The Best Microphones for Live Performances on Stage

We found the best microphones for live stage use

Live performance stage microphones can be make or break when it comes to a show. This is largely because they offer one a captivating means of portraying their musical pieces to the audience — we need to be able to portray our art in the most optimal way possible. We know from experience being on stage for years — we’ve used terrible mics that really disappointed us (and the audience), whereas a great mic paired up with a good sound system and mixing team made a world of difference. We’ll focus on one thing in this guide — the best microphone for live stage use. Let’s get into what we want you to look for, first.

Finding your performance vocal microphone

We’re huge into buying a dynamic microphone if you’ll be performing vocals on stage, regardless of your audience size, stage environment, etc. The purpose for using dynamic mics vs. condensers is quite simple — the means to which they’re built, constructed and how they capture sound overall. Whereas condensers are always preferred for studio settings, dynamic mics are preferred for live applications because they can handle louder and more intense signals without loss of clarity. Condeners are very ‘sensitive’ and pick up whatever it can that is in front of it — dynamic mics need rejection on the sides which we don’t want to be played out loud in order to really focus on what’s in front of it — your voice!

For those who are looking for wireless mics, we recommend reading our guide on the best wireless microphones instead. This however will bring up a lot of information you’ll have to read about and learn, such as setting up a wireless mic system, using external power sources, mixing (hopefully you have your sound crew already?).

The best microphones for live stage

Rode M2

A big favorite for live performance stage mics

This vocal stage microphone has been designed specifically for vocalists needing a versatile and relatively affordable mic to bring up to the lights. It includes a solid cardioid polar pattern that allows the microphone to effectively reject off-axis sound to help isolate your voice in front o fit. What’s more, the Rode M2 is a relatively powerful given its considerably high frequency range of between 20 kHz and 35 kHz; higher than most dynamic microphones. Rode believes in the M2 design so much that these pieces of hardware come with a warranty of 10 years which is testament to its sturdy build. On the flip side, it relies solely on phantom power although it can use up any source within a voltage range of 48V and 24V. So make sure you have a power source to use when connecting it up on stage. Noteworthy, with the Rode M2, you need not worry about buying a stand mount as it is included in the original package alongside a pouch for added portability.

Sennheiser e835

Another one of our favorite live stage microphones

One of the most popular models in Sennheiser’s EVOLUTION series, the e835 is known for its cardioid pickup pattern and dynamic design both of which give users a considerable amount of stage presence boost. Compared to other models within this series such as the highly acclaimed SM58, the e835 adds extra body to the sound produced. On the other hand, when it comes to making rolled-off highs, this mic tends to experience a low amount of mid-range congestion, hence, tampering with your sound projection. Nonetheless, it amplifies low sounds which make it ideal for performers with rather weak sounds. On the whole, the Sennheiser e835 qualifies as one of the best microphones for live performances on stage due to it’s clarity, power, and overall reputation.

AKG D5

A budget-friendly stage microphone to buy

At first glance, there is not much that sets the D5 apart from other microphones in the market. It takes on the common ‘mesh ball with a handle’ design in addition to the XLR cable that runs through its rear end. However, its most impressive features are more in line with its performance features rather than build. Top of the list is its laminated diaphragm with a variable thickness that allows it to produce smooth sounds. More importantly, this feature ensures that there is zero mechanical feedback during sound production. It is, therefore, most ideal for live performances. Other standout features include a rugged construction, a super-cardioid polar pattern, and a weight of 2 pounds for extra portability. Combined, these features make the AKG D5 a top contender for best stage microphone.

Shure KSM9

Shure's best microphone for live stage use

Most people are still blind to the fact that most ‘legacy’ hardware are today eclipsed in terms of performance by modern gadgets. One such modern piece of hardware is the Shure KSM9 that is uniquely designed for use in high-end live setups. It is available in a charcoal black or silver finish which gives it aesthetic appeal. One of its standout features is the mini-switch which allows users to switch in-between a super cardioid and cardioid pattern during performances. The switch is located right underneath the grille assembly. What’s more, it has a dual diaphragm that goes a long way in minimizing proximity effect. It boasts of a frequency rate of 50 Hz to 20 kHz while its response rate lies in-between 100 Hz and 2 kHz. A very natural and clear sound here. These added to its consistent sonic performance make the Shure KSM9 one of the best stage microphones in the market today.

Audix i5

A budget-friendly option to buy here

The Audix i5 is a great stage vocal microphone for the price. It features a frequency response rate of 50 Hz to 16 kHz making it ideal for home studios, live steaming, podcasting or live shows. According to most reviews, the i5 is best utilized alongside wind instruments especially the guitar, but for vocals we’ve also heard many great responses. It is highly portable given that it comes with a soft pouch and a stand holder. Its sturdy metallic design also adds a layer of durability to the microphone ensuring you get to use it for as long as you would like. Other notable features that make this Audix i5 dynamic mic one of the best microphones for live performances include an XLR connector, a meager weight of 0.4 lbs., and a cardioid polar pattern. It’s quite versatile and reliable considering it is so budget-friendly.

Shure SM58

A legendary pick as the best microphone for live stage performances

Since 1925, Shure has reigned supreme in the microphone market having released some of the most iconic models of all time. The SM58 is one of the most legendary additions to the list. This cardioid dynamic vocal mic features added proximity effect control with a brighter bass and mid-range roll off for a reliable frequency response rate. As such, this microphone has been specifically designed for live stage performances. It also has an in-built sphere-like pop and wind filter that contribute to its frequency response rate of 15,000 Hz and 50 Hz. One of the major problems with live performance microphones is handling noise which tends to disrupt audio flow. However, with the SM58 this should not be much of a problem since the mic also has a pneumatic shock-mount to help limit these disruptions. And as a bonus, the cardioid pattern reduces background noise as well as isolating the primary source of sound. In sum, it is evident that the Shure SM58 is one of the best mics for live performances on stage, period. Especially for those on a budget. We’ve known many musicians who have 2-3 of these in their toolbox.

Sennheiser e945

A great stage vocal microphone to look at

Let’s talk high-end. With the ability to cut through the mix and offer a bright live performance for both high and deep bass vocalists, the Sennheiser e945 easily qualifies as one of the best stage microphone models available in today’s market. This versatile piece of hardware works in similar fashion to a condensed microphone when it comes to sound balance as well as clarity. Using its capsule mounting that is shock-resistant and features a hum-bucking coil, this mic can cancel a substantial amount of background noise, thus offering you high audibility. It is also durable given its rugged metal build. However, it lacks one of the most basic features of any live performance microphone; an on/off switch. All in all, it is still great for the price and blows many of the mics in this guide out of the water if you have the cash to spare.

TC-Helicon MP-75

TC Helicon's great vocal microphone

The MP-75 comes fully equipped with a super cardioid polar pattern which allows it to efficiently cancel out background noise. However, it is still difficult to locate the most ideal spots on stage in a bid to fully minimize noise emanating from various regions in the background. Due to this, some people say that a hyper cardioid pattern would be more suitable fit for the MP-75. Being that it is wireless, you can still move around quite easily while on stage. To this end, it has an impedance of 150 ohm in addition to several integrated filters as well as effects. It also features a frequency range of 18,000 and 50 Hz while its curve neither has high nor low frequencies since it has been built to emphasize on mid-range frequencies. This makes the TC-Helicon MP-75 an ideal pick for on stage vocals, thus, making the MP-75 one of the best microphones for live performances.

Shure Beta 58A

The last best vocal stage dynamic microphone

Enter the Shure Beta 58A, a super cardioid high output dynamic microphone that is an ideal pick for touring artistes and vocalists. It is ranked among the best live performance microphone options since it produces great power and clarity, high gain prior to feedback, produces minute coloration for off-axis tones, and its consistent super cardioid pattern that remains constant across its frequency range. This sonic performance is made possible by its rated impedance of 150 ohms, an open circuit voltage of 2.7 mV, a symmetrical super cardioid pattern, a slip-in/adjustable mounting as well as a meager weight of 9.92 ounces for added portability. We’re glad to end this guide with the Shure Beta 58A since it’s a classic among all types of vocal stage microphones in the world.

The Best Microphones for Rap Vocals

Our guide on the best rap vocal microphones in the market

Finding a rap vocal microphone won’t be impossible, but it will be very important to take your time and choose wisely. When spitting bars, it is imperative that one utilizes a microphone that reflects their voice in the best way possible. Nowadays, we have some decent options if you’re on a budget, or if you have some cash saved up, can grab a beast that will last you years as an investment. Unlike performance microphones which are more of general purpose utilities, one needs to be very particular about the rap microphone they use when recording in a studio, regardless if it’s professional or in your home. With our research and experience (yes, we’ve been rapping since the early 2000’s), we were able to collect some of our favorite picks as the best microphone for recording rap vocals in the market today. But first, let’s get into some of the specifics to look for.

Selecting the best rap vocal microphone

Since we’re talking in particular about rapping in this guide, not just recording vocals. So here are the specifics we want to look out for when it comes to this “type” of vocal recording and to prioritize your emphasis on while you search through microphones:

  • A decent Sound-Pressure Level (SPL): Rapping style is very diverse when it comes to the actual pressure of your voice (also to be simplified as ‘volume’). We know a lot of rappers who love getting that power and nearly screaming their verse into the mic, while others take a softer and more smooth approach and need the gain turned up pretty high. Regardless, keep in mind SPL and what your style may call for. Most mics should be fine in this regard.
  • Solid dynamic range: We want a microphone that’s able to pick up a good amount of frequency range to ensure we have a full sound. Grabbing cheaper mics (even some USB under $50 won’t do at all).
  • Emphasis on sensitivity: Recording = detail. We want as much detail as possible, to really paint that picture of our voice and our verses. Microphones that emphasize ‘microphone sensitivity’
  • Condenser microphones: Speaking of sensitivity, these are the number one industry standard for recording vocals (and most instruments) in a studio setting due to their ability to pick up detail. This is why you’ll need a super quiet and snug environment to record in — we’ve had our rapping mic literally pickup bird noises from outside even though our window was closed (many studios don’t have windows due to this). So our recommendation is focusing on condenser microphones, period. You can either grab a traditional XLR-connected condenser mic or a new wave of USB microphones (we have a few in here) that have become great solutions for home studios.
  • Cardioid polar patterns: While most condenser microphones entail this polar pattern, just a last minute reminder to avoid most ‘dynamic microphones’ that pick up from the tail-end of the mic (most you have to hold). You want a mountable, cardioid pickup that picks up in front of it while you stand and rap directly into it. If you’re unaware of ‘polar patterns’ and want to learn more, read our microphone specifications guide.

