Blue Hummingbird Condenser Microphone Review

We review the new small diaphragm condenser mic by BlueOne of our most favorite brands in the market, Blue Microphones, has come out with a brand new small diaphragm condenser microphone for us to enjoy. The biggest facet of Blue mics is probably their overall builds and sound quality — we saw with their Yeti dominate the USB microphone world and for good reason, not to mention their snowball and even Mikey model which made an appearance in our top 10 best iOS microphones article. This particular mic is suited towards pianos, drum overheads and more. Let’s take a look at the Blue Hummingbird Microphone.

Main featuresspecs of the Blue Hummingbird

  • A solid overhead mic180 degree pivoting head
  • B1 cardioid condenser capsule
  • Comes with: Carry case, mic clip, foam wind-screen
  • Frequency response: 20HZ – 20KHZ
  • Output Impedance: 50
  • Maximum SPL: 130 dB
  • Weight: 7.5 ounces
  • Dimensions: 6.7” X 1.1” X 1.1”

Overall build and features

It’s a “pencil mic” as you can see by the look, and what that gives us is a bit more of a versatile build it terms of positioning. You can fit in some odd places or get it snug with your current setup. But what’s especially great here is the fact that the head pivots 180 degrees. It’s perfect for those planning on buying a mic as an overhead for some drums (toms, snares), a piano, guitars, or merely any instrument you can think of with rich overtones (I’d even go as far as say you can do some vocals with it if you need an all-in-one). It’s super easy to adjust and doesn’t move around freely — once you find that sweet spot, you’re good to go. It’s super slim and will feel like a hammer in your hand.

The “B1 capsule” that we’re familiar with when it comes to Blue mics says that it’s great for high frequencies, so putting it above that snare (even hi-hats) is picture perfect. In terms of range, it’s relatively standard for condenser capsules: the 20 Hz to 20 kHz will be found in pretty much all popular studio microphones. Therefore, no worrying here in terms of what it’ll pick up or miss out on, you’re quite fine there.

Lastly, when it comes to additional accessories, the carry case (with foam lining) is solid for traveling, and the mic clip as well as foam wind-screen will never hurt. If you’re looking for a few accessories such as these, it makes the package more bang-for-your-buck.

Sound quality

The Blue Hummingbird‘s audio quality as stated previously is especially great for high sound pressure levels, but anything within the range it can pick up will do. Since it handles high SPL, a snare, hi-hat or any other sound that comes from a higher frequency won’t distort (as infamous in a lot of other microphones). This is especially great for performances, since at times we’ve even heard of some popular dynamic mics pop a bit when it came to drums.

In terms of actual audio, you have relatively standard (in terms of semi-pro and professional) quality, which is a good thing in our opinion. You get that touch of warmth all Blue microphones give you. You’re blowing out most sub $200 condenser microphones out of the water, not to mention the USB microphones that don’t even come close. Blue is always coming through in terms of audio quality.

The final word on the Hummingbird microphone

The 180 degree pivot feature is greatAll in all, we’re really glad Blue added this model to their repertoire — it’s got a solid build, nice sound quality, and the 180 degree pivoting is great for those who need some versatility and custom positioning for what they’re recording. It’s pretty much good to go for any application, and we’d even go as far as to say vocals are quite fine if you may need to use it for that at one point or another. If you’re only recording vocals, we’d recommend going with a more traditional condenser microphone, particularly with a larger diaphragm, such as their Blue Spark microphone (around the same price point).

We have no complaints about this one, and think it’s perfect for those looking for an overhead microphone for drums, guitar, piano, or any other instrument that you need a high SPL tolerance for. The Blue Hummingbird Condenser Microphone is solid in terms of build and quality, and if it fits your needs, go for it.

The Top 10 Best Microphone Packages and Bundles

We found some top rated microphone bundles and packages to recommend

If you’re in need of some recording equipment, in particular a microphone with a few accessories to get going on your musical endeavors, we found a few bundles that may perfect to help you save some money. Microphones aren’t necessarily cheap, and it can be confusing which accessories you actually “need” or can suffice without for the time being. Luckily in the music gear world, a lot of our favorite brands (and a few of our favorite mics in general) come with some “packages” that can cover some bases you were already planning on purchasing separately, creating a nice little collection of gear to get us recording right out of the box. Let’s get into the top 10 best microphone packages we found that are worth buying today.

What to look for with microphone packages

The terms “package” and “bundle” are pretty subjective, and we’ve learned after both personal experience and research that there are a lot of variations out there. With that being said, we wanted to highlight the popular accessories included in microphone packages so you can have an idea of what to look for as well as what to prioritize when it comes to your own personal needs. Here are the popular microphone accessories you’ll be need to get recording. Use this as a check list to see if you already have them, or what you can get away with buying later down the road or perhaps on the side of your chosen mic package.

  • Mic stands: Unless you’re planning on using a USB microphone with a desk stand in a more traditional office setting (which aren’t offered in packages at the moment, as many already have stands and mounts built-in), you’ll need a stand for your microphone to stay in place. You can always purchase a mic stand separately which aren’t too expensive and range from $20+ and up; however, a few below will include one in the box in case if it’s a big deal for you.
  • Shock mount: This accessory, for lack of a better phrase, is that “little cage” that will keep your microphone housed. It’s main job is to of course protect the mic from damage, but also isolate them from mechanical noise as well (also known as absorbing the shock and vibration isolation that sometimes occur when using microphones).
  • Pop filter: Also known as pop shields, wind filter, etc. Have you ever recorded and hear those “P’s”, “S’s” and “K’s” just straight up ruin your mix? The pop filter will help reduce the extra emphasis certain letters, words and phrases make. We always recommend using one.
  • Audio interface: Although not an absolute must to actually start recording, audio interfaces in our opinion nowadays are what makes or breaks a home studio. Think of these devices as an “external sound card” that processes your recordings way better than going through your actual computer itself — not only in terms of audio quality, but ‘latency’ as well (there will be a slight “lag” at times without interfaces). Most of all, it provides something called “phantom power”, something many of these mics below need (actually, I believe all of them do) to even work in the first place. You can also plug-in your headphones to the audio interface to ‘monitor’ your mix, as well as a few other pieces of gear you may have at hand if the interface has more than one USB hub (or perhaps some MIDI connectivity).
  • Necessary cables: We need to actually hook this equipment up of course, so keep in mind if the package actually provides the cables you’ll need to work the gear that it comes with. Also make sure they’re the “right” cables, such as a USB cable for your audio interface, or an “XLR cable” that plugs in to the mic (that three-pronged circle that hooks up to the end of the mic).
  • Headphones: Many of you may already have headphones laying around, but if you do want to optimize your recording endeavors and have headphones that are specifically for recording environments, some of these packages come with some very nice closed-back, over-ear headphones that are ideal for microphone uses. If you already have headphones, other packages may be more feasible for you.
  • Music software: Last but not least, we have to store our recordings, mix and then create songs together somewhere, right? Even if you’re podcasting, some music software will be feasible for your use. All in all, you can always get away with using free software found around the net, but some of these microphone bundles below either come with some “lite” versions of popular DAWs, or perhaps full version of the brand’s own music software.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a microphone package out there with literally every single thing in this check list. However, there will be some that come pretty close. For example, there are a few with audio interfaces as the staple-point of the package, while lacking a mic stand or perhaps a pop filter. If an audio interface is a big must for you, you can always just grab the few missing pieces on the side to save some money on the interface. In fact, we’d recommend this focus since audio interfaces can be expensive, and it appears they become greatly discounted with packages. On the other hand however, there aren’t many packages that actually include software, so if you’re in need of a DAW, grab a package with some decent software and just grab a few extra accessories along with it.

The top 10 best microphone packages and bundles

Rode NT1-A Condenser Mic Bundle

The best microphone package

In the microphone package:

  • 1 large-diaphragm condenser microphone (Rode NT1-A)
  • 1 shock mount (Rode SM6) with integrated pop filter
  • 1 20′ XLR cable
  • 1 mic dust cover
  • 1 studio secrets DVD

Here’s one of our favorite microphones of all time, especially in the lower-range of the studio microphone price-point. Highly reviewed by users for its overall clarity, warm sound, and overall build stability, the Rode NT1-A here is one of the best microphone packages available today if you aren’t concerned with interfaces or software and just need the gritty accessories for recording. Included with the standard microphone, shock mount, pop filter, and cable, the Rode bundle provides everything needed to get started with a home studio or basic recording. Known for its clarity of sound and its versatile use across all recording platforms (recommended here however are vocals, guitars, or pianos), this bundle is relatively durable, with a compact design that makes it both lightweight and easy to use. This quiet studio microphone provides a dynamic range of both sound and frequency, making it a popular choice for both vocal and instrumental recording by many professionals. A bonus for those who are just starting out is that it even comes with an instructional DVD to walk you through step-by-step in the setup process, ensuring that you get every bang for your buck. A quality set at a stable price, the Rode NT1-A mic bundle is a comparable option as the best microphone package for both beginners and semi-professionals alike.

sE Electronics X1 S Studio

Another one of the best microphone packages in the market

Included the microphone package:

  • 1 large-diaphragm condenser microphone (X1 S)
  • 1 RF-X relfexion filter
  • 1 isolation pack with popshield
  • 1 XLR mic cable (3 meters)

Designed for those who are recording in spaces that don’t offer the best acoustic backgrounds like a studio would, the sE Electronics X1 S studio bundle provides everything you need (and then some) to achieve that professional quality sound associated with a home studio. The included shock mount makes setup and tear down easy with its quick release mechanism when inserting both the metal pop shield and microphone, and allows for flexibility in how these accessories are positioned. This will be great in case you plan on recording on-the-go, or perhaps going to a friend’s to collaborate. This bundle also contains a “reflexion filter” to cover the outer rim of your microphone, making sure that what you are recording is going directly into your mic and not being comprised with any external sound. This allows for a dry sound that gives the user the opportunity to be creative in adding in their own background mixes or acoustics to provide depth to their recording. A solid quality that is great for the price, the sE Electronics X1 S studio is a great microphone bundle to keep in mind if that mini sound booth stands out to you, although it unfortunately lacks an interface or software.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Studio

The best microphone package if you need high-quality

In the microphone bundle:

  • 1 large-diaphragm condenser microphone (CM25)
  • 1 audio interface (Scarlett 2i2)
  • 1 pair of closed-back studio headphones (HP60)
  • 1 XLR cable (3 meters)
  • 1 copy of Ableton Live Lite music software
  • 1 copy of Pro Tools First software
  • 1 copy of Focusrite Creative Pack (plug-ins and effects)

As with most things in life, having to wait on information is not always ideal. That being said, the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Studio boasts as one of the best microphone packages due to its superb audio interface with low latency in recording transfer, letting you hear an accurate depiction of your sound in your included headphones almost immediately as you record. With an included condenser microphone that is feasible for beginners or home studios, as well as some high-quality closed-back headphones, the two preamps in the interface let you plug in and record both vocals and instruments at the same time, with two outputs available to transfer your recording to your software for mixing. Plus, while recently releasing a new design, the Scarlett 2i2 uses the amp from your mic to let you know how the overall sound of your recording is being produced, with a green light indicating a good signal and a red light demonstrating a need for adjustment. A budget friendly price with high quality features, the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Studio is a great pick when considering which microphone bundle is best for you. It also comes with a great music software free trial in Ableton Live Lite, and some plug-ins and effects to mess around with in post-production as well. You’ll just have to buy a mic stand, shock mount and pop filter on the side.

