The best podcast microphones of 2023
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Updated Jan 28, 2023 8:47 AM
If you’re reading this, you’re likely starting a podcast. Well, it seems even those who aren’t reading this are starting a podcast too! So many people have taken up the habit that there are a dizzying array of microphones aimed at the pursuit. Many manufacturers would like you to believe they make the best mic for podcasting, so knowing exactly what to look for will help you to cut through the hype. The good news is there’s bound to be something just right for you. Whether you’re starting out or trading up, this collection of the best podcast microphones has the gear to suit anyone’s needs.
The best podcast microphones: Reviews & Recommendations
Along with the explosive growth in podcasting and live streaming, the microphone market has kept pace with many dozens of models targeting podcasters or broadcasters in general. Some are part of the recent upsurge, while others have been around for decades. Given all of the considerations, individual podcasters have to make, this list of best podcast microphones has something for everyone.
Best overall: Shure SM7B
Descended from the 1973 SM7 broadcasting mic, the Shure SM7B has become one of the most popular and recognizable microphones for podcasting due to its expert handling of the human voice. Its low-frequency cut and “presence boost” controls help you dial in the right sound for voices ranging from a rich, understated baritone to an explosive and bright shout-talker. The SM7B zeros in tightly on the voice in front of it, shutting out intrusive background noises. A versatile microphone that is also used frequently in music for vocals and instruments, the SM7B connects with an XLR cable and can handle up to 180dB of input signal, so you don’t have to worry about shouting too loud during impassioned rants or gaming flame-wars. An internal pop-filter, electromagnetic shielding, and shock-mount technology eliminate unwanted noises from light vibrations and mic contact, electronic interference, and plosive breath sounds. When you can pay a bit more to sound like your best self, the Shure SM7B is the best microphone for podcasting.
Best for versatility: Blue Microphones Yeti X
The recent upgrade to Blue Microphones’ best-selling Yeti USB mic, the $149 Yeti X has the same four audio-capture patterns as the standard Yeti but delivers a more focused sound and 24-bit/48kHz audio quality for enhanced clarity. It sounds great for spoken word, as well as for singing or recording instruments. The mic is highly sensitive to quiet noises, yet also takes loud levels up to 122dB. It’s sleeker and shinier than the older model, and a handy LED ring around the multifunction encoder/mute button shows the levels for the built-in headphone output and the mic input, so you can see right away if your levels are too hot. When paired with the included Logitech G Hub desktop software, you can customize the LED colors and apply “Blue VO!CE” EQ settings for treating your voice with different broadcast presets. Impressively versatile, the Yeti X is a podcast mic for nearly any situation.
Best for voice recordings: Rode Podcaster
Of the many Rode microphones suitable for podcasting, the $229 Rode Podcaster dynamic microphone offers a sweet spot that combines excellent broadcast vocal quality, the convenience of USB connectivity, and a road-worthy build for stress-free portability. The Podcaster shares the studio-quality vocal sound of its sibling Rode Procaster XLR mic. It’s specifically tailored for crisp dialog with low distortion and noise and has a built-in pop filter and low-cut filter. Headphone output with volume control gives you zero-latency monitoring. With a singular focus on picking up the voice at its end and excluding surrounding noise, the Podcaster is a great option for someone who wants set-it-and-forget-it convenience combined with broadcast-level voice capture. (If your start-up capital is stretched a little thin but you do have an XLR-equipped interface, Rode Microphones also makes a $99 PodMic.)
Best if you’re hosting a musical guest: Mackie EM-Chromium
If you host a musical podcast or are a musician yourself, the $199 Mackie EM-Chromium USB-C microphone includes an extra 1/4-inch input for plugging in an instrument like a guitar or keyboard to record along with the microphone. An Aux input lets you play along to music from a mobile device or another source, and you can listen to it all from the headphone output. LED level meters and level controls for the microphone, instrument, headphones, and Aux input are built right into the base of the mic stand. If you’re playing solo or are interviewing a singer/songwriter, for example, the mic’s Pattern switch selects the proper recording mode for the scenario. Proprietary circuitry borrowed from Mackie’s professional studio and live sound mixers imparts a signature low-noise tone at 16-bit/48kHz audio resolution. You also get an audio recording software suite including Avid Pro Tools First.
Best retro-chic: AKG Lyra
While it has the vibe of a microphone that Ed Sullivan would use to introduce some “youngsters from Liverpool” called the Beatles, the $95 AKG Lyra’s angular, all-metal body is loaded with modern audio technology from the maker of some of the most coveted vintage and present-day studio microphones. The Lyra delivers ultra-high-resolution 24-bit/192kHz (4K compatible) audio directly from its USB-C connection, and four mic capsules provide four directional audio-capture modes. An internal shock mount, sound diffuser, and other proprietary tech automatically reduce noise, so you’ll sound as good as the Lyra looks. With a headphone monitoring output and desktop stand, the user-friendly Lyra requires no additional hardware for you to get started, but it also detaches from its stand to mount on standard microphone boom arms and stands. It even includes the Ableton Live Lite advanced audio software for multitrack recording and music production.