The best microphone for rapping

Audio-Technica AT2035

The best microphone for rapping in our opinion

Up first as our number one pick as the best microphone for rap vocals, we have a model that covers all of the bases we’ve listed previously to keep in mind. Not only with a reputation and reviews to back up it’s reliability and clarity, but in regards to specifications and overall long-term use as well. Fully equipped with a 10 dB pad and an 80 Hz high-pass filter, the AT 2035 provides low noise and highly detailed rap vocals for home or professional studio use. It solely relies on a cardioid polar pattern and has a frequency response of 20 – 20,000 Hz. Its performance specifications include roll-off as well as flat switches, a typical dynamic range of 136 dB, 120 ohms impedance, sensitivity of -33 dB, and finally, a maximum input sound level of 158 dB when the 10 dB pad is engaged, (otherwise, its sound level is 148 db). With acute response to both low and high sounds, great sensitivity, and a shock-mount that is snug enough to allow for use in a variety of positions, the Audio-Technica AT2035 is arguably one of the best rapping microphone options available in the market today. It’s on the low-end of the price-tags when compared to others, too. If you want to invest some more cash however and perhaps need a higher-end mic, continue reading.

Rode NT1-A

Another one of the best microphones for rap vocals

Up next, we have one of our most beloved microphones we’ve recommended for years, regardless of ‘vocal type’. Rode is one of the most reputable manufacturers of microphones in the music industry today. Among it’s line of microphones is the NT1-A, which is known to deliver an extended, warm dynamic range and offer high SPL abilities, as well as reliable clarity. In terms of build, the NT1-A is made up of a large 1 inch capsule with a stylish diaphragm, plated with gold. It weighs a meager 326 grams with a diameter of 50 mm, width of 50 mm and height of 19 0mm, making it relatively easy to carry around. Performance-wise, the NT1-A is great with a frequency range of 20 -20 kHz, a maximal SPL of 137 db, sensitivity of -31.9 dB, and noise level equivalence of 5 dBA. A lot of people say that the Rode NT1-A is worth its price since it is built to high manufacturer standards and has the ability to perform an extended range of recording tasks. Overall, the sound is warm, clear, and the rapping microphone is just strictly reliable to last you a decade or more in the studio if you can take proper care of it.

Blue Yeti Pro

The best rapping microphone if you're cool with a USB mic

What makes a mic the best microphone for rap vocals? The answer is versatility and high-resolution; two of the most standout features of the Blue Yeti Pro. Coming in as the most popular USB mic in the game today, it has a wide range of technical capabilities which have been made possible by its amplified headphone and mic performance. To this regard, some of its technical features include a sample rate of 192 kHz / 24-bit, a signal to noise rate of 114 dB, 130 megawatts power output, an impedance of at least 16 ohms, sensitivity of 4.5mV/Pa, and frequency response rate of up to 20 kHz. Also, this rapping microphone allows both amateur and seasoned rappers to record quality audios since it has 4 different pattern modes. These include cardioid which records sounds emanating from directly in front of the mic leading to a rich and complete sound, omni-directional which collects sound from all round the mic, bi-Directional which collects sound from the back as well as front of the mic, and stereo which combines sound with a wide array of instruments including a piano or acoustic guitar. Look into the Blue Yeti Pro if you want a high-end USB mic to record your rap vocals with — you can’t go wrong with this, especially seeing all of those 5 stars all around the net.

Neumann TLM 102

A very high-end rap vocal mic here

Let’s bring our guide on the best microphones for rapping up to a higher-end as we reach the middle of our list. With a treble boost, sound production that is free from distortions at the highest pressure levels, convenient plug and play functionality, and a sound many snobs don’t come near any other microphone (that Neumann name is like the BMW of mics), it comes as no surprise that the TLM 102 is viewed by many as the best microphone for rap vocals, or really any type of vocal recording in the game. Unlike most rapping mics, this model is able to directly jump in dynamic without necessarily experiencing any sound distortion. Moreover, it is fully capable of processing extremely high volume which is quite common in the hip-hop scene if you go to semi-pro or even professional studios. With its highly refined treble and detailed bass, this microphone reproduces up to 144 dB sound pressure. Other notable features include an in-built pop shield, easy handling, 50 ohms impedance, cardioid directional pattern, sensitivity of 11 mV/Pa, and a maximum SPL of 144 db (higher than most). The Neumann TLM 102‘s build also allows for easy handling as it weighs 210 grams, is 116 mm long, and has a diameter of 52 mm. One of the best microphones for recording rap vocals, period. Or really recording anything you can think of.

Shure SM7B

A beautiful dynamic mic to rap with

Let’s talk about maybe one of the most highly-regarded recording microphones of all time. If you are looking for the best rapping microphone to preserve all the natural elements of your sound, then look no further than the Shure SM7B. In terms of sound quality, majority of reviews give this mic a rating of 5/5. This is due to its sturdy performance which includes its ability to reduce distortion from noisy sources, bass roll-off and an emphasis on its mid-range. The microphone also comes fully equipped with a switch cover plate and close-talk windscreen which facilitates its rugged construction. Additionally, the microphone’s dynamic cartridge has an extended range and flat response that reproduces naturally clean rapping sound, as well as music. Most sound engineers and rappers find this microphone to be exceptionally useful in cases where smooth and warm frequencies are mandatory, especially in studios utilizing instruments with close-miking abilities. According to online reviews, however, the microphone offers solid quality but needs extra articles in order to function. Herein lies the problem since this forces users to incur extra costs. Nonetheless, the Shure SM7B is legendary at this point among recording enthusiasts and definitely one of our picks as the best rap vocal microphones in the market.

Avantone Pro CV-12

The best rap vocal microphone if you want a more warm sound

Ever heard of a tube microphone? This will give you a different ‘sound’ (arguably by some) than others, so if you want a different feel (more of an old-school, vintage, retro sound) than others trying to make it in the rapping game, this is a great option if you have the cash. Rap is all about style and swagger; and the Avantone Pro CV-12 has both. This red tube-type condenser is considered to be among the best rapping microphones. With up to 9 polar patterns that can be selected at a power supply of PS-12, an equivalence noise level of not more than 17 dB, output impedance of lesser than or equal to 250 Ohms, an S/N ratio of 78 dB and sensitivity of -35 dB, it is easy to see why this microphone comes highly rated. One of its most unique features is its build which comprises of a polished nickel trim finish that is embodied in a red capsule to give it that fresh, hip look. It weighs 8 KG and is 237 mm long and 46 mm wide, which makes this rap microphone quite easy to handle when recording. Other notable features that make it the best microphone for rap vocals include a -10 dB attenuation switch, a male XLR output connector pin, an 80 Hz high-pass switch that operates at 6 dB per octave and a maximum SPL of 146 dB whenever the pad is engaged. The Avantone Pro CV-12 brings a different spin to ‘sound’ with recording rapping — you’ll have to hear it for yourself and see if you can even notice. Some say they totally can, while others state it’s merely subjective.

Rode NT-USB

Recording rap vocals on this are very easy with the USB connectivity

This side-address microphone is a good choice not only for rappers, but also other spoken functions such as podcasts or voice-overs. Its specifications include a 3.5 mm headphone jack for monitoring at zero-latency, 16-bit resolution (not 24-bit like the Yeti Pro, but it’s a lot cheaper), frequency range of 20 Hz -20 kHz, and a plethora of USB and power options. Just as the name suggests, the NT-USB is arguably a great microphone for rap vocals when it comes to its USB connectivity and other flexible connection alternatives. As such, not only is it compatible with the smart device if you make music that way, but also Mac OS and Windows based computers. In fact, its package includes a 6 mm USB cable which facilitates these connections. Other items included in the Rode NT-USB package include a black zip case for extra protection, a tripod stand, ring mount and pop filter for enhanced convenience.

Audio Technica AT2020

Another pick as the best microphone for recording rap vocals

This highly reviewed rap microphone is ideal for home studios and another great option by Audio-Technica. It is a side-address compressor with a noise level of 20 dB. It specifically uses a cardioid polar pattern which helps minimize the amount of noise picked up either from the rear or the side, hence sticking to the desired source as we recommended earlier. The custom-engineered diaphragm is of a low-mass nature which in turn allows it to provide rappers with good transient response and a wide frequency response. Several music lovers define the AT 2020 and being the best rapping microphone with specific regards to its versatility — this is because it can handle high sound pressure levels as well as an extensive dynamic range. The Audio-Technica AT2020 is also quite appealing to the eye due to the black speckled finish that gives it a professional yet hip outlook.

Warm Audio WA-251

Another beautiful tube microphone for rapping

Do you want to sound like a legend? Then the WA-251 by musical conglomerate, Warm Audio, is exactly what you are after. This is one of the best recording microphones for rapping in regards to that tube ‘retro’ sound we previously explained with that CV-12. Produced by the renowned company with a dynamic range of 125 dBA, 3 polar pattern ability (omni, figure-of-eight, cardioid), a grounded PSU for external IEC, a maximum sound pressure level of 132 dB, a rated load impedance of greater or equal to 2K ohms, and an s/n ratio of 80 dBA. Combined, these technical features boost the microphone’s recording performance allowing it to capture your voice in its most raw form. That tube processing is what transforms the audio into that ‘analog’-type sound. The Warm Audio WA-251 also boast of a pretty good design which takes on the classic 1960’s look which includes some of the most vintage microphone components iv its 247 x 46 mm tubular golden mic. It’s definitely up there in price, of course.

AKG C214

The last pick as the best microphone for recording rapping

Last on this list of the best rap vocal microphone is the AKG C214 condenser mic which has a notably sizable diaphragm. It is listed among the best recording microphones especially for rapping majorly due to its immense versatility. This AKG mic has a large diaphragm which allows it to the ability to achieve an extensively wide dynamic range. In result, this mic can reach a dynamic range of up to 143 dB, thus, creating natural and uncompressed transients. Stile on its variety, the AKG C214 can be used on a wide variety of sound sources. It performs equally well on different instruments thanks to its low-cut filter and attenuation pad of 20 dB, both of which are switchable. Also noteworthy, its XLR output, scratch resistant finish an sturdy metal grille give this mic a quality construction for enhanced sonic accuracy. It will last you years, and is a great cap to our list here today.

The Top 10 Best Microphones for Streaming

Today we've finished our guide on the top 10 best streaming microphones for the money

Streaming has become one of the most popular activities, hobbies, and even professions on the internet. Without a microphone to stream with, you literally can’t do it, but even those who have something super cheap won’t come across as legitimate. That’s why we wanted to spend today writing a guide on some of our favorite microphones for streaming, and ensured we covered a bit of everything in regards to budget, types of microphones, shapes, sizes and personalities. But first let’s highlight some factors to keep in mind before you start shopping around.

Finding your microphone for streaming

Budget of course is always a factor for anything in life, but today we especially want you to keep in mind not only how much money you’re willing to spend, but also need to spend. If you’re doing this for fun with some friends and/or family and want to share your experiences, you don’t need to get all crazy with microphones and extra gear. However, if you indeed want to start a serious channel and get going on a potential long-run of a streaming endeavor, we recommend making an investment since this is your number one priority — sound quality.

In our opinion, the type of microphone is something to keep in mind as well. For streaming in particular, we recommend condenser microphones, because they offer the clearest quality for ‘recording environments’. This is due to their internal builds and sensitivity that focus on capturing detail as opposed to other types of mics that may concentrate on picking up sound while also rejecting outside ambient noise. With a condenser, you’ll have to be wary of your environment and that there isn’t any unwanted noise that will leak into the mix. We also recommend looking into USB microphones since they’re becoming more and more popular today and advancing in quality. Otherwise, you can grab a ‘traditional condenser’ which entails an ‘XLR connection’, but with that you’ll need some additional gear to power them up.

