The Best Condenser Microphone Under $100

A review on the top condenser microphones for an under $100 budget

For under $100, condenser microphones in this range are going to give us some extreme affordability yet decent quality if you’re looking to record some vocals, stream, podcast, and more. Thankfully this is probably the most popular type of microphone in the world, so there was a decent bunch we were able to collect for you to compare while you shop. Let’s get into the best condenser microphones for an under $100 budget.

Our Condenser Mics Under $100 Picks

  1. Audio-Technica AT2020
  2. AKG P120
  3. sE Electronics X1 A
  4. Rode NT-USB Mini
  5. Samson C01
  6. Behringer C-1

Finding the Right Under $100 Condenser Microphone

It won’t be too big of a task when it comes to comparing and contrasting here with this budget. It’s gotten us down to the nitty-gritty of condenser mics, and your decision will come down to a few factors. This is probably the lowest we’ll ever go for a mic guide, although our condenser mics under $200 may interest you if you like taking a bigger step up. Other than budget, there are a few ‘types’ of condenser mics we want you to keep in mind.

Large-diaphragm condenser microphones are the most common, and these are the typical image you may associate with microphones. Most in our list consist of this. There are however some USB microphones under $100 there that may interest you (considering they’re still technically condenser mics due to their internal build and sensitivity for recording). Lastly, small-diaphragm condensers do exist but are more rare and geared towards those recording instruments in the studio.

Lastly, we always like to at least bring up the fact that you may need some more gear when buying a condenser microphone. Note that they don’t just work all by themselves. They need phantom power in order to get going and can’t just hook up straight into your computer. Be wary if you didn’t plan on this. You can perhaps buy a microphone package that includes some more equipment you may need to save money, otherwise you’ll need to buy at least a cheaper audio interface or microphone preamp to make these power up.

Some do come with a less fancy phantom power source in the box, but not many. You can buy an easier option with just a straight up phantom power box, but you won’t get certain controls, like headphone monitoring, gain, and other tweaking abilities many prefer. Oh and before we forget, USB microphones don’t need phantom power, so perhaps that will attract you to that route.

The Best Condenser Microphone Under $100

Audio-Technica AT2020

The best condenser microphone under $100

Up first as the best condenser microphone under $100, we have this one ourselves at-hand in our studio right now. It’s such a powerful and clear mic at the price it wasn’t really a hard decision to put it first. We’re big Audio-Technica fans in general but when it comes to balance of sensitivity, quality, and affordability, you can’t beat the AT2020. Regarding specs with this condenser, we have a low-mass diaphragm for a solid frequency and transient response. It can handle some pretty high sound pressure level and the overall construction is quite rugged and stable.

The cardioid polar pattern is standard for condensers of this kind, reducing pickup from the rear and sides and focusing on what’s in front of it. Lastly, it has a pivoting threaded stand mount for attaching to your mic stand and shock mount, but keep in mind none of those come in the package. Phantom power doesn’t either, so factor that in your budget. Otherwise, the Audio-Technica AT2020 is our favorite pick as the best condenser microphone under $100 in the market right now. Note they also have the AT2020-USB but that’s a bit more expensive.

AKG P120

The second best condenser microphone under $100

Here’s a very popular condenser microphone you’ll see listed quite high in retail stores due to it’s popularity. The P120 is known for it’s for it’s super clear audio quality and overall stability. We’ve heard a lot of podcasters use this one as well as home recording studios. Very clean and punchy sound.

It’s a medium-diaphragm condenser microphone with the standard cardioid polar pattern, a standard 20 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response, 20 dB pad for extra gain, and a bass roll-off if you want to cut some lows while you’re recording or streaming. The diaphragm isn’t necessarily as “big” as large-diaphragm’s but it won’t be too big of a concern since it’s still a viable option for vocals and speech. If it lands in the middle of being large or small, it’s going to balance both lows and highs quite well. The AKG P120 is another great option as the best under $100 condenser microphone. There are some bundles out there that include extra gear with this mic so look into those.

sE Electronics X1 A

A very solid condenser microphone under $100

The X1 A is a great condenser microphone under $100 with a large diaphragm, cardioid pickup pattern, a 100 Hz highpass filter and a little -20 dB pad for some dynamic range extension on top of it. It sounds great and accurate in mixes, and the balanced frequency response brings forth an even distribution for recordings (although we always recommend cutting some of that low-end for vocals).

Just another very stable condenser mic under $100 here in case the other large-diaphragm options we recommended weren’t sticking out to you. It’s a durable mic with a great reputation. Great for higher Sound Pressure Level since the sE Electronics X1 A can handle about 150 dB (we’ve seen it uses on guitar cabinets, drums, etc.).

Rode NT-USB Mini

A great condenser mic under $100 if you need USB

Next we’ll get into a nice USB condenser mic for under $100 by one of our favorite brands in Rode. They have their original Rode NT-USB that came into the market a few years ago and caught our eyes, and since then has made it’s place in the (very competitive now) USB mic game. We were excited they announced the Mini version since the main USB mic is well above our price-tag here.

This condenser has a typical cardioid polar pattern but also includes an integrated pop filter, magnetic base, and a USB cable in the box. Just plug-n-play this one with your computer and you’re good to go, with no need for an interface – another big plus if you’re going to be strict on that $100 or less range. With on-board headphone monitoring and great recording quality at 24-bit / 48 kHz, you’ll be good to go with the Rode NT-USB Mini right out of the box.

Samson C01

A super cheap condenser mic by Samson

Next up as we near the end of our guide, we have Samson’s C01 that’s been around for a while with user reviews to back up it’s effectiveness despite the pretty cheap price. A lot of user reviews around the net praise it for being used as overheads for miking drums, quintets, vocals in bedrooms, and more. Versatility is a big theme for the C01 and it has a warm and clean sound when recording.

Regarding specs, we have a flat frequency response, an LED indicator for phantom power indication, a gold plated XLR connector, large 19mm diaphragm and of course, our beloved cardioid pickup pattern. The Samson C01 is praised by most who grab one of these and is definitely a choice as the best condenser microphone under $100.

Behringer C-1

The last condenser microphone for an under $100 budget we'll recommend

Coming in last here we have one of the cheapest condensers we’ll be able to recommend as it’s seen around the net for nearly half of our intended budget price here today. It’s a medium-diaphragm condenser microphone with a transformerless FET input and cardioid pickup pattern, but most importantly it comes with it’s own phantom power source, swivel stand mount and carrying case.