Best budget: Samson Q2U
If you’re starting a podcast on a shoestring budget, don’t worry. The Samson Q2U will improve the sound of your voice over the internal mic of your computer or mobile device and includes a lot of extras to get you started for a low price. The Q2U has the looks of a classic dynamic vocal mic and is available in a $59.99 podcasting pack that includes a handy desktop tripod stand with a detachable mic clip that screws into standard microphone stands and boom arms. It has both USB and XLR connections with included cables for both, and you can record from both outputs simultaneously. The Q2U includes a headphone output with volume controls so you can monitor your sound, and there’s a mic On/Off switch. With the final inclusion of a mic windscreen, the Q2U packs the hardest punch for the price. And when it comes to approachable options, Samson isn’t restricting itself to starter kits. The company also offers the $199 Q9U—read our full review here—an alternative to the aforementioned Shure SM7B at $200 less (we’ll be posting a full review of the Q9U in the near future).
There is no single “best mic for podcasting” for everyone’s needs, but there are plenty of good microphone choices out there for you to narrow it down to the perfect one for you. Some things to consider include: how many people will need to use a single microphone, how easy the setup and operation need to be, how much you care about appearances, and if you want audio software included.
Do you want a plug-and-play mic?
For the easiest podcast setup, USB microphones offer a direct connection to your computer and often to mobile devices as well. Many popular, professional podcasting mics use an XLR connection instead, for which you would need an additional mixer or audio interface to connect to a computer. That adds another layer of cost and complexity if you’re not already familiar with that equipment. However, some microphones offer both USB and XLR connections, making them more versatile.
Do you have the budget for the highest quality?
Most if not all of the many podcast mics available will noticeably improve the quality and clarity of audio as compared to the built-in mic on a computer or mobile device. However, microphones for recording span a considerable price range. If you just have to get the professional-looking XLR broadcast mic that your favorite YouTuber uses, or if you want to make sure your USB mic has the highest possible digital audio resolution, the associated costs vary.
How important are its looks?
If you’re planning an audio-only podcast, then feel free to show up unshowered in your favorite pair of unkempt, soft pants. And the microphone can look shabby too. But for video, sometimes the best YouTube microphone is the one that looks the most stylish, the most professional, or the most modern, depending on your show. There are some microphones on the market that offer flashy and/or unique looks but may not measure up in terms of audio fidelity and other features. Take all your needs into consideration, and you should still be able to find something that will look cool for the ’Gram.
How many people will use the mic at the same time?
There are some wonderful and popular podcast mics that are designed specifically for a single person talking directly into the mic. These use what is called a “cardioid” pickup pattern. If however, you need to record two or more people sitting in front of the mic, sitting across from each other, or spaced all around a room, you should look for a mic with multiple pickup patterns. There are many such microphone options, and they let you switch the pattern to be best for your current situation.
Do you need audio software included?
If you don’t have any audio recording software yet, the ever-popular free Audacity program, GarageBand for macOS/iOS users, or any number of free or paid web apps and software downloads could accommodate you. On the other hand, some podcast mics come bundled with sophisticated and powerful audio editing and/or music production software that will go beyond what you find in open-source options like Audacity. These bundled programs are usually limited-feature versions of professional digital audio workstation (DAW) software, but can still give you all the multitrack editing and production features you are likely to need for your podcast.
Related: Recording a podcast at home? You’ll need more than a mic.
Q: What podcast mic does Joe Rogan use?
Just like other popular podcasts—such as Pod Save America, Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend, and 99% Invisible—The Joe Rogan Experience podcast uses the Shure SM7B mic. Clearly visible in Joe Rogan’s Spotify podcast videos, the SM7B has also been popular for recording singers and instruments, in addition to Twitch and YouTube game streamers.
Q: Are USB mics good for podcasting?
Yes, USB mics are good for podcasting, because there are many high-quality USB mics available and they offer the added convenience of plugging directly into (and being powered from) computers and certain mobile devices without additional hardware required. Even very low-cost USB mics can work for podcasting, although they may not sound as professional as is recommended for today’s podcasting standards. All of the USB microphones recommended in this guide are good for podcasting, but each one will have its own sound signature.
Q: Do you need two mics for a podcast?
Even if you are going to have more than one person on a podcast, you do not always need two mics for a podcast. Many microphones for podcasting offer different settings called pickup patterns or polar patterns, which record the sound in different areas, such as in front, in front and in back, in all directions surrounding the mic, and so on. With such settings, you can use a single microphone to record two people sitting across from each other, next to each other, or a group of people in a room. However, providing a mic for each person on a podcast may help in getting similar audio levels from each person and allowing each person to sit more comfortably.
Related: Check out PopSci’s Weirdest Thing I Learned This Week Podcast Here
The final word on choosing the best podcast microphones
Thankfully, starting a podcast does not require a huge investment, but it can only help to have a good microphone. And narrowing down the crowded field to your own best mic for podcasting depends on your priorities. Can you afford to spring for the professional broadcast standard, or do you need to keep it frugal? Do you want the convenience of a direct USB connection with a USB microphone? Is it a Twitch or YouTube microphone and the outward appearance is important to you? Taking a little time to weigh the available options against your needs will surely yield the best podcast mic for you, so you can stop shopping and start talking.
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