What is the best USB microphone for me?
If you're looking for an easy way to record vocals or a musical instrument, a USB microphone is a good choice. In this guide, we'll take you through the pros and cons of USB mics to help you decide which one is right for you. If you still have questions after reading the guide, don't hesitate to contact our customer service team, who will be happy to answer them for you.
A USB microphone is essentially the same as a standard microphone, but it has a built-in audio interface. This allows it to be directly connected to a computer via a USB port. In order to connect a standard microphone to a computer, you normally need a separate audio interface. An audio interface amplifies the microphone's analogue signal and converts it into a digital one.
Using a USB microphone is the easiest way to make good-quality recordings on a computer, tablet or smartphone. It's an excellent choice for beginners because, in most cases, you won't need any other equipment.
In some cases, yes. If a USB microphone is suitable for Android and/or iOS devices, this will be mentioned in the product specifications. Normally, a cable with a micro USB or Lightning connector is included with a USB mic. You also need a recording app that allows you to select an external device as the audio source. Often, the mic manufacturers themselves provide a suitable app.
There are also microphones that are specially made for mobile devices and often, these can't be connected to a normal computer. In the Android/iOS microphone category, we offer analogue microphones with a TRRS connector as well as digital microphones with a micro USB or Lightning connector.
Some USB microphones have a headphone output so that you can directly monitor the incoming signal without any latency. The signal can also be mixed with the sound from an audio program, which is handy if you want to sing along to a backing track, for instance.
If the USB microphone doesn't have a headphone output, then you can connect your headphones to the audio output on your computer, tablet or smartphone. In order to prevent problems with latency, it's best to set the buffer in your audio program to the lowest level possible.
No. Because a USB microphone is identified as an audio interface on your computer, it's not possible to record with more than one USB microphone at a time. The best way to record multiple sound sources at once is to use a separate audio interface that has several inputs. If you have suitable software like a DAW, for instance, recording multiple sound sources one at a time may also be an option.
No. USB microphones are designed to connect directly to devices like computers, tablets and smartphones without additional equipment like an external audio interface or mixer. The audio signal is converted into a digital one for this purpose. Normally, audio interfaces and mixers only work with analogue signals. While some of them also have digital inputs like S/PDIF or AES/EBU, these are not designed to work with USB microphones.
A USB microphone is a closed system that can be used to make mono (and sometimes stereo) recordings. If you want to record multiple tracks at once or use different types of microphones, then a USB mic is not the right solution. For situations like that, it's better to invest in a separate audio interface with multiple microphone inputs and standard microphones.
Another disadvantage is the fact that not all USB microphones have an audio output. Some of the more expensive models have a headphone output that can also be used to connect to speakers, but many have no audio output at all. That means you have to rely on the headphone output on your computer for monitoring purposes.
Some USB microphones have a volume knob for controlling the recording level, but if your USB microphone doesn't have this, then you'll need to adjust the audio settings on your computer or device. This also applies to USB microphones that have a headphone output without a level control.
Most USB microphones are 'class compliant', which means that they will work without you having to install a driver. You will need suitable recording software, however. Most computers and devices already have pre-installed apps that are suitable for making simple recordings. If you want to record multiple tracks or edit your recordings, investing in DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) software is a good idea.
In our USB microphone category, you'll come across certain terms that can be important when choosing the USB microphone that's right for you. Below is a short explanation of some of the terms you'll encounter.
- Polar pattern: this refers to the directional characteristics of the microphone. Cardioid is one of the most popular patterns which picks up sound primarily from the front making it a good choice for solo singers. Omnidirectional microphones, on the other hand, pick up sounds from all angles.
- Bit rate and sample rate: these terms refer to the 'audio resolution' of the recording. A bit rate of 16 bits with a sample rate of 44.1 kHz is CD quality and suitable for most home studio applications.
- Low-cut or High-pass filter: some USB microphones have a knob or switch that filters out very low frequencies. This can be particularly handy when recording things like vocals because it prevents any unwanted low rumbling background noises from being picked up by the microphone which can taint your recordings.
While you can make good-quality recordings using nothing but a USB microphone and a computer, tablet or smartphone, there are a number of handy accessories that can make your recordings even better.
- Stand: sometimes a USB microphone comes with a (mini) stand included. Vloggers may be interested in a broadcasting stand like the one shown in the image. If you don't want to place your microphone on table or desk, then you should look at a different type of stand. Your microphone should always be securely attached to ensure it doesn't get damaged and to achieve the best-possible recording quality. Most of our USB microphones are also offered as part of money-saving package deals that include a stand.
- Shock mount: a shock mount prevents vibrations from affecting your recording. Be sure to get a shock mount that's compatible with your USB microphone.
- Pop filter: a pop filter prevents explosive sounds from letters like p, f and s from standing out too much in recordings. Pop filters are normally attached to a microphone stand and positioned in between the sound source and the mic.
- Reflection filter: a reflection filter prevents background noise and reverb from being picked up by the microphone during recording. Reflection filters are normally also attached to microphone stands.
Android & iOS microphones
Studio monitor speakers
Standard studio microphones