When choosing a USB microphone for your stream setup, there are many options to look at. It seems like every day there’s a new company announcing its latest USB enabled, plug-and-play microphone. Companies like Blue, Audio-Technica, and Shure have put out some very high-quality audio offerings in this area, while less audio-centric companies like HyperX have created some truly unique looking microphones that can upgrade your stream with customizable RGB effects.
Here is a guide to some of the best USB microphones to help you choose one that will serve your needs as a streamer and content creator.
Best overall streaming microphone
The Blue Yeti X is Blue’s flagship USB microphone was built with the expressed needs of streamers, podcasters, and online creators in mind. The Yeti X is a condenser microphone with a USB connection and has access to four different pickup patterns, which include cardioid, stereo, omnidirectional, and bidirectional. This mic is essentially an updated version of the classic Yeti, which served as one of the most trusted microphones in the game streaming industry.
The middle knob on the Yeti X features a high-quality 11-stage LED audiometer, which looks very slick and is quite useful for ensuring you are not too loud or too quiet during a stream. The same knob can adjust the gain volume, headphone volume, and mute the microphone itself. When muted, the light surrounding the knob glows red, and when unmuted, it glows green.
Like the other Yeti products, the Yeti X comes with its own microphone stand, but if you are gaming using a mechanical keyboard, you should really consider putting any microphone you choose on a boom arm instead to minimize desk rattles coming through the microphone.
On top of all of the new hardware features, the Blue Yeti X also has access to the Blue VO!CE application via the Blue Sherpa companion application. VO!CE gives streamers access to a number of broadcast effects, which can be tweaked live on stream to dial in your voice. Having access to this software on the fly ensures that your livestream maintains high-level audio quality. If you are a streamer, this suite of voice effects can make a big difference in your stream’s overall production quality.
Highest quality streaming microphone
Shure’s MV7 is the company’s newest microphone designed specifically for podcasting and streaming. Built to emulate the overall look and sound of Shure’s industry-standard SM7B broadcast mic, the MV7 offers incredible sound quality while still providing the convenience of a USB plug-and-play microphone. This microphone can also grow with your setup since it also features an XLR output. If you ever decide to invest in a DAC, you will still be able to use this microphone with it.
The MV7 stands out from most USB enabled microphones because it is a dynamic microphone instead of a condenser microphone. Condenser microphones are more sensitive and generally pick up more ambient noise, making them worse for recording in unideal spaces. Dynamic microphones handle poor acoustic spaces better because they do a better job of isolating the subject from the background. If you are recording in a noisy or echoey space, this mic will be a huge upgrade to your stream sound quality.
There is also a convenient auto-level mode included with the MV7, which adjusts the microphone’s sensitivity automatically using the ShurePlus MOTIV app. Although this feature probably won’t be used by most streamers, it’s a nice option if you are doing anything that involves moving around the room while the mic remains stationary. The auto-level mode can be set up from within the free MOTIV app, which also includes headphone monitoring, controlling your mic gain manually, and even rendering live EQ settings on your voice.
Best value streaming microphone
The AT2020 USB+ is the USB version of Audio-Technica’s classic AT2020 studio condenser microphone. The AT2020 USB+ comes equipped for streaming with an instant USB connection and built-in volume and gain controls. It features a very smooth, extended frequency response, making it an ideal microphone for streaming, singing, or even field recording.
Like the MV7, this microphone features a single cardioid pickup pattern, which is more limited than some of the multi-pattern USB mics on this list. However, as a streamer, you will likely prefer using cardioid anyway, so that isn’t a deal-breaker.
The build quality on the AT2020 USB+ is excellent. It features all-metal construction and should last for many years. The same can’t be said for the included microphone stand, though. You will to want to upgrade from the included flimsy tripod stand to a boom arm, or at the very least a real desk stand.
For those looking for a unique microphone with some character to its visual design, you might consider the AKG Pro Audio Lyra. This USB-C condenser microphone features four recording capsules, a variety of recording modes, and a retro broadcast look that is perfect for a stream.
The USB-C connector is future-facing since many computers, especially Apple computers, are removing standard USB ports. It can be convenient for some users to have a microphone that takes the future into account and won’t require an additional dongle. Every USB microphone company should take a note from AKG on this one and include options for USB-C connections in addition to the traditional USB connector.
This microphone can capture Ultra-HD quality audio, recording at 24-bit/192 kHz instead of the standard 16-bit recording that is common among some of the other mics on this list. This honestly shouldn’t have a large impact on your streaming audio, but it’s a nice feature if you want to record music or do high-quality voice-over work with your microphone.
The overall build quality is pretty good. It features all-metal construction, though the metal mesh on the grilles of this microphone feels more fragile than on the MV7, Yeti X, or the AT2020, so be careful not to accidentally dent the windscreen. Like several mics on this list, the AKG Lyra features a removable microphone stand included in the box.
Most affordable streaming microphone
The Elgato Wave 3 is a USB enabled condenser microphone built specifically for gaming and streaming. Elgato is best known for its screen capturing hardware and software, but they also produce some high-quality, user-friendly USB microphones.
The Wave 3 features a cardioid pickup pattern. It comes with a built-in clip guard designed to limit or eliminate distortion on the microphone, so you can feel free to raise your voice in-stream without the fear of clipping your audio. This microphone can also record in high quality, 24-bit/96kHz audio, so it is definitely a highly capable microphone in its own right.
The Wave 3 can link to the Elgato Wave desktop application. This application lets you set up your headphone monitoring, microphone level, and several different onboard profiles. The application is nothing revolutionary, and it doesn’t provide the number of features that Shure and Blue provide in their companion applications. However, it’s still useful to be able to adjust your gain, output volume, and monitor your input levels from a handy desktop application.
Best RGB enabled streaming microphone
For those looking to spice up their stream with a truly unique visual design, the HyperX QuadCast S RGB microphone is a USB microphone with built-in, customizable RGB lighting. However, beyond the fancy lighting, it is a relatively standard condenser microphone featuring four selectable pickup patterns similar to the Yeti X or the AKG Lyra.
The QuadCast S features standard external controls, allowing you to adjust the gain, select your pickup pattern, and mute your microphone with ease. It also comes with both a shock mount and a desktop stand, so you will have everything you need to get started right out of the box. The microphone’s audio quality is decent, but not the best on this list. Beyond that, there isn’t much more to say about this microphone.
This microphone can be one of the most expensive on this list but isn’t the best sounding like the MV7 or the most fully-featured like the Yeti X. Its features and audio quality don’t justify this high price point. It’s a solid mic, but unless you really want that RGB effect, it’s better to invest in one of the other options on this list.
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