The Best Microphones for Podcasting
So many of our guests ask, “Is it ok to use my built-in microphone on my laptop for my interviews?”
The simple answer to that question is, no!
Have you ever listened to a podcast or radio show that you struggle to hear because there’s a lot of background noise or poor sound quality? It’s irritating right and not particularly a pleasant experience. Even if the information is great, you're inclined to move on. After all, there are so many podcasts out there, why waste precious time listening to a poor recording?
This is an important factor to think about if you are planning on getting into the podcast world and doing guest interviews.
Many podcast hosts will specifically request that you have a professional microphone if you wish to be guest on their show. This is understandable as the quality of the interview, in every aspect, is a reflection on the host. They work hard to ensure that their loyal listeners receive great content delivered with quality audio. At the point of editing your interview, if the host perceives that the sound quality is not satisfactory, they will simply not air your episode.
If you wish to be booked on to podcast shows as an expert guest, a professional microphone, and a quiet room, are an absolute must!
The good news is, you don’t have to spend a fortune to achieve an acceptable level of quality audio. There are some great microphones on the market that will do the job nicely for under $50.
We have listed below some microphone choices that should have all budgets covered.
One thing you may notice is that some mics are XLR output and some are USB, then others have both connections. The XLR connection requires a mixer or digital recorder, but with the USB connectors it is as simple as plugging directly into your computer. Most microphones that have USB connectors will work with your iPhone or iPad using the Lightning to USB adapter or on Android devices via an OTG cable, although double check with the manufacturer before making your purchase. Having both connections is a plus, as you may want to invest in a mixer in the future.
Some microphones are condenser mics. They record great sound, but also pick up background noise. To use a condenser mic, you should have very quiet surroundings. With any microphone, condenser or not, your voice quality will be much clearer if you remember to position yourself close to the microphone and speak directly into it.
No one likes to hear echoes in recordings, so we have also listed a couple of options for acoustic panels that will help eliminate that problem. We also recommend purchasing a pop filter if your microphone choice does not include one in the package. That will banish dreaded hissing and lisping sounds when pronouncing the letter “S” and “plosives” that sometimes follow the “B” and “P”.
Microphones Under $50
Fifine USB Condenser microphone Hovering around the $50 price range, it comes with a detachable metal desktop stand which keeps it stabilized so it won’t easily fall over. Another plus is the mic has a headphone jack built in, so you can listen to your recording without any distractions.
Cyber Acoustics USB Condenser Microphone This 5-inch compact microphone has a cardioid (directional) recording pattern that produces clear and crisp audio. It comes with an adjustable desk stand and a USB cable and had two adjustable joints, one allowing you to raise or lower it, and the other lets you adjust the angle. We do recommend purchasing a pop filter for use with this mic. A great choice if you are just starting out.
Samson Q2U Handheld Dynamic USB Microphone This mic has both the XLR and USB outputs. It is priced just above the $50 mark but comes in a “ready to start” podcasting package with the accessories you need to start recording. It offers plug-and-play operation with no driver installation.
Blue Snowball iCE Condenser Microphone It has a $50 price starting point, with other models a bit pricier, but it is an excellent choice with crystal clear audio. Easy plug and play with USB 2.0 and 3.0 compatible. It comes with an adjustable stand. Remember it is a condenser mic, and will pick up some background noise, so you may have to adjust the sensitivity level on your computer.
Microphones In The Price Range of $50 - $100
Audio-Technica AT2005USB Cardioid Dynamic Microphone This is an all-purpose dynamic microphone with USB and XLR output options. Smooth, extended frequency response is ideal for podcasting. Its cardioid polar pattern reduces pickup of unwanted sounds from the sides and rear. It also comes with a built-in headphone jack that allows you to directly monitor from your microphone your voice recording.
Samson Meteor Condenser Microphone This mic has an integrated folding tripod base, making for easy quick setup. Plug and play ensure no drivers are required for your windows or mac recording applications. The kit includes over the ear stereo headphones and a goose-neck pop filter with swivel mount. Quality sound in a lightweight rugged design.
Shure MV5 Digital Condenser Microphone This small but powerful package includes USB and Lightning cables to make audio capture a breeze for PC, Android, Mac,iPhone or IPad devices. The onboard presents, Vocals, Flat or Instrument, ensure great recordings. This also has a built-in headphone output for real-time recording, and includes an anodized aluminum desktop stand and is thread mount compatible for use on a camera tripod. A stylish and very functional choice.
Samson Q2U Dynamic USB Microphone Podcasting Pack This under $100 kit comes with everything you need to start podcasting. It is the same microphone as in our 'under 50 dollars' price range but comes complete with a mic boom arm that boasts a 28” of arms reach, a pop filter, desktop stand, stereo headphones and both USB and XLR outputs. It has a cardioid polar pattern that is effective in minimizing noise and off-axis audio that can cause feedback.
Microphones Over $100
Audio-Technica AT2035 Cardioid Condenser Microphone This microphone has an audio quality that is warmer and clear than some of the lower cost options. One factor is its large diaphragm that allows for a more natural sound with reduced noise. It has a cardioid polar pattern that reduces noise from the sides and rear. The kit includes a pop filter and a 10ft XLR cable. You will need to purchase a preamp to connect this mic to your computer, but you will not disappointed with the professional quality sound.
Rode Procaster USB Dynamic Cardioid Microphone This mic is worth the investment and as the name suggests, it is specifically designed to capture the highest quality vocals and as accurate speech as possible. It has a headphone output on the mic’s body so you can hear exactly what is being recorded with no delay or eco. It has an internal pop filter, so no need to buy an external pop filter. It comes with a 1-year warranty, however, if you register your mic on the RODE website, your mic is covered with an impressive 10-year warranty.
Blue Yeti Pro USB Condenser Microphone, Multipattern This microphone has four different polar pattern settings: Cardioid, Stereo, Omnidirectional and Bidirectional, which is a great setting to have available if you find yourself recording an interview between two people. Located on the front of the mic, is a headphone output and a convenient volume adjustment dial. A pop filter, USB and XLR cables, a custom base, as well as a threaded mic stand mount are all included in the box.
Electro-Voice RE320 Variable-D Dynamic Cardioid Microphone. This is the most expensive microphone on our list, but if you are looking for a high-end microphone and you are planning on staying in the podcasting world for a long time, then this microphone will not disappoint. It has been a favorite among radio stations and pros for years. It boasts a true cardioid polar pattern, a heavy-duty Internal pop filter, and an internal shock mount. The kit comes with a shock mount and a broadcast arm with integrated XLR cable. Keep in mind, you will have to purchase a mixer for connection to your computer.
We hope this guide will help you with your microphone purchase decision. There are a lot of great mic’s out there. Just remember, don’t use your built-in microphone to record your podcast. Buy yourself a stand-alone microphone, learn how to use it well and minimize or better yet, eliminate background noise. You might even consider buying an acoustic foam panel to use on your desk, or for a more permanent solution, wall mounted panels. Put these suggestions to good use and you will be on the right path to great sounding interviews!