5 Best External Microphones for Computer in 2024

Looking to upgrade your audio game? Whether you’re podcasting, streaming, or aiming for crystal-clear calls, an external microphone is the essential tool to elevate your sound. Ditch the mediocre built-in mics of computers and delve into the world of superior audio. With a myriad of options available, choosing the perfect mic can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve curated a list of the best external microphones tailored for your computer, ensuring that whether you’re a professional or a hobbyist, you’ll find the ideal match to suit your needs and enhance your online presence. Let’s dive in!

When selecting the best external microphone for your computer, consider the following criteria to ensure high-quality audio for your needs:

  1. Purpose and Usage: Identify what you’ll be using the microphone for. Options vary for podcasting, streaming, recording music, or conference calls.
  2. Microphone Type:
  • Condenser mics offer clear, crisp sound, ideal for voice work in a controlled environment.
  • Dynamic mics are more rugged, handling high volume levels well, good for musical instruments or loud sources.
  1. Polar Pattern:
  • Cardioid microphones pick up sound from the front, minimizing background noise — great for focused recordings.
  • Omnidirectional microphones capture sound from all directions, suitable for group recordings.
  • Bidirectional or Figure-8 microphones pick up sound from the front and rear, ideal for interviews.
  1. Connectivity: Assess compatibility with your device — whether it’s USB for plug-and-play convenience or an XLR mic for professional setups requiring an audio interface.
  2. Portability: If you need to transport the mic often, look for lightweight and compact designs.
  3. Accessories and Features: Shock mounts reduce handling noise, pop filters manage plosives, and adjustable stands offer flexibility. Additionally, check for features like mute buttons or LED indicators.
  4. Price: Determine your budget as prices range from affordable entry-level to expensive professional mics.
  5. Audio Quality: Seek out mics with good frequency response and low self-noise for the clearest recordings.

By focusing on these criteria, you can narrow down the best external microphone options for your computer.

Be aware that prices may vary depending on the retailer and any ongoing promotions.

Microphone ModelPrice (Approx.)Pick-up PatternConnectivityFrequency ResponseAdditional Features
Blue Yeti USB Microphone$100 – $130Cardioid, Omni, Bidirectional, StereoUSB20Hz – 20kHzMultiple pattern selection; headphone jack; mute button; gain control
Audio-Technica AT2020USB+$120 – $150CardioidUSB20Hz – 20kHzMix control; headphone jack with volume control
Rode NT-USB Mini$90 – $100CardioidUSB-C20Hz – 20kHzBuilt-in pop filter; detachable magnetic stand; studio-grade quality
Shure MV5 Digital Condenser Microphone$100 – $120CardioidUSB, Lightning (for Apple devices)20Hz – 20kHzDSP Modes (Voice/Instrument/Flat); headphone output for real-time monitoring
Elgato Wave:3 Premium USB Condenser Microphone$130 – $160CardioidUSB-C70Hz – 20kHzClipguard technology; capacitive mute; digital mixing solution

Blue Yeti USB Microphone

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When it comes to external microphones that provide an impressive combination of versatility, ease of use, and sound quality, the Blue Yeti USB Microphone definitely leads the pack. It feels like a professional studio mic condensed into a format that’s accessible to everyone, from podcasters and gamers to musicians and remote workers.

What really sets the Blue Yeti apart is its ability to capture sound with precision and warmth. It’s got this uncanny knack for producing rich, full vocal tones that can give your recordings a polished, professional sheen.

One of my favorite aspects is the user-friendly controls. You’ve got immediate access to volume, pattern selection, microphone gain, and mute right on the mic itself, which is super handy. The multiple pattern settings are fantastic; whether you’re aiming for a solo podcast or a roundtable discussion, the Yeti adapts beautifully.

Now, it is a bit bulky, which isn’t ideal for mobile setups or tight workspaces. Also, even though it’s plug-and-play, to get the best sound, you do need to fiddle with the settings and find the perfect position for your recording environment, which might be a slight learning curve for some users.

Specs

  • Transducer Type: Condenser, Pressure Gradient With USB digital output
  • Polar Patterns: Cardioid, Bidirectional, Omnidirectional, Stereo
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Sample Rate: 48 kHz
  • Bit Rate: 16-bit
  • Weight: 1.2 kg (2.2 lbs)
  • Dimensions: 11.6 x 4.9 x 4.7 inches

Pros:

  • Exceptional sound quality with rich, detailed audio.
  • Multiple pattern settings provide versatility for various recording situations.
  • Controls are intuitive and easily accessible.
  • Sturdy design and build quality feels premium and long-lasting.

Cons:

  • Its size can be a con for those with limited space or needing portability.
  • Picks up a lot of background noise unless positioned and set up correctly.
  • Can be slightly pricey for casual users who don’t need all its features.

Price

Regarding the cost, the Blue Yeti USB Microphone sits comfortably in the mid-range bracket. It’s an investment for sure, but when compared to other microphones that offer similar features, it’s pretty reasonable. You’re looking at around $130, which might vary slightly based on retailers and any ongoing sales or promotions. Given the quality and the features, I’d say it’s a solid deal for anyone serious about their audio game.

Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ Review

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The Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ is a popular choice among podcasters, streamers, and musicians who look for studio-quality audio without the need for extra gear like mixers and preamps. This microphone has built a reputation for producing clear and professional-level sound that elevates any type of recording.

Overview

Audio-Technica is known for its reliable and high-performing audio equipment, and the AT2020USB+ upholds that standard. The USB+ version is an upgrade from the original AT2020, providing a convenient USB connection perfect for direct recording onto computers and other devices. It has a mix control feature that allows you to blend your microphone signal with pre-recorded audio in real-time, which is a godsend for live streamers and content creators. The sound quality is smooth and true to life, capturing detailed highs and solid lows, and it’s impressively consistent no matter your environment.

Specs

  • Microphone Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
  • Sample Rate: 44.1/48 kHz
  • Bit Depth: 16 bit
  • Features: Mix control, Headphone jack with volume control, High-output internal headphone amplifier

Pros:

  • Superb sound quality with a focus on clarity and detail
  • No need for additional audio interfaces
  • Real-time monitoring with mix control
  • Robust build and stylish design
  • Easy to use and set up, which is great for beginners and pros alike

Cons:

  • A bit pricier compared to some entry-level mics, but you pay for quality
  • Lacks multi-pattern selection which other competitors might have
  • Limited to USB connectivity; not versatile for XLR setups
  • At 16-bit, it’s not the best for professional music production needing higher bit depths

Price

As for price, the Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ falls into the mid-range bracket, typically found between $150 to $200, depending on the retailer and any current promotions. You’re investing in durability and excellence in sound production, which makes it worth the price for those who take their audio seriously.

In my opinion, the Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ strikes the perfect balance between simplicity and professional output. It’s a solid investment for anyone serious about their online presence or audio work. While it does come with a heftier price tag than some, the premium you pay is justified by its superior audio quality, reliable construction, and user-friendly features.

Rode NT-USB Mini

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The Rode NT-USB Mini is a compact, studio-quality USB microphone designed for recording singing, instruments, podcasts, and more. Straight out of the box, the NT-USB Mini impresses with its robust build quality and sleek, functional design. Rode has produced a microphone that balances professional audio performance with user-friendly features.

After carefully testing the Rode NT-USB Mini, I must say its sound reproduction is superb — it captures the natural tone of the voice with a warm and clear output. The cardioid pickup pattern does a great job at minimizing background noise, making it excellent for home studios or setups with less-than-ideal recording environments.

Setup is a breeze; it’s practically plug-and-play with no need for additional drivers or software, and it’s fully compatible with both Windows and Mac OS. The magnetic desk stand that comes with the microphone is not just aesthetically pleasing but also incredibly stable and functional, reducing tabletop vibrations effectively.

Specs:

  • Acoustic Principle: Pressure Gradient Electret Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Range: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Maximum SPL: 110dBSPL
  • Sample Rates: 48 kHz
  • Bit Depth: 24-bit
  • Analog Outputs: 3.5mm Headphone Jack

Pros:

  • Excellent sound quality with clear, warm vocal reproduction.
  • Compact and durable design ideal for desktop use.
  • Easy to set up and use, with no need for complicated installations.
  • Integrated pop filter does a decent job at minimizing plosives.
  • The magnetic stand is a thoughtful addition that enhances the overall user experience.

Cons:

  • Lacks onboard gain control, which limits in-the-moment adjustments.
  • The cardioid pattern is great for single sources but not suited for multi-person recordings.
  • That small form factor might not be everyone’s preference and can limit its positioning.

Price:

The Rode NT-USB Mini is priced reasonably when considering its performance and quality. It’s not the cheapest option out there, but it’s certainly not overpriced. You’re looking at a mid-tier price range for a microphone that could easily be mistaken for a higher-priced professional unit.

Please note that the opinions in this review are my own, and prices are subject to change over time. Do check the latest price before making a purchase decision.

Shure MV5 Digital Condenser Microphone

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The Shure MV5 stands out in the sea of external microphones due to its unique design and commendable audio performance. My initial impression of the MV5 was its striking yet compact form factor, which feels both retro and modern. Shure is a legendary brand in the audio world, and the MV5 upholds that reputation. It’s tailor-made for podcasters, gamers, and mobile recording enthusiasts who need quality on the go. After testing it extensively, I found that it captures clear and natural sound, largely owing to its condenser capsule which is adept at picking up the nuances in vocals and acoustic instruments. The added DSP (Digital Signal Processing) modes are straightforward and genuinely enhance recording quality depending on your environment and the content you’re creating.

Specs:

  • Microphone Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Connectivity: USB, Lightning (for direct iOS device connection)
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
  • DSP Modes: Vocal, Instrument, Flat
  • Integrated headphone output for real-time monitoring
  • Adjustable stand with built-in thread mount
  • Weight: 160g

Pros:

  • The sound quality is stellar for a mic of this size and price. It captures voice with clarity and warmth, without overemphasizing sibilants or low-end rumbles.
  • The DSP modes are genuinely useful for quickly adjusting to different recording situations without needing a deep dive into audio editing software.
  • Its design is both sturdy and portable, and the option to connect directly to iOS devices is a clever feature that expands its versatility.
  • The build quality is impressive – it feels solid, durable, and has a certain heft despite its compact size.