A huge bang for your buck here especially when it comes to not needing to buy some external power. A good mic for studio recordings (most vocals but it can take some instruments as well, especially acoustic guitar or even piano). You can also use this live if you want. Overall the Behringer C-1 is just a great package here for under $100.

The Best Dynamic Microphone for $100 or Less

Some of our favorite picks as the best dynamic microphones for $100 or less

Dynamic microphones are so versatile, flexible and powerful that we couldn’t imagine having a live performance or even studio without a few of these laying around at our fingertips. Nothing beats their ability to be used, used and used again, especially when it comes to live performance or even recording instruments. We’re in the midst of writing some guides that focus on specific microphone types within certain budgets, so today we’re going to find you some cheap yet powerful dynamic microphones under just $100.

  1. Audix i5
  2. Shure SM57
  3. Sennheiser e 835
  4. sE Electronics V7
  5. AKG D5
  6. Shure SM58

What is a Dynamic Microphone?

Before we get into some picks, let’s overview just for a few paragraphs when it comes to the world of dynamic microphones. Dynamic microphones are very rugged in construction and go well with being on the road, are perfect for focusing on projecting only what’s directly in front of it (it’s called off-axis rejection for being able to rid all other noise, such as the crowd or the band you’re with), and having a great frequency response to cover a broad range of the spectrum. Dynamic mics also have the ability to handle high ‘Sound Pressure Level’, such as loud vocals, drums (especially snares), and guitar amps (the ‘louder’ the instrument, the higher the SPL). They can also work well in recording applications for instruments.

The differences between dynamic and condenser microphones are pretty clear — and to make it easier for us to understand, dynamic mics are best for live vocals and instruments due to their abilities we previously explained. Condenser mics on the other hand are best for recording vocals and some instruments because of it’s extreme sensitivity to picking up what’s around it (sometimes when we record it can pickup the birds outside of our window!). Think softer uses, such as acoustic guitar or vocals.

The Best Dynamic Microphones for Under $100

Audix i5

The best dynamic microphone under $100

The i5 has a great reputation around the net and all types of 5/5 star ratings for a good reason. It was definitely hard picking a number one dynamic under $100. This one is many musicians go-to dynamic microphone for live instruments, but works well with vocals too. It’s just a very safe bet that you can’t wrong with.

We’ve seen it used with guitar amps, drums (a lot prefer this for their snares in particular, but we’ve seen this recording hi hats and kicks in the studio as well), and even horns, flutes, etc. This is definitely the best dynamic microphone under $100 if you’ll be in that area.

It handles high SPL like most dynamic mics, has a nice color to the feel and sound, and perfect pattern to get rid of the off-axis noise and reject that feedback. If you dig into the reviews on what people really say in general about dynamic mics (especially in this price-range), you’ll be hearing many comparisons of this Audix i5 vs. the Shure SM57 (that we list next). That’s all going to depend on some more subjective terms such as your preference for sound when it comes to recording. Otherwise, if you want an easy pick, you won’t go wrong here.

Shure SM57

The other best dynamic microphone for under $100

Here’s another one of the most popular dynamic microphones out there, with a reputation that isn’t going anywhere for quite some time. We know many musicians, mixers, engineers, you name it who have at least a few of these in their toolbox. Well-known for it’s effectiveness in performing drums, guitars and vocals, as well as recording guitars, pianos, you name it honestly. This thing is extremely versatile. It’s called the ‘industry standard’ for a reason.

Here’s some of the down low we’ve heard and experienced ourselves when it comes to the SM57 vs. i5 debate (these are just a few points, in the end, they’re both amazing dynamic mics):

  • Both are very effective at a wide array of instruments, especially louder, harsh instruments (most preferably live, although recording can work if you’re in a low-budget home studio)
  • The SM57 has been known to go well for top-ends in drums, especially snares since it does well at capturing the body
  • SM57 has been said to go well with tweed amps since it can add some subtle harmonic distortion on high-ends
  • The i5 is good for upper-mid ranges (keeps it clean)
  • i5 can work as a good kick microphone if you don’t have a proper one yet
  • If we really had to learn you towards a direction, we’d say the i5 for instruments and SM57 for vocals

All in all, since our budget is for dynamic microphones under $100, buying both an i5 and a Shure SM57 might be a good idea although we understand that’s doubling our intended budget. Why not have options? We really can’t pick the best dynamic microphone for under $100 especially when it comes to this very subjective debate, but these two are definitely the ‘this or that’ of this category.

Sennheiser e 835

The best dynamic microphone under $100 if you need a vocal mic

Let’s talk strictly vocals! If these SM57 vs. i5 debate gave you a headache like us when it comes to the best dynamic microphone under $100, let’s go in some more clear-cut picks that may give you a better feel for what you need. The e 835 has been around for quite some time as well and is very well known for it’s ability to project voices of all different styles with a clean and precise feel. We know many musicians and performers who buy a bunch of these just to have.

Like all dynamic mics it has a great ability for feedback rejection and low handling noise. This one also has a very rugged construction if you’ll be taking it on the road and want some stability when it comes to the actual make of your dynamic. If we had to absolutely recommend a dynamic microphone under $100 for vocals that isn’t the SM57 however, the Sennheiser e 835 would be our pick. It’s tough, sounds great when it comes to vocals, is simple and effective.

sE Electronics V7

Another great dynamic microphone under $100

Here’s a great dynamic microphone under $100 worth noting that’s highly rated based on it’s value and neutral response when it comes to any type of voice you’re looking to capture. It also has some great handling noise, warm and crisp sound, feedback and noise rejection, etc — everything you want in a dynamic mic.

Many claim this one over any of the Shure’s people recommend is way better when it comes to any type of voice projection especially because of it’s ability to cut through mixes with much EQ. The off-axis rejection is also known to be more superior than a lot of other dynamic mics.

This is going to be personal preference honestly and will be like comparing Coke to Pepsi, but you’d be surprised at how detailed these debates get. We recommend the sE Electronics V7 for those wanting to steer away the more popular picks and grab a mic that really focuses on being clean and crisp that can take away that little annoying ambiance, not only just for singing but for spoken word, comedy, and other types of speech applications.

AKG D5

AKG's best dynamic mic under 100 dollars

As we near the end of this guide, we’re realizing just how many dynamic mics in this price range are just straight up famous. The D5 is a favorite among many due to it’s great SPL at handling up to 147dB, and a variable-thickness diaphragm paired up with a rugged construction to stand as a long-term investment.

This dynamic mic as well as a very crisp sound and although that is a subjective term, really backs up a lot of the reviews claiming this can handle all types of voices and instruments. Most who do praise the D5 is important are those who perform vocals especially when it comes to picking up nuances of all of your words (sometimes people want to actually hear those lyrics). It also boasts a nice mid range and a full bass pickup without getting very ‘boomy’. The AKG D5 is just another great option as the best dynamic microphone for $100 or less.

