5 Best External Microphones for Podcasting in 2024

Are you starting a podcast and aiming for the crispest and clearest audio for your listeners? Choosing the right external microphone is a pivotal decision that can make or break your podcast’s quality. With a plethora of options out there, finding the perfect mic can be overwhelming. Fear not! We’ve scoured the market and tested the best contenders to bring you a list of top-notch external microphones tailor-made for podcasting. From superior sound fidelity to user-friendly features, our roundup will help you capture your voice in all its glory. Get ready to sound like a pro with our curated picks!

When selecting the best external microphone for podcasting, we need to consider several key factors:

  1. Sound Quality: The microphone should capture clear, crisp audio while suppressing background noise to ensure that your voice is the focal point of the recording.
  2. Type of Microphone: Different mics are designed for various recording scenarios. Dynamic microphones are generally more robust and better for loud environments, while condenser microphones offer superior sound quality in controlled studio settings.
  3. Polar Pattern: This refers to the microphone’s sensitivity to sound from different directions. For podcasting, cardioid microphones, which primarily pick up sound from the front, are ideal because they minimize ambient noise.
  4. Connectivity: Consider whether the microphone can easily connect to your recording setup—whether it’s USB for plug-and-play ease or XLR for professional-quality sound that requires an audio interface.
  5. Durability: The microphone should be well-built to withstand frequent use and the occasional mishandling during setup or transport.
  6. Ease of Use: Features such as onboard controls for volume and mute can make the microphone more user-friendly, especially for those less experienced in audio equipment.
  7. Versatility: The ability to adjust settings and use the microphone for different types of recordings can be a bonus.
  8. Price: It’s important to find a microphone that fits your budget while still meeting your podcasting needs.
    Certainly! To compare the “best external microphone for podcasting,” we’ll create a straightforward table. We’ll focus on price and key specifications for each product to provide a clear comparison. The key specifications will include the type of microphone, polar pattern, connectivity, frequency response, and any notable features.

Please be advised that the prices can vary based on the retailer, location, discounts, and over time. The prices listed in the table are approximate and subject to change.

MicrophoneApprox. Price (USD)TypePolar PatternConnectivityFrequency ResponseNotable Features
Shure SM7B$400DynamicCardioidXLR50Hz – 20kHzFlat, wide-range frequency; effective pop filter
Audio-Technica AT2020USB+$150CondenserCardioidUSB20Hz – 20kHzMix control; built-in headphone jack
Rode NT-USB$170CondenserCardioidUSB20Hz – 20kHzPop shield; tripod desk stand; ring mount
Blue Yeti USB Microphone$130CondenserMultiple patternsUSB20Hz – 20kHzGain control; mute button; zero-latency headphone output
Samson Q2U$70DynamicCardioidXLR and USB50Hz – 15kHzDual USB/XLR output; includes accessories such as clamp, tripod, and windscreen

Consider these options based on your needs, such as whether you prefer the simplicity of USB plug-and-play, the versatility of multiple polar patterns, or if you’re looking for additional features like a built-in headphone jack for live monitoring.

Shure SM7B

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The Shure SM7B is a dynamic microphone that has gained legendary status in the world of podcasting and recording. Known for its smooth, flat, wide-range frequency response appropriate for both music and speech, it has become a favorite among podcast professionals and enthusiasts alike.

Overview

When you unbox the Shure SM7B, you’re not just getting a microphone; you’re investing in a piece of equipment that’s been trusted by audio professionals for years. The SM7B is fantastic at capturing warm and smooth vocal tones, making it perfect for podcasters who are serious about their sound quality. Its cardioid polar pattern and internal shock isolation eliminate background noise and prevent unwanted vibrations, ensuring that your voice is the star of the show.

What really makes the SM7B stand out is its versatility. Whether you’re recording in a professional studio or a home setup, it performs consistently, giving you that rich, broadcast-quality sound. The build quality is also exceptional, with a robust design that feels like it can handle years of use.

