5 Best External Microphones for PC in 2024

Are you looking to elevate your audio game for podcasts, streaming, or just clearer voice chats? A top-notch external microphone for your PC can make all the difference. With so many options out there, finding the perfect mic that balances quality, ease of use, and price can be daunting. But fear not, because we’ve scoured the market and curated a list of the best external microphones that will give your sound a professional edge. From USB plug-and-play wonders to studio-grade recording marvels, our guide is your ticket to crystal clear audio. Get ready to discover your PC’s perfect audio companion!
When selecting the best external microphone for a PC, it’s important to understand various criteria that influence the quality and suitability of the microphone for different uses. Here are key points to consider:

  1. Purpose and Use: Determine what you’ll be using the microphone for: podcasting, streaming, recording music, or video conferencing. Each use case might demand different features.
  2. Type of Microphone: There are various microphone types such as dynamic, condenser, and ribbon. Condenser mics are typically better for studio recordings, while dynamic mics are more durable and better for live performances.
  3. Pickup Pattern: This determines how the microphone captures sound. Common patterns include cardioid (front-focused), bidirectional (front and back), and omnidirectional (all-around). Choose the one that fits your recording environment and needs.
  4. Connectivity: Consider how the microphone connects to your PC. USB microphones are convenient and easy to set up, while those requiring an audio interface and XLR connections can provide higher quality but demand additional equipment.
  5. Sound Quality: Look for a high signal-to-noise ratio and a wide frequency response to ensure clear, accurate sound reproduction.
  6. Build Quality and Durability: A well-built microphone can withstand use over time and may influence the audio quality.
  7. Additional Features: Features like a mute button, gain control, and zero-latency monitoring can add convenience.
  8. Price: Determine your budget and find the best microphone that offers good value for money within your price range.

Remember, the best microphone for you is one that meets your specific needs and integrates well into your existing setup.

Please note that the exact prices are subject to change and should be checked for the most current information.

FeatureBlue Yeti USB MicrophoneRode NT-USBAudio-Technica AT2020USB+Shure MV7 USB MicrophoneElgato Wave:3
Type of MicrophoneCondenserCondenserCondenserDynamicCondenser
Polar PatternsCardioid, Bidirectional,CardioidCardioidCardioidCardioid
Omnidirectional, Stereo
Frequency Response20Hz – 20kHz20Hz – 20kHz20Hz – 20kHz20Hz – 20kHz70Hz – 20kHz
ConnectivityUSBUSBUSBUSB/XLR (hybrid)USB
Sample Rate48 kHz48 kHz44.1/48 kHz48 kHz96 kHz
Bit Depth16-bit16-bit16-bit24-bit24-bit
Headphone JackYesYesYesYesYes
Direct MonitorYesYesYesYesYes
ControlsHeadphone volume,Direct monitor volume,Headphone volume,Touch panel for modeCapacitive mute,
pattern selection,mic gainmix control,switching, mic gain,gain control
mute, mic gainmic gainheadphone volume
Price Range*$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

*Price Range Indicators:

  • $$: Generally lower-priced
  • $$$: Mid-range priced
  • $$$$: Higher-priced

Keep in mind that “best” can be somewhat subjective and depends on what you are looking for in a microphone. For instance, someone may prefer the versatility of the Blue Yeti’s multiple patterns (ideal for varying recording scenarios), while another may prioritize the Shure MV7’s dynamic capsule (often preferred for vocal clarity and its USB/XLR connectivity), or the Elgato Wave:3’s higher-res audio for streaming purposes.

To choose the best microphone for your needs, consider what you’ll be using it for. Do you need it for podcasting, streaming, music recording, or general use? Also think about your environment – is it noisy, or relatively quiet? Finally, factor in if you need the mobility offered by USB microphones, or if you are also considering mixers or interfaces which can be used with XLR mics, like the Shure MV7.

I hope this table helps you to decide which microphone is the best fit for your needs.

Blue Yeti USB Microphone

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The Blue Yeti USB Microphone is a popular choice for podcasters, streamers, and any content creator looking for a mix of quality, ease of use, and versatility. This microphone has carved out its reputation in the crowded audio market by providing clear, professional-level audio without the need for complicated setups or additional gear.