Shure SM58

The last pick as the best dynamic mic under $100

Last but not least, we have Shure’s other famous ‘SM’ model, and we’re not sure if we’d feel right at least mentioning this at the bottom of the guide. We want to at least give you this last option if you’ve made it this far. This particular mic is probably the most famous ever to be honest, and if we weren’t such microphone snobs probably would have mentioned it first in here just due to it’s popularity. We digress however and it’s popular for one reason.

It’s versatility. This can be used for any and everything. We’ve used this on stage for vocals, instruments, and have recorded instruments with this in our studio (as well as vocals, although it’s not recommend honestly, we still prefer you use a condenser microphone). We’ve also seen this used for speeches (literally the president has used to it), comedy shows, ceremonies in church, podcasts, you name it honestly. The Shure SM58 is just a staple point in anything when it comes to sound, and is our last pick as the best dynamic microphone for an under $100 budget.

The Best Condenser Microphones for Under $200

Condenser mics under $200 is a decent price-range

Condenser microphones under $200 will give us a decent starting point for finding a balance between budget and quality. These types of mics tend to get a lot higher in price if you look into the higher-end category, but we were able to sift through the rubble for you to give you some options. We tried to find a variation in our picks to give you a few different roads to take when it comes to this particular topic.

  1. Audio-Technica AT2020
  2. AKG P420
  3. Avantone Pro CK-6
  4. Rode M2
  5. Samson CO01
  6. Samson G-Track Pro

What is a Condenser Microphone?

To brush up a little before we get into our condenser mics under $200 picks, a condenser microphone is the staple-point of a recording studio. They’re the go-to solution for not only vocals but many instruments as well, mainly due to their sensitivity and ability to capture very minuscule details of what you’re trying to record. These are also great solutions for other applications, such as streaming, gaming and podcasting.

A little side note to keep in mind, especially when getting your budget ready, is the fact that these will need an external power source to use them. You can use audio interfaces (most popular), mic preamps, or smaller phantom power solutions (these are the cheapest). This is of course if you’re using the traditional XLR connectivity. Nowadays USB microphones are becoming more and more popular solutions as condenser mics, but if you look into XLR vs. USB mics you’ll notice you have a little less flexibility with USB because there isn’t a middle-man for power than give you more options at tweaking your sound. The plus side to the USB condenser route is that you don’t need external power and it does so itself. We recommend one USB mic below but the others are the traditional hookup.

The Best Condenser Microphones for Under $200 Budgets

Audio-Technica AT2020

Our pick as the best condenser mic under $200

Up first to recommend is a microphone we use pretty consistently in our home studio. It’s simply reliable and we feel has great audio quality for the price. A super trustworthy brand here and this particular model also ranks up top due to it’s lengthy high-rated reviews after being available for many years now.

This is a low-mass diaphragm condenser microphone with a cardioid polar pattern (most condensers are this, which is ideal for vocal recording in studios since it rejects the sides and rear and keeps what’s in front the focus). A pretty high SPL in case you want to record some louder instruments and tend to belt out when you sing. It’s threaded stand mount pivots and attaches easily to your stand for a snug fit in your studio. Reliable, proven by other musicians and great audio quality — the Audio-Technica AT2020 is one of the best condenser microphones for under $200 in the market and will be for a long time.

AKG P420

Another option as the best condenser microphone under 200 dollars

AKG is another one of our favorite microphone brands out there and this particular large-diaphragm condenser microphone under $200 is usually seen with at least 4 out of 5 stars for good reason.

You’re getting a choice for three pickup patterns in case you’re using this for other applications as opposed to just recording vocals. The AKG P420 has a nice and even flat response with a great frequency response, and you’re also getting a little bass roll-off if you need to cut your lows (we do this every single vocal track), as well as a 20 dB pad for extra thickness.

Avantone Pro CK-6

A more classic sounding condenser mic under $200

When we think Avantone, we think classic, vintage, and warm. This particular condenser mic under 200 bucks brings us a large capsule cardioid FET condenser build, which is a bit different than the others. Many argue the FET internal organs give it a warmer and different sound than others. This is of course subjective but as experienced ears can attest to the slight difference.

You have the option to use their highpass filter and 10 dB pad as well. These can never hurt, but what you’ll be going this route for is the different build — the circuitry brings forth sonic characteristics some just can’t ignore. Grab this if you want to focus on the actual sound of your recordings — the user reviews of the Avantone Pro CK-6 don’t lie, either.

Rode M2

A great live performance condenser mic under 200 dollars

Halfway through our guide, if you’ve made it this far we’ll assume you’re looking for something a bit different as compared to our three previous picks. The M2 is a nice one by probably our favorite mic brand ever. It’s a supercardioid condenser with a nice frequency response, but is designated towards live performances as opposed to studios or other streaming applications.

It has a super flat response even without any EQ work done. Works well with guitars as well. A few other nifty features you’ll get alongside this is a locking on/off switch, a stand mount as well as zipper pouch included in the package for travel. The best condenser microphone under $200 here with the Rode M2 if you need a live solution.

Samson C01

A very cheap condenser mic here to take a look at

Here’s a super cheap model in case you wanted to focus on affordability. Usually seen for half of our aim here at under $200, the C01 is effective despite the cheaper price-tag.

You have your typical cardioid pickup pattern for studio use, and the diaphragm is a big 19mm with a nice mesh grill and gold-plated XLR connector. A flat frequency response here and surprisingly clear sound despite being so cheap. The Samson C01 a great for one for those just starting out or who need a quick and simple solution for a condenser mic addition to their repertoire.

Samson G-Track Pro

The best USB condenser mic under $200

Let’s end the guide with a condenser microphone that has USB connectivity, with one of our favorite USB mics out right now. It’s quickly becoming a go-to recommendation for us due to one main factor — sound quality. Not a lot of USB mics in this price-range give us 24-bit audio resolution so this one stands out (at least for one).

You also have an instrument input in case you want to record something aside from your voice. It has a nifty desktop stand to fit snug in your existing setup, and some headphone monitoring capabilities to track your levels. We love this USB mic and although typically we always want to recommend XLR connected condensers for serious users, this will go a long way in case you’re into that USB port. The Samson G-Track Pro is definitely the best condenser microphone under $200 if this is what direction you need.

What is the Difference Between XLR and USB Microphones?