Speaking of additional gear, we lastly want you to keep in mind what else you’ll need to spend some money on. We’re talking headphones, audio interfaces, microphone pop filters, mic stands, cables, sound proofing (if you want to get nuts), and more. We did include a microphone package down below but just one, so that guide may interest you if you want to find a package that will get you extra gear and save money at the same time.

The best streaming microphones

Blue Yeti Pro

The best microphone for streaming

Up first, our best microphone for streaming comes to be the The Blue Yeti Pro, a versatile, high-resolution USB and XLR true dual system microphone. This mike is designed to capture 24 bit/ 192 Khz sound quality on your desktop and channel them to your professional studio recording equipment. It comes with four different pattern settings and three custom condenser capsules. The output of the Yeti Pro is highly detailed and sharp and is therefore great for different recording scenarios such as studio, home, or even in other streaming environments you may find yourself in.

Considering that it produces a high-quality audio output, this type of microphone is used by the world’s top streamers — we guarantee you more often than not even the biggest streamers have used or have heard of the Yeti Pro before. It has a reputable design that is engineered to deliver rich and quite detailed sound from podcasts, music projects, game streaming, and voice overs. It comes with an adjustable design so that you can position the mike in the best placement possible with the little stand, otherwise you can convert it to a traditional studio microphone and place it on a mic stand if that’s what you fancy. It’s four pattern settings are omnidirectional, bi-directional, stereo and cardioid. It is worth noting that it is a zero latency microphone, making the Blue Yeti Pro one of the best microphones for streaming on the planet.

Apogee MiC Plus

Another one of the best streaming microphones

This is another studio quality USB microphone that offers various connectivity options for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Mac devices or just your normal PC if you stream cross-platform. It is engineered to record any sound you want and produce a solid quality output. It comes with a professional cardioid condenser microphone capsule and makes use of a pure digital connection that gives it a pure sound quality of up to 24 bit / 96kHz audio resolution (not quite as high as the Yeti Pro but it’s cheaper so you can choose what’s worth it). It is also designed with a digitally controlled 46dB microphone preamp gain for greater precision and power.

When it comes to connectivity, you just plug it in and start recording with no configuration required. The Apogee MiC Plus size is ideal as it can fit in your pocket for easy portability. Its high-sensitive capsule gives it a wide dynamic range that captures any streamer out there. The sound produced is great for the cost; however, compared to the Yeti Pro some may say it isn’t “as good” in regards to sound quality, but it’s just about 92 kHz you’re missing. The smaller size and compatibility with other devices may attract you to this instead. The ability to record from any environment makes this microphone an ideal choice for streaming.

Audio-Technica AT2020

A great condenser mic for streaming

This is another great model we are going to put in our basket of best streaming microphones. First, it is engineered using consistent high-quality standards that set it apart from other microphones within its class. It makes use of a low mass diaphragm, which is dedicated to handling the superior transient response and extended frequency response. It also has a rugged construction design, which makes it a durable and long-lasting asset for your studio.

The Audio-Technica AT2020 offers a wide dynamic range, and it is good at handing high sound pressure with ease. With its great versatility, it is ideal for streaming as well as for home and studio project applications. Its element is made of a fixed charge black plate with a permanently polarized condenser, while the polar pattern is the cardioid type. The frequency response range is between 20 to 20,000 Hz with a sensitivity of –37 dB. Most people who have bought and reviewed it simply say that it is durable and easy to use with a great sound quality. Most who have tried it do not hesitate to recommend it to a friend especially considering the budget-friendly price. Just another one of our favorite picks as the best streaming microphone in the market.

Rode NT1-A

Another one of our favorite streaming microphones by Rode

The Rode NT1-A is one of our favorite condenser microphones ever, and in our opinion worth every cent you spend when buying. What makes it an ideal microphone for streaming? Well, to begin with, it is an industry standard that is capable of delivering the required extended dynamic range with clarity used in studios across the world. It is not affected by external noise and has a 5 dBA self-noise level. This makes it one of the best studio streaming microphones as it is very quiet yet with a great amount of sensitivity to capture great detail in your voice.

With the low self-noise, it is a perfect vocal microphone for many applications within the home, studio or any other studio recording environment. It comes in a large 1” capsule design with a gold-plated diaphragm and a cardioid polar pattern. It is also engineered with an externally biased true condenser and an internal capsule shock mounting. It comes with a 10 year extended warranty when you register the microphone. With such a warranty, this Rode NT1-A is definitely worth checking out.

Rode NT-USB

The best streaming microphone if the other USB mics weren't your thing

The Rode NT-USB can be another great choice for streaming in the higher-end USB microphone category. It is a versatile studio quality USB microphone designed with a 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack for handling zero latency monitoring. We’ve seen it used for various applications such as instrumentation, streaming, song recording, voice-overs, and podcasting.

This versatile microphone is readily compatible with the majority of mainstream recording applications for Mac OS and Windows based PC. Using GarageBand or Rode Rec, you can connect it to an Apple iPad, although you will be required to use a USB connection adapter. What will be included in the box is a tripod desk stand, pop shield, ring mount, USB cable and storage pouch. The active electronics used in the Rode NT-USB are a JFET impedance converter with a bipolar output buffer and a 16 bit 48 kHz A/D converter, making it another streaming microphone gem.

Blue Bluebird

Blue's condenser microphone to stream with

Half way through our guide, now, If you are looking for the best microphone for streaming and need a super high-end traditional condenser, you should take a look at the Blue Bluebird. From the same creators of the Yeti, this is a large diaphragm studio condenser microphone that delivers modern crystal clear sound. Its 20dB pad and high pass filter makes it ideal for capturing the true tones of your voice. It produces excellent extended upper clarity, smooth mid frequencies and rich lows. It is engineered using the latest technology with refined Sonics and versatile switches.

This streaming microphone has a gold sputtered Mylar diaphragm that gives it the ability to produce superior resonance even at high frequencies. It also comes with a sculpted rear black plate that guarantees a balanced sound output. An onboard switchable 100 Hz high pass filter has also been included. The Blue Bluebird is a great choice for your streaming microphone needs and is definitely high-end and more advanced than others, so we only recommend this for those who are serious about their streams and want a long-term investment here.

Focusrite SCARLETT Studio

A different spin to streaming if you need more than a streaming mic

This may be the choice that you need to complete your home recording studio and streaming setup. As stated previously, we included a package in here to give you some options, as this is one of our favorite bundles that includes more than just a microphone for streaming. It makes use of a USB audio interface and comes with a CM25 large, durable diaphragm condenser plus a three meter XLR mic cable and stand clip. Background noise is blocked by the closed back headphone design. The Focusrite SCARLETT Studio is a great package for streaming as it has extremely low latency and gives you headphones if you’re in need of those as well.

The two natural sounding Scarlett preamps included in the interface provide it with an even gain. The frequency range response of the Focusrite SCARLETT Studio is 20 Hz – 20 kHz with a plus or minus of 0.25dB. It is easy to use and beautifully designed with high-quality, clear sound. Those who have bought it describe it as having amazing quality for the right price, and most say they would definitely recommend it to others especially if you’re in a lower-budget setting such as a home studio or a starter streaming setup. You cannot go wrong with all these features when looking for a microphone for streaming and want to save some money on extra gear as well.

Audio-Technica AT2020USB+

The AT2020 but in USB form for streaming

Looking at the Audio-Technica AT2020USB+, you will find it is great for the price. Some even count it among the best streaming microphone for the studio or even a simple home environment. It comes equipped with a USB output and is engineered to capture acoustic audio or music in a true digital way. It is compatible with your favorite recording software. This mike can be used by voiceover artists, streamers, field recorders, songwriters, singers, podcasters, and home studio recorders.

It is designed with a built-in head phone jack equipped with volume controls. It is thus possible to monitor and control the mic signal with no delay. You can also blend pre-recorded audio with microphone input using the mix controls. Its internal components are engineered in a perfect way to ensure that voice reproduction is high quality. The production process follows reliable standards that have been used to come up with this long-lasting Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ microphone.

Blue Snowball iCE

The best microphone for streaming if you're on a budget

Perhaps this is what you have been looking for—a streaming USB microphone that lets you just plug and play without even the need to install drivers at a super low price. Even with this simplicity, expect to get the some great high-quality sound for streaming and recording. It is engineered with a customized cardioid condenser capsule that allows it to produce decent quality, clear audio that rival others in the USB mic game.

The system requirements for both Windows and Mac are quite minimal. For Windows you will require: Windows 7, 8, 10, USB 1.1/2.0 (or newer) and 64MB RAM (or higher). For Macintosh you will need Mac OSX (10.4.11 or higher), USB 1.1/2.0 and 64 MB RAM (minimum). It comes with an adjustable stand, making it easier to change the direction. The sleeker size is also great for those may need to travel or simply take it to different streaming environments you’ll find yourself in. The Blue Snowball iCE is also readily compatible with your favorite software and another great pick as the best microphone for streaming if you needed something simple that does one job — capture audio without a huge price tag.

AmazonBasics Portable USB Condenser Microphone

The last pick as the best microphone for streaming in the market

Last but not least, it seems as if Amazon is making everything these days. However to our surprise, we have a great mic here that’s a super (and we mean, super) low-priced option to end our guide on mics for streaming here. This is portable USB condenser mike that is ideal for streaming. This is because it has an excellent high quality sound when recording. It is quite good for various uses such as streaming, podcasting, voice-overs, recording, instruments, vocals, and home movies. Its sound pick is omnidirectional, so it is able to pick from any direction. Another good thing about this mic is that it is plug-and-play. No need for drivers—you just connect and start recording.

It is compatible with a wide range of computer operating systems such as Windows XP, Windows 7, Vista, Windows 8 and the other higher versions. It will work with Mac OS as well as Linux based systems. It is designed to clip easily onto a laptop with a secure placement. For storage or portability, you can rely on its travel friendly carrying case. Most importantly with this model however is it’s ability to fold into a nearly wallet-sized, travel-friendly shape. The AmazonBasics USB will be a great choice with an affordable price for your streaming needs.

The Top 10 Best Audio Interfaces for the Money

Here's an in-depth guide and review of the best audio interface models in the market

Buying the best audio interface is going to help solidify both the power and overall capabilities of your studio, regardless if you’re a professional, semi-pro or even beginner starting to build your new home recording studio. For continued readers of our website, we’ve been able to help many when it comes to choosing which microphones are best; however, we have frequently mentioned the importance and necessity of phantom power and audio interfaces in our studio — not only for recording vocals with our mics but various instruments as well. Due to this, we wanted to create a guide to help those looking to power up their beloved music gear and instruments and get that sound quality we’ve always wanted. Cue in the best audio interfaces, and today we compiled some of our favorites to recommend you.

What is an audio interface?

An audio interface is a device that’s meant to provide power, processing, effects (some, at least), and organization of your many recording devices into one. They act as an ‘external sound card’ if you will, since they’re a lot more powerful, higher in quality, and merely overall better than the sound cards built-in to your computers, regardless if you’re on a PC or Mac. Depending on how you listen to your audio, whether it be studio monitor speakers or studio headphones, most also have outputs to handle this gear in order for you to track and monitor your recordings. Some even provide MIDI ins and outs to allow your keyboards and other controllers to run more smoothly in the recording process (and keep it all organized, too).