PreSonus AudioBox Studio

Another great microphone bundle, especially if you need some software

Included the mic package:

  • 1 large-diaphragm condenser microphone (M7)
  • 1 pair of semi-open headphones (HD7)
  • 1 AudioBox USB audio interface
  • 1 copy of Studio One 3 digital audio workstation software
  • 1 USB cable
  • 1 XLR microphone cable

For those users who are in the middle of the road between just beginning and at a professional quality, the PreSonus AudioBox Studio has everything required to record and mix your music and create your own sound (aside from again a stand, mount and filter). This one rivals the previous Focusrite package we had just mentioned, however this may be more suitable for you if you need to save a few bucks, since it’s often found priced cheaper. The condenser microphone and included headphones allow you to both capture and hear those low and high frequencies that are often difficult to achieve and let you know exactly where you need to fine tune you recording for your optimal sound. It’s the included Studio One software however that really makes this bundle something to consider — it is the full version of PreSonus’ spin on a DAW, and although not quite as popular as Ableton Live Lite, won’t require you to be limited when using it (since others with software usually come as trials). With its USB connection that works on most Mac and Windows devices, the AudioBox interface is also easy to hook up to your microphone and transfer your recordings on to your software for mixing. Its compact design also makes it ideal for travel, so that you can take your studio with you wherever you go. One of the best microphone packages available, the PreSonus AudioBox Studio is a great pick not only for home studios but for the musician on the go as well.

MXL 770 Studio Package

A great high-quality condenser mic package

In the mic bundle:

  • 1 MXL 770 condenser microphone
  • 1 boom mic stand
  • 1 pop filter
  • 1 shock mount
  • 1 microphone carrying case
  • 1 XLR microphone cable

With everything you need to get started on your recording journey, the MXL 770 Studio Package gives you all of the tools for a high quality recording besides an interface and software at a budget-friendly price. Hitting just above the hundred-dollar mark, the small condenser microphone is the biggest highlight here (which provides both a wide range of frequency and a high dynamic range in your recording). The 770 is one of the most popular lower-end condenser mics ever made. It locks into place with the adjustable tripod mic stand for a secure and stable recording device. The included pop filter works in tangent with the mic to make sure there are no external “popping” noises heard when recording, and the twenty foot cable makes it easy to connect to any device you are using to transfer and mix your sound. Well reviewed by users for its low-end price and easy setup, the MXL 770 Studio Package is everything you need in your recording endeavors, and is a big favorite for those on a tighter budget,

Focusrite iTrack Solo Studio

The best microphone package again by Focusrite

Included in the microphone package:

  • 1 condenser microphone (CM25S)
  • 1 audio interface (iTrack Solo)
  • 1 pair of studio headphones (HP60S)
  • 1 XLR microphone cable (3 meters)
  • 1 copy of Ableton Live Lite
  • 1 copy of Scarlett Plug-in Suite
  • 1 copy of Novation Bass Station Plug-in
  • 2GB of Loopmasters samples

Another big hit in the microphone package world by Focusrite, this one here is a bit less popular than the 2i2 because of the interface’s less ins and outs, but comes in a bit cheaper in case the previous bundle wasn’t in your budget. While it contains all the necessary equipment in order to create your own studio, it is the feature of being able to work on a variety of devices that makes this one of the best microphone bundles to purchase. With the ability to plug directly into your Mac, PC, or even your iPad, it is simple to transfer your music directly to the software you are using. The large condenser microphone works to give you precision and clarity in your sound if you’re in a home studio, which is easily heard through their closed-back, over-ear headphones that let you focus on what you are mixing and remove any background noise that can distract from your sound. In addition, the microphone and iTrack device are small enough in size that they are ideal for travel. Simply plug in the mic, attach it to your computer or iPad, and you are able to record wherever you may be. Regarded for its high quality sound and accuracy, the iTrack Solo Studio is a solid set for all users alike if you don’t need extra inputs for instruments and only intend on recording vocals. You also get the same software package as their previously listed bundle, but also included are some samples if you want to start producing as well.

Audix DP7 Drum Microphone Pack

A microphone package and bundle for drummers

In the drum mic package:

  • 1 kick drum microphone (D6)
  • 2 dynamic drum microphones (D2)
  • 1 floor tom mic (D4)
  • 1 snare mic (i5)
  • 2 studio condenser microphones (ADX51)
  • 4 rim mount clips (D-Vice)
  • 3 tension fit mic clips
  • 1 foam-lined hard-shell aluminum case

Let’s take a break from packages for vocalists and provide a nice bundle for drummers in case you’re somewhere out there reading this guide. If you’re one of those people who subscribe to the idea that “if you look good, you feel good,” then walking around with the Audix DP7 Drum Microphone Pack is sure to motivate you to record the best audio possible. Mainly designed with drum instruments in mind, the variety of microphones provided give you the exact precision and clarity you need for all different frequencies and level of sound. These seven microphones and clips adjust to the specific drum you are working with, from kick, snare, drum, and floor toms. Regarded for their very low mass (VLM) in their lightweight design, these microphones aim to capture an accurate reproduction of the music you are playing, and with a gooseneck design for flexibility you are able to record at all angles to fit the placement you need.  Well reviewed and known for their instrument-specific microphones, the Audix DP7 drum microphone package is a higher-budget option with quality results, regardless if you’re going to record or perform on stage.

M-Audio Vocal Studio Pro II

Another one of the best microphone bundles by M-Audio

Included the mic bundle:

  • 1 large-diaphragm condenser microphone
  • 1 audio interface (M-Track)
  • 1 pair of studio headphones
  • 1 mic clip
  • 1 XLR mic cable
  • 1 USB cable
  • 1 copy of Ableton Live Lite
  • 1 copy of Waves plug-in pack

A customer favorite with highly regarded reviews, the M-Audio Vocal Studio Pro II is the sleek microphone bundle that provides you with upgraded technology for very clear recording. Designed to work in a variety of facets (vocals, instrumentals, podcasting), the included large diaphragm microphone, headphones, and interface are simplistic in design and user friendly. Sensitive to low noises and recording at a wide frequency, the microphone does well to captures your sound exactly as you record it so that you can go back in later and add your favorite effects provided in the included software (yes, Ableton Live Lite again, seeing a trend here?). Plus, with the compact design and durable nature of the microphone and device, it is easy to transport your “studio” with you so that you can record whenever inspiration hits. Additionally, the included headphones (which provide comfort in their adjustable headphone and padded ear cups) remove all external sound to let you focus in on what you are creating. Complete with everything you need for your own endeavors, the M-Audio Vocal Studio Pro II is yet another one of the best microphone packages out there in the music gear world, by a reputable brand in M-Audio.

Shure SM58-S Package

A nice live performance microphone package to buy

Included in the microphone package:

  • 1 dynamic microphone (Shure SM58)
  • 1 microphone boom stand
  • 1 windscreen
  • 1 20 foot XLR cable
  • 1 polishing cloth

Let’s talk live performance microphone packages to end the guide. Known for its unparalleled quality of sound and its durable design, the Shure SM58-S is considered to be one of the legendary and premiere microphones, making this package one of the best microphone bundles for singers on stage available on the market. At a budget friendly price that is realistic for many, the SM58-S uses a dynamic design within its microphones, intended on capturing the exact vocal it is recording in front of it and eliminating any external noise that may detract when coming from an audience. The bass roll off and brightened mid-range work to remove the low frequencies that detract from the sound and instead balance it with both the upper and lower frequencies. Additionally, the shock mount works to remove vibrations that may naturally occur in recording to give consistency within the audio. Plus, since this is a microphone that is known to be used for the stage as well as recording studios, it is known to be able to withstand quite a bit of wear and tear while remaining durable and reliant. With the rave reviews it receives from professionals and amateurs alike, the Shure SM58-S package is a strong option for those seeking the best microphone bundle if you’ll be on stage.

Sennheiser E 835 Bundle

The last package for microphones we'll recommend

Included in the microphone bundle:

  • 1 dynamic vocal microphone (Sennheiser E 835)
  • 1 microphone boom stand
  • 1 20 foot XLR microphone cable
  • 1 microphone clip
  • 1 carrying pouch (fits only the E 835)

To finish off this list in another live mic bundle is the Sennheiser E 835 bundle, complete with microphone, stand, connector cable, and pouch. The durable E 835 microphone is built for the stage and the studio alike, with the ability to handle high pressures of volume while simultaneously eliminating external noise that may disrupt the quality of sound. Designed within a “family” of microphones in their beloved E series, Sennheiser works to ensure great clarity within their audio recording while also reaching a wide range of frequencies. Continuously, the boom stand is designed with the ability to be easy to transport while still remaining sturdy and solid when in use. Adjusting for height and microphone flexibility is easy with a locking clutch that keeps everything in place, and tear down is minimal. Add in the included cable to connect to your equipment for mixing and the Sennheiser E 835 bundle is a quality option for a reasonable price, capping off our list of the top 10 best microphone packages in the market today.

Zoom SSH-6 Stereo Shotgun Microphone Review

We’re always big geeks when it comes to Zoom Electronics gear, and obviously combined with it being a microphone we just couldn’t say no to a review. In terms of microphones, Zoom likes to make models that are said to be only compatible with their own gear and this is no different. If you own a Zoom H5, H6, or Q8, you’re in luck. You can then record using the superb microphone quality, or if you have a DLSR, attach it on top of that to have one beast of a machine. Although only tailored to a smaller crowd out there, we know there are some Zoom fans like us who wanted some thoughts on the mic before purchasing. Let’s get into the details.

Main features of the Zoom SSH-6 microphone

  • A very solid shotgun micCompatible with Zoom H6, H5 or Q8 recorders
  • Provides focused stereo sound
  • Shotgun center section with leftright capsules
  • Mid-Side processing
  • Comes with hairy windscreen
  • Built-in 5-volt preamp
  • Analog-style gain control
  • Advanced digital signal processing
  • Combine direct and ambient sound

Design and features

First and foremost, the SSH-6 is a shotgun microphone. If you’re unfamiliar with what those are exactly, to sum it up, they have an ‘interference tube’ in the front with ‘tighter directionality’ to reduce noise around it. It mostly pertains to recording sound in outdoor settings with a lot of ambient noise, and using a windscreen makes it even better. They’re typically attached to DSLR cameras for video recording (especially great for interviews).

A nice additive by ZoomThis particular model has the shotgun mic make but also adds in some methods for recording on the side of the device. It’s geared towards those who want some ambient noise (which you can control). It also comes with a hairy wind screen, which isn’t necessarily a must; however, it will never hurt if you need it. Their accessories are very well made, so it’s not some cheap add-on just to jack up the price.