As you use the microphone, you’ll appreciate the little touches Shure has included, such as the detachable windscreen and the presence boost feature that can add clarity to your recordings. It’s evident that every aspect of this mic is designed with the creator in mind.

Specs

  • Type: Dynamic
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 50Hz to 20kHz
  • Impedance: 150 ohms
  • Connectivity: XLR

Pros:

  • Exceptional sound quality with a rich, full-bodied vocal reproduction.
  • Excellent noise rejection and isolation features.
  • Robust construction that can withstand regular use.
  • Aesthetic that screams professional audio.

Cons:

  • Requires a decent preamp or audio interface with good gain levels due to its low output.
  • Higher price point than some other options on the market.
  • Lack of USB connectivity, which might be a con for those who prefer a simpler setup.

Price

The Shure SM7B typically retails for around $400. While that’s on the higher end for podcasting microphones, it’s important to consider this as a long-term investment in your audio production quality. If you’re serious about podcasting and are looking for professional-grade sound, the SM7B’s price reflects its performance and reliability.

In my opinion, the Shure SM7B is akin to having a trusted friend in your podcasting journey—it delivers consistently, doesn’t let you down in the quality department, and its classic design makes your setup look good. If your budget allows, this microphone could be the cornerstone of your audio equipment, carrying your voice truly and clearly to your audience for years to come.

Audio-Technica AT2020USB+

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The Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ is a well-crafted mix of quality, durability, and exceptional audio fidelity, ideal for podcasters who seek to step up their game. I’ve found this microphone to be a solid choice for capturing clear and articulate vocal recordings. Unlike its XLR counterpart, the AT2020USB+ connects directly to your computer with a USB cable, making it a convenient plug-and-play option. One of its standout features is the mix control, which allows you to blend your microphone signal with pre-recorded audio, perfect for live streamers and podcasters who need to manage audio levels on the fly.

Specs

  • Type: Condenser microphone
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Sample Rate: 44.1/48 kHz
  • Connectivity: USB
  • Additional Features: Mix control; Headphone jack with volume control; High-res A/D converter

Pros:

  • The sound quality is exceptional for a USB microphone, capturing the natural timbre of the voice without the need for much post-processing.
  • Mix control is a game-changer, allowing real-time audio monitoring and mixing.
  • The ease of use is undeniable, essentially eliminating the need for an audio interface.
  • Build quality is robust, giving you a sense of durability that’s reassuring for long-term use.

Cons:

  • It lacks onboard gain control, which means you’ll need to manage levels through your computer.
  • The cardioid pattern is great for reducing background noise but requires you to maintain a consistent position in front of the mic.
  • Some users might find the price point a bit steep compared to more basic models that also offer a decent sound.

Price

The Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ typically falls in the mid-range price bracket for USB microphones, but you’re paying for undeniable quality and reliability. Although there might be more budget-friendly options on the market, this microphone stands out for its sterling audio performance, which, in my opinion, justifies the investment for serious podcasters aiming for professional-sounding content.

Given its features and the value it brings to a podcasting setup, the Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ is a microphone that will likely not disappoint. Its direct USB connection, excellent sound capture, and reliability make it a favorite among content creators. It’s an investment that, over time, pays off in the quality of content you’re able to produce.

Rode NT-USB

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The Rode NT-USB is a versatile microphone that champions ease of use and accessibility, making it a prime choice for podcasters who prioritize plug-and-play functionality without compromising on sound quality. Unboxing the Rode NT-USB feels like you’re getting a premium product, thanks to its sleek design and solid build. When put to the test, the first thing I noticed was the microphone’s clear and warm sound signature. It possesses a professional edge that’s appreciated in podcasting, where clarity and voice richness are paramount. Additionally, the included pop shield is a thoughtful addition that helps maintain plosive-free recordings, which are those pesky ‘p’ and ‘b’ sounds that often disrupt audio.