What’s the difference between USB and XLR microphones? You’ve probably heard of an XLR connected microphone, typically when it comes to condenser microphones (at least with today’s comparison). Yet again, with the ever-rising technology of USB microphones, we’ve seen this question come up more often so we’ve decided to write a guide for you all. So, what’s the difference? To be able to understand the difference between these microphones, we have to know a little information about each connectivity type.

What is the difference between USB and XLR microphones?

We would not consider these different microphones types. Ultimately, the ‘type’ of microphone (for example dynamic or condenser) can be either USB or XLR connected.

Before we get technical, here’s our straight away answer to save you some time: USB microphones are for convenience, applications that are less reliant on actual audio quality and the need for flexibility with recordings, as well as budget. They’re cheaper and more suitable for uses such as gaming, streaming, online calls, and more.

For home studio applications such as recording music in vocals and instruments, we still recommend going the XLR route so you can have more flexibility with recording control and quality. Using an audio interface and mic preamp goes a long way when it comes to getting serious with tweaking your audio tracks — gain, feel, EQ cuts, you name it. If you can afford it, even XLR mics for streaming or other popular uses will never hurt. It’s just more expensive.

What are XLR Microphones?

X stands for X Connector, L stands for Locking Connector, R stands for Rubber boot. XLR cables capture an analog signal using three-pronged male and female connectors. These microphones carry balanced audio, which is essential for getting a clean sound. Most pro-audio recording gear is designed for XLR microphones.

So, these microphones are compatible with most recording gear. XLR microphones need to be plugged into an audio interface or microphone preamp to be able to use them. If you need to upgrade the sound quality of your microphone, you have the to upgrade the interface and get to keep your microphone. These microphones are used by recording and radio studios, as well as live performers. XLR microphones are also useful when there are more than one performer recording at the same time.

What is a USB microphone?

Popular USB microphones you may have seen around the market

These are really starting to grow on us, especially when it comes to studio applications (home studios preferably), especially with applications such as USB mics for vocals. These microphones are the easiest way to make high quality recordings on a computer without having to rely on external gear — just plug and play and you’re good to go.

USB microphones have the similar capsules and condenser elements as XLR microphones (mostly), but with the ability to plug directly into the USB port on a computer eliminating the need to buy additional audio equipment to record your audio files. That is why USB microphones are cost-effective. These microphones are designed for digital output, are portable and can be used on a variety of equipment like PCs, tablets, phones and laptops.

Unfortunately, the USB microphone is not upgradeable. In other words, if you want to upgrade the quality of your microphone, you have to replace it with another microphone or just go the XLR route for some more flexibility when it comes to a middle-man with interfaces or preamps.

Difference between XLR and USB

Now that we know the definitions of an XLR microphone and a USB microphone, let’s explore the difference between those two.

It all essentially comes down to the parts of a microphone. Very simply said, the difference between an XLR microphone and a USB microphone is in the connections. The internal organs of each are different. An XLR microphone, having three prongs in its connection, needs to be connected to a mixing board; without which it won’t work. While a USB microphone can be connected directly to your computer without needing any kind of audio interface.

How to choose the right microphone?

With that being said, we can get more in-depth if you’re still reading. Let’s get a bit more detailed here — every single audio setup needs the following three main devices: A microphone, a preamp and an audio to digital converter, also known as A-to-D converter.

A microphone sends practically an inaudible signal which is very, very quiet and is called the mic level signal. That is why it needs a preamp which takes those very quiet electrical signal levels and amplifies them into an audible level strong enough for further processing or sending to a power amplifier and a loudspeaker. The signal is strong enough that we can hear and it is called the line level signal. This signal is then transferred into a digital signal by an analog to digital converter. The A-to-D converter is a system that converts an analog signal, such as sound picked up by a microphone into a digital signal.

If you have an XLR microphone, you need to connect it into an interface or a mixer that has a preamp built into it, then right after it sends it out through a USB out, it converts it into a digital signal. In case of a USB microphone, all three of those main devices; the mic, the preamp and the A-to-D converter are built into the microphone. Therefore, all you need to do is to connect it to a computer through a USB cable. This is convenient, but also less flexible. Think of it like a pre-built computer with all of the parts chosen, as opposed to XLR mics where you can customize the layers to recording.

There are factors that you might think about when deciding which microphone is the right for you. Some of these important factors are:

Cost:

USB microphones are relatively cheaper than XLR microphones because when using the latter, you need to also buy an interface, preamp or a more simple form of phantom power (some do come with this).

Sound:

Usually, XLR microphones have a better sound quality than USB microphones. But it also depends on the application you use it for. If you are just using it for putting audio music on YouTube, for example, you probably will not notice the difference. But if you are going to use lots of different instruments and vocalists with all sorts of dynamic ranges, then you will definitely notice that XLR microphones have a better sound quality.

Usability:

It is recommendable that you try both types of microphone because some people might find out that the XLR works out good with their voice, and yet others, might find out that the USB microphones works out for them.

A USB microphone is usually used by those who want to utilize it as a hobby, not a profession, as well as beginners. That is because it has a low cost, you do not have to have a technical knowledge, it is easier to set up and a lot cheaper than an XLR microphone.

On the other hand, professionals who are considering more of a professional set up, use an XLR microphone because these are connected using mixers.

Lifespan:

Most USB microphones come with a short warranty, whereas XLR microphones come with extended or lifetime warranty which is an indication that they last longer (really just depends on the brand).

Pros and Cons of USB and XLR Mics

USB Microphone Pros

  • Portability: Since a USB microphone are powered by a computer, eliminating the need for a phantom power source, it cuts down on the amount of gear you have to carry when you are recording. Therefore, a USB microphone is transportable.
  • Simplicity: It is easier to set up because it is simply used by plugging it directly to a computer.
  • Affordability: Another pro is that it is a lot cheaper, affordable than an XLR microphone, that is because it doesn’t need any digital audio interface (DAI) to be connected to a computer.

USB Microphone Cons

  • One at a time: On the other hand, a USB microphone lacks some of the qualities of an XLR microphone. One of the drawbacks is that it is challenging to record multiple USB microphones at once because your computer will have trouble judging/deciding which microphone is which and will not record the audio correctly.
  • Latency: Some USB microphones have latency problems. There is a delay between the time the sound enters the microphone and the time it exits through your headphones, but that’s becoming less of a problem as time goes on.
  • Reduced sound quality: Many USB microphones are designed for podcasting or streaming applications, resulting in a considerably less professional sounding recording. It’s more expensive to pack in higher-tech in the bodies as opposed to XLR.
  • Control: Since a USB microphone is directly connected to a computer through a USB cable, it leaves no choice for control. You don’t have the options of an interface to have control over the produced sound.
  • Choice: Another pro would be choice. Since USB microphones are relatively new, there are fewer options, but we’re starting to see the market flood with new models every year.