In our opinion, one of the biggest and most important parts of an audio interface is the help with the issue of latency. If you’ve ever attempted to record before, whether vocals, guitar or other instruments while going straight into your computer, we’re sure you’ve noticed a slight ‘delay’ — which is one of the most annoying parts of recording and making music, in our opinion. How are we supposed to get that work flow going if we have to try to ‘guess’ when to start playing our gear? Since audio interfaces have are more advanced internal circuitry and overall build than computer sound cards, they can get greatly reduce this ‘lag’ or merely eliminate it altogether.

Selecting the best audio interface

Now that we’ve covered what they are, let’s look into how to buy the best audio interface for you. Since audio interfaces come in many different shapes, sizes and price-points, it’s going to depend on the reader’s needs which we have listed below.

  • Think of what exactly you’re looking to record and hook up to your audio interface. Not only as of today while you read this, but in the future as well. Do you only have one mic, a guitar and a MIDI keyboard? Sticking to a 2-in and 2-out with an XLR input for a condenser mic and MIDI inout will be quite feasible. Are you going to be recording entire bands? Look for more than 22. Perhaps a 66 will be best, or even a 44. Maybe you’re recording multiple microphones at once (the “at once” here is crucial — if it’s separately, you can always get away with just replacing the XLR with different mics as you go)? Look for more than one XLR input in your audio interface. Of course, these examples are subjective, and you may land somewhere in the middle, which we’ll leave up to you to see which is best.
  • What type of connectivity do you want? We have many, and a majority of audio interfaces, providing USB connection. Others (and more towards the expensive and advanced spectrum) can give us Thunderbolt (for Mac only, of course), and even some with FireWire if you want to go heavy. Your computer’s operating system and type will also dictate this decision as well, considering the ports are at times only compatible with the OS. USB of course will span in all directions, and will be best for uses such as in home studios.
  • How much are you willing to spend? The range of audio interfaces is huge, spanning from $100 to $,1000+. This will decide not only how many ins and outs you’ll be getting, but also the overall sound quality you’ll be able to possess for your recordings. For home studios, sample rates up to 24 Bit / 192 kHz will be fine and we wouldn’t recommend going any lower. The $1,000 models start to get into not only higher sample rates but more advanced internal processors, which are usually a concern for professional studios.

The top 10 best audio interfaces

Zoom TAC-2

Our pick as the best audio interface

Check pricingreviews: US | UK

Up first we look at one our favorite models as the best audio interface, the Zoom TAC-2. The Zoom is a 2-in/2-out thunderbolt audio interface that is fairly easy-to-use – all features are controlled by one knob. It comes with a pair of XLR/TRS combo jacks in the back to hook up your mics, instruments, or line signals to the input, while also coming with a front input jack so you can add a guitar or bass without unplugging anything else. While you’re playing, the TAC-2 not only records, but it also has a neat feature that performs four times upsampling of your signal during the analog-to-digital and the digital-to-analog conversion – this means you get minimal aliasing noise and higher clarity. The TAC-2 features Apple’s thunderbolt connectivity — 5 times faster than USB 3.0 and up to 20 times faster than USB 2.0 – which is why it is considered one of the best audio interfaces in the market today. If you need something that is fast, relatively stable, and bus-powered, then the Zoom TAC-2 is your best bet.

Apogee ONE

Another one of our picks as the best audio interface

See pricesreviews: US | UK

Next, we have the Apogee ONE, which is one of the best audio interfaces on the go gigs or smaller home studios on a budget. The Apogee ONE is an all-in-one 2-in/2-out portable, USB interface that provides you with everything you need to record – simply connect a microphone, guitar or use ONE’s built-in omnidirectional microphone to capture your music (definitely don’t rely on it for major recordings — you should have a condenser for that). The ONE 2-in/2-out configurations also let you record with a microphone (built-in or external) and a guitar at the same time. It also uses its AD/DA conversion and mic preamp technology to produce solid music, podcast, or voice-over recordings while also still giving you studio quality sound to your headphones for accurate mixing and/or hi-fi listening. The Apogee ONE is compatible with GarageBand, Logic Pro X or any core audio application (Mac or iOS). It comes in two models: ONE for Mac or ONE for iPad or MAC – choose whichever you please.

Focusrite Scarlett 6i6

An extremely famous audio interface for recording

Read reviewsprice: US | UK

Here we feel the Focusrite Scarlett 6i6, one of the best audio interfaces for multi-instrumentalist, producers, and small bands. The Scarlett 6i6 is a 6-in/6-out USB audio interface that features 4 analogue inputs with 2 built-in Scarlett mic preamps, 4 analogue outputs and 2 separate headphone outputs – there is no shortage of ins and outs with the Focusrite. The 6i6 model spits out sample rates up to 192 kHz with their solid converters – you will have studio-grade sound you can take anywhere. With MIDI I/O as well as two channels of S/PDIF I/O on top of it all, the Scarlett 6i6 is an ideal foundation for home or project studios that may need to expand in the future, giving us a great curve for growth. For build, it has a rugged metal unibody design that is relatively good for recording on the go or lasting a long time sitting snug in your studio. The Scarlett 6i6 comes bundled with “Pro Tools First Focusrite Creative Pack,” as well as “Albeton Live” lite recording software and a suite of software and samples so you can start recording right away. The Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 is also compatible with all major DAWs on MAC and PC. Just keep in mind there are many interfaces available in the Scarlett series — 2i2, 4i4, and more, all tailored depending on your needs.

Steinberg UR12

Another solid interface to keep in mind, especially if you're on a budget

Check reviewspricing: US | UK

Next we will look at the Steinberg UR12 – a 2-in/2-out USB 2.0 model that is considered to be the best audio interface due to a combination of sound quality, portability, and a fairly low price compared to others in this guide. The phantom-powered UR12 is built with a convenient loopback function which is specifically designed for home studio recording, podcasting and other internet streaming applications. The UR12 also features a “Class A D-Pre” microphone preamp with inverted Darlington circuits which provide relatively smooth and detailed performance. The interface features a single microphone preamp with XLR input and a TRS line input, so you can track line-level with your headphones. In terms of quality, this audio interface supplies a 24-bit/192kHz A/D resolution – you won’t have to compromise sound with this bad boy. It also has line level RCA outputs for you to hook up your studio monitors. The Steinberg UR12 is one of our more economically priced interfaces, and if you’re a budget shopper, then this might be your best option.

Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII

An extremely powerful audio interface by UA

See pricesreviews: US | UK

At the middle point of our guide, we have one of our high-end audio interfaces, the Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII. The MKII is a highly-rated, 10-in/6-out thunderbolt interface for Mac, with two analog inputs, four analog outputs, and eight channels of ADAT input – each of them serve their own specific purpose when it comes to connectivity. The Universal MKII features a AD/DA conversion for fairly good sound, and 4 built-in UAD “SHARC” processors for giving you a true representation for tracking or mix-down. The thunderbolt configuration of the interface provides you with low latency and huge bandwidth for higher sample rates (24-bit/192kHz) and track counts. The compact design of the MKII make it pretty versatile, as it suitable for mobile recording, mixing outside of your studio, and performing live. The Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII sits on the higher price-point of our guide, and serves as one of the best audio interfaces for people with a larger budget looking for a thunderbolt-based model that will really up the ante when it comes to your recordings and quality of music.

MOTU UltraLite-MK3

MOTU's highly rated model to buy

View pricereviews: US | UK

Up next we have another one of our favorite picks as the best audio interface for people searching for a model with multiple types of connectors. The MK3 features both USB 2.0 and FireWire connectivity – when you use FireWire, your UltraLife will get all the it needs from your computer, and when you’re connected via USB, you can use the included power adapter for full functionality. The MOTU features 24-bit /192 kHz rate with a number of inputs and outputs: two microphone preamps plus 6 line-level 1/4” (TRS) inputs and 10 analog TRS outputs – so in total, you have a 10-in/14-out interface. It also comes with a stereo S/PDIF digital I/O, a stereo headphone output, and a MIDI I/O for a controller or other equipment. The MK3 also comes with built-in effects and DSP routing, in which you can dial in your headphone mixes without draining your computer. It can also serve as a pretty steady standalone mixer due to the DSP mixer and onboard effects – in case you ever want to just jam out without taking your laptop. The Motu UltraLite-MK3 also sits on the higher price-point, but with the features and sound it provides, it is great for the price.

RME Fireface UC

One of the best audio interfaces for professionals

Read reviewspricing: US | UK

The RME Fireface UC is another high-end model, which has 2 digitally controlled microphone preamps, ADAT, and S/PDIF, and a whopping total of 18 input/output channels plus MIDI I/O – making this one of the best audio interface options for a small to medium-sized band or semi-pro studios. The Fireface UC has a solid cross-platform performance, which means that it works well on both Windows and Mac operating systems. It has a built-in “RME Hammerfall” core that provides relatively low latency, even with multiple channels. The unit’s operating mode can be switched to “Win” or “Mac” at any time if need be. The Fireface UC features RME analog and digital circuitry that provides active jitter suspension, stand-alone functionality and utter control from the front panel, flexible I/Os, and a very solid 648-channel matrix router. The digital ADAT I/O gives you digital connection to mixers and converters which is important if you want to track correctly. The RME Fireface UC is our priciest model, but in this case, with price comes unmatched quality.

Apogee ELEMENT 24

A rather expensive interface but amazing power and capabilities here

See reviewsprice: US | UK

Here we have another Apogee model, the ELEMENT 24. The Apogee ELEMENT 24 is one of the best audio interfaces if you record on Mac with one or two inputs a time. It is a thunderbolt 10-in/12-out audio interface that is rather cost-effective when comparing it to other thunderbolt models on the market. The ELEMENT 24 features 2 front-panel mic/line/instrument inputs on combi connectors, 2 rear-panel balanced XLR outputs, a 1/4” stereo headphone out, and word clock I/O. It also comes with 2 Apogee on-board mic preamps with selectable phantom power. For even more flexibility, the ELEMENT 24 has an optical I/O with ADAT (8×8), SMU (4×4), and SPDIF (2×2) compatibility. The thunderbolt drivers deliver a relatively low-latency performance (1.41 ms), along with solid stability. The driver also draws less CPU power ranks which lets you run more plug-ins and monitor through your DAW at lower buffer settings. Lastly, the “Element Control” software of the Apogee ELEMENT 24 provides you with remote control of your hardware on your Mac or iPhone/iPad, giving this one a well deserved nod as the best audio interface. There are also a few more options available, such as the ELEMENT 46 or even 88 if you needed more plug-ins.

