Although I would personally recommend a professional XLR microphone over a USB mic, in the world of podcasting, it’s often easier to use a USB microphone.
- If you’re looking for my top recommendation for a podcast microphone, click here.
- If you’re looking for the best USB microphone for podcasting, you’ve come to the right spot!
So what are the best USB mics for podcasting?
- Rode Podcaster: The best podcasting USB microphone on the market is aptly named the Rode Podcaster (link to check the price on Amazon).
- Blue Yeti: As a versatile second option, I’d also recommend the famous Blue Yeti (link to check the price on Amazon).
Before we go into detail about both these recommended USB mics, I’d like to mention that USB microphones are nice if there will only be one microphone in the podcast. Things get a bit complicated, but workable with two USB microphones. The issues arise with track separation. Trying to record 3 or more USB microphones at once is begging for trouble. This is due to internal computer audio inputs/outputs and how they work with USB mics.
So if you’re going to be recording 3 or more people, your best bet may be to go with XLR microphones and an audio interface that can effectively record them all within your computer!
“Best” is a dangerous word. There is really no such thing as a “best microphone” for any situation. The microphone(s) listed in my Recommended Microphones And Accessories” page are simply my recommendations. These recommendations are based on my own experience and are mindful of budget. It would be easy to suggest an ELA M 251 or U47 for most scenarios. However, these tube mics are very expensive, putting them out of a hobbyist’s price range and making it difficult for professionals to make their money back on the gear.
Another important note is that the microphone or equipment you choose is not the most important part of recording audio. In fact, there are many factors that are arguably more important than the choice of microphone. These include:
- Performer (whether a musician, speaker, or otherwise)
- Microphone technique/placement
- Number of microphones used
- Natural sound of the room
- Content (whether that’s the song, discussion, or otherwise)
- Signal chain (including mic cable, preamplifier, console, and/or interface/computer)
With that being said, some microphones and gear suit some instruments better than others, prompting this series of articles under “Recommended Microphones And Accessories.”
What Makes A Great Podcasting USB Microphone?
- Bit Depth & Sample Rate: USB mics have built-in analog-to-digital converters. Choose a USB microphone with professional ratings in bit depth and sample rate. Many podcasts have a 24-bit bit depth and 48 kHz sample rate. Any USB mic capable of achieving or surpassing these specs is great!
- Directionality: Most often, we’d want to select a microphone with a cardioid directional pattern so that the mic picks up the person it’s pointed at. However, in some situations with one microphone and several people, it may be beneficial to have a figure-8 or omnidirectional polar response.
- Proximity Effect: The proximity effect is often manipulated for great results. However, if you move a lot around a microphone, it can really give a gross modulation to the bass frequency response.
- Pop Filter: Microphone plosives do not sound good in any scenario. Find a microphone with a good grille to protect it from plosives or invest in an external pop filter.
- Presence Boost: Although not absolutely necessary, nearly all vocals benefit from a microphone presence boost around 3 kHz – 6 kHz.
- Unobtrusive: When recording a conversational podcast, it’s advantageous to have the audio equipment as out-of-the-way as possible. With microphones, this mostly has to do with their size and the way they are mounted.
- Durability: If you’ll be recording remotely, it’s critical to have a microphone that can handle some abuse. Shit happens!
- Low-Latency Monitoring: With digital audio comes the infamous issue of latency. Choose a USB microphone with a zero-latency headphone out to easily bypass this problem.
- Price: Assuming you’re just starting a podcast, you’re probably not making any money from it yet! Budgeting is an important aspect of any project and the price of a podcasting microphone is a significant factor in choosing the right one.
So now that we know what to look and listen for in a podcast worth USB microphone, let’s see how the Rode Podcaster and the Blue Yeti match up!
The Rode Podcaster USB Microphone
How could this mic not be the best podcasting microphone? It’s in the name! All jokes aside, the Rode Podcaster is the number one in terms of a “plug-and-play” USB mic for podcasting.
Rode is featured in My New Microphone’s Top Best Microphone Brands You Should Know And Use.
First off, I love how the Podcaster looks like a “regular microphone” disguised as a USB mic. To add to the professionalism, there is an optional shock mount (PSM1) and boom arm (PSA1) that I’d recommend picking up with this microphone if you decide to purchase!
The Rode Podcaster prompts an automatic install of its drivers on both Mac and Windows operating systems upon connection via USB. This truly makes it a “plug-and-play”
Let’s talk about how it holds up according to the aforementioned criteria.
Bit Depth & Sample Rate Of The Rode Podcaster
The Podcaster has an 18-bit resolution, which I thought was odd. It also has a sample rate capable of ranging between 8-48 kHz.