XLR Microphones Pros

  • Adaptability: XLR microphones are significantly more adaptable to many different functions. Since this type of microphone is connected to an interface, it offers a lot more customization.
  • Flexibility: One can easily swap microphones, interfaces, cables and stands to customize the setup to fit your needs. It is better for multiple microphones.
  • Sound quality: Simply said, XLR microphones have cleaner sound quality than USB microphones.
  • Durability: These microphones have more power; they are built with durability in mind, therefore, they are likely to withstand the tests of time.

XLR Microphone Cons

  • Costly: An XLR microphone will end up costing more because it needs a phantom power source.
  • Inconvenience: It is an inconvenience to travelers to carry XLR microphones because they have to carry all of the equipment that have to be connected to it.

In Conclusion, Which Microphone Should You Buy?

Condenser microphones have more power and better quality than USB (usually)

The strength of having a USB microphone is in its simplicity, plug and go, all in one ease of use. The strength of an XLR microphone is its potential sound quality.

When you’re creating your home studio, it is essential that you choose the right microphone. Buying the correct microphone is really a personal conclusion; it depends on what you’re looking for in a microphone.

So which microphone is the best for you? The XLR? Or the USB?

Although we explained earlier and may sound redundant, here’s the final word. If you are going to use the microphone for home recording, or you are going to use it as a hobby, whether you are going to transport it, or you travel often and want to carry it wherever you go, USB microphones are your best bet. On the other hand, if you’re a radio broadcaster, streamer or even podcaster — someone who needs to record multiple people at the same time like more than one speaker at the same time, a musician performing on stage, or want to record in a studio, XLR microphones are recommendable for you.

USB microphones may appear to be an attractive choice for beginners’ home studio. Some USB microphones are made with cheap parts which will yield poor quality sound. So when buying a microphone, bear in mind that if you want your recordings to have a high quality sound, you have to choose quality equipment.

If you’re trying to build a professional stream, your goal should be a set up with an XLR microphone because it has more options, more sound quality and more control like compression, EQ, all the changes you can do with an analog audio.

Make the right decision with the visions you have.

The Best USB Microphone for Under $200

A collection of the best USB mics for an under 200 dollar budget

USB microphones are one of our favorite types of mics to write about, so we’re continuing our series of budget-friendly guides on this subject with a nice and balanced price-tag here today — $200 or less. Most USB microphones that are labeled as ‘higher-end’ fall within this category, so you’re in good hands for today. We did see in our USB mics under $100 or even under $50 guides give us some decent options, but today we have a nice collection that brings in some better quality models for you to check out.

Which USB Mic Under $200 to Buy?

As with any of our USB microphones guides, let’s talk about your intended use, although the beauty of USB mics in general is the fact that they’re so versatile and span across many categories of recording (or streaming). However, there are a few guidelines we suggest. If you’re actually using these USB mics to record vocals in a music studio, we recommend being very strict about the audio resolution.

We do not recommend going any lower than 16-bit / 48 kHz. This can even go lower for many of you who are streaming, doing YouTube videos, or perhaps even gaming; however, those uses aren’t as strict when it comes to the actual nitty-gritty numbers. Some people out there will say that they don’t hear the difference between 16-bit vs. 24-bit — we’d say we are in the middle when it comes to broadcasting, streaming, online meetings, etc — uses that don’t completely rely on actually recording. Recording however, especially vocals or instruments for music, try to hit 24-bit if you can. We’d say the kHz isn’t as relevant as the bit. Either way, all the models below are feasible in our opinion.

Aside from recording resolution, a lot of these USB mics are the same when it comes to size and a few other standout features. Some side notes to keep in mind: on-board monitoring (such as volume or gain control, headphone outputs), built-in tripods, mute buttons (you never know when you need to just cut the mic out for a bit if you need a break — depends on what you’re doing), and more. We’ll mention each USB mic under $200’s standout features below.

The Best USB Microphones Under $200

Rode NT-USB

The best USB microphone under $200

Up first, the NT-USB is continuing to make a name for itself as USB mic technology evolves each year. Coming out a few years ago, it first caught our eye of course due to that Rode name in the title but also mainly due to the overall audio quality we’re getting out of this thing. It comes with a pop shield, tripod stand for desks, storage pouch, ring mount and the USB cable (20′). There’s a headphone jack directly on the mic itself for some monitoring (zero-latency), and you can also adjust the direct mix control between the source output and mic input.

Recording quality here comes in at 16-bit / 48 kHz. Compatible with Windows and Mac, as well as iPads. You can also look into their Rode NT-USB Mini if you wanted to save some cash and can sacrifice a few features. Otherwise, the Rode NT-USB is one of the best USB microphones for an under $200 budget right now.

Audio-Technica AT2020USB+

A-T's runner up pick as the best $200 USB mic

Next up is a USB microphone for under $200 dollars that we’ve recommended more times than we count, whether it’s in USB mic guides or even general microphone purposes such as recording in the studios. This is the USB version of their reputable AT-2020 (that we actually own ourselves), and it brings us some great quality regardless of use. It includes a built-in high quality A/D converter with some resolution hitting 16-bit / 44.1/48 kHz, a built-in headphone jack with volume control on the mic, ‘mix control’ for blending mic signals with your audio that’s pre-recorded, a nice frequency response to cover the spectrum of voices and most instruments.

It includes the tripod desk stand with folding legs as well. Doesn’t include a pop shield like the NT-USB previously listed but we’d say that’s only a plus for vocal recording (you can buy one separately). The Audio-Technica AT-2020USB+ is another solid option. If you’re torn between this or our previous pick, we’d get whatever is priced cheaper at the moment.

Samson G-Track Pro

The G-Track Pro by Samson

It’s starting to get a little redundant if you’re still reading, we know. However, like we said before, a lot of these USB mics have the same features.

The G-Track Pro however brings us some of the better specs number-wise. We have most highlighted here 24-bit / 96 kHz resolution, combined with the essentials of USB mics with on-board controls. What we really love about the G-Track Pro is it’s friendliness for musicians. It can act as an audio interface as it also includes an instrument in. So you can record let’s say a guitar and a vocalist all at the same time, all with 24-bit resolution. This is definitely the best USB microphone for under $200 if you’re a musician.

