A solid, standalone microphone will offer a wider frequency response range than a basic headset mic, letting it pick up all the nuance in your voice for a richer sound. With different pickup patterns they can also make it easier to cut down on the background noise that might be coming from your gaming PC or gaming keyboard. Some microphones can even let you switch between different pickup patterns, so you can focus on just your voice with a cardioid pattern one day while you might try to record you and a guest with a bi-directional pattern the next day.
With all that in mind, we’ll help guide you through a variety of quality microphones that can fit in a range of production environments. So, whether you just want to stream games on weekends or plan on making a half-dozen podcast series, you’ll be able to find a microphone suited to the task.
TL;DR – These are the Best Microphones for Streaming and Podcasting:
1. Samson G-Track Pro
Best Microphone for Streaming and Podcasting
The Samson G-Track Pro (read our review) won us over with its extra features that put its functionality above and beyond the other mics on this list. It’s a solidly built, multi-pattern USB mic perfect for streaming or podcasts that doesn’t require any extra software, and it comes at an attainable price to boot.
But what really sets the Samson G-Track Pro apart is its 1/4-inch audio input, making this mic essentially a 2-track audio mixer. That means you can plug in an extra mic, second audio source, or even a sweet keytar without needing to buy a separate mixer. That kind of functionality at this price puts it at the top of my microphone list. You can buy the Samson G-Track Pro for your podcasts and streams, and even professional interview shows.
2. JLab Talk Microphone
Best Budget Microphone
With the JLab Talk, you’re getting an affordable microphone without having to compromise on usability or recording capability. Even thought it’s just $100, the JLab Talk offers up a versatile microphone packed with three condenser capsules that can be set to pick up sound with a cadioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional, or stereo pattern. This will let you better tune it to your setup or adapt whenever your setup changes.
The JLab Talk also records at an uncompromising 96kHz sample rate and 24-bit bitrate, ensuring your voice is captured in high detail. The unit has simple and convenient controls, and will connect directly to your computer over a USB A-to-C cable.
3. Blue Snowball
Best Ultra Cheap Microphone for Streaming and Podcasting
The Blue Snowball (read our review) USB microphone is easily the best way to get into quality audio recording without spending much at all. This little guy includes a desktop stand that’s height-adjustable, so you can plug it in, plop it down, and start recording right away.
It only offers omnidirectional or cardioid capture patterns, so it’s not as flexible as the more expensive microphones on this list, but it’s perfect for capturing your voice or that of a few of your cohorts huddled around it. It’s available in four colors and can even be mounted to a traditional mic stand if you want to get a bit fancy.
4. Blue Yeti
Best Plug-and-Play Mic for Streaming and Podcasting
The Yeti microphone from Blue (read our review) offers a near-perfect combination of performance and price, making it our almost-top pick for anyone getting into the game of streaming and podcasting. It’s not that expensive and it includes cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional capture patterns, so it can start recording audio in pretty much any environment without breaking the bank.
It’s also a USB microphone, so setup is super easy, and I also dig the fact that it has gain control and comes in a bunch of nifty colors. For fledgling and even advanced streamers/podcasters, the Yeti does everything you need it to do at the right price, with fantastic performance too.
5. HyperX QuadCast S USB Microphone
Best Broadcast Mic for Streaming and Podcasting
We already loved the HyperX QuadCast USB Microphone (read our review) for its ability to capture speech with compelling warmth. Now, HyperX has made its offering even better with the HyperX QuadCast S (read our review).
The HyperX QuadCast S is still mostly the same USB microphone capable of recording with a 48kHz sample rate at a 16-bit depth, ensuring you can get an accurate recording across the mic’s 20Hz-20kHz frequency response range. And, it can still capture audio with four different pickup patterns, letting you easily switch the settings up to meet your recording needs. Where the HyperX QuadCast S steps things up compared to its predecessor is in the flashy RGB lighting, letting you have a mic that blends in nicely with a gaming setup and adds a bit of flair to any video streams.
6. Razer Seiren Elite
The Broadcast Microphone you Want on a Boom Arm
The Razer Seiren Elite (read our review) is Razer’s current top-of-the-line microphone and it’s made for broadcast. It’s smaller than most microphones and it comes with a detachable base so you can more easily mount it onto a boom arm or pack it up for a LAN event or anywhere else you might go on the road. Unlike most gaming microphones, the Elite features a dynamic microphone capsule for excellent background noise rejection.
Around the base of the mic, Razer also has a built in a ring light that lights up red to let you know when you’re talking too loud and clipping. It also includes a foam windscreen, so you don’t need to buy a pop filter to stop those ‘plosives.’