Sound quality

As stated previously, not only do you get the shotgun specific sound pickup in the center, but the SSH-6 has bidirectional side capsules to record your left and right as well. The sound quality is going to be a relatively noticeable improvement from the stock sound in your compatible Zoom devices. Since it’s hyper cardioid and combines this said shotgun and bidrectional make, you can get a perfect blend of both direct as well as ambient sounds in one. Depending on your use of course, this could be exactly what you need. If not, you can always adjust the width (both during recording or post production) or maintain the full mono if that’s what you want. The sound quality is very satisfactory.

The verdict on the Zoom SSH-6 shotgun microphone

A perfect solution for DSLR camerasThis particular Zoom mic is great for videographers just starting out. The price isn’t too bad considering most shotgun mics are around this price point. The only downside we see is it being only compatible to the H5, H6 or Q8 — it’s a bit limiting for others who may want a shotgun microphone with these specs and don’t have a Zoom recorder, but we all know their liking to make Zoom-only accessories and gear. If you are in fact looking for an external audio solution for your camera, read our 10 best microphones for DSLR video cameras if you want some more info.

The Zoom SSH-6 Shotgun Microphone is perfect if you’ll be outdoors, plan on interviewing, or have any other use for a shotgun mic that will allow you to record some ambient noise as well. It’s more of a “why not?” if that’s your use.

The Top 10 Best Microphones for Gaming

Here's our article on our favorite picks as the best microphones for gaming

Buying a microphone for gaming will give your voice a step up when it comes to one of the most important parts of the process as a whole — communication (both to your teammates or even your enemies). Whether you’re in need of a simple solution to replace your headset mic (that really isn’t ideal for sound quality in general), or perhaps prefer to game with a high-quality pair of headphones and need a microphone to accompany your setup, we found 10 of our favorite models here to recommend you today. Many of these will also work for those who stream, record, or partake in any other side projects that need a mic. First we would like to teach you a few factors to keep in mind while you look for the best gaming microphone for you, since we have a lot of options depending on your budget, setting as well as type of mic preference.

Finding the best gaming microphone

  • Money: Budget will always steer us in a particular direction, especially if you’re in need of a simple solution without a few bells and whistles. We found a range of microphones for gaming in this article, going from $50 or less all the way to a few hundred bucks. The following factors may entail you start saving up if you don’t have the cash now, or if you’re in need of just something to portray your voice to other gamers, we recommend just grabbing something in your price-range.
  • Type of microphone: Similar to a few of our other guides on task-specific needs, such as our vlogging microphones or even mics for YouTube articles (since those are recording uses but also streaming), we’ll spell out a few options that you have when it comes to the type of microphone you can buy, in particular for gaming.
    • USB microphones: By far the most popular choice for gamers, USB mics are very convenient since you basically just plug them into your computer and you’re good to go (all USB mics are compatible with Mac, PC or even laptops, just as long as you have a USB port of course). They come in many different shapes, sizes, and price-points, so a majority of our picks down below will cover a range of different USB microphones for gaming.
    • Condenser microphones: Technically USB mics are ‘condenser mics’, but in this bullet-point we mean studio condensers that don’t connect with USB but instead use something called an XLR connection. These aren’t as popular for any computer use, since they have a little more that go into them, and are instead preferred by musicians who record and need tip-top quality. We do know a few gamers, in particular those who stream, podcast, or anything that involves actually recording, prefer XLR connected studio condensers since they give us more power and better quality. You’ll need phantom power (an external device to power up the mic, since USB mics get their power straight from your computer), and a few other accessories, such as mic stands or pop filters (USB mics have these built-in or come with them in the box). But if you’re one to want to stand out from the rest, we recommend going this route instead of a simple USB mic.
  • Gaming setting: Are you gaming on a PC in an office or your bedroom? Playing PS4 or Xbox in your living room? On-the-go on your smart device? This will definitely dictate the type of mic you buy because those on a desk will need a solution that remains stationary near or on their desk, while those in a living room will need to be creative depending on how you like to game (being able to keep the mic close to you). If you’re on-the-go and have some more versatility with a smart device such as a phone or tablet, there are some better options for you out there as well.
  • Additive features: This is always last in our microphone guides because ‘additive’ doesn’t necessarily mean “I really need this”. For those who just want a mic to stand at their desk and capture your voice, you won’t need some of the following popular features we’ve seen in higher-priced mics: attenuation switches, bass roll offs, multiple polar pattern switches, gain and volume control on the mic itself, included carrying cases, or any microphone bundles and packages that come with accessories you may want (typically with studio condensers).

The top 10 best microphones for gaming

Samson G-Track PRO

The best gaming microphone in our opinion

Up first as our recommendation as the best gaming microphone is a brand new USB mic made by Samson, a quite popular brand in the budget-friendly mic world. This one however has made a name for itself, and we personally were able to test it out at the NAMM show (our Samson G-Track PRO review can give you some more details). Coming with a large-diaphragm (25mm) dual 1″ capsule for a big pickup pattern to grab our voices well, this one is a condenser microphone so it’s specialty is capturing what’s in front of it and rejecting the back and sides — perfect for those gaming and need a little desktop microphone to sit by your side while you game. However, you can also use its ‘polar pattern switch’ in case you need to change how it picks up sound, depending on how you position or really use this thing — change to you want to pick up in all directions (perhaps recording more than one person in a room?) or even birectional to do front and back if needed.

What really makes this pick stand out from the others is sound quality — you have a higher-end resolution recording (for USB mics, especially without audio interfaces, at least) at 24-bit/96 kHz for more than enough clarity for any game you’re on. You additionally have some gain control on the mic itself if you need to adjust your voice level on the fly, as well as headphone volume knob if you plug your phones directly into the mic itself.  The Samson G-Track PRO is a high-end USB microphone to start our list of the best microphones for gaming strong — it’s a heavy-hitter in the desktop USB microphone game at the moment.

Audio-Technica AT2020USB+

Another great pick as the best gaming microphone

Up second is another one of our favorite USB models in the market, and continues to keep our best microphones for gaming in the USB category (for now). First and foremost if you’re debating on either this pick or our previous G-Track PRO, their retail prices are the same but if a particular website out there on the net is selling either for cheaper, we say go for that one. The AT2020+ is very similar in regards to features and specs — a condenser cardioid mic type and pickup pattern, nifty desktop stand in the box, and plug-and-play with no need for driver installation to get to using it right after removing the packaging.

The only draw here is the slightly less bit depth at 16-bit instead of 24-bit with the G-Track PRO, but for gaming, that isn’t a completely noticeable difference. The only time we would keep this as a priority is if you’re recording music with the mic as well. Especially if this one is cheaper, the Audio-Technica AT2020+ is another solid mic for gaming we love.

Rode NT1-A Bundle

The best microphone for gaming if you're in need of something better than a USB mic

Now we’ll get into a higher-priced option but if you have the cash, this is a more studio-friendly option that blows any USB mic out of the water as the best microphone for gaming. We recommend this one for gamers even though it’s a studio mic because it’s still within the budget-friendly option of not getting too ‘crazy’ in terms of build or sound quality that’s better for recording artists but can still bring a very high-quality audio for gamers. With a great large 1″ gold-plated diaphragm and very dynamic range with low self noise (only 5 dB), the NT1-A is a warm and professional sound to its recording and streaming.

You will need a mic stand since it doesn’t just rest on our desktops like the others, but if you can invest in a stand and some accessories this is a next-level option for gaming. The link we’ll provide you is to a bundle that gives us a shock mount and pop filter. The Rode NT1-A is a great pick for gamers if you wanted an even further step up from regular USB mics.

Blue Yeti

What's a microphone guide without the Yeti?

What’s a microphone guide that has to do with computers, games, or even USB mics in general with a Yeti mention? As this used to be one of our go-to USB mics in the game, the G-Track PRO took over due to the bit-depth and cheaper price. If you do want to get up to the G-Track Pro’s resolution you’ll have to get the Yeti PRO which is more expensive. Regardless, the Blue Yeti is still a viable option as the best gaming microphone due to the legendary reputation it has (and cheaper price if you want to save some money as opposed to our previous USB mic picks).

Here are the highlight specs and features — a built-in desktop stand, gain control on the mic, color options to buy, multi-pattern (being able to switch the polar pattern for pickup style as previously explained), driver-free operation, and the ability to buy a few of their mounts in case you aren’t into mini desktop stands. For example, you can buy their Blue Compass, which is a boom arm (typically used for podcasters but very useful for gamers, too) that mounts to the bank of your monitor and hooks above your head. This will maximize some more space in your gaming environment. The Blue Yeti is a mention due to the high amount of reviews and overall stability it will bring our gaming gear setups — grab it if you want one of the best USB mics out there in the world. Standard Yeti’s go to 16-bit/48 kHz while the Pro hits 24-bit/192 kHz.

Neewer NW-700

An affordable mic for gaming here

Since we’re at the middle of our guide of the best microphones for gaming and are still reading, we’ll give you an option that may pique your interest, especially if you want to save some cash while still grabbing a mic that’s a lot better than the stick on your headset. Coming in as a traditional ‘studio-grade condenser microphone’, this is one of the cheapest mics we’ll recommend for really any type of use, especially gaming. You’ll also be needing to purchase either an audio interface or a device that provides phantom power of the standard 48 volts. This package however does come with all of the necessary accessories to get going right out of the box once you do find a power source — scissor arm stand (like the Blue Compass), shock mount, clamping kit, pop filter, and XLR cable. The reviews back up this mic’s effectiveness, albeit keeping the price in mind — you’re by no means getting anything ‘professional’ here (like the Rode mic we previously recommended).

Still, we’d grab this if you didn’t want a USB mic and instead of a more traditional studio-type of condenser microphone that uses the traditional phantom power and doesn’t rely on USB to power up. The needed accessories are also great since it comes with a friendly price-tag to combine everything we need aside from power. If you’re a beginner musician this may also be a great bang-for-your-buck, but gamers only can still benefit from the Neewer NW-700.

eBerry Plug and Play

A very cheap solution to a gaming microphone if you need the basics

Let’s talk super cheap, and when we mean super cheap, we mean basically an add-on for carts and the best gaming microphone if you need just one thing — being able to provide listenable audio to the people you’re gaming with. This doesn’t take into consideration fancy features like polar patterns, audio resolution (it’s at least better than a phone), fancy mounts or special connectivity. This one is for those who may have broken their headset mic and need a quick and simple solution for finding your gaming voice again. It is indeed at least USB connective and doesn’t rely on the dinky 3.5 mm we’re all familiar (at least what I grew up with when I used to buy these from Best Buy when I was a kid).

The neck is adjustable so you can fit it to your liking, and the small size is super convenient for putting it in an existing gaming setup and fitting it snug on to your desk. Compatible with both Mac and PC, the eBerry Plug and Play is a mic for gaming for those who need the one thing microphones are supposed to do — portray our voices to teammates and enemies.