Blue Yeti

It's hard to imagine a USB microphone without one Blue appearance

Even though we’re getting sick of writing about the Blue Yeti, we won’t let that stop us from continuing to keep them included in our USB mic guides since they’re so effective and essentially paved the way for USB microphones to be taken seriously. You get the essentials with this one — gain control, mute button and a headphone output with zero latency. Plug and play for Mac and PC, a built-in desktop stand but what’s more impressive is the tri-capsule choices. You can choose between omnidirectional, stereo or cardioid, although most uses we recommend the latter. Still a plus for some of you depending on your application.

Audio resolution here is 16-bit / 48 kHz. You can also look into the Blue Yeti Pro for even better audio quality — 24-bit / 192 kHz, as well as a few extra features that may catch your eye. However, it’s a lot more expensive (about $100 more). The Blue Yeti is just famous now, and of course is a valid pick as the best USB microphone for $200 or less.

Mackie EM-USB

Mackie's latest creation in the $200 or less USB microphone world

Let’s talk about a newer USB microphone we recently reviewed with the Mackie EM-USB. They typically aren’t really known for the mics but nowadays everybody is getting their feet wet in the USB gold rush; and quite frankly we were impressed with what they had to offer here. gain, headphone volume and mute controls, tripod mount, mic clip, USB cable included. What does differentiate this from others is software bundle included. If there are a few mics in here that attract your eye because of that, it will be important to assess which is best and what USB microphone under $200 can save you the most money. It comes with a download for Pro Tools | First, some Waveform software, and something called ‘The Musician’s Collection’ plugin (a bunch of FX VST if you need any).

Great for streaming, gaming or really anything honestly since it’s up to par with the others in this guide. If you’re down this far and the first few picks didn’t cut it for you, the software bundle may catch your eye with the Mackie EM-USB.

M-Audio Uber Mic

The last pick as the best USB microphone for under $200

Let’s chat about a super new USB microphone by a decent brand out there in the mic world. This one is like the Yeti with a three-capsule condenser element, with 4 selectable polar patterns to held with those who use USB mics for different applications. There’s a headphone jack, USB/direct mixing control and of course, mute button like the others. A different little feature here you may like is the LCD display that shows you the selected control level. If that’s a must or a plus is your call. It’s compatible with iOS (need the iPad camera connection kit sold separately).

Nothing too crazy out of the ordinary here with the M-Audio Uber Mic but it’s at least the last option we’ll give you all for the best USB microphone under $200.

The Best USB Microphones for Vocals

We rounded up some vocal USB microphone recommendations

A USB microphone for vocals used to be laughed at by many musicians and recording snobs up until a few years ago (some are still elitist and scoff at the idea, but not us). With the quality of these gadgets slowly increasing over time and audio interfaces and DAW getting better at fine-tuning our recordings, we can now say that (some) USB microphones will work well with home recording studios. That’s why today we wanted to give you all our picks as the best USB microphones for vocals. Let’s see what you need to look out for first.

Choosing your USB vocal microphone

  • Your budget – Most USB microphones worth looking at, specifically for vocals, aren’t going to be under $50 or even under $100. When it comes to our recommendations and a USB mic that will actually be able to compete with the standard condenser microphones that are usually seen in recording studios and used as the norm for mics for vocals, we don’t recommend cutting corners. Therefore there are only a handful of USB mics we’ll recommend to our readers, but it won’t necessarily be super cheap.
  • Do not get a microphone that is below 24-bit / 96 kHz! A lot of USB mics do go lower so double check. Higher than 96 kHz is always a plus but you’re fine with staying at this. The bit-rate however is what’s most important — 16-bit is old! Once you get can into the 24-bit realm, it then gets into recording with what audio interface (and the quality that it can support) as well as post-production and proper recording techniques. We only have four recommendations in here because of this rule we’ve created. Usually with USB mics you can get away with most models, but if you’re really serious about vocal recording, we again reiterate nothing below 24-bit and 96 kHz audio resolution.
  • Software bundles? Gear brands nowadays are starting a trend where they include a ton of software (like with USB microphones, vocal FX, EQ and other types of plugins). We’re a bit skeptical on this. For one, we know many don’t care for a huge bundle that hikes the price up $100 more bucks. At the same time, if you’re just starting out, or perhaps need to beef up your repertoire, this will benefit you. Keep this in mind as you look at what each mic offers, because nowadays a lot of them have the same type of audio resolution or other features like gain control or on-board monitoring and the difference comes down to software.

The best USB microphones for vocals

Apogee MiC PLUS

The best USB microphone for recording vocals

There’s a few reasons we have the MiC Plus listed first as the best USB microphone vocals — sound and recording quality as well as versatility. Regarding recording resolution, we have our standard 24-bit / 96 kHz with their ‘PureDIGITAL’ connection. The condenser inside is cardioid so it will be picking up the source in front of it and rejecting the sides.

You also have an output with ‘Blend’ feature to give you monitoring and recording without any lag. Lastly it comes with a tripod and mic stand mount, and is compatible also with smart devices in case you have a mobile studio. It’s a great option for not only recording vocals but also podcasting and streaming and recording instruments if you do that as well. We love the Apogee MiC Plus and recommend it in many of our guides.

Blue Yeti Pro

Another one of the best USB vocal mics

Up next is a must-add in really any type of USB microphone guide, but in particular when it comes to vocals we have heard of many musicians using this popular model by Blue. There are also some controls on the mic’s unit itself, such as the pattern selection, mute, mic gain and headphone volume. It provides three different types of pickup patterns, although for vocal recording we recommend sticking with their cardioid choice. It also gives you the option to use a traditional XLR input in case you want to use a mic preamp or audio interface. There’s a mountable mic stand on it, but you can also use the desktop stand that comes in the box as well.

There is indeed the original ‘Yeti ‘, but it only provides 16-bit / 48 kHz, where as this Pro gives us a whopping 24-bit / 192 kHz. We don’t recommend going with the original Yeti since that audio quality in our opinion is not good enough. The Yeti Pro if your cash allows is definitely one of the best USB microphones for recording vocals.

Samson G-Track Pro

Samson's new USB mic for vox

When Samson came out with this we were excited because many of their USB mics have stood the test for time. However we weren’t sure how they’d compete with others in the higher-end region since they have a lot of models we recommend in budget-friendly guides. The G-Track Pro (in our review linked there) with user reviews backing it up now has a place in line when it comes to the heavy hitters.

First and foremost, we have an audio resolution of 24-bit / 96 kHz with plug-and-play connectivity to Mac or Windows. The mic itself measures at 25mm (dual 1″) condenser capsule for a great pickup, and it also has a nifty 1/4″ instrument input in case you need to record anything else alongside your vocals. On the unit itself, some great onboard control. There’s a polar pattern switch (yes, three again here just like the Yeti but we also recommend sticking to cardioid), recording select switch, mic volume, master mute, headphone volume, and instrument volume.