My personal experience with the Blue Yeti has been overwhelmingly positive. Straight out of the box, it’s practically plug-and-play with a PC, requiring minimal effort to get started. Its multipattern selection feature—a standout in its class—allows you to switch between cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional, and stereo pickup patterns, giving you a lot of flexibility depending on your recording environment and needs.

The heft and build quality of the Yeti give it a premium feel, and it can stand up to the rigors of frequent handling. It also features a convenient mute button and an onboard headphone jack for zero-latency monitoring, which is a huge plus for anyone trying to track their audio on the fly.

Specs

  • Microphone Type: Condenser
  • Polar Patterns: Cardioid, Bidirectional, Omnidirectional, Stereo
  • Connectivity: USB
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Sample Rate: 48 kHz
  • Bit Rate: 16-bit

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Exceptional audio quality for its price range.
  • Multi-pattern versatility caters to various recording situations.
  • Solid build, with thoughtful touches like onboard controls and direct headphone monitoring.
  • No need for an external audio interface.

Cons:

  • It’s quite bulky, which can be a disadvantage if desk space is at a premium.
  • Some might find the design a bit too ‘retro’ if they prefer sleeker, more modern-looking tech.
  • Can pick up background noise if not used with a pop filter or in a treated recording space.

Price

As of my last check, the Blue Yeti USB Microphone sits at a comfortable middle ground in terms of pricing for external PC microphones—it isn’t the cheapest, but it’s far from the most expensive. Given its robust feature set and strong performance, the Blue Yeti presents a value proposition that’s hard to beat.

In closing, the Blue Yeti USB Microphone is more than a pretty face in the world of audio recording. Its sound quality, combined with its plug-and-play approach and solid build, make it an excellent choice for anyone looking to improve their audio game without getting bogged down in technicalities. Whether you’re a seasoned podcaster or a budding YouTube star, the Yeti has the chops to make your voice heard loud and clear.

Rode NT-USB External Microphone

image 928

The Rode NT-USB is a sleek and versatile microphone that manages to strike an exquisite balance between professional-grade recording and user-friendly operation. As someone who has had the privilege to test a myriad of microphones, I find the NT-USB to be a standout due to its crisp sound quality and plug-and-play convenience. It’s a go-to device for those who are serious about their audio, whether you’re podcasting, streaming, or laying down some vocal tracks. The microphone feels solid and well-built right out of the box, and its studio-grade pop shield is an excellent addition that really sets it apart from other USB mics.

Specs

Upon diving into the Rode NT-USB’s specifications, you’ll be impressed by its cardioid pickup pattern which is great for single-source recording without catching a lot of background noise. The inclusion of a zero-latency stereo headphone monitoring jack gives you direct control over your audio without any delay, which is imperative for live monitoring. The frequency range of 20Hz – 20kHz ensures your recordings will capture the full breadth of sounds. Furthermore, the maximum SPL of 110dB means it can handle fairly loud sounds without distortion, an important feature when recording instruments or louder projects.

Pros:

  • Stellar audio quality that is crystal-clear, which is expected from a brand like Rode.
  • I appreciate the integrated pop filter; it’s not just an afterthought but a robust tool that genuinely diminishes plosives.
  • The on-mic mix control is a boon for those wanting to balance microphone and source audio levels seamlessly, without the need for additional software.
  • The premium build quality gives you confidence; this microphone not only looks professional but feels like it too.

Cons:

  • It is on the pricier side when compared to other USB microphones, which might be a hindrance for someone on a tight budget.
  • The lack of multiple pick-up patterns reduces its versatility somewhat; it’s not necessarily the one-size-fits-all solution for all recording situations.

Price

The Rode NT-USB typically retails between $160 – $200. While not the cheapest option available, in my opinion, the quality justifies the price for serious content creators who require top-notch audio fidelity.

The Rode NT-USB is a microphone that doesn’t just rest on the laurels of the Rode name; it goes above and beyond to provide a premium and hassle-free audio recording experience for users at various levels. Considering its strong pros against a minimal list of cons and setting the bar high in terms of quality, it’s a microphone that offers true value for its price.