Don’t worry, this 18-bit microphone will still record nicely in a 16-bit, 24-bit, or ever 32-bit float digital audio workstation session. The 18-bit refers to the amount of digital levels of signal the microphone will produce. The bit depth of the microphone will easily be converted to any other bit depth within the DAW session itself.
As for the sample rate, it will also match or convert to the sample rate of the DAW session.
Directionality Of The Rode Podcaster
The Rode Podcaster is a cardioid microphone with the following polar response graph:
This is an excellent polar pattern for capturing the sound of one person’s voice in a podcast. The microphone in sensitive to the sound where the mics points and does an excellent job at rejecting the sound behind it.
On top of that, the “cone of sensitivity” around the direction the microphone points is about 75-degrees. You’d have to move way off from the microphone to hear a noticeable drop in signal. This is beneficial for podcasts, giving hosts and guests a bit more freedom to move around their microphone.
Often times USB microphones will have less information on their specifics than professional XLR microphones. In the case of the Rode Podcaster, we have no clue if and how the polar pattern changes across the mic’s frequency response. Remember that all microphones become more omnidirectional at lower frequencies and more directional at higher frequencies.
For more information on the cardioid microphone polar pattern, check out my article What Is A Cardioid Microphone? (Polar Pattern + Mic Examples).
Proximity Effect Of The Rode Podcaster
The Rode Podcaster is a directional microphone, which means it exhibits the proximity effect. As you move closer to the microphone, the bass of your voice will start getting exaggerated.
This can be good and bad. If you’ll be taking advantage of the proximity effect, try your best to keep the distance between your mouth and the microphone consistent. Get your guests and hosts to do the same!
For more information on microphone proximity effect, check out my article In-Depth Guide To Microphone Proximity Effect.
Grille/Pop Filter Of The Rode Podcaster
The Podcaster has an internal pop filter that decreases the need for an external one. This adds to the aesthetic if you’re thinking of doing a vodcast type project. It also has an internal shock mounted capsule to help further reduce unwanted noise and pops.
All in all, the podcaster’s design does a great job at minimizing unwanted plosives and handling noise, making it an excellent choice for recording voice.
For more information on microphone grilles, check out my article What Are Microphone Grilles And Why Are They Important?
For more information on microphone plosives, check out my article Top 10 Tips For Eliminating Microphone Pops And Plosives.
Frequency Response Of The Rode Podcaster
The frequency response of the Rode Podcaster is listed as 40 Hz – 14,000 Hz. The Podcaster’s frequency response graph is as follows:
This frequency response graph shows roughly an 8 dB boost in the high frequencies peaking around 8 kHz – 10 kHz.
This yields a bright, airy quality to the sound of the Rode Podcaster. Some people like this. I’m personally not the biggest fan of the high-end boost.
Bright, but not harsh. This seemingly extreme boost actually works well in conjunction with the flat mids and extended low-end response. Much of the would-be-harshness is cut along with the high-frequency roll-off that caps the response off at 14,000 Hz.
There are better frequency responses on other USB microphones, but the Rode Podcaster still sounds great as a USB option for podcasting.
For more information on microphone frequency response, check out my article Complete Guide To Microphone Frequency Response (With Mic Examples).
Size And Mounting Of The Rode Podcaster
I really like how the Rode Podcaster looks and mounts like a “regular” XLR microphone.
The Podcaster’s size is roughly 81⁄2” long and 21/4” in diameter at its widest.
However, as we’ve discussed earlier, the Podcaster doesn’t necessarily need a shock mount or external pop filter due to its design. Therefore, the overall bulk around the microphone is very little. Simply attach the microphones to a stand or boom arm and be on your way!
For more information on microphone pop filters, check out my article What Is A Microphone Pop Filter And When Should You Use One?
I will mention here that a pop filter and shock mount will never hurt. It’s always good to protect your microphone from unwanted noise. However, there is benefit in having less equipment in front of your face when you’re speaking or having a conversation during a podcast record.
For more information on microphone clips and shock mounts, check out my article How To Attach A Microphone To A Microphone Stand.
Durability Of The Rode Podcaster
Although no USB microphone is all that resistant to physical damage, the Podcaster is quite durable.
It’s a dynamic microphone, so the capsule is relatively resilient. However, because of the analog-to-digital converter and headphone amplifier, this microphone wouldn’t do so well if subjected to physical harm.
The good news: the Podcaster, like nearly every Rode microphone, has an industry leading 10-year warranty when registered!
Monitoring Of The Rode Podcaster
Much like many other USB microphones (including the recommended Blue Yeti), the Podcaster has a 3.5 mm headphone jack for zero-latency monitoring. The 3.5 mm headphone jack has volume control on the microphone itself so that users may adjust their own monitoring levels independently of the Digital Audio Workstation being used to record the podcast.
Price Of The Rode Podcaster
As of the writing of this article, you can purchase a Rode Podcaster for well under $300 USD. Seeing as you’ll likely only be recording with one or two USB microphones, this price point probably won’t kill the budget!