7. Blue Yeti Nano
Best Portable Mic for Streaming and Podcasting
The Blue Yeti Nano (read our review) takes everything great about the Blue Yeti and shrinks it down to a smaller form-factor. Even though it’s the smaller sibling to the Yeti, it still fits into almost any mic stand. Some of the recording patterns have been lost in the shrinking process, but the two that remain are the two mic patterns most used for podcasting and streaming, anyway. It’s solid, well-built, and sounds great, and is exactly the level of quality I’ve come to expect from Blue’s line of excellent USB microphones.
8. Audio-Technica 2020
Best XLR Mic for Streaming and Podcasting
The Audio Technica AT2020 (read our review) is a cardioid microphone that requires an XLR cable, so it’s not plug-and-play like a USB mic. You’ll need to plug it into a mixing board, and also buy the aforementioned cable, so it’s more of a pro setup than the mics above, but if you’re looking to something more advanced the AT2020 is a great way to get started. It’s not the best for streaming, but if your jam is podcasting I highly recommend it as long as you’re willing to fork over some money for all the extra gear it requires.
9. Shure SM58
Best Handheld Microphone for Streaming and Podcasting
If you’ve ever watched an awards show with musical breaks, you’ve probably seen the Shure SM58. This handheld mic often gets forgotten about by streamers and podcasters because of its handheld design, but it’s a classic for a reason: it sounds fantastic and cuts out background noise.
The capsule has been tuned for vocal capture and features an internal shock mount to keep desk noise from invading your stream. All of those recording professionals can’t be wrong, can they? Just bear in mind that you’ll need an audio interface to connect it to a PC.
10. Elgato Wave 3
Best Customizable Microphone for Streaming and Podcasting
Elgato is all about supplying the gear you need for your streaming setup, and the Elgato Wave 3 (read our review) is here to keep you covered for audio. This condenser microphone will connect directly to your computer using a USB-C cable, so you don’t need to add more wires and a dedicated DAC in the middle as you would with an XLR mic. It also has a headphone port on the back to keep your wiring easy.
The microphone itself offers a high audio resolution with a 96kHz sample rate and 24-bit depth. It can also handle you getting a bit loud during your streams thanks to a special ClipGuard feature. Controlling the audio of your stream is also simplified with the Wave Link software. Elgato also offers a number of extra accessories for the Wave 3 that allow you to customize it a bit more for your setup. There’s a shock mount to cut down on vibration if it’s going to sit on your desk, a pop filter to help cut down on plosives, and extension rods that can elevate the mic.
11. Shure SM7B Dynamic Cardioid Microphone
Best Professional Level Microphone
The Shure SM7B is an iconic XLR microphone. You might have seen it on high-end productions like the Joe Rogan Experience or even here at IGN! The SM7B features a delightfully warm sound signature with a bass roll-off to keep you from sounding too boomy.
It also uses an internal air suspension system to prevent any vibrations from your desk or PC from traveling into the microphone. This level of quality doesn’t come cheap at $399, though, and professionals recommend pairing it with a Cloudlifter for some extra, noise-free volume.
12. Rode Procaster Dynamic Broadcast Microphone
The Cheaper Professional Option
If the Shure SM7B is too expensive for you (and it just might be!) I would definitely recommend checking out the Rode Procaster Dynamic Broadcast Microphone. It’s nearly as highly regarded as the SM7B and features a wonderfully detailed, warm sound that’s transmitted over an XLR connection. It’s a dynamic microphone that allows you to enhance its already-good noise rejection and it features a high-pass filter to cut down on any signal noise for clean, quiet recordings.
Where to Get the Best Microphone for Streaming and Podcasting in the UK
Reaching a worldwide audience from the comfort of your home is just as easy in the UK as it is in the US. We’ve managed to find a great selection of microphones from our list that are also available to pick up on the other side of the pond, the vast majority in fact. Don’t see the microphones below? Click here.
What to Look for in a Microphone for Streaming and Podcasting
While buying high-end audio it’s all too easy to fall into a rabbit hole of purchasing all kinds of expensive gear in a never-ending quest for the perfect recording, but that’s exactly why I’m here to help you find only exactly what you need.
The first question you’ll need to answer is what you plan to record. If you’re only ever going to stream, then you need a microphone with a cardioid polar pattern. If you plan on recording interviews across a table or want to record the entire room around the microphone, you’ll need to look into something with multiple polar pattern options like the G-Track Pro or HyperX QuadCast.