Specs:

Let’s talk specifics. While the technical jargon can sometimes fly over heads, the integrated zero-latency stereo headphone monitoring jack is something that you’ll genuinely benefit from. It allows you to hear exactly what you’re recording in real-time, minus any delay, thus ensuring your podcasts are mistake-free. What’s more, its cardioid pickup pattern does well to focus on your voice and minimize room noise – a win for those recording in less than perfect environments.

Pros:

  • Sound quality is superb for its class; your voice comes through clean and radio-esque, which listeners love.
  • The pop shield addition proves Rode understands podcasting needs and helps to reduce editing time with cleaner initial recordings.
  • It’s straightforward to use. No audio engineering degree required to get this running and producing top-notch sound.
  • The headphone jack for real-time audio monitoring is a huge plus, eliminating guesswork and the typical trial-and-error associated with recording.

Cons:

  • Perhaps a con for some, the NT-USB is a tad bit pricier compared to some entry-level options, but I reckon you get what you pay for in terms of build and sound quality.
  • Lacks versatility in patterns; it only offers cardioid. However, for podcasting, this should be more than sufficient.

Price:

While I won’t pinpoint a direct cost, as it can vary by retailer and any ongoing promotions, the Rode NT-USB usually pitches itself in the mid-range bracket. It’s neither the most affordable nor the most expensive, but it’s a solid investment, especially if you’re venturing into podcasting with a keen passion for sound quality. Let’s say, it’s priced reasonably for the serious hobbyist or the aspiring professional looking at a long-term audio solution.

In conclusion, the Rode NT-USB strikes a pleasing balance between user-friendliness and professional-grade recording quality. It’s a microphone that’ll flatter most voices, and even though it might make your wallet a bit lighter, the investment is justified for anyone aspiring to produce professional-sounding podcasts.

Blue Yeti USB Microphone

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The Blue Yeti USB Microphone is a popular choice amongst podcasters, and it’s easy to understand why. This microphone often stands out for its ease of use and versatility. Right out of the box, you’ll notice its robust, retro design that is both visually appealing and functional. When using the Blue Yeti, the first thing that strikes you is the rich and full-bodied sound it captures. It’s perfect for those who are looking for studio-quality audio without the complexity of professional audio equipment. The Yeti is a multi-pattern microphone, which means it can record in different modes – this flexibility is a godsend for podcasters who may want to record solo sessions, interviews, or roundtable discussions.

Specs:

  • Multiple pattern selection: Cardioid, Bidirectional, Omnidirectional, and Stereo
  • Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Sample Rate: 48 kHz
  • Bit Rate: 16-bit
  • Zero-latency headphone output with volume control and microphone mute
  • USB connectivity for easy plug-and-play operation

Pros:

  • The multi-pattern feature allows you to experiment with various recording settings, making it great for different podcast formats.
  • The plug-and-play compatibility with PC and Mac eliminates the need for an external sound card or audio interface.
  • The onboard headphone jack provides real-time monitoring which is essential when you need to catch and correct issues instantly.
  • It’s sturdy; this isn’t a mic that feels like it will fall apart after a few months of use.

Cons:

  • It can pick up a lot of background noise if not used in a properly treated room, which can be a con for some podcasters.
  • The size and weight of the Yeti might not be ideal for those with limited desk space or who need a portable setup.
  • While the Yeti provides great sound quality, some users may find the audio to be less ‘warm’ compared to XLR microphones within a similar price range.

Price:

The Blue Yeti USB Microphone is generally priced around $100-$130. This price point places it firmly in the midrange category in terms of cost. It offers a solid balance between quality and affordability, making it a wise investment for podcasters who are serious about their sound but may not be ready to splurge on professional studio equipment.

Overall, the Blue Yeti USB Microphone is like the Swiss army knife of microphones catered to podcasting. It stands up well against many of its competitors and is particularly suitable for those who are starting out in podcasting or are looking for an all-in-one microphone that can handle a variety of recording situations. Whether you’re recording a solo podcast or hosting a group discussion, the Yeti is capable of delivering quality audio. The combination of quality, ease of use, and the array of features it offers at its price point makes it an excellent contender in the market.

