- 1 Top 7 Best Streaming Microphones Compared
- 2 Streaming Microphone Buying Guide
Finding the best streaming microphone has become a necessity in this modern world of podcasting, Twitch streaming and YouTube video making. We bought a bunch of different mics, ran them through their paces, and came up with this list of the best products that will deliver crisp audio, versatility and ease of use to your recording setup. During our testing, we eliminated models with muddy sound, complicated directions and those that were better suited to musical instruments than the human voice. With this in mind, we narrowed down the list to the seven best streaming microphones on the market.
Of these seven microphones, the Audio Technica AT2020PK truly left us stunned, delivering unmatched sound quality and versatility in an easy-to-use package. There is a reason Audio Technica has been a legend and the best streaming microphone in the space for nearly 60 years. Keep reading to learn more about the AT2020PK and the other six mics that made the cut.
Top 7 Best Streaming Microphones Compared
#1 Audio Technica AT2020PK Microphone
Award: Top Pick
WHY WE LIKE IT: Audio Technica’s AT2020PK is the best streaming microphone on this list. It worked effortlessly the first time we plugged it in, offering crisp sound that made our vocals larger-than-life.
The Audio Technica AT2020PK Microphone must be heard to be believed, with a cardioid polar pattern that reduces side noise and external rumbling. This mic is ideal for podcasting or even music making. It must be noted, however, the high sound quality comes at a cost. The unit is not exactly USB-friendly, requiring external hardware, be it audio interface or conversion box, in order to function properly.
Additionally, Audio Technica offers a combo pack, which includes the microphone itself, a carrying case, a small microphone stand, most importantly, a pair of their renowned M20x headphones. This will sound great for streaming podcasts and also for music instruments.
#2 BLUE Yeti Condenser Microphone
Award: Honorable Mention
WHY WE LIKE IT: BLUE has positioned itself as a leader in the streaming microphone space thanks to the Yeti. This is the most versatile mic on this list, offering an array of condenser capsules, cardioid patterns and connectivity options, with USB functionality right out of the box.
BLUE’s Yeti is no slouch in the sound department, delivering warm, natural recordings in a variety of situations. This is the perfect microphone for folks who move around a lot, making recordings in different spaces. The condenser capsules and cardioid patterns ensure you can find the perfect sound no matter the room shape or external noise situation.
The Yeti even includes a headphone jack, meaning you can hear yourself through a headset in real-time, hearing exactly what your listeners would hear. This is a rarity for a microphone at this price point. The handy mute button is also a perfect fit for podcasting and live streaming.
#3 HyperX QuadCast Gaming Microphone
Award: Best for Podcasts
WHY WE LIKE IT: The HyperX QuadCast Gaming Microphone is perfectly suited for both live streaming on Twitch and recording podcasts. It features a best-in-class anti-vibration shock mount right out of the box, which helps isolate the microphone from the sounds of the outside world.
The QuadCast is a great sounding mic with four polar patterns, helping to keep the focus on the sounds you want your listeners to hear, and not a truck rumbling past your apartment. It also comes with a mount adapter, which makes installing onto any standard mic stand or boom arm a breeze.
The microphone features an easy-to-access gain knob right at the bottom of the unit, which makes this a true plug-and-play option. Though this mic is designed for live streaming video games, we think it is equally suited to podcasting or doing voiceover work. Which you can later listen to on the best mp3 player.
#4 BLUE Snowball iCE Condenser Microphone
Award: Best Value
WHY WE LIKE IT: The BLUE Snowball line of budget-friendly USB microphones delivers crystal clear audio in an easy-to-use, no-frills package. The iCEe Condenser Microphone is sturdy and affordable, with a frequency response range that is perfect for the human voice.
The BLUE iCe Condenser Microphone is USB 2.0 compatible, with a natural sound that would make a great gaming mic, as its miles above the microphones included with gaming headsets. This mic is the very definition of plug-and-play. There was no set-up whatsoever and no drivers to install. It worked, right out of the box.
This is truly a no-frills microphone, with no polar pattern options and no accessories, aside from a simple stand and the USB cord. You are going to want to get a pop filter if you are going to be using it for podcasting.
#5 Fifine K670 PC Microphone
Award: Superior Sound Quality
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Fifine K670 offers up superior sound quality at an affordable price, delivering USB plug-and-play functionality with some added perks, such as a 3.5mm headphone jack that allows you to listen to what you’re recording in real-time, without latency.