Audio-Technica AT2020USB+

image 927

The Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ is undeniably a front-runner in the realm of external microphones for PCs, particularly for those with a keen interest in superior audio quality without venturing into the complexities of XLR setups. This microphone consolidates Audio-Technica’s renowned sound fidelity into a convenient USB form factor, making it a hit among podcasters, streamers, and vocalists.

The sleek design packs a serious punch in audio capture, presenting a cardioid polar pattern that adeptly focuses on the sound directly in front of the mic while attenuating unwanted background noise. The AT2020USB+ serves up crystal-clear, studio-quality sound with an ease of use that’s hard to beat, and the inclusion of a built-in headphone jack with volume control allows for real-time audio monitoring – a godsend for anyone seeking to keep tabs on audio quality mid-recording without latency issues.

Specs

  • Type: Condenser microphone with USB connectivity
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Sample Rate: 44.1/48 kHz
  • Bit Depth: 16 bit
  • Controls: Headphone volume, mix control
  • Connectivity: USB Type-B
  • Accessories: Pivoting stand mount, tripod desk stand, USB cable, storage pouch

Pros:

  • Exceptional audio quality for a wide range of applications.
  • Simple plug-and-play operation compatible with most operating systems.
  • Zero-latency headphone monitoring with controllable volume feels intuitive and handy.
  • Durable build quality assures longevity and professional appeal.
  • Mix control allows blending of microphone and pre-recorded audio gracefully when needed.

Cons:

  • The absence of onboard gain control means levels have to be adjusted via your PC or recording software, which can be a minor inconvenience.
  • The 16-bit depth might be a limiting factor for those requiring higher-definition audio resolution.
  • Unlike some competitors, it lacks various directional pattern options, which could dampen its versatility in different recording scenarios.

Price

The Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ is priced around $149, which places it at a mid-tier range. Considering its performance, the microphone offers significant value for its cost. Keep in mind that prices can fluctuate based on retailers and promotional offers, so it pays to keep an eye out for deals.

Personal Opinion

Considering the combination of its class-leading audio fidelity, robust build, and user-friendly features, the Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ is the workhorse of USB microphones. It’s tailored for those who desire the warmth and depth of a studio condenser mic with the ease of a digital USB connection. As for the shortcomings, they’re minimal and hardly register when weighed against the microphone’s overall performance and quality. If you’re in the market for a reliable, high-quality external mic that can elevate your audio game substantially, the AT2020USB+ deserves a top spot on your list.

Shure MV7 USB Microphone

image 929

The Shure MV7 is a dynamic microphone that marries the convenience of USB connectivity with professional-grade quality. Based on the legendary Shure SM7B, this microphone offers a more approachable option for podcasters, streamers, and vocalists seeking studio-quality sound without needing an elaborate setup. The build quality is what you would expect from Shure: robust and reliable. The MV7’s design fosters a feeling of confidence that this microphone not only captures excellent audio but also withstands the rigors of daily use.

From a reviewer’s perspective, the MV7 is particularly impressive when it comes to its versatility and sound customization options. Shure’s MOTIV app allows users to fine-tune their audio with various presets and manual adjustments, which is a boon for those who may not have audio engineering experience but still desire a tailored sound. The auto-level mode in the app is a standout feature—keeping the audio consistent—which can be a lifesaver for dynamic recording situations.

Specs:

  • Microphone Type: Dynamic
  • Connectivity: USB and XLR
  • Polar Patterns: Unidirectional (Cardioid)
  • Frequency Response: 50Hz to 16kHz
  • Compatibility: Mac/PC, iOS with Lightning connector (with additional hardware), Android devices (with USB-C, OTG support)

Pros:

  • The audio quality is superb, rivaling that of more expensive studio microphones.
  • An intuitive touch panel for on-the-fly adjustments—a clever addition that avoids fumbling with knobs during a session.
  • Dual USB/XLR output increases versatility, providing a growth path to more professional setups.
  • Aesthetically, it’s a stunner—sleek and industrial in design, it looks great on camera.

Cons:

  • The lower end of the frequency range doesn’t quite match the warmth of its older sibling, the SM7B.
  • For USB connection, it can be pricier than other options, which may turn off budget-conscious buyers.
  • The companion software is a must to unlock its full potential, possibly a hurdle for those preferring plug-and-play solutions.