Razer Seiren Elite

Another one of our favorite picks as the best microphone for gaming if you're into high-end USBs

Let’s get back to something high-end and within the USB world as the best microphone for gaming. Razer is a brand that screams high-end gaming gear, so the name alone will give us confidence that we can trust the investment for this one. The look alone of this USB microphone is slick, and although the appearance isn’t always a priority, can be for some — we love the sleek black finish of this, and the material it’s built of is very high-quality with no cheap plastic that will break easily. There’s a built-in high-pass filter that aids in the sound quality by cutting pesky low-frequency noise that times occurs in streaming environments (think rumbles from nearby fans or air conditioners, or perhaps cars outside). You also have both volume and gain control on the mic itself, similar to the G-Track PRO and Yeti.

On top of the high-pass filter (you can switch it on and off if you need to, but we’d keep it on at all times), there’s a digital/analog limiter that also combines to reduce distortion. Pair this up with a resolution of 16-bit/48 kHz, we have a standard high-quality sound for being heard in our games quite well. If you want a step up from the other USB mics (no, the G-Track PRO still wins in the resolution numbers department) in regards to overall build and extra features that make sure your voice is clear and noise-free, the Razer Seiren Elite is another great pick as the best microphone for gaming if your budget allows.

MXL 770

Our favorite budget-friendly studio condenser microphone

Here’s another highly affordable traditional studio condenser microphone to use for gaming. We chose this due to the obvious affordability but also reputation it has within the mic game. The 770 is known for it’s very balanced sound, rugged body to last as a long-term investment, as well as it’s custom -10 dB attenuation switch (reduces the output level in case you’re one to yell and scream, or perhaps you want to record some instruments on the side) and bass frequency roll off switch. The box typically comes with a shock-mount for reduction of vibrations (you’ll need to buy a pop filter and mic stand as well) and a carrying case if you plan on traveling to game.

Note that you’ll have to buy some phantom power on the side to power this baby up, but all in all we feel the MXL 770 is another one of the best gaming microphones if you wanted a different spin to your mic and may want to make some music on the side. If you take the time to look around, this is also a popular microphone that’s included in bundles depending on the accessories that you need (such as a traditional mic stand or even boom arm stand for your monitor).

Blue Snowball iCE

A portable and versatile microphone for gaming

The next few gaming mics we’ll recommend to finish the list will focus on ultra-portable USB microphones in case you’re a mobile gamer, or perhaps just want a small and simple solution for the desk. Blue’s other famous mic here is the Snowball iCE, and although not as powerful or stacked in terms of specs as the Yeti, brings us a nice punch for the size. Great for all types of recording and streaming with both Mac and PC, the Snowball iCe is cheap in price, comes with a cardioid polar pattern like most popular condensers (no polar pattern switch here), and also comes with a convenient tripod desktop stand for easy placement in your gaming setup.

The sample rate isn’t as high as some higher-priced USB mics, but still gets the job done with a very high 16-bit/44.1 kHz which is feasible for any gaming environment. Weighing in at only 460 grams, the Blue Snowball iCe is one of our favorite affordable and portable picks as the best microphone for gaming. It’s available in black and white.

Samson Go Mic

The last pick we'll recommend for those on the go

We’ll end our list with one of the most popular portable USB mics out there in the Samson Go Mic. Mimicking the near size a wallet, it actually does fold into a smaller, leather case that can squeeze into some pockets and most backpack spaces for easy traveling. If you’re one to game on a laptop wherever you may be, such as the airport, coffee shop, different rooms of the home or anywhere else you find the urge to game, you’re covered here. The price is also very affordable, just slightly less than the Snowball iCe’s retail price, so if you’re debating on the two in regards to a mobile USB mic, we’d say grab what’s cheapest. This is because the Go Mic does have the same resolution as well as similar features such as being Mac and PC compatible, comes with the needed pickups and having a cardioid pickup pattern.

However, the Go Mic also has a switchable omnidirectional pickup patterns which may be of use to you. The versatility of this gaming mic however is just simply hard to ignore — mount it with the little case on top of your laptop and you’re good to go, or use it as a microphone for streaming, music, chats and more. The Samson Go Mic is huge in the microphone game for a reason. In case you’re gaming on your phone and want a super portable smart device mic, you can read our Go Mic Mobile review, which they’ve just come out for this year.

Samson Stage X1U Wireless USB Microphone Review

We review the new X1U USB Microphone by SamsonCall us unaware, but this is the first time we’ve seen a wireless microphone that uses USB connectivity (at least worth looking at). One of our favorite brands over at Samson Tech has recently released this, so we wanted to give it a review to see exactly what it was about. The reason they call it ‘stage’ is because it’s a handheld microphone that can operate wirelessly up to 100 meters away. Although that’s awesome for performances, we still love this as a multi-use mic for studios, computers with gaming and pocasts, and more. Let’s analyze the specs of the Samson Stage X1U Microphone.

Main features and specs of the Samson Stage X1U

  • Digital handheld microphone
  • Operates via USB
  • Comes with USB receiver to communicate with mic
  • Compatible with Mac, PC or iPad
  • 100′ wireless range
  • 1-touch mute buttonvolume controls on unit
  • 8 hours battery life from two AA batteries (not included!)
  • Dimensions (boxed – HxWxD): 11.5″ x 6.25″ x 3″

Design and features

A solid wireless mic for the priceThis is one of the first of its kind and we’re definitely predicting a new trend that will follow here. Wireless USB mics using a USB transmitter to communicate with the microphone itself will be the new standard for USB mics once we’re able to get around some of the quality issues we’re still having. Not that this particular model is ‘low-quality’, but the range will probably fall short for you as opposed to their 100′ claim.

You’ll also get a 1-touch mute button on the mic itself, as well as volume controls for some easy access to adjust your sound. Lastly, if you’re actually planning on use this as a desk mic, it comes with a nice little tripod stand and mic clip to keep it snug wherever you want to fit it.

Overall build and stability

The overall stability of the microphone is relatively decent. When we’re talking Samson products, we aren’t getting anything too cheap as far as knockoffs go. They’re well-known for their affordable, average built electronics and gear. It isn’t necessarily a steel Shure make or anything, but if you check the price tag, it makes sense and is worth what you’re paying for.

In terms of recommend applications of the X1U mic, Samson has stated it’s best for lectures, presentations, karaoke, podcasts, video conferencing and more. However, we see it working for any other types of use in the office or any low-budget performanceshow which calls for an easy wireless solution. We really wouldn’t recommend using it for a real performance on-stage in front of an audience as it isn’t as reliable as some of the heavy hitting wireless mic models out there. The fact that it’s a smaller USB transmitter tells us it’s not worth trusting as opposed to a real transmitter — although it may work, it’s just not worth the risk. If you’re looking for a cheaper recording mic it could work as well, although we’d recommend just getting a wired USB microphone because a wireless model isn’t necessarily a must for that (and wired models are more trustworthy in the studio).

Audio quality

We’re quite satisfied with what the norm has become in terms of audio quality for microphones nowadays. The Stage X1U in particular has quite feasible audio quality, albeit rather standard if you’re comparing it to other USB microphones in the market. It doesn’t come near the warmth or overall power provided by XLR-connected studio condenser microphones; however, for the recommend applications, this mic gets the job done (we didn’t expect it to, considering how expensive those pro mics are). It won’t be bad nor amazingly great — you’re getting a mic that will go unnoticed in terms of quality, which is ultimately a positive because that’s something people don’t think about during lectures, presentations or podcasts.

If you want it to work with your iPad, you’ll need the Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit (30-pin) which will cost a few extra bucks. However, once you’ve got this, you’re good to go with a nice wireless setup for your smart device. No complaints there.

The verdict on the Samson Stage X1U Microphone

The accessories that come with the X1U microphone

The tripod stand, mic clip and USB transmitter.

You’ve got a simple, not over-the-top wireless microphone (in terms of additive features to jack up the price) for your home office or simple presentation. Using a not as common USB transmitter, it’s super convenient not only for traveling but fitting it into your existing setup nicely. The tripod it comes with is excellent for keeping it snug on your desk, and if you need to use it while standing or moving around, the handheld build is perfect for any lecture or presentation. As stated previously, it isn’t a professional performance mic or recording XLR model, but you probably already knew that.

All in all, the Samson Stage X1U Wireless Microphone is an awesome digital mic that will satisfy your simple needs. If it’s what you’re looking for, we wouldn’t hesitate to grab it.

The Top 10 Best Microphones for Recording Voice Overs

Here's a guide on our favorite picks as the best voice over microphones for the money

Recording voice overs is a professional career for many, but without the proper microphone to capture the quality needed we’re essentially at a wash. As we’ve reviewed microphones for many years now, we’ve gotten a good hang of creating guides for particular uses, so today for our voice over microphone guide wanted to give you an array of choices that span across multiple microphone types, connectivity, budgets and more. We do recommend saving up some cash if your budget is still pretty low — voice overs mainly concern sound quality, which will translate into a decent price tag but to us is well worth the investment. Let’s take a look.

Checklist for the best voice over microphones

  • Budget – An obvious main factor when keeping in mind any purchase, we do want to first note that when choosing the best voice over microphone for you, money will go a long way. Especially if you’re doing this as a career or at least a potential lifelong journey, saving up a few extra bucks to find a microphone that provides a feasible sound quality will stand you a part from others. Number one in the voice over game as we said is sound quality. Not having it is like an out of shape police offer — they exist, but are noticeable and fall off quickly, right?
  • Type of microphone – We recommend a condenser microphone no matter what. It can be either USB connectivity or hooked up traditionally using an XLR port and cable. Our ultimate preference if we had to choose would be an XLR microphone due to the flexibility we’ll attain. USB mics are great for plug-n-play and ease of use, and many (which we recommend) come with amazing sound quality. However, having an XLR connection gives you the ability to find a middle man since they need an external device for phantom power. You can choose either a stand power supply, or what we love is either a microphone preamp or an audio interface. The benefits of these are unmatched and you simply do not get these with USB mics (you can’t hook up USB mics to audio interfaces or preamps) — you can adjust gain, add FX, and tweak your sound even further instead of relying on post-production in your music software. USB mics are still feasible, especially for those on lower budget.
  • Need other gear? Just a microphone isn’t always enough. If you’re grabbing a USB microphone for voice overs, you can technically get away with just plugging it into a laptop or computer and you’re good to go. However, when we say “other gear”, we mean some equipment you may already have lying around or didn’t even know you needed, such as headphones, certain cables, audio interfaces or preamps, mic stands, shock mounts, pop filters and more. Keep this in mind not only for budget purposes, but also not wanting to get your microphone in the mail only to be found that you can’t even use it yet and have to buy more gear. We recommend a few microphone packages below if you want to look into buying more than just a microphone while also saving some money. Or you can shop for them all separately.

