microphone Polar Patterns.

Many would call the Yeti consumer-grade and a relatively poor microphone. Though I do partially agree, I think it’s worth stating that this microphone is an excellent USB mic for those of us just getting into recording. It’s inexpensive; extremely easy to use; and has multiple options to play around with.

With a sample rate of 48 kHz and a bit-depth of 16-bit, the Blue Yeti outputs digital audio at professional standards.

The internal headphone output allows the user to monitor the Yeti microphone with no latency while simultaneously monitoring the audio from the connected computer.

The 4 selectable options for polar response in the Yeti make it very versatile in practice. Depending on the application, we could select cardioid mode (the most common), bidirectional, omnidirectional, or even a stereo mode with 2 cardioid capsules engaged in an XY stereo pattern.

With these extra options, though, come sacrifices. As many will point out, the Yeti’s frequency response is awfully coloured, due at least in part by, its capsule setup and wiring.

Below, we have the frequency response graphs for each of the 4 polar pattern settings of the Blue Yeti:

As we see above, the response of the Yeti is anything but flat in every one of its polar pattern options. This ultimately leads to a somewhat coloured or “unnatural” pickup of sound and is a major con in this USB mic.

Another con of the Yeti is its USB connector. The micro-USB connection of the Yeti is relatively weak and not in a great position.

Though the built-in desktop stand of the Blue Yeti is both flexible and durable, it will put stress on the USB cable if the mic is positioned upwards (a common position). I’ve personally had two Blue Yetis and the micro-USB cable broke inside the port in both.

All that being said, the mic is popular for a reason. It’s an all-around good USB microphone!


Samson Meteor

The Samson Meteor is a nifty little USB mic that is suitable for tight budgets.

  • Sample rate: 44.1 or 48 kHz
  • Bit-depth: 16-bit
  • Monitoring: Zero-latency headphone output
  • Connector quality: Relatively good micro-USB to USB-A
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz
ProsCons
Clean and clear audio capture.Cheap build.
Compact design.Relatively poor gain control.
Headphone output for zero-latency monitoring.
Mute button.

Samson Meteor (link to check the price on Amazon).

The Samson Meteor is a large-diaphragm cardioid electret condenser USB microphone and outputs 16-bit audio at 44.1 or 48 kHz sample rates.

This microphone has an excellent analog-to-digital converter and zero-latency headphone output. It comes with cables to connect it to both computers and smartphones.

In terms of frequency response, the Meteor is fairly flat. As seen below in the graph, there is a slight low-end dip and slight upper-end boost. This causes a slightly bright sound and an overall great pickup for this USB microphone.

A chrome-plated body makes the Meteor durable and its three fold-back leg design allows for easy positioning. That being said, the mic is vulnerable to low-end mechanical noise due to its lack of shock mounting and its low-end frequency response.

The USB connection of the Samson Meteor is also durable and will last a long time if taken care of properly.


Blue Snowball

The Snowball is yet another USB model from Blue Microphones. This inexpensive mic is a perfect consumer-grade USB mic for those of us that better audio in our computers than the built-in microphones can offer.

  • Sample rate: 44.1 kHz
  • Bit-depth: 16-bit
  • Monitoring: N/A
  • Connector quality: Relatively good micro-USB to USB-A
  • Frequency response: 40 Hz – 18,000 Hz
ProsCons
Cardioid and omnidirectional options.Somewhat coloured frequency response.
Compact design.Relatively poor gain control.
No headphone output for zero-latency monitoring.
Cheap build.

Blue Snowball (link to check the price on Amazon).

The Blue Snowball is a small-diaphragm electret condenser USB microphone with switchable options between cardioid mode; cardioid mode with a 10 dB pad; or omnidirectional mode.

The Snowball outputs 44.1 kHz 16-bit audio, which is CD quality.

Unfortunately the Blue Snowball does not have any internal zero-latency monitoring. When we need to record along to something with the Snowball, we’ll have to rely on another sound card or interface to act as the audio output device, which may have noticeable latency.

Considering the affordable price of the Blue Snowball, the mic actually sounds pretty good, though it wouldn’t necessarily be my go-to for any particular sound source. Let’s gather some insight with the frequency response graph below:

As we see, Blue’s Snowball has a decent looking frequency response. There is a nice low-end roll-off to help curb the potential low-end rumble in the mic signal. Similarly, the high-end roll-off helps to attenuate the “airiness” or “brightness” of the mic signal, which is especially important in highly reflective non-soundproof recording environments.

The omnidirectional mode (3) sounds fairly flat with a presence boost. The cardioid modes (1 and 2) are a bit more coloured and may sound a bit nasally.

Note there is a cheaper cardioid-only version of the Blue Snowball called the Snowball iCe (link to check the price on Amazon).

The physical make of this microphone is certainly cheap and is made of hard plastic.


MXL AC-404 USB

The MXL AC-404 USB is the only boundary microphone that made this list. It is worth mentioning due to its ease of use and applicability as a conference room microphone.

  • Sample rate: 44.1 kHz or 48 kHz
  • Bit-depth: 16-bit
  • Monitoring: N/A
  • Connector quality: Good micro-USB to USB-A (2.0)
  • Frequency response: 40Hz – 16,000 Hz
ProsCons
Sensitive hemispherical polar pattern.High noise floor.
Compact design.No mute button.
DurableNo headphone output for zero-latency monitoring.

MXL AC-404 USB (link to check the price on Amazon).

The MXL AC-404 USB mic is a 3 capsule boundary design with 180-degree coverage. It outputs professional spec 44.1/48 kHz 16-bit digital audio.

This hemispherical microphone is an excellent choice to improve the audio of conference calls over built-in computer/smartphone microphones.

For more info on hemispherical boundary microphones, check out The Hemispherical Boundary Microphone/PZM Polar Pattern.

The AC-404 is fairly durable; easy to set up; has a strong USB connection; and sounds pretty good.

Unfortunately, there is no frequency response graph available. However, the dip in the low-end of the 404 helps reduce low-end rumble in the mic signal while the upper-end roll-off helps reduce some of the harshnesses of poor acoustic environments.

All in all, this is a pretty application-specific microphone (like all boundary mics). However, if you’re looking to improve the sound quality in conference settings with a single USB mic, the MXL AC-404 USB is an excellent choice.


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