One of the biggest decisions you make before you start podcasting is the microphone you buy.
A good microphone can do wonders for the audio quality of your recordings while a subpar one will taint your audio enough to make your podcast episodes sound cheap and unprofessional. Even though you have a microphone on your iPhone, computer or headphones, getting a professional microphone is a worthwhile investment.
Nobody has ever rode the highway to podcasting success without a great microphone (pardon the pun!)
That being said, different podcasters have different preferences. When you’re buying a microphone, you need to consider how much you want to spend, what types of situations you will be recording in, whether you need to plug into your computer, how many guests or co-hosts you have on your podcast, how much control you want over your volume levels…the list goes on.
Needless to say, different price points come with different standards and some microphones can do things others can’t. What you want depends on the type of podcaster you are. While it’s impossible to navigate the wide range of options on the market while being 100% sure you’ve picked the right one, this list offers five of the best podcast microphones depending on the type of podcaster you want to be.
The Best Cheap Option for Beginners: Samson Q2U
If you’re not sure how serious you are about podcasting and want a good microphone at a low price of $59, the Samson Q2U has got you covered. You won’t find many quality microphones this cheap.
Its USB capacities means you don’t have to buy an audio interface to plug it into your computer. However, if you want to, it gives you the option because it also has an XLR cable!
This versatility is part of the Samson Q2U’s appeal. You don’t have too many hurdles to recording because all you technically need is this microphone and your computer. However, if you want to get more serious and have more control over your recording process, you won’t have to buy an entirely new mic. It also has a cardioid polar pattern, which minimizes any stray background noises that might infiltrate your audio files.
It is very easy to use and is simply one of the best options at such a low price point. Of course, it won’t give you everything you need and professional podcasters might want something with a bit more glam. You either need to hold it in your hand or buy a mic stand, and its quality isn’t going to be as great as more expensive options.
However, it’s cardioid pickup pattern is a rare feature for microphones as its price point, as well as its ability to plug straight into your mac.
Simple and Versatile: Blue Yeti
As one of the most popular podcasting microphones on the market, the Blue Yeti offers a lot to its users for a fairly reasonable price of $100. If you want a step up from the cheap options, this is one of the best at its price range.
It is a USB microphone, which means you can plug it directly into your computer. This makes it very easy to use. However, there’s no trade-off in terms of audio quality. The Blue Yeti is a condenser microphone, with capsules that make your voice sound crisp and clean. You don’t need a recording studio for your voice to sound good.
It comes with its own stand, which erases the need to buy an additional accessory. If you buy it, you probably won’t need to buy much more, which justifies the $100 price tag.
However, the biggest draw, for me, is its versatility. The Blue Yeti comes with a vast range of recording options, which makes it optimal if you’re recording solo, with a co-host or even with a group of people.
While it’s not the most high-end USB condenser microphone you can get, there aren’t too many limitations to the Blue Yeti’s power, which is why I recommend it to anyone looking for a flexible, reliable recording experience.
If you want a dynamic microphone with all the capabilities of this and more, don’t worry: you can always buy the Blue Yeti Pro, which has an even higher frequency response.
For The Fidgety (And Rich): Shure KSM8
Let me preface this by saying the Shure KSM8 costs $499, so if you’re podcasting on a budget, avert your eyes.
However, it costs so much because it simply is one of the most innovative XLR microphones on the market.
Why? Two reasons: Dualdyne 2-diaphragm dynamic cartridge and reverse airflow design.
Yep, that’s a lot of jargon, but all you need to know is that the proximity effect- where your voice changes depending on the position of your mouth- is eliminated.
While being bidirectional or even omnidirectional was once enough the justify a huge price, this mic will literally pick up your voice pretty much wherever you go. This means that you don’t need to sit completely still when recording and speak at the front of the mic. You can move your head, speak close to the mic or stand very far back. Heck, this mic even gives you the luxury of pacing around while you record!
Sure, there are limitations, but while the traditional podcast recording experience requires you to sit still, the Shure KSM8 does away with the intense pressure to position yourself perfectly, allowing you to focus on the words you say. It is simply one of the most dynamic microphones on the market, and XLR cable allows you to do pretty much anything you want with your sound.
For A Great Sounding Podcast: Heil PR-40
While professional podcasters love to argue about what the best microphone is, most of them will agree that if you crave high-quality audio, you can’t go wrong with the Heil PR-40. When it comes to high-quality voice recording, this monster will not let you down.
With a natural response to frequency and very warm midrange, it’s hard to find a microphone that makes your voice sound more fantastic than this. It is also very dynamic, which means that it can handle the hums, clicks, and echoes that might mess up your sound if you’re recording in a non-professional environment. No longer will background noise wreck your recordings! This microphone is almost like having your own shock mount and it brings results that lead to very fine sounding voiceovers.
It is an XLR microphone, which means you need an additional audio interface to plug it into your computer; however, this means it gives you even more control over how your recordings sound. This is one for audiophiles.
For one of the most revered mics on the market, it’s no surprise that it comes at the high price of $329. However, if you’re committed to having a phenomenal sounding podcast, the Heil PR-40 is a great place to start in the chase for high audio quality.
For the Frugal: Blue Snowball iCE
The most important thing you need to know about this microphone is that you can get it for under $50. This is rare when you are looking at professional recording equipment and if you are just starting out and don’t want to break the bank, you won’t have too many issues here.
The audio quality here, while not amazing, is pretty crisp and its USB cable makes it very easy to use. You can plug and play; just plug it into your computer and go to town.
If you want to get the gist of podcasting without having to learn or spend too much, this is a great place to start. It also comes with a microphone stand.
However, there are many pitfalls to going so cheap on your microphone, especially since you’ll find the quality of your audio taking a hit in certain situations. That being said, this is a good place to start if you are looking for bang for your buck. Of course, you’ll need a good pair of headphones to keep close watch on your sound quality as you record. You might need a pop filter as well, although Blue Snowball offers a more expensive option with a built-in pop filter.
If all you want to do is get a decent recording from a USB microphone and don’t care about things like frequency range, the Blue Snowball iCE has got you covered.