The best microphones for voice overs

Blue Yeti Pro

The best voice over microphone in the market

Up first we have an easy recommendation for many “audio quality” and “ease of use” concerns, combined with a beautiful build and relatively affordable price tag. The Yeti is now one of the most legendary USB microphones in the game and will be for quite some time in our opinion, but the ‘Pro’ version here is recommended for voice overs since it offers both USB as well as XLR connectivity and has some of the highest audio quality in a USB mic right now. The reason we recommend XLR to many voice over recording artists is due to the flexibility we attain, since we can plug it into either an external preamp or audio interface. Having an extra ‘middle-man’ like this can give us more freedom for tweaking the sound quality we attain, whether it’s adding FX, gain, additional EQ, or really a ‘feel’ and ‘sound’ that isn’t attainable straight into a computer using a USB port.

In regards to specs, the Yeti Pro gives us a beautiful and whopping 24-bit/192 kHz audio resolution, a built-in A-D converter (essentially a preamp) if you do indeed want the USB route, as well as four adjustable pattern settings available — cardioid (recommended for voice overs in a studio), omnidirectional, stereo, and bi-directional. These can come in handy if you want to use this microphone for other uses as well. This really just scratches the surface on this one, but our pick as the best voice over microphone definitely goes to the Blue Yeti Pro.

Rode NT1A

Another one of the best microphones for voice overs

Here’s our favorite affordable studio-quality condenser microphone for voice overs or really, any type of recording you can think of when it comes to a warm and clear sound. This one typically comes in a microphone package that includes a pop filter and shock mount, so if you’re in need of extra gear this will be a decent bundle to buy (you may still have to buy a mic stand and perhaps a mic preamp or audio interface). With an extended dynamic range and high sound-pressure level tolerance, we won’t have to worry about a lack of depth and ability to handle the possibility of distortion. The inside includes what’s called a JFET impedance converter which is definitely fancy-sounding, but to put it simply, is a higher-quality inside build to ensure quality and conversion of your sound waves into your recordings.

We would prefer an XLR microphone like this as opposed to a desktop USB mic if you can afford it, but if not we’ll understand and ask you continue on later down the list for a cheaper alternative. At the end of the day however, the Rode NT1-A is a beautiful microphone that has a price-tag which still makes us scratch our heads at times. A great microphone for voice overs here, or any recording uses you can think of outside of that, too.

Neumann TLM103

A high-end voice over microphone here

Let’s talk high-end for a second. Neumann is a fancy brand but has unmatched quality if your budget goes into the thousands — not many of you may apply here but for some, this one takes the cake by far as a professional and beautiful microphone for voice overs. Usually used for vocals in the studio, if you have this bad boy at your fingertips for voice overs, you’ll never have to worry about “quality” ever again. This is a lot smaller than many other “studio mics” but size with music and recording gear is never an indicator for anything. If anything it says this thing packs a powerful and advanced punch within a small body.

So what makes this voice microphone so much more expensive than the others? Without getting too technical, it’s all in the internal build (and external of course, considering we have a rugged casing made of metal with a nickel finish). The circuitry doesn’t include a transformer which aids in decreasing self-noise and increasing the SPL handling significantly. It also aids in feedback suppression. We could get into more details but for now, just know the Neumann TLM-103 is the real deal if you have a big budget.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Studio

More than just a microphone for voice overs here if you need extra gear

Here’s a slightly different spin to a voice over microphone since it includes much more than that, but as previously stated, may be exactly what you need when it comes to saving money and finding the right additional gear you’ll need for a complete setup. The staplepoint of this package is Focusrite’s Scarlett 2i2 audio interface (we’re using this one at the moment), which is one of the most popular budget-friendly and starter audio interfaces in the world. It converts audio at 192 kHz and 24-bit, while having two ins for microphones (in case you do your voice overs with somebody else), and also a separate monitor and headphone knob on the interface itself for ease of use. The microphone itself is solid and will do a great job in a recording atmosphere, albeit isn’t necessarily an expensive and high-end condenser microphone we’ve listed previously. If you are in need of a feasible mic to record voice overs, their included CM25 is suitable even for those who do this for money.

The package lastly includes some of their HP60 closed-back headphones, which are great for noise isolation to disallow your mix from getting jumbled with noise. You may already have headphones, but make sure they’re suitable for recording, otherwise you’ll have sound leak into the mic and disrupt the mix. Overall, the Scarlet 2i2 Studio made it into our microphone packages at number one for a reason, and is a great solution for voice over recording artists if you needed more than just a microphone while saving some money on top of it.

Samson G-Track Pro

Another beautiful USB microphone for voice over work

Half way through our guide of the best voice over microphones, we have another of our favorite USB mics in the market today. This one definitely rivals the Blue Yeti, but is slightly cheaper than their Pro in case you wanted a higher-end USB microphone while saving a few bucks. New for this year, the G-Track Pro offers a built-in desktop stand for those who prefer to do it on their desks (you can remove it), with some nifty controls on the actual mic itself as well — recording select switch (mono or two tracks), a polar pattern switch button, mic volume, instrument volume, headphone volume knob, as well as a master mute button.

Coming with a resolution of 24-bit/96 kHz for recordings, this is the higher-end range for USB’s nowadays, starting to rival pro condenser mics (not yet, however). It also has a ‘built-in’ audio interface, albeit not as effective as standalone interfaces, will save you some money if you prefer to just go straight through the mic to computer. The Samson G-Track Pro is just another great option for voice over artists looking to grab a USB microphone without the hassle of extra gear and don’t want to fiddle with an XLR input and external power source.

Avantone Pro CV-12

A tube microphone option if you're into warmer sounding voice overs

Are you concerned with not just having the clearest, most digital-sounding audio? Need some warmth and an old-school, vintage, and ‘warmer’ (yes, totally subjective terms, but that’s what many mic heads state) feel to your voice overs? Let’s chat about a classic tube microphone that’s one of our favorites ever. The CV-12 is still a studio microphone with an XLR connection that needs phantom power, but instead has a different inside build than many others in this guide. Tube microphones are very unique, and to summarize very quickly, entail an actual ‘tube’ in the inside which converts sound into data for our recordings. Many argue that this is purely subjective and ‘nonsense’, while others swear by it. We ultimately recommend you test the two types separately on your own to get a feel for what you want.

Regardless of what people ‘claim’, the CV-12 is still a solid mic, tube or not. It’s praised for its nine polar patterns, rugged build, sleek size, and of course, high quality sound. Grab the Avantone Pro CV-12 if you want to have a different sound than most.

Audio-Technica AT2020USB

Audio-Technica's highly rated mic to keep into consideration

Here’s another one of the most popular USB microphones in the game at the moment. It’s typically seen slightly cheaper than both the G-Track Pro and Yeti Pro, so if you’re able to sacrifice a slight decrease in audio resolution (but still with solid quality) and wanted to save a few bucks, we say go with this one by Audio-Technica. It has a lot of similarities to the others, too — built-in desktop stand to fit nicely on your office desk (you can definitely travel with this thing as well), mix and volume control, a headphone jack on the unit itself, as well as easy plug-n-play capabilities with no drivers needed (I mean, it is 2018).

The audio resolution hits up to 16-bit/48 kHz with its built-in A/D converter, so this will be feasible for many voice overs unless you’re in the professional realm, we still recommend a previously listed condenser mic with an XLR connection. The Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ is rated very highly by many customer reviews for a reason, and we love the overall quality it brings for a great price.

MXL 770

A voice over mic that's easy on the wallet

Let’s talk budget-friendly condenser microphones for voice overs. Coming in cheaper than most of the USB mics we’ve listed in here, the MXL 770 is a great solution for voice over pros who wanted a cheaper solution to a mic while still maintaining the flexibility of an XLR connection to use an interface or preamp. With a high-quality small-diaphragm and cardioid polar pattern, we have the necessary specs to be confident in having the right type of mic for our usage.

The sound in this one is very balanced and many have praised the overall quality to price-tag ratio we get with this purchase. There’s a nice bass frequency roll off switch which comes in handy for clarifying vocals that have a deeper tone to them, and also a nifty -10 dB attenuation switch for further customizing if you need to. Look at the MXL 770 if your budget is limited but you still want a great condenser as the best voice over microphone.

PreSonus AudioBox Studio

One more microphone bundle for voice overs here

One more microphone package we wanted to recommend before our guide finishes up here. The AudioBox Studio is another heavy hitter in the bundle game aside from the Focusrite pick before in the list, and this particular package comes with a microphone (XLR), an audio interface (their beloved AudioBox), closed-back, over-ear headphones, and of course the necessary cables (XLR and USB to power the interface).

This is about fifty bucks cheaper than the 2i2 Studio, so in regards to saving money for a particular package for voice overs, this is your best bet. It’s for beginner to intermediate voice over artists who want to grab it all at once to not only save money but the hassle as well. We’re big fans of the PreSonus AudioBox Studio if it fits into your needs.

Blue Snowball iCE

The last microphone for voice overs we'll recommend in this guide

Last but not least to end our list of the best voice over microphones, the Snowball iCE is a cheap USB mic with decent quality to look into if you weren’t wanting to spending a hundred bucks or more on your mic. Coming with a very sleek size and adjustable built-in mini tripod, this one is very travel friendly or can fit nicely in an existing office or laptop setup. The specs include a mini custom condenser capsule with a cardioid polar pattern, resolution of 16-bit/44.1 kHz (no, not as high as the others, but still feasible), and a small weight of about a pound.

This one just screams versatility, and although audio quality is definitely the number one component to voice overs, will still get the job done considering the price. We always recommend saving up as much as you can for a better resolution, especially if you’re doing this as a job or potential career; however, the Blue Snowball iCE is a great way to get your feet wet in the recording voice overs game.

Zoom F1-SP Field Recorder and Shotgun Microphone Review

We review the new package by Zoom, the F1-SP

Today we’ve finished our Zoom F1-SP field recorder and shotgun microphone review, and having a chance to learn about as well use it at NAMM was a privilege. As we’re huge fans of portable audio recorders, especially Zoom products, we wanted to see what their solution was to giving us a package for high-quality audio attached to our DSLR cameras. If you’re like us and into filming video on your DSLR and think the audio quality just doesn’t cut it, this may be the perfect solution for you. Let’s check out what the Zoom F1-SP has to offer.

Features of the Zoom F1-SP

  • Suitable for run and gun videographers, but any type of filming as well
  • Mic: Hyper-directional sound
  • Mic: Aluminum body
  • Recorder: Recording up to 24 bit / 96 kHz
  • Recorder: Display allows customization of settings
  • Recorder: One touch controls
  • Recorder: Powered by AAA batteries (two of them) or additional AD-17 adapter (doesn’t come with this)
  • Recorder: Includes tone generator for help in setting proper levels
  • Included shock mount is attachable to DSLRs
  • 3.5mm cable included
  • Ability to record to microSD cards (up to 32 GB)
  • Connects via USB (micro USB port) to computers to transfer sounds

An F1-SP attached to a DSLR

Zoom F1-SP sound and recorder quality

Before we talk sound clarity, we’ll highlight the actual use of the shock mount. A lot of DSLR audio solutions don’t have this. This SMF-1 in particular made by Zoom does nothing but help us and give a “just in case” protection. It will eliminate unwanted thumping or vibrations we sometimes capture in our audio, especially when filming on the move (hence the “run and gun” label). Combine this with the wind screen that comes in the box and you’re protected from a lot of pesky ambiance and unwanted noise in your recordings.