M-Audio M-Track II

Another one of the best audio interface picks for those on a budget

Check pricesreviews: US | UK

Towards the end of our guide, we will look at M-Audio’s M-Track II, which is a low-profile interface that delivers simple plug-and-playability. The M-Track II is known to be one of the best audio interfaces for people who prefer something cheaper without many bells and whistles. The M-Audio is pretty flexible, as it offers the right connections for any instrument, from electric guitar to a phantom-powered condenser microphone. It equipped with a number of inputs: each channel offers a combined XLR and balanced 1/4” input – each of which attempt to give you the best result from any audio source. The M-Track has pretty solid zero-latency inline monitoring, in which the monitor mix knob adjusts the balance between the direct inputs and the playback from your computer software. It also comes with a nifty LED metering feature – multi-colored LED metering gives you instant feedback of your input levels. The solid metal chassis and low-profile design of the M-Audio M-Track II also make this a roadworthy model.

Lexicon Alpha

Our last pick for the best audio interface

See reviewsprice: US | UK

Last but not least, we have our most simple, price-friendly and final pick as the best audio interfacel, the Lexicon Alpha. The Alpha is a USB 2-in/2-out interface that combines an inexpensive price with portability to make it one of the best audio interfaces on the market. The Lexicon is a bus-powered interface that features 1 XLR microphone input, 2 TRS line inputs and 2 TRS & RCA line outs – the front panel has a high-z ¼” instrument input for direct to computer recording and a 1/8” high-powered headphone output for your headphones. The Lexicon Alpha can stream 2 channels of 44.1 or 48 kHz audio at either 16- or 24-bit resolution on both PC and Mac. It also comes with mono/stereo monitoring, as well as zero-latency direct/playback monitoring for delay-free overdubs while recording. The Alpha is also equipped with a “Lexicon Pantheon VST Reverb” plug-in which will give your recordings a very good sound for the price you are paying. If you’re looking for something low-cost, the Lexicon Alpha may be your option.

Shure MV5 Condenser USB Microphone Review

The Shure MV5 microphone reviewAll new from Shure is a series of microphones labeled the “MOTIV Digital Microphones”, and up first in our series of reviews is the MV5. When it comes to to microphones in general, we’re always excited when Shure announces a new release. Not to sound biased, but they’ve been making quality microphones for decades now — we just can’t help it. This particular mic is a condenser microphone with USB connectivity, stated to be ideal for recording vocals, acoustic instruments, and podcasts, but we can also see it used by merely any activity you may partake in when it comes to needing a USB microphone. The unit itself has a headphone jack built-in, volume control and DSP options as well. Let’s get into the details of the Shure Motiv MV5 Microphone.

Main features of the Shure MV5

  • Plug-n-play USB microphone
  • Small diaphragm
  • Cardioid condenser
  • Comes with metal stand
  • Three DSP modes
  • Headphone jack
  • Available in two colors
  • Transducer: Electret condenser (16 mm)
  • 24bit/ 48 kHz maximum sound quality
  • Frequency response: 20 to 20k Hz
  • Adjustable gain: Up to +36dB

Design and features

A solid USB microphone for a decent priceThe steel stand that comes with the mic can be unscrewed to unveil a quarter inch base, which can then be attached onto any compatible device, such as video cameras and the like. It’s also compatible with all iOS devices (all of the MOTIV microphones are — a huge plus as we see this trend becoming more popular as time goes on). As seen in the photo, you don’t need to use the stand at all — when unscrewed, it resembles a metal ball that can be placed anywhere near you or your instruments. This is comparable to the Blue Snowball mics that are so popular in the market at the moment. It’s great for versatility or keeping it in a needed position that may be a bit awkward with the stand still attached.

There is also three buttons on the back we found super convenient to access. You can play around with three DSP modes. You get a flat, acoustic, and vocal option. When pressed, they illuminate on top — there’s one for instrument, voice, and flat mode.

On the bottom of the microphone itself is also a headphone jack which is also pretty easy to access. This is great for real-time monitoring if you need some immediate feedback. The USB port is also on the bottom of the unit here — no complaints when it comes to the build or placement of buttons and features, so a great job by Shure in terms of the overall design.

Overall build and stability

The build of the MV5 mics are quite well-made. No cheap materials here — it’s not a mic you’d buy at a local electronics store just to get some audio into your PC or phone. When we played with it at the show we were impressed. It’s not quite on the level of the beloved Blue Yeti USB mics, but it comes pretty close in our opinion.

If you’re buying this for recording vocals or instruments into your PC for some music-making, keep in mind that it’s nowhere near a professional condenser microphone. As you’d expect, those cost a lot more money but they’re a lot higher in terms of audio quality, build, and power in general. Not that the MV5 won’t get the job done, but it’s more recommended for those in a home studio and are working with a budget.

Since the stand is detachable, we’d rate this mic pretty high in terms of being portable. However, it doesn’t come with a case, and although that isn’t necessarily expected, if you travel a lot you’ll need to merely place it wrapped in a towel or somewhere safe — we wouldn’t risk just throwing it in a box.

Sound quality

The black version of the MV5The sound quality of USB microphones have come a long way. So when we call the Shure MV5’s sound quality average, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Coming in at a maximum sample rate of 24bit/ 48 kHz, it will get the job done, but won’t give you professional studio-quality sound. You’ll definitely need a traditional XLR condenser microphone that requires phantom power for a more powerful, warmer sound.

The recommended applications for this mic fit the build when it comes to the audio quality. Just keep in mind that we’re not saying the quality is bad, it just is what it is — and in all honesty, pretty good considering the price.

The final verdict on the Shure MV5 microphone

A solid condenser USB mic under 100 bucksWe love the MV5 if it fits your needs. When it comes to USB condenser mics, there’s a decent difference in models as you go up in price point. We have a feeling this model will fall under one of the best under $100. Only time will tell and as we use it for a longer period of time we will be able to report to you the longevity of it. But as of now, it’s a great investment for musicians in home studios looking to add an affordable microphone to their setup, if you do pod casts, need an external microphone for gaming, or partake in conference calls online.

What separates the MV5 from the Blue Yeti (one of the most popular USB microphones in the market, hence why we compare many models to it), is the fact that the stand can be removed to add some versatility to your setup. Whether or not this is important is up to you, but in our opinion it really doesn’t hurt. You can also read our Shure MV51 Large-Diaphragm Microphone review for a higher alternative, and at only a few dollars cheaper with a larger mic, it may be another option for you.

All in all, the Shure MV5 Condenser USB Microphone is a solid solution for those who need an affordable USB microphone that gives you some versatility. It’s especially attractive to those who are looking for a decent-quality mic to attach to their iOS device. Time will tell on the longevity, but in terms of the immediate use, this thing isn’t a cheap mic whatsoever.

The Top 10 Best Microphones for Vlogging

We roundup our picks for the best vlogging microphones for the money

The world of vlogging is an amazing one, filled with many opportunities to not only share our thoughts, beliefs and lives with the world, but can also make quite a career if we’re able to stick with it. We know many successful vloggers out with there who do this full-time; however, without the proper gear, we just won’t be able to provide the standard most people watching our vlogs expect nowadays. Today we looked at some different solutions to recording our audio and compiled this list of the best vlogging microphones in the market. Below is our checklist to read through first in order to get a better feel for what exactly you need to step up that vlogging game.

Finding the best vlogging microphone

First thing is first — how are you filming your vlog? This question when becoming a vlogger will ultimately coincide with our next question below, but to summarize, what you’re using to capture your video will deter you in a specific direction for a microphone. If you haven’t grabbed your video camera yet, we highly recommend a DSLR camera or mirrorless camera, but that isn’t a must, per se.

What type of microphone? Now we’ll get into the big details for the different types of mics we have in here. As stated earlier, if you haven’t gotten your video camera yet, you’ll have some flexibility. Otherwise, this will definitely pinpoint your search.

  • USB microphones: These are preferred by vloggers who stay stationary in a room with a computer. Whether you’re recording with a web cam or exterior camera on a tripod, this is great for super clear quality as long as the microphone is positioned properly and you’re not going to be moving around a lot (ie: staying seated in your chair or standing by a green screen). When it comes down to it however, we only recommend USB mics for those who are doing something such as streaming or types of vlogs that don’t entail video cameras, otherwise a shotgun mic (camera mic) below will be better.
  • Camera microphones: These are microphones literally attached to your camera that typically point at you like a “shotgun mic“. These are more optimal than USB mics for those standing in a  chair or using a green screen in a room (reviewing products or speaking about something). They’re also perfect for those out in the field filming everyday life vlogs (where you’ll be walking around or engaging in an activity and you have a camera person following you). The only catch here is you’ll have to buy a compatible camera — DSLR or mirrorless cameras, and those can cost a pretty penny.
  • Lavalier microphones: Another spin to a vlogging microphone here that spans across multiple uses. “Lav mics” are those small little hand-sized mics that clip on to either your shirt or somewhere else non-intrusively to your body. They’re great for interviews or any vlogging that you’d like to keep versatile, especially if you don’t have somebody to film you and you have to capture it all yourself.
  • Handheld recorders: These are a bit different from all of the others, and are actually separate devices for recording audio. You can either stand them up with a little tripod near you, lay them flat on a desk, chair or floor, or carry them around with your hand and record as you go. We’d only recommend these if you aren’t filming and doing vlog audio only, or are super concerned with audio quality (since these blow all other mics out of the water when it comes to resolution — but don’t get us wrong, all mics are feasible and many audiences won’t be able to “tell”).
  • Smart device microphones: Last but not least, as technology continues to grow, more and more vloggers are using their smart devices to record their sessions. Whether you’re on a iOS, Android or even tablet, these little mics connect to the lighting connector or compatible input. We’d still recommend using a real video camera and grabbing a previous microphone type listed before, but if you’re on a strict budget and want to get going right away or feel smart devices are best for your vlogging adventures, be our guest. We listed our favorite one at the end.

The top 10 best microphones for vlogging

Blue Yeti

Our favorite pick as the best microphone for vlogging

Buy in US | UK

To begin, we will start with the Blue Yeti, one of our favorite USB mics in the world today. It serves as one of the best vlogging microphones for those who will be remaining stationary and want a mic that is versatile, as the Yeti can be adequately used for all applications or environments within an enclosed area. In terms of the features, this is a multi-pattern model that captures a very solid 16-bit/48 kHz audio resolution response. It is designed with a ‘tri-capsule’ technology and 4 different pattern settings – cardioid, omnidirectional, stereo, and bi-directional – all of which can be simply switched between depending on how you want to record your audio. The capsule technology is made to deliver crisp, detailed sound, while coming with studio controls like headphone volume, instant mute and microphone gain for giving vloggers hands-on controls as to what they’re recording. The Yeti is designed with a zero-latency 3.5mm headphone jack that allows users to monitor and listen to what the microphone is picking up in real-time without any delays. The vlogging microphone is also simple to use – just plug the Yeti into your computer’s USB port with the USB cable included, sync and you’re ready to record. The Blue Yeti is reasonably priced, and can be a good option if you need a microphone with USB compatibility, whether you’re staying stationary in your chair and filming or streamingnarrating something that doesn’t involve a video camera.