Samson Q2U

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For those venturing into the podcasting world without wanting to break the bank, the Samson Q2U is a hidden gem that offers versatility and quality far beyond its price point. After extensive hands-on time with the Q2U, I can affirm that this microphone punches above its weight class, accommodating both USB and XLR connections. The ease with which it can be set up is remarkable – a true plug-and-play experience when used via USB. Meanwhile, the XLR option allows for growth and integration into more professional setups over time.

The Q2U’s sound quality truly impressed me; it captures the natural tones of the voice with a warmth and clarity that one might expect from more expensive microphones. Its dynamic nature helps to reduce background noise, which is a boon for those recording in less than ideal acoustic environments. Additionally, the microphone comes with handy accessories – a desktop tripod stand, a windscreen, a mic clip, and cables for both connection types.

Specs

  • Microphone Type: Dynamic
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 50Hz-15kHz
  • Connectivity: USB and XLR
  • Accessories: Desktop tripod, windscreen, mic clip, USB cable, and XLR cable
  • Additional Features: Built-in 3.5mm headphone jack

Pros:

  • The dual USB/XLR output is a standout feature that provides a great deal of flexibility. As a budding podcaster, using the USB option works perfectly for a simplified setup, while the XLR connection is there for when your setup becomes more advanced.
  • In my opinion, the cardioid pickup pattern is adept at focusing on the speaker’s voice and minimizing unwanted peripheral sound. This is particularly useful for new podcasters who might not have access to professional recording environments.
  • The inclusion of a built-in headphone jack for real-time audio monitoring is a thoughtful touch, allowing you to hear exactly what’s being recorded without any latency issues. This instant feedback on sound quality helps you make necessary adjustments on the fly.
  • From a durability standpoint, the Q2U feels robust and well-built. It seems like a microphone that can withstand the rigors of frequent use, and I appreciate not having to be overly delicate with my equipment.

Cons:

  • While the audio quality is solid, I noticed it doesn’t quite have the same level of finesse in capturing the finer details of the voice as some higher-end models. This isn’t a dealbreaker given its price, but something to note for those seeking studio-level recording.
  • The included desktop tripod is functional, but it’s not the sturdiest. Those who get animated while speaking might want to consider a more stable stand or boom arm.

Price

The Samson Q2U retails for an affordable price point, usually around $60-$70. This strikes me as an incredible value considering the feature set and the quality it brings to the table. It’s an entry-level price for what feels like a professional-level product.

In conclusion, the Samson Q2U defies expectations for a microphone in its price range. Whether you’re recording solo episodes or interviews, it offers the quality, flexibility, and ease of use necessary for creating great audio content. This microphone stands out as an ideal choice for podcasters on a budget, or even as a secondary, travel-friendly option for seasoned pros. It’s a testament to the fact that you don’t need to spend a fortune to get your podcast sounding crisp and professional.

Conclusion:

In the quest for the perfect podcasting experience, the choice of an external microphone can elevate your audio quality to professional heights. Whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned podcaster, selecting a microphone from our curated list can greatly affect the intimacy and clarity of your recordings, providing your audience with superior sound. Remember to consider factors like microphone type, pickup patterns, and connectivity options when making your choice. With the right external microphone, your podcast will not only sound more polished but also captivate your listeners with crystal-clear audio fidelity.

FAQs:

  1. Do I need a special adapter to connect an external microphone to my computer?
    It depends on the microphone’s connectivity. USB microphones can typically be connected directly, whereas XLR microphones may require an audio interface or mixer.
  2. How important is the pickup pattern in a podcasting microphone?
    Extremely important. Cardioid patterns are best for podcasting as they pick up sound primarily from the front, reducing unwanted noise from the sides and back.
  3. Can I use a wireless microphone for podcasting?
    Yes, wireless microphones offer flexibility and reduce cable clutter but ensure it provides comparable sound quality to wired mics for the best podcasting results.

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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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