Price:

Regarding price, the Shure MV7 sits at the mid to high end of USB microphones. While it is an investment, the quality and features justify the cost, especially for those serious about their audio game. The exact pricing may vary by retailer and region, but it typically ranges from $250 to $300.

The Shure MV7 is a standout option for anyone looking for a significant upgrade from entry-level microphones without venturing into the complexities of a full professional setup. It finds a sweet spot, offering a sound quality that can greatly enhance everything from podcasts to vocals, coupled with user-friendly customization options. For those willing to invest in their audio production quality, the MV7 presents a solid value proposition, despite some of its quirks and the premium price tag.

Elgato Wave:3

image 930

The Elgato Wave:3 is a premium quality USB microphone, ideal for podcasters, streamers, and anyone in need of high-fidelity audio recording. It’s a sleek and stylish device with an emphasis on simplicity and performance. I’ve had a chance to put the Wave:3 through its paces, and it’s frankly impressive how Elgato has managed to pack so much into such a compact design.

First off, the Wave:3’s sound quality is top-notch. Voice recordings come out crystal clear, with a richness and depth that’s almost surprising for a mic at this price point. It’s also got a nifty feature called Clipguard technology, which instantly reduces sudden volume peaks to prevent distortion. This is a game-changer for live streamers who can’t afford any audio mishaps in real-time.

Elgato has also thrown in their proprietary Wave Link software, which is a mixing powerhouse. It allows you to effortlessly manage multiple audio sources and create two independent mixes—one for you and one for your audience—which is incredibly handy for content creators.

Specs:

  • Capsule Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Connection Interface: USB-C
  • Frequency Response: 70Hz – 20kHz
  • Sample Rate: 96kHz
  • Max SPL: 120dB
  • Dimensions: 153 x 66 x 40mm

Pros:

  1. Superb audio quality with minimal background noise.
  2. The Clipguard technology is a lifesaver during live sessions.
  3. Streamlined and intuitive Wave Link software makes audio management a breeze.
  4. Compact and aesthetic design looks great on any desk or recording setup.

Cons:

  1. The build, being predominantly plastic, might not feel as durable as some metal-bodied alternatives.
  2. It’s on the pricier side compared to other USB microphones with similar features.
  3. The touch-sensitive mute button is highly convenient but can be accidentally triggered if you’re not careful.

Price:

The Elgato Wave:3 hovers around $160, which isn’t spare change. It’s definitely an investment and possibly a tad steep for those just looking for a basic microphone. However, the professional-grade audio quality and the additional software features justify the price tag for serious content creators who prioritize audio fidelity and versatility in their work.

In my opinion, if you’re serious about the audio aspect of your online presence and you want a hassle-free, feature-rich microphone, the Elgato Wave:3 should certainly be on your radar. It’s a comprehensive audio solution that straddles the line between professional equipment and consumer accessibility masterfully. While there are more affordable options that get the job done, if you’re in the market for a top-tier USB microphone that can handle the rigors of constant live streaming and recording, the Wave:3 is a solid contender.

Conclusion:

In summary, choosing the best external microphone for your PC comes down to understanding your specific needs, whether it’s for podcasting, streaming, video conferencing, or home recordings. We’ve explored a variety of options, each excelling in different areas such as sound quality, noise cancellation, and ease of use. Considering the options on this list can enhance your audio experience significantly. Remember, clear sound is key to effective communication and high-quality content creation.

FAQs:

Q: Do more expensive microphones always guarantee better sound quality?
A: Not necessarily. While higher-priced microphones often offer superior build and sound quality, there are many budget-friendly microphones that provide excellent audio clarity. It’s more important to find a microphone that suits your specific needs.

Q: Is it important to have a pop filter for my external microphone?
A: Yes, a pop filter is beneficial as it helps reduce plosive sounds that can cause distortion. This is especially important for voice-over work or podcasting where clear speech is crucial.

Q: Can I use these external microphones with both a laptop and a desktop PC?
A: Absolutely. Most external microphones use USB or a standard audio jack, making them compatible with both laptops and desktop PCs. Just ensure your computer has the appropriate port.

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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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