Rode VideoMic Pro

The best vlogging microphone if you have a DSLR

Buy in US | UK

The next model we will talk about is the Rode VideoMic Pro, which is a super-cardioid condenser mic that is one of the best microphones for vlogging for users looking for a shotgun-style mic as previously listed. The Rode combines its shotgun design with an added “Rycote Lyre” shockmount that does a good job at isolating the mic capsule and electronics from any rumble that vibration can cause. For example, if you’re a travel vlogger, a lot of sounds and audio from the people/environment can cause some unwanted ambiance or vibration, but with the Rycote shockmount, you can minimize that issue. Coming with a 1/2” condenser capsule that delivers broadcast-quality sound, the VideoMic Pro is a true shotgun mic that is ideal for audio capture with camcorders (make sure they have a connector), DSLRs, and other compatible portable video recorders. The Rode sports a low self-noise of just 14dB, which is very good for the price, while also being fitted with an 1/8” TRS connector that outputs the mono signal to both the left and right of channels of your camera or recorder. If you’re searching for a mic for outdoor vlogging or an indoor solution that attaches to your camera, the Rode VideoMic Pro might be your best option as the best vlogging microphone.

Audio-Technica ATR3350

A great lavalier microphone for vloggers

Buy in US | UK

Here we have our most affordable lavalier model, the Audio-Technica ATR3350. The Audio-Technica is one of our lav-styled mics that will be the best vlogging microphone for our budget and versatility conscious shoppers. The ATR3350 is a newscaster-style mic that is designed with an omnidirectional capsule to pick up accurate voice reproduction from every direction. Although it’s pretty small, it still features a solid frequency response of 50 – 18,0000 Hz and a max SPL (sound pressure level) of up to 54 dB – both of which are great when considering the price and size of the ATR3350. It comes with a dual-mono 1/8” output plug for video cameras, along with DSLR, or a handheld video recorder’s (yes, works with some smart devices too — just double-check the compatibility depending on what you’re using) stereo 1/8” input to record audio on both the left and right channels. The Audio-Technica also comes with a clip for the mic – combine that with the low-profile design making for minimum visibility. The Audio-Technica ATR3350 is a strong option as the best microphone for vlogging for someone who needs something that is inexpensive and low-profile.

Apogee MiC 96k

Another great USB microphone for vlogging

Buy in US | UK

The Apogee MiC 96k is one of the best microphones for vlogging that is both small and low-profile, rivaling the Blue Yeti as a solid USB mic option to vlog with. It is a professional studio quality cardioid condenser microphone that can be directly connected to your Mac, iPhone, iPad, or Windows computer. The mic itself is pretty small in size – about as big as an iPhone. With the “PureDIGITAL” USB connection, the Mic 96k is able to easily capture your best takes with solid quality, and you can take it anywhere – hiking, sporting events, festivals, you name it. It isn’t necessarily the easiest to take in the field (especially compared to a camera mic or even lav), but it can get the job done if you’re concerned with audio quality (it has some of the best in here at 96k, hence the name). The Apogee’s cardioid polar pattern design is specifically designed for capturing vocal and acoustic recordings – this will be good option for concerts if that’s what you fancy, but not limited to. It has a steel mesh housing on the actual microphone capsule, as a well as a die-cast zinc body to give it long-lasting durability throughout your travels. The Apogee Mic 96k offers a reliable sound and compact, portable design for a bargain of a price.

Zoom H1

The best vlogging microphone if you're out in the field

Buy in US | UK

Here we’ll take a look at the Zoom H1, one of the best vlogging microphones for users who need something that is handheld and on the lower price-point. The Zoom H1 is a pocket-sized handheld recorder that can be used in pretty much all audio applications that video blogging demands. The H1 is powered by a single AA battery, supplying up to 10 hours of recording – pretty solid for just using a one battery and can be switched out in case you need even longer. The Zoom has a pair of pro-quality XY stereo condensers built-in, which means you don’t have to plug-in your own mic, but it does come with a 1/8” input on side if you do. The Zoom H1 supplies up to 24-bit/96kHz PCM WAV format of recording – great for the price and size of it, which we think will be the number one factor when choosing this one. The H1 also features high SPL handling, recording options, and recording controls – coming with an “Auto Level” switch on the back for getting greater sound, and a similar “Lo Cut” switch to reduce handling and wind noise. It comes with a 2GB microSD memory card, while also having the storage capacity of up to 32GB. The Zoom H1 is perfect for vloggers looking for something low-profile that supplies solid recording functions at a very manageable price if you don’t mind the way you’ll have to use it. You will also have to sync up the audio with your footage in post-production.

Sennheiser MKE 400

Another great microphone for vlogging if you want it on your camera

Buy in US | UK

Now we’ll dive into the Sennheiser MKE 400, a super cardioid shotgun microphone with a compact design that is one of the best microphones for vloggers who prefer to use on-camera mics and the previous Rode pick wasn’t your thing (this is also a bit cheaper). The MKE 400 is relatively small as it is designed to mount on cameras with a lighting shoe mount and an external mic input – albeit it’s small, the MKE 400 can be suitable for nearly all professional applications. The mic can fit comfortably anywhere, and it has a run time of 300 hours from a single AAA battery which is very good. The MKE 400’s lobar mic has a frequency response between 40Hz and 20kHz and a max SPL of up to 126 db – both of which are very solid for the price. The mic’s side noise rejection and switchable sensitivity will make life easier for video recording. The MKE 400 also has a shockmount built-in so you won’t have to worry about handling noise when capturing audio and video. The Sennheiser MKE 400 is another one of the best microphones for vlogging for someone who needs a do-it-all mic with a rugged design.

Rode smartLav+

Another amazing lavalier microphone for vlogs

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Up next we have another lavalier mic with a bit higher quality than the previous A-T pick, which is one of the best vlogging microphones for smartphones, tablets or cameras who want the mic on their body. The smartLav+ is designed with an omnidirectional condenser capsule to pick up sounds from all directions, and also has a foam pop filter which helps eliminate vocal plosives you might get when interviewing people or talking yourself. Although the mic is tiny, it still has a frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz, along with a max SPL 110db which is pretty great considering it’s 0.01 lbs. The Rode also comes with a pretty durable mounting clip that lets you attach the mic to lapels, tie, shirts, or any other locations – handy! The mic is also compatible with all audio apps that accept audio from headset inputs. The Rode smartLav+ is a lavalier style mic that lets you easily record broadcast-quality audio with a smart phone, so if you want to be a vlogger via phone and don’t have wiggle room in your budget, this mic will be the best vlogging mic choice for you.

Rode NT-USB

The best vlogging microphone if you'll be at your desk

Buy in US | UK

Moving on, we have another Rode model, the Rode NT-USB, which is one of the best microphones for vloggers who need a mic that is multipurpose, USB compatible, but not as mobile. The Rode is suitable for recording singing, musical performances, podcasts, and voice-overs to name a few. It is a studio-quality USB mic that is compatible with both Windows and Mac OS based platforms. The NT-USB features a zero-latency stereo headphone monitoring jack which lets you monitor the microphone input, along with adjust the monitoring level and mix between your audio source and the mic input. It also comes with a pop-filter that fits onto the base of the mic – positioning the filter the most efficient from the capsule helps minimize plosives during speech you may get during interviews or singing. The Rode NT-USB is pretty price-effective, and also comes with a mount, tripod stand, and storage pouch for beginning vloggers who don’t have any equipment or would like to use their mic for other applications as well, such as recording music, chats, gaming and more.

TASCAM DR-05

Another handy little recording device for vloggers

Buy in US | UK

Nearing the end of our guide, we have the budget-friendly TASCAM DR-05, a stereo recorder with built-in omnidirectional microphones. The DR-05 is about the size of your palm, so taking it anywhere will not be an issue. The TASCAM is capable of recording in MP3 formats of up to 320 kbps and in Broadcast WAV format of up to 24-bit/96kHz resolution. The pair of omnidirectional microphones supply relatively clear recordings, while also being able to handle sounds pressures up to 125dB – making the DR-5 one of the best vlogging microphones for live event recording like parades, festivals, or even concerts — environments with high background noise ultimately. The recorder features some pretty cool recording functions, such as ‘peak reduction’ which is for optimal for ambiance, and also has a self-timer that’ll delay the start of the recording for 5 to 10 seconds. It also has a limiter and low-cut filter to help prevent any sound distortion you may come across at live events. If you plan on doing some work at live events or just want a versatile handheld recorder solution, the TASCAM DR-5 might just be the best vlogging microphone for you if the previous Zoom wasn’t high-quality enough.

Zoom iQ6

For those on a smart device, this vlogging mic is awesome

Buy in US | UK

To finish, we have the Zoom iQ6 – a XY stereo recording mic that is one of the best microphones for vlogging specifically made for iOS devices. The Zoom is designed with a lightning connector, so all you have to do is just plug the lightning connector into the Apple device and BOOM – easy! The X/Y recording configuration is meant for covering wide areas while still capturing sound sources in the center with clarity, making the Zoom iQ6 ideal for live stereo recordings or really any type of vlogging you’ll be doing on your iPhone or tablet. The microphones on the Zoom can be switched between 90 and 120 degrees, allowing for more flexibility while recording – 90 degrees for a tightly focused image and 120 degrees for a wider image. The iQ6 also comes with separate controls for input gain and headphone output level. If you’re in search for a small microphone to bring with you to get going on those vlogs immediately instead of using a camera, the Zoom iQ6 is your guy, sporting the classic XY stereo configuration that is specially designed to capture ideal audio quality that blows your stock resolution out of the water.

Shure MV51 Large-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone Review

Our review of the new MV51 by ShureOne of our favorite brands of all time, Shure, has come out with the MOTIV Digital Microphones series. Up next in our line of reviews, we take a look at their MV51, a large-diaphragm condenser microphone for USB and iOS devices. At first glance we can see the awesome vintage look they’ve brought us, but the microphone also has some nifty features, such as a detachable built-in kickstand, a touch panel with four DSP preset controls, some gain and headphone volume, and more. It’s a great solution for those looking for a budget-friendly mic that brings some decent sound quality as well. Let’s see what the Shure MV51 Condenser Microphone has to offer in detail.

Main features of the MV51 condenser microphone

  • A solid condenser microphone that's travel-friendly1″ (25mm) microphone
  • Integrated headphone output
  • Built-in kickstand
  • 24-bit/48kHz digital recording
  • All-metal construction
  • Touch panel with multiple controls
  • Frequency response: 20 to 20 kHz
  • Adjustable gain up to +36 dB
  • Powered via USB or lightning connector
  • Mic mute switch
  • Weight: 21 ounces
  • Comes with USB and lightning cable

Design and features

What’s great about the interface is that the back of the mic includes a headphone out for real-time monitoring, which is a feature in our opinion all microphones should have. As with all of Shure’s new mics, the MV51 is compatible with any micro-USB to USB or iOS device using a lightning cable. We don’t record this way (yet, at least), but as the trend continues to grow, we see why Shure has included this capability. This is especially a plus for you if that’s how you record audio — one of the better iOS microphone solutions we’ve seen thus far.

The built-in kick stand that is detchableThe built-in kickstand is a super nifty feature here. It can not only stand on it’s own to give you a compact fit (it’s basically the diaphragm with no body), but it can also mount to any standard mic stand (it threads off). Perfect for those recording vocals or merely any instrument in a studio, and especially convenient if you travel.