The shotgun microphone in this Zoom F1-SP package is actually the same mic as included in their beloved H5 and H6 recorders. The sound quality won’t be a problem here. The 24 bit / 96 kHz is standard resolution here for small to medium-sized projects that demand for at least decent audio quality for recordings. It isn’t “professional” by all means, but that would only pertain to pro movie studios and what not. This is quite fine for filmography, interviews, vlogging, documentaries and of course as advertised, run and gun videos — skating, sports, etc.

The F1 records in WAV or MP3, although we never, ever recommend recording in MP3 since WAV just flat-out beats it in terms of clarity and less junk — you can always edit the sound in post-production. What’s also great is they’re automatically time-stamped (BWF compliant) so you can easily sync your videos with audio later on. Combine these with the sound marker function to output quick tone for easy syncing, it won’t be a problem while shooting or post-prod.

The Zoom F1 recorder up close

Source: Zoom.co.jp

Using the Zoom F1-SP recorder and microphone

We found the one-touch controls on the Zoom F1-SP‘s recorder to be especially convenient (as with most Zoom recorders, especially this F1) — you can adjust recording levels, limiter settings (built-in limiter here with auto-level control to get rid of clipping) and volume output on the fly. The monitor (1.25″ — not too big but gets the job done) helps us view levels, battery life, as well as lo-cut settings. It isn’t limited by sunlight either, so you’re fine with reading it at any time of day or in any environment since it’s monochromatic.
The Rec Hold function in particular was helpful in avoiding accidental button operation, and there’s also a pre-record function in case you roll that way.

You get about 10 hours of operation with alkaline batteries, so in terms of having a full day’s worth of shooting, you should be fine. You can always bring an extra pair or buy their power adapter separately, or just buy some rechargeable (yes, compatible with NiMH batteries) to charge before you start filming.

A back view of the F1-SP recorder and shotgun mic

Other standouts of the Zoom F1-SP

What’s also a huge standout of the F1-SP is that you’re not necessarily limited to the SGH-6 shotgun microphone this bundle comes with. Zoom’s recorders have a “10 pin connector” for the mic connection, so we have a lot of flexibility if you feel like changing out the microphone capsule (of course, only compatible with other Zoom products, although we won’t complain).

Here’s the list of other capsules this particular recorder is compatible with:

  • SSH-6 (Stereo shotgun mic)
  • XYH-6 (Stereo X/Y adjustable capsules
  • MSH-6 (Stereo mid-side adjustable capsule)
  • XYH-5 (Stereo X/Y mic with shock-mounted mics)
  • EXH-6 (Dual combo input capsule)
  • SGH-6 (The one already included)

If you're in the mood to change out the shotgun mic, you have options

What’s in the Zoom F1-SP box?

  • Field Recorder (F1)
  • Shotgun microphone (SGH-6)
  • Windscreen (WSS-6)
  • Stereo mini cable for DSLR (SMC-1)
  • Shock mount (SMF-1)
  • Two AAA batteries (note the power adapter is not included)
  • Quick guide

Here's what you'll be getting in the F1-SP box

Final word on the Zoom F1-SP recorder and microphone

As we walked around the convention last week, there were a lot of people filming (we’ll start videos next year), so we were able to scan what many were using for external audio. A majority of people had recorders attached to their DSLRs with some type of shotgun mic, while others just used a shotgun mic straight into their camera as opposed to a recorder and shock mount as seen in this product, mostly with the ever-popular Rode DSLR mics that we’ve all seen around (you can read our best DSLR microphones for some more options).

Ultimately, we love this package for super high-quality audio when filming videos. We do know many who could care less about audio when it comes to filming since they do a lot of post-production editing, but it’ll all depend on your actual use as well as “level” of filming (are you using it for fun? For a company?). For those who indeed see themselves as ‘run and gun’ videos, this is a perfect solution. If not, you may however be interested in the second newest bundle they’ve released this year right next to this, which is the Zoom F1-LP (same package but included a lavalier instead).

Regardless, the Zoom F1-SP recorder and microphone is a great little package for semi-professionals to up their game when it comes to the quality of their audio in their videos, despite what ‘type’ of video or environment you’ll find yourself in.

The Top 10 Best Microphones for Recording Vocals

Our picks to help you find the best microphone for recording vocals

Not just any microphone for recording vocals will do. When searching for the perfect mic, it will take some time for you to figure out not only what your budget is, but preferences are in regards to sound, feel and energy of your vocal recordings. Today we’ve found our 10 favorite recommendations as vocal mics, and although it wasn’t easy, feel confident our selections will give you a decent range not only when it comes to price-points, but overall sound as well. You’ll first have to figure out a few of your needs before we give you our picks, so let’s get into some of the details.

Finding a vocal recording microphone

Aside from budget, selecting the best type of microphone for your vocal recordings will be key here. We’ve been able to narrow it down to a few of our favorite “types” specifically for vocal recording applications.

  • Condenser microphones: These are the most popular types of mics for recording vocals, let alone record anything, really. The reason is due to their internal builds being most optimal for their sensitivity and detail, which is of course useful when we’re recording vocals for song. They are also built very well and have polar patterns that aid in sound isolation for only recording what’s in front of it, as opposed to some other microphones designed for other uses.
  • Tube microphones: Still technically a ‘condenser’ microphone, tube mics are sometimes associated with “the old days”. To us, “old” sound even sounds better than digital-based, super-mastered tracks in this day and age (depends on who you ask). In the end, ‘tube’ mics have different internal builds than normal condensers, and if you can guess, they have ‘tubes’ that handle audio as opposed to transistors. The result is a different ‘sound’, albeit very subject and really depending on the listener and recorder. We recommend giving the microphones a listen to see for yourself and determine whether or not you want a tube instead of a regular condenser.
  • USB microphones: Although not considered a ‘type’ since they’re all technically ‘condensers’ as well, we’d still like to keep this direction separate for a few reasons. For one, they’re a lot easier to use and mostly for beginner vocalists since you merely plug them into your computer and they’re powered up and ready to use that way. They’re also a lot more affordable than some professional condenser microphones out there. However, their quality isn’t nearly as on par as standard condenser mics, and you can’t hook them up to a preamp or audio interface for flexibility in your recording settings. It’s all up to what you want and need at this time of your vocalist career.

Once you’ve chosen which “type” you need, let’s talk about extra microphone gear. For example as stated previously, condenser microphones will need to be powered up by some external source of power (‘phantom power’), and although many do come with a standard 48-volt power box to use them with, there are more options for you to give you some flexibility while you record. For example, many opt into using either a microphone preamp or an audio interface to power up their condenser vocal mic. The reason is because they do more than just “power it up”, such as providing FX to record with, adjusting gain, being able to hook up multiple instruments and record them at the same time, and much more. Aside from your power and recording capabilities, you’ll also want to look into gear that are typically found in microphone packages, such as pop filters, mic stands, shock mounts, carrying case, and more.

Lastly, let’s highlight what microphone specifications are and mean (in a nut shell). For vocalists, your style will depend on what numbers you want to see. For example, Sound Pressure Level (SPL) will be of a concern, but only if you’re one to scream into the mic or have a much louder volume than others — most microphones in here should handle your SPL. SPL is typically concerned for those recording very loud and abrupt instruments, such as snares. You can also look into the different polar patterns microphones offer, but typically vocal recording will ask for a microphone pick up pattern than picks up what’s in front of it and rejects the others to ensure it’s a clean track without any outside noise (cardioid).

Other than that, unless you’re a professional engineer spending thousands upon thousands for a studio, you will be fine with any of our picks below. Let’s get down to it!

The top 10 best microphones for recording vocals

Warm Audio WA-47

Our second pick for the best microphone for recording vocals

Up first, we have a superb tube mic to act as our pick for the best vocal microphone in the market today. Although definitely on the higher-end of the budget-range, if you can afford this one, you’ll have some extremely clear and pleasing vocal tracks in your songs. This brand in particular focuses on ‘vintage’-like compressors, preamps and mics, and this one is no different from their others. The vacuum tube circuitry brings a very natural and unique sound, but one that isn’t over-the-top (used by Sinatra and George Martin frequently — not this particular mic, but a variation and older version of this one).

This one has nine polar patterns built-in available to your liking and flexibility, and it can handle up to 140dB SPL. You can also use this to record various instruments, such as piano, drums, and guitar. Ultimately however, the biggest standout of the Warm Audio WA-47 is by far simply how it sounds, which to us makes it the best microphone for recording vocals and so worth it if you have the cash at hand.

Audio-Technica AT2035

One of our favorite brands with a great vocal recording mic

It was tough trying to pick just one Audio-Technica mic to recommend in here for vocals, but ultimately this one made sense. The AT2035 is a very popular model for recording vocals and the hundreds of user reviews everywhere helps us with confidence in its reliability and performance. It’s a side-address condenser with a switchable 80 Hz high-pass filter and 10 dB pad for some extra emphasis in capturing the mid and high-ranges of a voice. Also great sound pressure handling alongside its shock mount included gives us a good feel in its ruggedness.

Ultimately the key with this microphone for recording vocals pick is its combination of great construction, smooth and natural sound alongside its price — we’d definitely consider this one budget-friendly, at least compared to many others in this guide. All in all, we love including the Audio-Technica AT2035 in here for those just starting out in recording and who don’t have too much cash to drop on a high-end and expensive mic to begin their adventures.

Shure SM7B

Our pick as the best microphone for recording vocals

Up next, we have a very popular microphone for vocals here with Shure’s SM7B, which is actually a dynamic microphone with a cardioid pickup pattern. But wait, didn’t you previously say condenser microphones are mostly preferred for vocals? Yes, they are. However, there are quite a few dynamic mics out there that are worth looking at as well, and we wanted to at least include one of our favorites in this guide. Michael Jackson actually used the SM7 throughout his recording days, in particular with “Billie Jean”.

This mic has been out for decades (in the 70’s), so its been a proven heavy-hitter in the recording realm since many of us were even born. It’s known for its smooth, wide-range frequency response with a flat recording output, a great setting for music and speech, and we’ve heard of many broadcasters use this microphone as well. There is also a widely praised bass roll off and mid-range presence in it’s mixes, which gives a nice and distinct sound for vocals. There’s also a built-in shock isolation as well as pop filter to protect our tracks from any pesky distractions. The Shure SM7B is simply legendary and by far one of the best microphones for vocals.

Blue Yeti Pro

A great USB microphone for recording vocals

Let’s get into one of our favorite USB microphones of all time — the Blue Yeti, but we want to recommend their ‘Pro’ version not just because it’s more expensive, but due to the audio quality at least coming close to some traditional condenser microphones out there. This one is actually both USB and XLR, so we’ll have flexibility in choosing how we hook up this mic to our studio setup. We have some top-notch (at least some the highest we’ve seen in the USB game) 24-bit/192kHz digital recordings here.