The Blue Yeti USB Microphone
The Yeti is arguably the most famous USB microphone, and for good reason. Blue Designs is a pioneer in the USB microphone market and the Yeti is their flagship product. My favourite part of the Yeti is its versatility. It’s great in so many scenarios, including podcasting!
The Blue Yeti mic doesn’t even need a driver and is compatible with both Windows and Mac OS!
Blue Microphones is featured in My New Microphone’s Top Best Microphone Brands You Should Know And Use.
Bit Depth & Sample Rate Of The Blue Yeti
The Blue Yeti converts sound into digital audio at a bit-depth of 16-bit and sample rate of 48 kHz. This is the digital audio that comes out of the
For example, CD quality is 16-bit/44.1 kHz and typical broadcast specs are 24-bit/48 kHz. The Yeti’s bit depth and sample rate yield professional quality digital audio specs!
Directionality Of The Blue Yeti
The Yeti is a condenser microphone designed with 3 separate capsules (most multi-pattern microphones use 2). By mixing and matching these different capsules, we have access to 4 different polar patterns within this one microphone:
- Bidirectional (Figure-8)
And so with one mic, you can easily record one person (use cardioid); two people across from one another (use bidirectional); or a room full of people (use omnidirectional). This mic is truly fascinating!
For more information on microphone polar patterns, check out my article The Complete Guide To Microphone Polar Patterns.
Of course, if you’re looking to get surgical with editing after the fact, this may not be the best choice. Honestly, USB microphones are not the best choice for multitrack recording anyway.
Proximity Effect Of The Blue Yeti
Depending on the directional mode, the blue Yeti will exhibit varying amounts of the proximity effect.
- The proximity effect is strongest in the bidirectional mode
- The proximity effect is present in the cardioid and stereo modes
- The proximity effect in not present in the omnidirectional mode
Once again, t
Grille/Pop Filter Of The Blue Yeti
The grille of the Blue Yeti does a decent job of dissipating plosives before they hit the microphone capsules. However, I’d advise using a pop filter if you want to ensure the microphone is as protected as possible from mic “popping.”
Frequency Response Of The Blue Yeti
The frequency responses of the Blue Yeti are listed as 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz. However, each polar pattern has a different frequency response. The Yeti’s frequency response graph is as follows:
So the Yeti doesn’t have the flattest frequency responses, but that’s part of the price of having so many polar pattern options with 3 different mic capsules.
There seems to be an upper presence boost in each of the polar patterns, which is nice to see. The responses are terrible, but aren’t necessarily ideal for vocals. That being said, this is a minor detail in the grand scheme.
Size And Mounting Of The Blue Yeti
The Blue Yeti also comes with its own flat stand with a pivotable case for flexibility in positioning. But on top of that, it has a threaded bottom so you can attach it to any standard boom arm (Blue makes the “Compass” boom arm). On top of that, Blue has a line of shock mounts for the Yeti (“Radius” line) and external pop filter (“The Pop”) available.
I would advise using a shock mount and a pop filter along with the Yeti in order to achieve the best results for your podcast.
Durability Of The Blue Yeti
This should come as standard advise for microphone care, but be gentle with the Blue Yeti microphone. Though the body is bulky, there are lots of fragile electronics inside the microphone that could be easily damaged.
Also pay special attention to the micro-USB port. Most Yetis I know of have had an issue with the micro-USB port getting damaged (mostly from improper storage).
Monitoring Of The Blue Yeti
Its got the gain control, mute button, and a zero-latency 3.5 mm headphone output on the mic itself. It truly cannot get more simple than that!
Price Of The Blue Yeti
At less than $100 USD, the price of the Blue Yeti is unbeatable. This makes it a great option for those of us just getting into the podcasting and recording game!
Rode Podcaster USB Microphone
The Rode Podcaster captures high-quality digital audio and is compatible with both Mac and Windows. It offers low-latency monitoring within the mic itself and is designed with an effective built-in pop filter and internal shock mount.
The Podcaster has a frequency response that lends itself well to speech and has a wide cardioid polar pattern to capture the voice of the person in front of it.
If you’re going the USB mic route for your podcast, the Rode Podcaster is the way to go!
Blue Yeti USB Microphone
The Blue Yeti captures high-quality digital audio and is compatible with both Mac and Windows. It offers low-latency monitoring, gain control and a mute button within the microphone itself.
The Yeti has 3 effective polar patterns for recording different podcast situations. Cardioid works best for 1 person, bidirectional works for 2 people across from one another, and omnidirectional works great as a conference mic.
If you’re on a tight budget or are just getting into recording, the Blue Yeti is an excellent starter!
For all the My New Microphone mic/gear recommendations, please check out my page Recommended Microphones And Accessories.