The cap-touch panel allows us to take a hold of the gain, mute or headphone volume right in front of us. You control the volume by swiping your finger, so just a nifty feature there. The panel itself lights up when the mic is plugged in. We love the usability of this and although it isn’t necessarily better than buttons itself, it works as intended and is conveniently located for use.

Lastly, the DSP modes are a bit wider in variety with the MV51, giving us speech, singing, acoustic, loud, and flat presets.

Overall build and stability

The build of the microphone is quite solidShure always has a solid build when it comes to mics. As we saw with their other MOTIV mics, they’re built of all-metal so you’re not getting any cheap plastic here. The kick stand is of decent quality as well, although it isn’t a rugged titanium piece of gear, it won’t snap like a twig if you accidentally drop it. The touch panel is also slick, so no complaints when it comes to the overall build.

In terms of traveling, we prefer the MV51 over the MV5, although it’s not like you need to choose between the two. The MV51 however is basically the diaphragm of the microphone with a stand, and if you need to bring it to a studio, just simply mount it to the stand that’s there. Obviously here are some cons to thsi build, being that it doesn’t provide phantom power and won’t give you nearly as much power as a real condenser microphone. However, we’re assuming you’re not interested in the MV51 for that.

Sound quality

The quality of the MV51 comes in at a standard 24-bit/48kHz — and when we say standard, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As we’ve said before, USB microphones in particular (those that are condenser) have come a long way, and the quality is suitable for those in a home studio or are using the mic as a device to communicate (gaming, podcasts, etc). A lot of popular USB mics out there hold 48 kHz rates, but a bit lower in terms of bit-rate at the usual 16. So in comparison to others, this mic stands out with sound quality.

The sound is pretty flat in our opinion, as we didn’t notice any dramatized frequencies, specifically the bass and treble. The overall warmth of the mic isn’t comparable to other popular condenser microphones that need phantom power to operate, but that should be a given for you being that those cost quite a bit more money and need an audio interface or an external source of power (are typically quite bigger than the MV51 as well).

The verdict on the MV51 condenser microphone

A solid choice by ShureIn terms of comparing with other mics within it’s class, the MV51 is actually a bit better than the popular Blue Yeti (that one comes in at 48 kHz as well, but only 16-bit). So if you’re choosing between the two in terms of needing a USB mic, we’d go with the MV51 if sound quality is important to you. The only reason we’d stick with the Yeti is because there are more case studies out there in terms of longevity; however, we’ve never had a problem with Shure’s length of use before (their SM58 has lasted us 10 years plus).

If you’re looking for a bit of a cheaper solution (albeit it is a small-diaphragm as opposed to the MV51’s large), read our Shure MV5 microphone review. That one is lower in line of MOTIV Microphones but also is a bit more portable since it’s smaller, so it may pertain to your needs — that is up for you to decide.

All in all, the Shure MV51 Condenser Microphone is a solid solution for those looking for an iOS microphone or merely a USB solution to record instruments or vocals in a home studio, podcasts, gaming, and other low-budget activities. The touch-panel is convenient and the fact that it can be mounted onto a traditional mic stand gives it a very broad variety of uses. We highly recommend it if it’s what you’re looking for.

The Technical Microphone Specifications Explained

We explain the many technical microphone specifications for better understanding

What are the different microphone specifications? Which mic technical terms should I be aware of? Have you ever tried to shop for a new microphone and found yourself confused by the specifications, abbreviations, and technical terms listed on the side of the box? Microphone’s have several different types and each type has its own purpose and best applications. Furthermore, each brand or model of microphone might have subtle differences in their specifications. This guide should help to define some of these terms and inform you on how to make a smart decision when purchasing your next microphone.

Microphone specifications contents

The basics of sound

The first thing we have to understand is what a microphone does. A microphone converts sound into an energy signal that can be either amplified or digitized depending on your application. Sound exists in rapid changes in air pressure commonly referred to as “sound waves.”

We explain microphone specifications, in particular sound wavesThe figure here does a good job of illustrating the different aspects of sound waves. Each hill and valley is called a compression and a rarefaction respectively. The vertical size of the compression and rarefaction will determine the volume of the sound, the frequency of each cycle will determine the pitch. As such, the pitch an instrument produces is also referred to as a frequency.

Each microphone has its own unique range of frequencies it can capture as well as a sensitivity measurement which tells you the range in volume that will be picked up by the microphone.

Some microphones specialize in picking up very loud sounds clearly without “fuzz” or “static” coming through. Some microphones specialize in picking up sounds at very high frequencies, while other microphones specialize in picking up very low frequency sounds. The microphone market is also flooded with microphones that can pick up everything, highs and lows as well as louds and softs, decently but not as well in any specific range as a specialized microphone.

The basics of the microphone

A microphone is basically a mechanical recreation of our human ears. Sound travels into our ears and against our ear drums, a membrane that captures the vibration, and our brain interprets those vibrations into what we perceive as sound. The “ear drum” of the microphone is the transducer. Depending on the type of microphone you are using, the technology for the transducer can vary. Types of transducers include condenser, dynamic, ribbon, carbon, fiber optic and laser. For more on this check out our microphone types guide.

Regardless of the type of transducer used in a microphone, the same principle applies: a microphone’s transducer picks up sound waves and interprets them to an electric signal. The transducer is always just beneath the grille of the microphone (this is the part you speak into). Usually there is some type of foam pop filter just underneath the grille. This foam does its best to capture sudden bursts of air created by hard consonant sounds like “P’s” and “B’s”. It also blocks some wind noise. The pop filters that are built into the microphone are usually insufficient. Additional pop filters can be purchased later and attached on top of the microphone’s grille.

Microphone polar patterns

The construction of the microphone, the alignment of the transducer, and the type of transducer all play into a microphone’s “Polar Pattern.” Essentially, a polar pattern is simply a diagram of how efficiently a microphone will pick up sound coming from different angles. A microphone’s polar pattern will be shown on the box using one of the following symbols (these are the most common):

Omnidirectional

The omnidirectional polar pattern in microphones

Omnidirectional microphones have equal sensitivity at all angles. An omnidirectional mic could be placed in the middle of a room faced in any direction and would be able to pick up sound coming from anywhere in that room.

Bidirectional or Figure Eight

The bidrectional polar pattern in microphones

Bidirectional, or more commonly referred to as “figure eight” polar patterns pick up sound from the front and rear of a microphone at equal levels, but do not pick up sound from the sides.

Cardioid

The cardiod polar pattern in microphones

Cardioid microphones have the most sensitivity at the front and that sensitivity tapers off around the sides reaching a null point with no sensitivity in the rear. These microphones are ideal when monitor speakers are being used to reduce the risk of feedback.

Supercardioid

The supercardioid polar pattern in microphones

Similar to cardioid microphones, this polar pattern offers good sensitivity in the front with a slightly more focused pattern making the microphone more directional and less likely to pick up ambient sounds in loud environments. This polar pattern does however have some sensitivity in the rear.

Microphone technical specifications explained

With a general understanding of sound and how microphones work, we can now go down the list of common specifications found on a product description for a microphone and explain each one.

Decibel (dB) scale & frequency response

The decibel scale gives a number to the volume of sound based on a reference point of 0 dB. The decibel scale used for measuring frequency response on a microphone is not the same as a decibel scale used for measuring volume. There is a decibel formula that explains this conversion but it is very confusing, I don’t even understand it. Take for example this frequency response chart for a famous Shure SM57 cardioid dynamic microphone:

The microphone technical term frequency response chart visualized

As you can see, most of the frequency response for this microphone falls plainly on that 0 dB line. For the purposes of buying a microphone, anything that falls on that 0 dB line is a frequency that the microphone picks up very well, anything below the line it picks up but not as well, and anything above the line it might be overly sensitive to.

Frequency response refers to the microphone’s ability to detect high and low sounds. The human ear can on average detect sounds from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. Going back to our discussion of sound waves, a Hz (Hertz) is one cycle of compression and rarefaction in a sound wave. The number refers to how many times that cycle occurs in one second. Here are some reference points for typical instruments and their frequencies:

  • 15 Hz – The lower end of the range sound a kick drum makes
  • 41 Hz – The low open E string on a Bass guitar
  • 440 Hz – The open A string on a guitar
  • 4,000 Hz – About the middle of the range of sound a Hi-Hat makes

Multiple frequency response curves

On higher end equipment, manufacturers will include frequency response curves for sounds coming at various angles towards the microphone. This is helpful for studio recording situations.

Sensitivity

A microphone’s sensitivity refers to how much sound or signal a microphone can handle before it will start to distort the sound. This is measured using another complicated formula however the important thing to understand is that a microphone with a high level of sensitivity will send more signal and therefore will not require as much gain on your mixer, while a low sensitivity microphone will send less signal and will require more gain on the mixer.

Conclusion

These measurements are not the only specifications you’ll find on a microphone’s product description however I feel they are the ones that most microphone users will be able to wrap their heads around. Also, know that these measurements do not paint a complete picture of the quality of the microphone that you are researching. There is no substitute for trying out the microphone yourself and measuring with your ears that microphone’s ability to recreate sound. In your research, you’ll find microphones with very similar specifications and very different prices.

I have always found that it’s almost always worth it to spend a little more on audio equipment. The quality of construction, durability, and quality of parts do not show up on the specifications of a microphone. There is also a reason that you see the same two or three brand names on microphones at studios all over the world. Feel free to read through microphone guides if you’re looking for more advice on buying.

Shure Motiv MV88 iOS Condenser Microphone Review

Our review of the new MV88 digital smart device micOne of the best brands in the microphone world, Shure, has come out with a nifty recording solution for iOS smart devices.  As a part of their new “MOTIV Digital Microphones” line, the MV88 is a high-quality condenser mic that is powered via Lighting connector and provides up to 24-bit 48 kHz audio quality. We’ve seen a rising trend in iOS microphones the past few years, and it looks like it isn’t going to stop anytime soon considering the popularity of iPhones and iPads. Not to mention that the microphones built-in to these things aren’t good at all, and probably won’t be ‘studio quality’ for a very long time. With that being said, we know some people who use their smart devices to record music, podcasts and more. Let’s check out the Shure MV88 iOS Condenser Microphone.

Main features of the Shure MV88 microphone

  • Connects via Lightning connector
  • 90-degree hinge with built-in rotation (the hinge is great for bending the mic in flexible positions)
  • Five built-in preset modes
  • Records with 24-bit 48 kHz quality
  • Condenser microphone
  • All-metal construction
  • Mid-side design
  • Frequency response: 20 to 20 kHz
  • Adjustable gain: +36dB
  • Maximum SPL: 120 dB
  • Powered via Lightning connector
  • Weight: 40.5 grams

Design and features

The mic in actionThe overall design of the MV88 is pretty ideal for smart devices. It plugs directly into your iPod, iPad or iPhone via lightning connector (no cable needed). The hinge rotates and turns, so if you’re looking to record video and audio in landscape it’ll be super easy to adjust at-will (such as the photo to the left, in adjusting the MV88 to the source you’re filming or recording).