Overall, the Yeti has thousands of user reviews everywhere praising the quality of build and of course, sound. It’s been chosen for all of those “best USB microphone” articles you see flooded around search engines (ours as well), and that is all for a reason. It’s simply the most all-around solid USB mic in the game right now, and although there are some competitors trying their best to come close, we still feel this is worth mentioning first in a vocal recording article if you really want a USB connected microphone. The Blue Yeti Pro is a gem.

Mojave Audio MA-200

More tube microphone recommendations here

Let’s talk more tube mics for vocals, and the MA-200 is one of the best in the game if your budget is in the higher range if we perked up your ears when talking vacuum tube condensers and how they sound. This particular model has been highly reviewed for being a “secret weapon” with its warm low-end and crisp highs. It has a full sound with great detail that’s typically compared to other microphones twice the price. Most widely used for vocals but there are many we’ve read who use this for guitar as well.

David Royer did a great job with this microphone and if you aren’t aware of who the guy actually is, may ring a bell when you think of “Royer Labs” and many other legendary microphones he was responsible for building (along with mic preamps and compressors, too). The insides of this is what’s responsible for the sound, and if you’re into details here are the specs — 3 gold-sputtered capsules, military-grade JAN 5840 vacuum tubes, and Jensen audio transformers. It has a very distinct sound which is why we love the Mojave Audio MA-200 as a pick as the best microphone for recording vocals.

Rode NT1-A

One of our favorite budget-friendly vocal mics of all time

Where do we start with one of our favorite microphone packages of all time? At least for those with a relatively low-budget, the NT1-A is simply remarkable and legendary at this point. Coming with a shock mount, pop filter as well as dust cover, we’ll be good to go right out of the box (aside from phantom power, of course). The large 1″ gold-plated diaphragm brings us a very warm and neutral sound to our vocal recordings.

Also great for instruments such as bass, piano and guitar, this one is just all-around solid and another viable option for those in the beginning stages of recording vocals or wanting to start building their home recording studio. If you do have more cash we recommend scrolling down further, otherwise the Rode NT1-A of our favorite picks as the best vocal microphones, especially if you want an all-around microphone in the lower price-point of this guide.

Apogee Mic PLUS

The best microphone for recording vocals if you want a high-end USB mic

Let’s talk about another very high-quality USB microphone for vocals. Apogee’s first MiC 96k was a hit when USB microphones first started to really take off, and new for this past year (we checked it out at NAMM 2018) is a new and improved model of their previous hit with even better audio quality and more flexibility. With this vocal microphone, we have 24-bit/96 kHz resolution, three-color LED status, input level and Blend mode indicator, headphone out control for monitoring with zero-latency, and an input gain adjustment/mute control. This thing is also super tiny and weighs about half a pound, sitting nicely on your desk or even allowing you to travel to make music if that’s your thing (such as bringing it to a friend’s studio to record instead).

When it comes to comparing this with our previous USB model recommended, they hover around the same price, and since they have very similar specs (although with the audio quality capabilities, the Yeti Pro does go up to 192 kHz), we’d say grab whomever is priced lower at the time. If you’re still unsure, keep in mind the Yeti Pro can go XLR as well while the MiC+ cannot. So stick with the Apogee Mic PLUS if you want strictly a USB mic for your studio.

AKG C414 XLII

A lovely microphone for recording vocals by AKG

The C414 is another high-end vocal recording microphone made by one of our favorite brands in the mic game, AKG. This is a large-diaphragm condenser with 9 switchable polar patterns (great for those recording multiple instruments or sources), advanced and high-quality material internal build, and of course, beautiful sound. We love this mic mainly due to the distinct sound it provides but also some of the extra controls we have on the mic itself.

There is a slight presence boost in the vocals here, which means you have a very little emphasis in the mid-range ever so-slightly for a different sound in case it’s what your ear is asking for. This typically makes vocals and other solo instruments stand out a bit more in a layered mix (also great for drums). You also have some more control over your sound with an on-board bass cut as well as pre-attenuation pads filter (three of them at either -6, -12, or -18dB) so you can adapt to whosoever voice is currently being tracked. The AKG C414 XLII is just another one of our favorites as the best microphone for recording vocals.

Neumann TLM 103

A beautiful sounding mic for vocals

Neumann is a special brand unlike many others out there. This German-based mic creator focuses on detail, so you’ll be getting a very high-end and luxurious mic that doesn’t spare any part whatsoever — we just hope your budget allows. Regardless, the TLM 103 is one of our favorites made by them (they don’t have a bunch of mics available like many others, but focus on models they’ve had for many years and continue to improve and re-release them). The sound of the TLM 103 is smooth as butter, while coming with a 20 Hz – 20 kHz frequency range, very low self-noise, and overall rugged build (it’s extremely small compared to many other large-diaphragms out there).

It’s been used commonly for classical recordings that have a big range, but also for sampling, mic amps, live use, and of course, vocals in the studio. It also represents a nice SPL handling if you’re looking to record some drums as well, or perhaps you one to love belting out your vocals passionately. What you’re really buying here is a transformer-less circuitry and pressure gradient transducer that specializes in low noise and attention to detail. The Neumann TLM 103 is a privilege to own.

Rode NTK

Our last pick as the best microphone for recording vocals

Last but not least as our final pick as the best vocal microphone, the Rode NTK is our favorite mic in the middle price-range of all of these recommendations. It will always have a place in our heart since we used this during our rapping and beat production days throughout the past decade (we’ve since switched to a different tube mic for more poppy and electronic genres). The highlights of the legendary NTK are obviously the clear sound we love, but also the rugged build (it will last years as an investment), and vintage feel (powered by a twin-triode 6922 tube).

Big recommendation here due to the price — if the thousand dollar range was a bit too steep for you but you still wanted a high-end tube mic with warm sound, we recommend grabbing the Rode NTK as our final pick as the best microphone for recording vocals.

Zoom F1-LP Recorder and Lavalier Microphone Review

We review the new Zoom F1-LP that includes both a great recorder and lavalier mic

Coming in hot for this new year, Zoom has an announced a brand new little package of a few of their products, the Zoom F1-LP. Coming with both a very effective field recorder in the F1 and a nice and easy lavalier microphone in the LMF-1, we have a perfect solution if you need some high-end recording for stationary environments, interviews, speeches, presentations, podcasts, sermons, and more. There are of course a lot of lavalier microphones out there in the world, but paired up with a Zoom recorder for a decent price for a nice bundle? Let’s see what exactly the Zoom F1-LP has to offer and if it’s worth the money.

Features of the Zoom F1-LP

  • Low profile design
  • Comes with buckle attachment
  • Records to a microSD card (up to 32GB)
  • One-touch controls
  • Easyt-to-read display
  • USB connectivity
  • Auto-lock features
  • No chance of overload
  • Powered with two AAA batteries (or power supply sold separately)
  • Record in WAV or MP3
  • Recorder is also compatible with other Zoom capsules

The F1-LP’s sound and quality

For audio quality, we loved what we heard at the convention. Despite the loud noise around, we could hear the audio of the Zoom F1-LP quite clearly. To get technical, let’s look into the resolution. If recorded in WAV, you’re attaining 44.1 kHz/16-bit maximum, or with MP3 up to 320 kbps. Of course, we do not recommend ever recording in MP3. Stick with recording in WAV since it’s less compressed and will give you more flexibility in post-prod (yes, it’s a bit larger in size but it’s worth it). The lavalier mic itself connects via a 3.5 mm stereo mini (screw lock) and the input gain is -12 dB or +36 dB — quite feasible considering it’s size and power (and price). Like all lav mics, you have an omnidirectional polar pattern for focusing on what’s right in front of it (the speaker or even instrument you decide to clip it on). The cable length is of a decent 160 cm (about 63 inches, or about 5 feet), so it’ll reach even if you put it on somebody’s pants (although we’re not sure who would do that — perhaps you want to clip to a shirt and keep the recorder on a table instead? — it’ll reach pretty far).

The lavalier microphone itself is considered “standard” (but not cheap). It isn’t necessarily a Countryman or anything (professional lav mics that alone cost almost a grand), but for smaller purposes, semi-professional work or even pros who aren’t completely concerned with audio for a real movie, documentary or film, it will at least give us better quality than an on-board mic of a video camera. Go with a boom mic or even post-production voice-overs for more professional work.

A very solid recorder and lavalier mic combo

Using the Zoom F1-LP recorder and lav mic

Of course, this isn’t camera attachable as we have seen in shotgun mic combos, so you’ll have to sync up your audio once you’re in the office. When it comes to actually using the Zoom F1-LP, sometimes a recorder and microphone combo can be a bit tricky; however, they included some nice features that we really like to ensure its usability. For one, the field recorder has a nifty 1.25″ monochrome LCD with one-touch buttons on the actual unit to adjust quite a few settings on the fly: start recording, stop, play and pause, recording format, lo-cut, limiter and recording levels.

You can also use their auto lock features in the Record Hold function or Hold Switch to prevent whoever is speaking from accidentally hitting buttons in the middle of speaking. There’s even a safety on-board limiter and auto-level control built-in to the recorder itself make sure your levels don’t spike in case of a louder volume incident.

The lavalier microphone of the Zoom F1-LP

The recorder of the Zoom F1-LP itself weights 120 grams without batteries, so in terms of being a hassle aside from perhaps sticking out on your side (who cares, you look more official anyways!). In regards to recording time, the Zoom F1-LP is going to last about 10 hours of battery time with Alkaline, 9 hours with NiMH, and 16 hours with Lithium. You can always use their power adapter for even more power, but that’s sold separately and doesn’t come in the box (they do give us two AAA with the package, however). Or perhaps you have some rechargeable batteries lying around, you can use those as well.

For transferring data, we’re always fans of MicroSD, but just in case you can also plug it directly into your computer via USB (microUSB) and merely drag it into a folder and you’re to go for editing.

The F1-LP's recorder up close

What’s in the Zoom F1-LP box?

  • Field Recorder (F1)
  • Lavalier microphone (LMF-1)
  • Windscreen (WSL-1)
  • Mic clip (MCL-1)
  • Belt clip (BCF-1)
  • Two AAA batteries
  • Quick guide

What you're getting in the box of the Zoom F1-LP

In conclusion of the Zoom F1-LP recorder and lavalier

We’d definitely recommend the Zoom F1-LP package for somebody who’s in need of a lavalier solution and isn’t into recording directly into the camera they’re using. To answer one of the biggest questions we’ve heard of this particular type of product — yes, the audio-quality is going to be a lot better than sticking a lavalier mic straight into the camera’s audio out jack. Not only are you getting a closer recording of the source itself, but the Zoom field recorder actually processes audio a lot better than cameras as well (which makes sense, cameras are cameras and don’t have the specific built-in processors for this since it focuses on picture instead).

