If I am being totally honest, there is really no reason for you NOT to have a nice USB microphone. Think about it, if you are reading this post, you are probably using your computer's built in microphone for voice input.
Many people use Skype to communicate with their family and friends. You may need a microphone to record that presentation for work or school. I personally use a USB mic when I teach online classes for school age kids.
You really do not want to use the built-in microphone for these activities, as you will sound like you are in a tunnel AND unless your mouth is right on top of that built-in mic, then there will be a lot of "air" around your voice.
Good microphone for YouTube
Everyone and their momma seems to have a YouTube channel these days. You have cooking channels, travel channels, product review channels, music performance channels, and of course gaming channels.
Because there are a lot of people with YouTube channels, you really need to have an edge if you want yours to stand out. For me, sound in general is really important. Whether you are watching movies at the theater, TV shows, or listening to music on your computer, the quality of the sound will drastically determine your media experience. If you are creating content on your YouTube channel, then you will definitely need a good microphone for YouTube.
Best microphone for voice recording
Because we are concerned about your voice recordings, we will look at three different microphones that provide the best sound at a reasonable price. When I say "reasonable", I mean around $120-$180. I would never recommend a $50 mic, as they will not provide decent sound for your voice recordings.
As always, we will provide the direct links to the Amazon page.
I know that you have heard the expression, "you get what you pay for." This is especially true for sound equipment.
Best Condenser Mic For Vocals
Blue Yeti USB Microphone
For me, this is the best and most versatile microphone for the money. This is a 16-bit device, so it will record CD quality digital sound.
It has four different recording modes to choose from.
- Cardioid Mode
- Stereo Mode
- Omnidirectional Mode
Cardioid mode is the "regular" mode. This is for podcasts, voice overs, gaming, etc, where you speak into the front of the microphone. Most people will keep it on this mode.
Are you in a vocal group and you want to record that three part harmony? You can record in Stereo mode. This switches the mic to open up the left and right channels so you all can stand in front of the mic as well as the right and left side of the microphone. This way you can just sing and harmonize those notes!
In Omnidirectional mode, all sides of them are on, so you can record the ambience of the room, a live band performance, or maybe even a voiceover scene with a group of actors.
If your thing is interviews, then Bidirectional mode will be your best bet. The front and back side of the mic will be turned on so the interviewer and interviewee can sit across from each other and use one mic.
The Yeti microphone has a headphone jack and the volume control knob. This will let you listen to your performance in real time. There's also a gain control knob so you can get that perfect sound level.
It works with both Mac and PC, and the Blue Yeti brand has a bunch of branded accessories in case you want to grab some extra stuff.
The microphone comes in several colors, so you can choose one that matches your personal style or your studio color scheme.
The microphone comes with the mini stand that you see in the photo above. It also has a threaded hole on the bottom so you can connect it to a mini or full size mic stand.
It is simple to set up, just plug it in and start recording!
The Blue Yeti microphones come with a two-year limited warranty.
We think this is the best mic for the price. Great quality and versatility.
Rode NT-USB USB Condenser Microphone
The Rode microphone is another high-quality mic that will not break the bank. It is a great microphone for singers, voice over artists, and podcasters. It is a Cardioid mic, so you will want to sing or speak into it from the front. This is a little different from the Blue Yeti, as it does not have the four different modes. This is also a 16-bit device.
There is a headphone volume control on the side of the mic, as well as a monitor mix control knob. This will control the signal coming from the mic and the sound that is coming from the audio software from the computer. This will allow you to get that perfect mix in your ears.
It is compatible with both PC and Mac computers. You do not need any special software, as you can use your computers' built in software to start recording. You will just need to adjust the input level (or gain) of the mic by accessing the system preferences or control panel.
The Rode mic is also comparable with the Apple iPad (with the USB Camera Connection Kit accessory)
It is slightly more expensive than the Blue Yeti, but you also get a black zip case, a pop filter, a mini tri-pod stand and a ring mount.
Those are all of the accessories that you will need. Well, you might need a full size mic stand depending on the type of projects you are doing, but out of the box, you just cannot beat it.
For those of you that are into vanity, the Rode is a really good-looking microphone!
This model only comes in black.
The Rode mic comes with a one-year limited warranty, but it will be extended to two years if you register the product on their website.
Why do I need a pop filter?
Trust me, you will need a pop filter. You may also hear the term wind screen to describe this accessory. Placing a pop filter in front of the mic will eliminate the pops that comes when you say the hard ‘P’, ‘B’, ‘T’ and ‘K’ sounds. Without a pop filter or wind screen, you will hear those "pops" on the recordings.
You have probably heard some podcasts or spoken word recordings that contain these imperfections. One or two of these in a recording is not that bad, but anything more than that can get really annoying.
Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone
Our third microphone is the Audio-Technica Condenser USB Microphone. As the name suggests, it is also a cardioid mic, so you will have to sing/speak into the front of the device. It is a 16-bit device, so it records CD quality audio.
As with the other two microphones, there is a headphone jack to listen to your performance in real-time. Like the Rode model, it also has a mix control dial to control the signal coming from the mic and the sound that is coming from the audio software from the computer.
Like the other two mics, it is also compatible with PC and Mac computers.
Special software is not needed, as you can use your favorite recording software. Just adjust the input levels in the system preferences or the control panel.
It comes with a mini tripod desk stand with foldable legs.
As far as pricing goes, this mic sits between the Blue Yeti and the Rode. Color choices are black or white.
The Audio-Technica Condenser USB Microphone comes with a two-year limited warranty.
What should my input levels be anyway?
When you set up any microphone, it is important to make sure you have optimal input levels. Usually, you will have a level monitor with three colors. Green, yellow, and red. As you test your levels, you want to make sure that you are in the green, if possible. If the level bleeds into the yellow area, then you are still ok. Do not allow the monitoring lights to stray into the red areas. You will not notice anything while recording, but during playback, you may hear a "clipping" sound if the levels are in the red. The slipping sound will kill your recording as it will be distracting for the listener.
So there you have it. Whether you are looking for a good microphone for YouTube or the best microphone for voice over recording, any of the three choices above will do you right.
Remember, do not be cheap and go for a $40 mic. Sound is important, so spend the extra money and go with one of these.