It’s a condenser microphone, so it’s ideal for recording audio. The builds of condenser mics and sensitivity are great for picking up details within the sound source. Therefore, the MV88 is great for really any recording type of activity — we wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s for professionals in a recording studio, but those using an iOS device in general regardless of the application should be fine (we assume you’re not using your phone to record pro tracks).

Lastly, and one of the most impressive features in our opinion is the ShurePlus Motiv App that comes along with the microphone. Within the app, you can do some crazy adjusting in terms of control over the mic as a whole. You can adjust the stereo width, sift through the DSP modes, and mess with EQ and limitingcompression to name a few. The DSP presets include speech, singing, acoustic, loud, and flat. More than enough choices here for such a small mic.

Build and stability

ShurePlus Microphone ApplicationThe biggest standout of the MV88  microphone really is the overall size. It’ll fit in pretty much everybody’s pocket, so if you’re traveling or need to store it away from a while, it’ll be relatively safe with you (unless of course you fall or sit on it!). Too bad it doesn’t come with a little case, but beggars can’t be choosers.

We find this to be pretty well-built, especially with the price point, we’d hope it would last a few years at least. In terms of longevity, it will be some time before we can report back on it, but at first glance, the material isn’t cheaply made and if you take proper care of it you’ll have an investment on your hands.

Audio quality

The fact that this microphone is so small and offers the better standard of audio quality still makes us scratch our heads. The 24-bit 48 kHz is better than even some USB microphones out there in the market (we’re looking at you, Blue mics!), so this is quite up there when it comes to quality. To put this in perspective, the standard audio rate of iPhones are 8 kHz — so the MV88 is six times better than what your device already gives you! This is more than we could ask for, and a super impressive feature by Shure.

The final word on the MV88 microphone

A steal in terms of price and qualityWhat’s impressive about the MV88 is the fact that it pretty much pertains to anybody within any realm of use. Whether you’re recording something your bedroom, are an artist on tour, bands at rehearsals, this or that, or merely want better quality for your phone when you speak to others, it’ll work as it’s intended.

We’ve also seen that once you save the settings in the app, it will save all choices you have per mic — being that if you want to switch devices, the settings and presets will switch over without hassling you to choose them all over again. Very convenient and saves a lot of time. It works well with any Apple music software, such as GarageBand as well. Unfortunately, it is only iOS specific, so my Android friends will be missing out here. We’ve heard some complaints about this, so hopefully Shure can make you guys a model as well if they take them time to read user feedback.

If you want to check out their other models in the Motiv Microphones line, read our Shure MV5 and Shure Mv51 microphone review — they’re super high-quality mics as well. For a solid competitor to the MV88, check out the Blue Mikey iOS mic, since it’s a bit cheaper although doesn’t provide as many details as this one. Read our best iOS microphone for even more options.

All in all, the Shure Motiv MV88 iOS Microphone is a perfect solution if you want above-standard audio quality for your iOS smart devices. The app that comes along with it is also super convenient, making this a great one-stop shop for your recording needs.

Explained: The Different Microphone Types

We explain the different mic types in this guide

If you’re putting together a home studio, its inevitable that you’re going to have to look beyond SM57s and SM58s when stocking up on your microphone inventory. The microphone market is flooded with so many different types of specialty microphones that its hard to keep track of what they’re all designed for. While the look of a microphone may change drastically, there are always some key words in the name of the microphone that will help you determine which is best for your needs. This guide will explain some of the various different types of microphones and their applications.

Microphone construction overview

Whether it’s a dynamic, small diaphragm condenser, ribbon, or large diaphragm condenser microphone, all microphones do the same thing: interpret sound waves into an electric signal to be later interpreted by amplifiers or computers. The technology for each different type of transducer is actually very similar. A small surface usually held in place by magnets receives sound vibrations. As the surface moves, the pattern of its movement is translated into the electric sound signal. This is not all that different from how our ears process sound, with our tympanic membrane receiving vibrations and our brains interpreting that vibration as sound.

The type of technology method used for the transducer in a microphone is probably the single largest factor in what that microphones best application will be. The next largest factor would be the housing of the transducer. When we think of a microphone, we often imagine those handheld microphones with the ball-shaped grill on the top that we speak into. Most often, microphones of that shape have a directional cardioid pattern. If you have more questions about what some of these terms mean, our microphone specification guide may help clarify a bit more.

The different microphone polar patterns

Here is a quick review on polar patterns:

Understanding microphone types will include knowing polar patterns

  • Omnidirectional: These microphones have equal sensitivity at all angles. An omnidirectional mic can be placed at the center of a room faced in any direction and would be able to pick up sound coming from anywhere in the entire room.
  • Bidirectional: More commonly referred to as “figure 8” polar patterns pick up sound at equal levels from the front and rear of a microphone, but do their best to ignore sound from the sides.
  • Cardioid: These mics have the most sensitivity at the front however this sensitivity begins to taper off around the sides reaching a null point with no sensitivity in the rear. These microphones are best used when monitor speakers are being used since it will help reduce feedback risk.
  • Supercardioid: Similar to cardioid microphones, this microphone polar pattern offers great sensitivity in the front with a bit more focused pattern making the microphone more directional and less likely to pick up unwanted sounds in loud environments. This pattern however does have some rear sensitivity.

Microphone types come in many variations

There are however various types of microphone enclosures that lend themselves to different polar patterns. Take for example this large diaphragm condenser microphone pictured above. This is not a handheld microphone, and the construction of this microphone does not allow you to speak down into the top of the microphone the same way you would into your typical dynamic microphone. Microphones that look like this are often designed to be placed parallel to and in front of their sound source. Sometimes, you may even find microphones that look similar to this with omnidirectional or bidirectional polar patterns.

The different types of microphones

The two most common words you’ll see when shopping for microphones are “Dynamic” and “Condenser.” Think of these two types of microphones as very broad generalizations for several different types of microphones that fit into either one of these types. The difference between the two types of microphones is their transducer technology.

Dynamic Microphones

Dynamic microphone example

These have a thin plastic membrane that initially receives the vibration from sound waves. Fixed underneath that membrane is a circular wire coil called a “voice coil” that floats in a magnetic field created by a permanently fixed magnet. The motion created by the vibrating membrane carries over to the voice coil and as that voice coil moves in its magnetic field, it creates a unique electric signal depending on the types of vibrations picked up by the membrane.

Dynamic microphones are typically known for their rugged construction, durability, and range. A dynamic microphone can do a decent job of recording almost any type of sound. This particular method of transducer technology is best when applied to recording louder sounds.

Condenser Microphones

Condenser microphones are great mic types for studios

These types of microphones also contain a thin membrane this time made out of very thin metal or sometimes metal-coated plastic. Behind this membrane there is a small pocket of empty space between the membrane and an electrically charged backplate, known as a capacitor or a condenser (this is where this type of microphone gets its name).

Because the back-plate is electrically charged and the membrane is either thin metal or coated with metal, there is a magnetic field that is created in the space between the two surfaces. As sound waves cause the membrane to vibrate, the motion of the membrane and the movement in the electric field create the electric signal.

The electric charge on the backplate has to come from somewhere. As such, condenser microphones is a microphone type that will often require either batteries, or a feature on your mixer known as “phantom power.” Phantom power sends a small boost of power from the mixer to the microphone to power this backplate and boost the signal.

This more complex design leads to a transducer that can pick up extremely soft sounds with precision. Unlike dynamic microphones, condenser microphones can easily be overloaded with sound. Condenser microphones would not be your best bet when recording an extremely loud guitar amp. The difference between dynamic and condenser microphones isn’t as cut and dry, however.

Now that we’ve covered the two main types of transducer technologies in microphones, lets talk about some of the subcategories:

Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones

Large diaphragm microphones are very popular in the vocal game

This microphone type is exactly what it sounds like: condenser technology with large parts. This microphone is the industry standard for recording vocals. As such, it should be one of the first microphones you purchase for your home studio. These microphones can also be used for recording acoustic guitar or piano.

These microphones typically come in a cardioid pattern where usually the side of the microphone with the logo or branding is the side of the microphone that is “hot.” Sometimes these microphones will be bidirectional, or even come with a toggle to switch back and forth between cardioid and bidirectional.

An excellent large diaphragm condenser mic for your studio would be this Rode NT1A Anniversary Package. This package comes with a free XLR cable, protective sleeve, and even a pop filter.

Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphones

Small-diaphragm condensers pick up high sound pressure

Again, this one is pretty self-explanatory. These microphones are commonly referred to as “pencil mics” thanks to their long narrow cylindrical shape. The small construction of this microphone makes it perfect for capturing higher and brighter tones.

You’ll typically find this microphone used for cymbals when recording a drum set and you’ll almost always see one of these aimed at the hi-hat. These can also be mixed and matched with large diaphragm microphones to pick up the brighter sounds that a large diaphragm microphone might not pay attention to.

My recommendation is the Rode M5 Matched Pair. As stated earlier, you’ll often see these microphone types used when miking the cymbals on a drum set. For this application, you’ll always want to use a matched pair to create a stereo channel. You might as well buy the matched pair to begin with. Rode also makes very high quality microphones and these are reasonably priced.

Bass Microphones

Bass mics are great for lower frequencies and loud sources

These microphones are specifically designed for picking up low-end frequencies like those produced by a bass drum or a bass amp. My recommendation is usually to use a direct box for recording the bass, so if you’re going to purchase a bass microphone you might as well purchase one tailored for a bass drum.

Bass mics use dynamic transducer technology. They’re larger than your average dynamic mic, which is to accommodate the lower vibrations created by bass instruments. As a drummer who has played live at hundreds of different venues and recorded in various studios, the bass mic that I’ve seen used more than any other is the Shure Beta 52A. The design of this microphone makes it very easy to use. It is manufactured to fit perfectly into a typical bass drum hole and comes with the adapters to fit on any microphone stand.

Ribbon Microphones

Ribbons have a very warm and distinct sound

Ribbon microphones are the only types of microphones in this article that do not fall into the condenser or dynamic categories. They have a transducer technology that is completely differentfrom others. In a ribbon microphone, a small ribbon like sheet of metal will be suspended between two magnets on either side. As sound waves reach that ribbon, the vibrations are picked up by the magnets at each side.

Modern ribbon microphones are among the most efficient when it comes to output levels. When ribbon microphones were first introduced, they were brittle and delicate. Thanks to advances in the manufacturing process over the years, they are now some of the most durable microphones out there. Ribbon microphones specialize in capturing high-end frequencies with great sensitivity to low volumes and low residual noise.

Wait a second… Didn’t we say that dynamic microphones are great because they’re durable and condenser microphones are great because their ability to pick up high frequency sounds? And now ribbon microphones are more durable than dynamic microphones and better with high frequency sounds than condensers? So then what is the point of buying anything other than a ribbon microphone? Ribbon microphones are by far the most expensive of the three different types of microphones. Often, you can achieve a professional level of audio quality with different types of condensers and dynamics.

Ribbon microphones are ideal for miking electric guitar amps. The Royer 121 is a microphone that has established itself as a staple in the recording industry.

Mic types conclusion

I hope this guide has cleared up some of the confusion around all the different types of microphones. In a microphone name, you’ll typical see a model number, a transducer technology, and a polar pattern. Now, you should know what all those words mean.