Cons:

  • While the stand is quite versatile, it’s a bit on the lighter side, which may not be ideal for rowdier desk setups where knocks and bumps are frequent.
  • The microphone lacks some advanced features seen in higher-end models, such as multiple polar patterns or onboard gain control.

Price:

The price hovers around $100, which positions the Shure MV5 as a mid-range microphone. Considering its performance, it’s a worthwhile investment for someone who wants an excellent balance between quality and portability without breaking the bank.

In my opinion, the Shure MV5 Digital Condenser Microphone provides remarkable value for its price point. It’s a workhorse that punches above its weight, bridging the gap between amateur and prosumer audio gear. It would be a suitable choice for most users who need a reliable and straightforward solution for better audio in a variety of settings.

Elgato Wave:3 Premium USB Condenser Microphone

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The Elgato Wave:3 is a sleek and sophisticated microphone designed for podcasters, streamers, and anyone in need of high-quality audio for their computer. One of the standout features is its ease of use; it’s a plug-and-play solution that requires minimal setup. But simplicity doesn’t come at the cost of performance—the Wave:3 delivers crisp and clear sound that rivals more professional setups.

From my experience with the Elgato Wave:3, I am particularly impressed with its proprietary Clipguard technology, which instantly reduces unexpected volume spikes to prevent any distortion. This is a game-changer for live streamers or anyone who can’t afford a second take. Additionally, the accompanying Wave Link software allows for precise control over audio sources, making it a versatile tool for managing complex audio setups with ease.

Specs

  • Capsule Type: Condenser capsule
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid (captures sound from the front)
  • Interface: USB Type-C
  • Frequency Response: 70Hz-20kHz
  • Sample/Bit Rate: 96kHz/24-bit
  • Controls: Multifunctional dial for input gain, headphone volume, and crossfade between microphone and PC mix
  • Compatible Software: Wave Link for multi-channel audio control

Pros:

  • Exceptional audio quality, with clear and natural sound reproduction.
  • Clipguard technology is perfect for safeguarding against peaking, which is great when you have dynamic audio levels.
  • The build quality feels premium, and the design suits any modern desk setup.
  • The included stand is sturdy and functional, although the Wave:3 is also compatible with most other mic stands or boom arms.
  • Wave Link software provides sophisticated mixing capabilities typically found in professional recording environments.

Cons:

  • The Elgato Wave:3 is on the pricier side compared to some entry-level models, which might be a deterrent for casual users.
  • While the cardioid pattern is excellent for voice, it may not be as versatile as multi-pattern mics for different recording scenarios.
  • Some users may prefer physical buttons over the digital mixing software for on-the-fly adjustments.

Price

While the price of the Elgato Wave:3 can fluctuate, as of my latest check, it tends to hover around $150-$160. Although this price point is not the cheapest on the market, the features and quality it provides can justify the investment, especially for those taking their audio recording seriously.

In conclusion, the Elgato Wave:3 external microphone strikes an excellent balance between high-end audio performance and user-friendly features. It’s a great choice for anyone looking to significantly upgrade their computer’s audio capture capabilities, irrespective of whether you’re streaming to an audience or simply want to ensure crystal-clear video calls. Despite a couple of minor drawbacks and its premium price tag, the Wave:3 stands out as a professional-grade microphone that’s accessible even to those new to audio recording.

Conclusion:

To enhance your audio quality significantly, choosing the right external microphone for your computer is crucial. Whether your priority is crystal-clear voice recording, seamless streaming, or professional-sounding podcasts, there’s a mic out there that fits your needs and budget. Remember to consider factors like pickup patterns, connectivity options, and additional features that cater to your specific requirements. With the options we’ve explored, you’re well-equipped to make an informed decision and elevate your audio experience to the next level.

FAQs:

  1. What should I consider when choosing an external microphone?
    When selecting an external microphone, consider the recording quality, pickup pattern (e.g., cardioid, omnidirectional), compatibility with your device, the convenience of connectivity (USB or analog), and any additional features like built-in pop filters or shock mounts.
  2. Can I use these microphones for both recording and live streaming?
    Yes, most external microphones are versatile enough to be used for both recording and live streaming. However, some may be better suited for one purpose over the other based on sensitivity, latency, and directional recording capabilities.
  3. Do I need additional software to use an external microphone with my computer?
    While many external microphones are plug-and-play, meaning they don’t require additional software, some might come with proprietary software for enhanced control and customization of audio settings. It’s important to check the product details for any software requirements.

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John Doe

John Doe

I am John, a tech enthusiast with a knack for breaking down complex camera, audio, and video technology. My expertise extends to social media and electronic gadgets, and I thrive on making the latest tech trends understandable and exciting for everyone. Sharing my knowledge through engaging content, I aim to connect with fellow tech lovers and novices alike, bringing the fascinating world of technology to life.

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