A lot of versatility here and the option to use it as an interface for recording instruments is big, considering not many others out there can do that. If you were going to try recording instruments you would need a separate piece of gear to transport the guitar or keyboard into the computer itself, but this allows you to do that with just the mic instead of spending money on a preamp or audio interface. So that by itself may steer you to this. The Samson G-Track Pro is a great option as the best USB microphone for vocals.

Beyerdynamic Fox USB

Our last pick for USB vocal mics

Relatively new to the scene, albeit by a brand that has been around for decades, the Fox USB expresses to us that the bar will continue to remain high as we continue to make these types of mics worthy of being in the talks of actually recording vocals with.

It has our recommended, and in our opinion standard, specs and features — 24-bit / 96 kHz resolution, large diaphragm condenser capsule, headphone output for monitoring without latency, a gain switch on the mic itself if you need to beef up your signal, on board controls for volume and a big mute button right at the top, as well as an included desk stand, USB cable and wind shield in the box itself. The Beyerdynamic Fox USB is our last pick but certainly not the least. If you made it this far in our guide, it most likely will be your choice as the best USB microphone for vocals. It’s one of the more price-friendly USB vocal mics in this guide.

The Best USB Microphones for Under $50

Our picks on some USB mics under fifty dollars

USB microphones are a staple point of really any type of computer setup nowadays. We do remember when they were a rarity and just coming out on the scene, but in this day and age we see them nearly as essential as a mouse or keyboard. We’ve been writing guides on microphones for years now, in particular USB mics, but today we’re going to focus strictly on one budget: the best USB mics for $50 or less. Let us know if you have any questions, otherwise we’ll get right down to it below.

The best USB mics for an under $50 budget

Blue Snowball iCE

A low-budget USB mic to buy

We’ve lost count at how many times we’ve recommended this particular model in some of our guides, but it’s one of our favorites when it comes to being the best USB microphone for under $50, or any budget-friendly point for that matter (even USB microphones under $100). Blue is a heavy-hitter in the microphone game but more particularly USB. This model is their budget-friendly mic that comes with a built-in tripod stand, USB cable, a higher-end cardioid condenser capsule, 44.1 kHz / 16 bit sample , and a 40 – 18 kHz frequency response. The Blue Snowball iCe is great for recording (if you’re doing some music, such as vocals, we do recommend saving up some money because 24-bit is better), podcasting and streaming, and the size is also great for travel if you need to be on the go with this one.

Samson Go Mic

Another one of the best USB mics for under $50

Up next is another reliable and trustworthy brand, and this is our favorite USB mic for under 50 dollars due to it’s compact size, ease of use and reputation. If you’re traveling and need one of the smaller models in this guide, the Go Mic is nearly the size of a wallet — it can easily fit in a backpack, laptop bag or even pockets. Regarding specs, it’s compatible with Mac or PC (plug-and-play), 16-bit, 44.1 kHz resolution, a stereo 1/8″ headphone output for headphones if you need to monitor, and it comes with a cable, cable clip and case to carry it in. The Samson Go Mic is famous at this point, and is definitely a USB microphone under $50 to consider.

Marantz Pro M4U

One of the best USB mics under 50 dollars

This is a lesser known name brand and one of those cheaper models you can find on Amazon, but has so many reviews to back it up we’ll give it a whirl. It’s shaped like a traditional microphone so you’ll have to speak directly into that front part of it, but the built-in little stand is great for fitting it in your existing computer setup. For features, we have an A/D converter built-in to the capsule as well as a headphone output to monitor (zero latency). There’s an on/off switch so you can keep it plugged in and simply press the button if you need it on, or perhaps need to mute it if you need a breather. Comes with the cable and stand. The Marantz Pro M4U isn’t a bad option as the best USB mic for $50 or less if you weren’t feeling our previous picks.

CMTECK USB Mic

Another great USB mic under $50 if you want a smaller option

Another lesser-known brand name here that we found around the internet but the reviews were great. Looks a little bit like a snake, and we like the sleek feel of it (as well as size of course for sitting well in our setup). It resembles a gaming type of aesthetic but is a great versatile option as the best USB microphone under $50 if you want an affordable and flexible mic option. That neck is totally bendable so you can form it how you want, and it has a cool blue LED light for visual effect (especially in the dark while you game). It has an acclaimed smart chip inside which blocks out noise and eliminates echo, and the LED light is switchable in case you aren’t feeling it. A nice versatile option here with the CMTECK USB Mic.

Samson Meteorite

We trust Samson so this is a good pick for you

Another great Samson model here we just couldn’t ignore. As you can see in their trends, we love the creativity and focus they’ve placed on affordable, relatively compact sized USB microphones under $50. The Meteorite (there’s also another model called the ‘Meteor’ that is a bit bigger albeit more expensive if you want to research it) offers a frequency response of 20 Hz – 20 kHz, recording resolution of 16-bit, 48 kHz, direct plug-and-play, a magnetic base for positioning on your desktop, and a nice chrome-plated build. The Samson Meteorite‘s condenser mic is 14 mm large, which is a bit bigger than a few others in here so your pickup will be larger and more reliable.

Neewer USB Mic

The best USB microphone under $50 if you need a traditional mic setup

Here’s a USB microphone for $50 or less that looks more like the traditional studio-grade mic you’d see in recording studios or even podcast rooms. This one’s proven itself through a lot of time and user reviews, plus when it comes to affordability you just can’t beat this entire package as you can see what it comes with in the photo. The entire bundle includes: the condenser mic, scissor arm stand, mounting clip, pop filter, shock mount, anti-wind foam cap, and USB cable. It obviously isn’t a high-end thousand-dollar studio mic but the price for the Neewer USB Mic and what it comes with really just boggles our mind.

Audio-Technica ATR4697-USB

A different spin to a $50 or less USB microphone

Here’s another one we found randomly with a lot of user reviews to back it up despite being a different type than the others here. We do however love Audio-Technica as a brand and can back up the claims that all of their gear is high-end, not cheap whatsoever. It’s a ‘boundary microphone” with USB connectivity, which means it’s typically meant for ‘conference calls’ because the mic is flat and sits down on a desk to cover everything around it. The ATR4697-USB is still a feasible option for those wanting a cheaper USB microphone and want to stream or game, but we really don’t recommend it for recording vocals in music (podcasts can work).