The Fifine K670 is an easy-to-use large diaphragm condenser microphone that produced some stellar results in the audio department. It also comes packed with a detachable metal stand, which allowed us to move the mic around as needed, eliminating the need to crane our heads into awkward positions.
The diaphragm condenser capsule did produce a warm, instantly usable sound, as promised by the manufacturer. The unit also came with a lengthy, 6 feet, USB cord, which we found long enough to reach behind the desk and into the back of the computer, without the need to break out longer cords. For more options, try this list to find the best wireless microphone on the market.
#6 TONOR Q9 USB Microphone
Award: Best Budget
WHY WE LIKE IT: The TONOR Q9 USB Microphone is a user-friendly all-in-one package that delivers high quality sound fidelity, thanks to its cardioid polar pattern and 16mm large diaphragm. The package includes not only the microphone, but an adjustable arm stand, a pop filter, shock mount, foam mic cover and all necessary cables.
The TONOR Q9 USB Microphone easily slots in as our best budget microphone, with a mic that doesn’t skimp on sound quality and a bevy of accessories to make podcasting and live streaming a breeze. We found that it worked the first time we plugged it into our USB slot, without the need for cumbersome drivers. We were also pleased by the inclusion of a foam mic cover and pop filter, which helped mellow out some of the harsher vocal pronunciations.
This microphone also has an astounding frequency response range, 20Hz to 20KHz, with competing models bottoming out at 50Hz.
#7 Aokeo AK-70 Professional Studio Microphone
Award: Best All-in-one
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Aokeo AK-70 Professional Studio Microphone is another all-in-one package, containing the product itself, along with a fully rotatable scissor arm, a pop filter, and a metal shock mount. It sounds great and the whole package won’t break the bank.
The Aokeo AK-70 has a solid, metal build that seems like it could take a drop or two, matched by an extremely sensitive condenser capsule, which picks up even the softest of voices.
This is not a USB-friendly microphone. This product needs external hardware in order to shine, in the form of an audio interface or a standalone phantom power supply. Certain Windows PCs can skirt by without an audio interface if you have the proper sound card, but the lack of phantom power will leave you running for the gain knob.
How We Decided
Finding the best streaming microphone to suit your needs can be difficult, with so many options on offer. We simply sought out affordable mics that were easy to use and sounded great. During our research, we ruled out any microphone with an inadequate frequency response range, which could produce a dull bass or treble response. We also took a look at each product’s sample rate, bit depth, and latency, eliminating microphones that weren’t up to snuff, specs wise. Most importantly, however, we used our ears. If it sounded good, it was good.
Streaming Microphone Buying Guide
The Most Important Features to Consider
As you’re researching which streaming microphone to buy, consider the below features and how the product you’re currently eyeing would fit into your specific workflow:
- USB or XLR
Put simply, a USB microphone plugs right into a slot in your computer, while a microphone with an XLR input needs a separate audio interface in order to function. Why go with a product that needs external hardware? XLR connectors have been the industry standard for more than 60 years, and most professional grade microphones lack USB functionality. Audio interfaces bring all kinds of bells and whistles to the table, from greater control over your audio source to the addition of phantom power, which helps certain microphones achieve extreme sensitivity. While an audiophile may make the argument that XLR microphones simply sound better, that isn’t exactly true anymore. USB mics have made tremendous strides in audio fidelity in the past several years and many would be hard pressed to tell the difference.
- Microphone Polar Patterns
Some of the mics on this list offer up the ability to change polar patterns on the fly. A polar pattern details where the mic will focus most of its attention. The industry standard cardioid pattern, for instance, is especially good at picking up sound that is right in front of it, which makes it perfect for speaking. Other patterns include omnidirectional, which picks up everything in the room, and bidirectional, which picks up sounds from the front and back of the microphone. This latter pattern is ideal for two person podcasts.
Certain mics on this list come with useful accessories, such as pop filters, shock mounts and adjustable arms or stands. Shock mounts act as a safe “nest” that the microphone rests in, which prevents vibrations and external noises from traveling up the mic stand. Pop filters reduce sibilant noises, eliminating harshness from certain pronunciations, as found in words that start with “p” and, additionally, helps protect the microphone from excess saliva. Adjustable arms and stands are extremely useful, allowing for a fuller range of motion of the microphone. These make sure you’ll be comfortable while you are speaking and that you have the best angle for superior sound quality.
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