How we pick our products
Welcome to our big USB microphone tests 2022. Here we present all the USB microphones we have tested. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.
We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best USB microphone for you.
You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should be aware of if you want to buy a USB microphone.
- 1 Summary
- 2 The Best USB Microphone: Our Picks
- 3 Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a USB microphone
- 4 Decision: What types of USB microphones are there and which is the right one for you?
- 5 Buying criteria: These are the factors you can use to compare and evaluate USB microphones
- 6 Facts worth knowing about USB microphones
- The microphone is the most important link in the chain between you and your listeners. It is right at the beginning of the processing. Therefore, it is very important that you invest in the right model
- A USB microphone is fast and flexible. No accessories are needed and it can be put into operation immediately. However, a USB microphone is not the first choice for professional use
- There are basically dynamic and condenser microphones that differ in price and suitability. Condenser microphones offer a finer sound, while dynamic microphones are better at dealing with interference factors
The Best USB Microphone: Our Picks
Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a USB microphone
Is a USB microphone right for me?
A USB microphone is ideal for home use and for beginners. Its ease of use makes the USB model so popular.
In general, microphones with a USB connection are better suited for voice recording than for singing, rapping or making music. For podcasting, skyping and gaming, a USB microphone is a good choice.
If you want studio-quality recordings, it is better to use a microphone with a jack plug, also known as an XLR.
Most XLR microphones require an amplifier, which you have to buy separately. In addition, the signal must be digitised, which requires an A/D converter. With a USB device, you have the advantage that both are already integrated in the form of an audio interface.
USB microphones are the first choice for leisure and for beginners. The ease of use is of great importance to many users. YOU can find your way around immediately without prior knowledge or special additional equipment. A USB connection also offers the possibility to connect the microphone to a whole range of hardware.
In addition, there are microphones that have both a USB connection and a jack.
What are the alternatives to a USB microphone?
As already mentioned, there are also microphones with a jack plug.
A third option is data transfer via Bluetooth. This gives you more flexibility, but the sound quality is inferior. You are also dependent on the availability of W-Lan.
How much should I invest for good quality?
The price varies greatly depending on the purpose of the microphone. The simplest microphones start at less than 10 euros, the professional version can cost thousands of euros.
Compared to an XLR microphone, the USB microphone is usually the cheaper option, but there is still a lot of room for manoeuvre. A dynamic microphone is also usually cheaper than a condenser microphone.
Condenser microphones are available from 50 euros, but the quality is usually only good enough for the simplest applications.
From 100 euros upwards, you can buy a good dynamic microphone. Condenser microphones start at 200 euros.
How do I use a USB microphone?
Normally, it should be enough to plug in your USB microphone and you can start right away. This is called the plug and play principle.
With which devices and programmes can I use a USB microphone?
Because of the USB connection, there is already a whole range of possibilities. Many users want to use their microphone not only with their PC, but also with smartphones, tablets or game consoles.
The following devices have a USB connection that supports your microphone:
- Nintendo Wii
- Nintendo Switch console
- Playstation 3/Playstation 4
- Mac/ Mac Mini
- Xbox 360/ Xbox one
For the iPhone, iPad and Android smartphones, you need a so-called USB OTG adapter.
There are programmes and apps in various price ranges for sound post-processing. The most important ones are listed in this table.
|Cubase||Highly professional audio programme for music production||Various versions between 100 and 500 euros|
|magix music maker||Music editing programme with simple application||Around 50 euros|
|FL Studio||For professional music production||90-800 euros depending on version|
|GarageBand||Mobile app for iPad and iPhone||free|
Which accessories make sense for me?
Pop screen or windscreen
A pop shield can make a big difference, especially with a condenser microphone. During a voice recording, hard consonants like “p” and “T” often create unattractive distortion and noise. A pop screen can provide a remedy for a few euros.
A windscreen is useful if you want to record outdoors. A windscreen is available for less than 10 euros.
A microphone spider is an elastic mount for the microphone. It absorbs vibrations from the environment, such as those caused by footsteps. It is mainly used in recording studios. A microphone spider usually costs less than 15 euros.
As an alternative to a microphone tiller, a simple microphone stand is usually sufficient.
Decision: What types of USB microphones are there and which is the right one for you?
Basically, a distinction is made between the following types of USB microphones:
- Dynamic USB microphone
- Condenser microphone
You cannot talk about “better” or “worse” with the two types. Both types of microphone have their strengths and weaknesses and are more or less suitable for different situations. Which model is right for you depends on the purpose for which you need it.
In the following, you will learn everything you need to know about the two types of microphones so that you can choose the right model for you.
The dynamic microphone has a diaphragm that is vibrated by sound. A voice coil is attached to the diaphragm, which in turn is connected to a magnetic field. The movement of the voice coil creates a voltage in the magnetic field that reflects the sound.
The dynamic microphone is robustly built and can therefore be held in the hand without problems. It is much less susceptible to noise than the condenser microphone. It is therefore ideal for a live performance and does well without additional accessories such as a pop shield or tripod.
The dynamic microphone produces a powerful sound and is the first choice for singing. A disadvantage is that the signal produced by the dynamic microphone is often very weak and therefore a preamplifier is often necessary.
The condenser microphone also has a diaphragm that resonates with the sound. A counter-electrode follows at a short distance. When the distance to this electrode changes due to the vibrations, electrical energy is generated. The signal generated in this way is amplified in the microphone.
The diaphragm of the condenser microphone is much more sensitive than that of the dynamic microphone. As a result, it reproduces the sound in greater detail. It can also react to very short sound impulses and the sound is more realistic and warmer.