Unfortunately, you can’t hook up two lavs at once, so that’ll be a problem if you intend on having multiple sources. You’ll have to switch off the lav, or perhaps just buy two of these to accommodate? Or maybe your intended use will actually call for needing a shotgun microphone instead? This we would only recommend if you aren’t concerned with clarity of an actual speaker but the space you’re videoing instead.

Another look at the new Zoom F1-LP recorder and lavalier

They have a new package on top of this one they’ve just released we’ve also written about — read our Zoom F1-SP review for some more information. You can also look int our best lavalier microphones guide if you wanted some alternatives, but there aren’t as many recorder and lav combos out there like this one, so you’ll be getting something very specific here if you think it suits your needs — recording one speaker at a time in a setting that will entail them being able to attach a recorder to their side and clipping a lavalier mic on their shirt (or somewhere close). You must also be OK with syncing audio and tweaking some settings in post-production (doesn’t everybody?).

Recommended uses here would be, but not limited to (in our opinion), the following: vlogging, podcasts (there are better alternatives, however), interviews, speeches and presentations, and more. All in all, we do love the Zoom F1-LP recorder and lav mic — it isn’t low quality whatsoever. Zoom is on top of their game as always and have a reputation in the portable audio recorder as well as smaller microphone capsule game for a reason. We highly recommend it if you have the cash and think it’ll fit with your needs and in your recording toolbox.

The Top 10 Best Microphones for Smartphones

We found the best microphones for smartphones to give you some recommendations

The microphones in smartphones are unfortunately never a part of that “upgraded feature” list your newest phone creator dishes out every year or so. If you’re doing anything remotely serious with your smartphone that includes audio, you’ll 9 times out of 10 have to either use an external device completely different from your phone and sync later, or in our case today, grab a high quality external microphone to use instead of that clunky, stock “thing” that “records” audio built-in. Although we do have separate guides for each of the most popular OS out there, such as with our best Android microphone or iOS microphones article, today we wanted to give our readers our 10 best smartphone microphones in general to help your shopping search, so let’s get going.

The top 10 best microphones for smartphones

Rode VideoMic Me

The best microphone for smartphones

Up first as our pick for the best smartphone microphone, we have a high quality model that’s still pretty new to the market by Rode (one of our favorite brands). The VideoMic Me is stated to be iPhone only, but if you are an iOS user this is a very reliable and high-quality microphone (it can indeed work with Android devices as long as the headset input on the device is on the opposite side to the actual camera so that you do not see the microphone while filming). It connects directly to the TRRS/headphone socket and has a very flexible mounting bracket to fit for both the primary camera on the back or selfie on the front. You also have a high-end furry windshield accessory to use in case you’d like to ensure those P’s and S’s don’t bleed through your recordings, or perhaps you’ll be outside and want to make sure you’ve everything in place.

It’s pretty cheap in our opinion with a retail price of sixty bucks, but if you were looking for a cheaper solution there are definitely more out there. We highly recommend the Rode VideoMic Me for users who see fit in the way this one mounts to the camera — it’s also very small in size and can essentially come with you in your pocket if you’re ever on the road. Or perhaps keep this one safe in a case (doesn’t come with one, but can fit in backpacks, purses, etc.).

Blue Raspberry

A USB related microphone for smartphones by Blue

This particular runner-up as the best microphone for smartphones doesn’t mount to your device, but instead is able to sit nicely next to it like a desktop mic in case your use will allow for this type of set up. Blue Microphones at this point continues to dominate the game whichever category they release their mic for, and in this case today have another beautiful model here that spans across USB microphones for PC, Mac, iPhone and iPad. The recommended uses include podcasting, voice overs, YouTube videos, making music, and even mobile gaming if you can find somewhere to be stationary while you play.

In terms of specs, we have 24-bit audio which is way more than stock quality, no latency monitoring, a nice carrying pouch included (soft-seude) and your headphones can plug-in to the mic directly. We love the Blue Raspberry since it’s so versatile and can be a viable option for many readers out there with different types of intentions with their new smartphone microphone.

Dayton Audio iMM-6

Another one of the best microphones for smartphones

Up next is a better pick for those who need a cheaper solution to capturing their smartphone’s audio. The iMM-6 has a sleek and slim design for convenience, and is compatible with iOS devices or other types of phones with a proper input (we’ve read it be used with many different devices, such as Surface Pros, Galaxy’s, etc.). It is a precision condenser microphone with a headphone/line out to help you test for signals and listen to playback in regards to what you’re recording. The omnidirectional pattern is great for capturing in multiple directions of what’s around you, and the overall design is rugged enough to last an investment if you take proper care of it.

This is our pick as the best microphone for smartphones since it’s so cheap but also brings us at least significantly better quality to our recordings, regardless of the exact device you’re on. We also love the fact that this is compatible with nearly all smartphones since many out there are still “iOS only”. Check out the Dayton Audio iMM-6 if it fits your needs.

Apogee MiC+

A great upright smartphone microphone to buy

The Apogee MiC+ is often used in home recording studios, and the fact that they have a version out for smartphones makes us very excited since the specs on this thing are getting really close to competing even with some small home studios condenser mics out there. With 24-bit / 96kHz audio quality, if that was your concern then you’ll be more than covered in the resolution department. We also have a 46 dB mic preamp gain that is adjustable on the mic itself so you can mix on-the-fly. Great zero latency recording here and it’s plug-n-play (looks like Mac, iPhone, iPad and Windows only for now).

There’s also nifty LED lighting on the mic itself for indication and input level monitoring, and the uses for this really doesn’t many limits — voice overs, interviews, podcasts, gaming, music, you name it. It does have a limitation some may find since you can’t mount it to the camera itself and be quite mobile with it, but if you’re OK with standing stationary or perhaps holding it up to your audio source you will be fine. The Apogee MiC Plus is a beautiful pick as the best smartphone microphone if you can afford it as it’s one of the most expensive in our list.

Rode smartLav+

The best smartphone microphone if you need a lavalier

Let’s talk a different type of microphone here as we get to the midway point of our guide to the best microphones for smartphones. The smartLav+ is what’s called a “lavalier microphone”, and as you can see from the picture that tiny little mic that clips onto clothing or other gear in order to capture the audio (you’ve probably seen them around on TV such as with interviews or news anchors). We also love this because it spans across multiple types of smartphones, such as iOS as well as Android. The small size and means to setting it up won’t span across all of you out there, but for those who can use it to their advantage, the small lavalier 4.5mm miniature microphone will be very convenient.

You will indeed be dictated by the wire (we have a wireless model further down), but it shouldn’t be a problem when filming somebody else and capturing their audio because the wire is non-intrusive and quite long. You’ll have to download an external app wo work it but their Rode Rec App is highly rated and very easy to use. You’ll have to sync up your audio later in post-production (there are tons of apps for that as well). Regardless, the Rode smartLav+ is by far the best smartphone microphone if you’re needing a lavalier mic to upgrade that clunky audio. This was also in our best iOS microphone guide.

Movo WMIC10

The best smartphone microphone if you're in need of a wireless solution

Let’s talk wire free audio for your smartphones. This is a lavalier microphone as previously listed, but this time we’re able to have even more convenience and leeway without having to worry about wires while we record. The WMIC10 is universal and compatible with iOS, Androids, or even DSLR cameras if you use those as well. It broadcasts using what’s called a ‘frequency spectrum’ (many wireless electronics use this) at 2.4 GHz. It comes with a bodypack transmitter, lav mic, pop-filter, receiver, and necessary cables to get going on recording right away.

You can adjust the volume gain on the receivers itself, and there’s also a headphone monitoring input to allow you to hear what you’re recording real-time. You can also buy another on the side if you want to record more than one person at once. Simply edit in post-production and you’ll be good to go. We’ve read that sound quality is great within 15 feet but after that it starts to disrupt a bit. To us that is still a decent length when it comes to wireless recording, especially with a smartphone. Check out the Movo WMIC10 if you want a wireless lavalier for your smartphones.

Rode i-XY

Another great solution for smartphones

Another Rode model here, and this time just another simply high quality solution for iPhone and iPad that gets you up to 24-bit / 96k recording and high-end A/D conversion for smooth and very clear sound. It attaches at the bottom of your phone or iPad but comes in two version — lightning or 30-pin, your choice in case you have an older iPhone (4s and earlier).

The i-XY actually has two little 1/2″ condenser capsules that form an “XY” directional recording pattern for better pickup. It’s housed in a sturdy metal casing and won’t break on your easily at all, and is small enough to fit in a lot of pockets as well (it does come with a nice zip case, too). Check out the Rode i-XY if you’re an iOS user who wants a simple, mountable solution as the best smartphone microphone and you have a decent amount of cash saved up.

Shure MV88

Shure's best microphone for smartphones

Coming in as a rival to the previously listed model, this is another one of our favorite picks as the best microphone for smartphones if the XY pattern wasn’t your thing and you instead want another high-quality iOS mic that mounts at the bottom of your phone or iPad very easily. They also have a nice app you can use to adjust EQ, polar patterns, stereo width and even edit, record and combine audio to create full on projects.

The mic itself is adjustable up to 90 degrees on a hinge, and you can also rotate the mic head for ideal positioning depending on what you’re doing. We’ve this used a lot for uses where you can set your phone or iPad down and record talks, interviews, band practices, etc. It connects directly to your device using lightning. In terms of specs, we have an audio resolution of up to 24 Bit / 48 kHz. The Shure MV88 is a beautiful solution for those who want another high-end iOS mic. You can read our Shure MV88 review for some more info.

Miracle Sound 4330236175

A budget-friendly solution if you need something simple for your smartphone

Here is an extremely cheap solution to be the best microphone for smartphones, and this one is literally under $20 in case you wanted a budget-friendly fix with just a bit of an upgrade to sound in your smartphone. This is another lavalier microphone and is better suited for those who don’t necessarily want to upgrade their sound resolution but instead pick up audio better from a distance. For example if you’re recording somebody talk from a distance, instead of having to rely on your phone to pick up the audio (while at the same time picking up its surroundings), you’ll have the audio a lot closer to the source.

Again, this one is very cheap and something you’d see in line at your local electronics store, but it’s a nice option for those not wanting to spend an arm and a leg on an upgrade to their smartphone audio. Look into the Ultimate Lavalier Microphone for something easy and useful.

BOYA BY-MM1

The last pick as the best smartphone microphone

Last but not least, we have a very interesting and useful solution as our final pick to be the best microphone for smartphones. The BY-MM1 isn’t necessarily by a huge brand, but has many positive reviews praising its effectiveness and overall quality for the price. This one can mount to both iPhones and digital cameras (or really anything with a TRRS) and is considered a ‘shotgun microphone’ as it points directly to the source you’d like to record.

We’ve read that the mounting clip is quite fragile, so be careful when using it. The audio quality overall however is praised well by many, and considering the price we don’t expect a crazy build like many others we’ve listed in the hundreds range. You’ll get what you pay for here, but overall we think the BOYA BY-MM1 is a great solution for those wanting a smartphone microphone within the lower price-point with great audio quality and easy mounting versatility.