The next big question you will need to answer is what type of microphone you want: condenser or dynamic. If you need multiple polar patterns, this decision is easy: a condenser microphone. If you only plan to stream or podcast, you should consider a dynamic microphone. Thankfully, both are available in USB or XLR format, so you won’t be forced to invest in a fancy mixing board or audio interface right off the bat. Here are the differences between the two.
Condenser microphones make up most of the market for gaming and streaming microphones and for good reason. They offer excellent capture and are sensitive enough to pick up even quiet sounds. This is great if you’re in a quiet environment, but they don’t perform so well in noisy environments full of background sound. Condenser microphones can also offer multiple polar patterns, which can be great for interviews or recording podcasts around a table.
Dynamic microphones, one the other hand, are much less sensitive and require more power to operate. As a result, there aren’t as many USB options as condensers, but still enough to allow you to shop around. Chances are, you’ve been seeing them your whole life and haven’t realized it: dynamic microphones are what your favorite singer carries around on stage!
In fact, dynamic microphones may be the perfect option for you because of their excellent noise rejection. Surely, if they can filter out the sound of a screaming crowd, they can cut down the sound of your noisy roommate! They also typically have a much warmer sound, often giving you that “radio voice” podcasters crave. Dynamic microphones are also the most common you’ll find in real-world radio stations!
No matter which you choose, beware of buying the cheapest microphone you can find. With the rise of streaming and podcasting, sites like Amazon are flooded by low-quality mics making big promises. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If all else fails, read the reviews.
One other thing to consider: do you plan to expand in the future? If so, you may want to consider buying an XLR microphone now and an affordable audio interface to use it with your PC. As your stream grows, you may want to look into special effects, like a compressor, equalizer, or noise gate to make your stream sound even better. USB mics are great but often aren’t compatible with things like mixing boards. If there’s a chance you may want to add to your setup, spending a little more now may save you from having to buy a whole new mic later.
If you want to improve the sound quality of your recordings right now, you definitely need to scrap that 3.5mm gaming headset mic. Not that there’s anything wrong with a good gaming headset: It’s fine if you’re using it for chatting over Discord, but if you’re trying to sound professional at all, it’s not going to work. The easiest way to upgrade is with a dedicated mic, like the ones on the list.
Build Your Own Mini-Studio, or Fake One at Least
A mic is just the start of a rewarding career in online broadcasting. OK, there aren’t any guarantees that it’s going to turn into a career, but if you’re serious about sound, you can use your new mic as the foundation upon which your podcast empire will be built. The easiest and least expensive way to further improve your recordings is with a pop-filter. Every time you say a word beginning with the letter “P” you force a little burst of air into your mic. That pop comes through in your recordings and will turn people off pretty quickly.
A pop-filter catches these so-called plosives and keeps your audio smooth. If you don’t have a pop-filter, you can use software like Adobe Audition to automatically remove pops from your audio files. Failing that, you can put your finger in front of your mouth (think of a librarian “shushing” you) and deliver your audio that way. It works, but the downside is you have to keep your finger in front of your mouth the entire time.
Echo is another big problem with recording. Unless you record in a literal vacuum, your room is filled with air. Since you couldn’t record in a vacuum for lots of compelling reasons both physical and physiological, there’s almost certainly going to be an echo. It might be subtle, but it leads to a hollow-sounding audio file.
You can minimize these annoying reflections with a few different methods that won’t cost you any money. If you’re recording VO, you can hide under a blanket with your mic. Another place to hide is a small closet. The garments will soften and absorb any echoing. If you’re willing to spend a little extra money, you can also pick up a cheap set of foam sound absorption panels that have the side benefit of looking great on your stream!
If you do go the XLR-route, you’re going to need an audio interface. You can spend a lot of money here but you don’t need to. If you’re just getting started, something as simple as the Behringer UM2 will connect to your PC via USB and allow to record either an XLR or 1/4″ line-in. If you’d like to record two mics or instruments at a time, the UMC202HD is a great choice. On the upper end, you have the iconic Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 for just under $160.
You also need a computer, obviously. A desktop computer or gaming PC might be better for heavy editing, but a good laptop is going to be way more convenient. As far as software, there are lots of professional editing suites you can choose from, but for most people, Audacity or even Garage Band should do the trick.
Looking to put together a powerful PC to stream with the best possible graphics? Check out our guide to the best graphics cards, and while you’re at it, our guides to the best gaming chairs and the best gaming headsets will help you look like a pro.
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Mark Knapp is a regular contributor to IGN and an irregular Tweeter on Twitter @Techn0Mark