Singers appreciate the condenser microphone because it makes the voice sound professional and full
Condenser microphones are mainly used for professional vocal recordings in the studio
Condenser microphones usually have a wider frequency range than dynamic microphones. They can therefore capture very high frequencies better.
Due to the thin diaphragm, however, it is also more sensitive to interference from vibrations. The microphone is difficult to hold in the hand and reacts to vibrations caused by footsteps, for example. Accessories such as a microphone spider and a stand can help. Of course, this makes the use of the microphone less flexible.
Speech applications such as podcasting, skyping and gaming are best done with a condenser microphone. Consonants such as “T” and “D”, for example, are recorded in better resolution. On a positive note, the integrated amplifier makes an external preamplifier unnecessary for most applications.
Buying criteria: These are the factors you can use to compare and evaluate USB microphones
In the following, we will show you which aspects you can use to decide between the many possible USB microphones.
The criteria with which you can compare the microphones with each other include:
- Transducer type
- Polar pattern
- Sound quality
- Additional connections
In the following, you can read what each criterion is about and find out why it makes sense for you to buy a device based on the criteria or not.
We have already dealt in detail with the type of transducer and its effects in the subchapter Decision. Basically, a dynamic microphone has the edge in live performances and reacts much less sensitively to vibrations.
The condenser microphone is your first choice if you want to make high-quality vocal and speech recordings. It requires more accessories, but delivers a finer sound quality.
The polar pattern is one of the most important criteria when buying a microphone. It’s about what sound sources you want to pick up and what you don’t want to pick up.
For example, when singing, you only want to record your voice, not the hum of the refrigerator. A microphone with the right directional characteristic helps you to block out disturbing sound sources.
There are directional and omnidirectional microphones. Non-directional microphones pick up sound evenly from all sides. These microphones are suitable for capturing the atmosphere of a room. This type of characteristic is called omnidirectional because the sound is picked up spherically all around.
With a cardioid microphone, sound coming directly from the front is picked up more strongly than sound coming from the side or the back. This is an advantage when singing.
The singer stands in front of the microphone so that his or her voice is picked up the loudest. Disturbing background noise from other directions is muffled or even swallowed.
Supercardioid or hypercardioid characteristic:
With this type, sound from the side is suppressed even more. It also picks up some sound from behind.
The directional microphone
This refers to the narrowest directional characteristic, i.e. these microphones have the smallest range in which they are sensitive.
The directional microphone can be aimed precisely at a sound source and noise is reduced most effectively. They are therefore ideal for interviews in a noisy room, press conferences and video shoots.
The quality is, of course, largely determined by the above-mentioned criteria of transducer type and directional characteristics, among others. In this section we provide more information on how to recognise good sound quality in a microphone.
Every microphone has its own noise. This is natural. So there is no such thing as a mic without noise – just models with as little noise factor as possible. The lower the self-noise, the quieter the signals the microphone can still pick up. The self-noise is indicated in the technical data in the unit dB-A.
|Under 10 dB-A||Extremely low self-noise|
|16-19 dB-A||Sufficient for most applications|
|20-23 dB-A||Only suitable for loud recordings|
|Over 24 dB-A||Very annoying|
The limiting sound pressure
The limiting sound pressure indicates up to what volume the microphone can still process the signals. For example, if you want to record the atmosphere of a rock concert, your microphone may overload because the sound pressure is too high.
Microphones pick up different frequencies differently. For hobby use, however, these differences are usually not important. For most applications, a microphone with linear frequency response is best – it picks up all frequency ranges equally well.
For many users, additional functions that require additional connections are important. For example, if you want to hear yourself while recording, you should choose a microphone with a headphone jack. This allows you to listen in without delay.
As mentioned above, you can also buy a microphone with USB and XLR connectors. This gives you even more flexibility on the road.
Facts worth knowing about USB microphones
How can I amplify a USB microphone?
If your USB microphone is too quiet, you can usually fix this in the computer settings.
- Open the control panel
- select “Sound” from the “Hardware and Sound” menu
- Go to the “Recording” tab and select your microphone
- Click on “Properties
- Go to the “Level” tab and move the slider all the way to the right
This way you can use the maximum power of your mic.
How can I improve the quality of my USB microphone?
If you already have a USB mic and are not satisfied with the sound, there are a few tricks that can help you.
As mentioned above, there are many useful accessories such as microphone spiders, pop masks, windscreens and stands that can help you reduce or even eliminate many types of noise.
If you haven’t achieved your desired result, you may want to make some changes to your recording environment. If you are in a small room or corner, sound waves will bounce off the walls and interfere with the recording.
You can either move to a more open space or even work with sound-absorbing objects such as pillows and blankets. If you have particularly big problems with echoes, it is even advisable to use a shielding wall, for example made of steel wool.
Finally, there is the option of varying the speaking distance from the microphone. Different microphones have different ideal speaking distances at which they can record best. It is important to test different distances.
What do I do if my USB microphone is not recognised?
If a PC does not recognise a USB microphone, it is usually due to the sound driver. This could be installed incorrectly or be out of date. It is therefore worth updating and then trying again.
With Windows, it is also possible that the microphone has not yet been set up correctly. This way you can still get it to work:
- Right-click on the sound icon in the taskbar
- Select “Recording devices
- Go to the “Recording” tab
- Select your microphone in the menu and choose “Set as default”
If the mic still doesn’t work, here’s how to configure it:
- in the same menu, go to “Configure” and then to “Set up microphone”
- Select the type of microphone, i.e. “headphone microphone” or “table microphone”
- Then click on next twice.
- Test the microphone by speaking the sample text into it and then click on finish
This is how you should be able to get a USB mic to work.
Image source: pixabay.com / Pexels