Samson Q9U Dynamic Broadcast Microphone Review

Our detailed review of the new Samson Q9U USB and XLR dynamic microphone

All new for 2020, we have one of our favorite brand in Samson always coming out with at least one new model we love to have in the microphone game. Here we have a USB and dynamic microphone to be readily available for ‘broadcasting’, which can translate into useful for podcasters, streamers, gamers or really any desktop or computer types of recording alike. What’s first important here to note is that it is indeed both USB as well as XLR connective, so you can either do some plug-and-play like many other USB mics out there or use it in a traditional recording sense in a studio and hook it up to your microphone preamps or audio interfaces. Here are some details of the Samson Q9U dynamic microphone.

Features of the Samson Q9U

  • Dynamic capsule (neodymium magnet and humbucking coil)
  • Polar pattern: cardioid
  • XLR analog output
  • USB-C digital output
  • 24-bit / 96 kHz recording resolution
  • Switches: Low cut filter or mid-presence boost
  • Built-in dual layer windscreen
  • USB cable included
  • Mute button (both XLR and USB outputs)
  • Compatible with Windows and Mac

Highlights of the Q9U broadcast microphone

The Samson Q9U offers some great zero latency recording with a switchable mid boost or low cut, one of our ‘essentials’ especially in the broadcasting recording world since switching it to the low cut will help rid some lower frequencies microphones tend to pick up, especially higher sensitivity mics. In regards to vocals or talking tracks, getting more of the higher frequencies or really just cutting out the unnecessary low-end helps our voices sound a bit ‘brighter’ and less ‘muddy’. Boosting that middle tier of the frequencies can also help attenuate important parts of our voices. I typically do this with a lot of my vocal tracks, especially the backing ones. I however am not usually a fan of the switches on the actual microphones because capturing the raw audio first and then EQ’ing in post-production gives us more flexibility, but it will really depend on personal preference.

The below view of what you have on the Samson Q9U

The Q9U has a humbucking microphone capsule, which in Layman’s terms means in some moving-coil mics, there is an implementation of a mechanism that reduces the pickup of EMI (electromagnetic interference). It also has dual-layer wind screens and air-pneumatic shock absorbers inside of the mic which is a big plus to not need either an external pop filter (you can still use one to be extra safe) or a shock mount, so you’re getting all of that in just the mic unit itself. Just set that up on your desk or hook it up to a traditional mic stand or arm stand and you’re good to go. The cardioid polar pattern is going to be efficient in keeping that voice right at the center and rejecting any off-axis or ambiance pickup around you. Definitely make sure your environment is as quiet as possible, but this extra help in the overall design of the mic will be a plus.

Pair that up with a solid 24-bit / 96 kHz and we’re in business here. We would’ve liked it to compete with some other USB mics within this price range that offer 192 kHz, but in the end what’s really make or break about resolution nowadays is the bit-rate. Unless you’re in straight up professional movie studios or recording studios (which don’t even come close to using USB mics), when it comes to the difference between 96 and 192 kHz, it’s extremely difficult for human ears to notice. It doesn’t hurt nowadays when it comes to nit-picking certain mics and models to see which we should actually buy; however, this is very small facet in our opinion and the audio quality in this microphone is still promising.

Concluding our Samson Q9U review

We definitely recommend this for only those who are streaming or podcasting, or any other word or use you can think of that falls under the umbrella of ‘broadcasting’. We have indeed seen dynamic microphones such as this used for music recording, but more geared towards instruments, such as guitars, kick drums or guitar cabs; however, there are probably some better options out there for you, especially at two-hundred bucks street pricing.

The Q9U by Samson in Action

Source: Samson.com

It does have built-in gain stage which means we’re not needing any phantom power necessarily, which helps it act as a standalone USB microphone if that’s what you need it to be. The fact that it can convert into also an XLR mic to be used with mic preamps or audio interfaces in a more traditional setup is a big plus in our opinion, considering a lot of mics really don’t have that yet. Is this a trend we’ll be starting to see in the coming years? We think so to be honest, because ultimately, why not? It will help us blend the two most popular ways of connecting to a recording setup nowadays. On top of this, we don’t see a lot of USB ‘dynamic’ mics either, most of them are simply condenser. You can read our best USB microphones guide for some popular competitors out there.

The Samson Q9U broadcasting microphone definitely brings a lot to the table of microphones, and spins some different features we haven’t seen a mic come equipped with. In terms of ground breaking or game changing, we usually review products and say ‘no’. But to be honest, if you’re in the broadcasting game and need a flexible solution to recording (and if you do some music or other applications on the side as well), this is going to be a very solid choice if you can afford it for a few hundred Benjamins.

Mackie EM-USB Condenser Microphone Review

Our new review of the EM-USB condenser microphone by Mackie

Once Winter NAMM starts to hit each year, we can’t help but geek out when it comes to being able to explore new products within the world of music equipment, and more specifically for our niche: microphones. Mackie surprised us getting into the mic game when we hit their booth this year for 2020 since we’re so used to their products being predominantly speakers and DJ gear (although they had done so previously with their in-ear monitors and headphones, so we like their confidence when it comes to experimenting with different gear categories). Once we noticed some microphones at hand, we got down to business and tried them out ourselves with the time we had. Here is our write-up and review of the new EM-USB microphone by Mackie, so let’s get into the details and see what they plan on competing with in the upcoming years (especially in such a crowded category when it comes to USB microphones).

Mackie EM-USB condenser microphone features

  • Recommended for streamers, podcasts, interviews, and more
  • USB-C connection directly into computer
  • On-board gain control and monitoring
  • On-board mute button
  • Cardioid polar pattern
  • Software bundle included (we’ll elaborate later)
  • Included tabletop tripod and mic clip
  • Rugged build housing

Standout features, design and build

First and foremost with this particular USB mic, we’re really digging the on-board gain control, monitoring and mute button.  The mute button in particular is going to be very convenient if you’re podcasting, streaming or really any other type of use that may include wanting outside noise to be cut out when you aren’t using it or feel like taking a break (perhaps podcasting in front of an audience and you want to keep it down while the other is talking? Or your partner is going for a story and you want to tune out your coughing or breathing?). The gain control is also a great feature for us, especially with recording vocals or some type of audio for music or content creation as we’re nitpickers in regards to mixing — you never know when you need to tweak the gain on the fly. Lastly, the monitoring of course to us is almost mandatory at this point in the game of USB microphones, considering we have to hear ourselves while we talk — plus adjusting that volume separately is super convenient (perhaps the gain needs to be up to record but you don’t want your playback to be as loud while you’re recording).

Mackie EM-USB microphone's on-board controls

When it comes to actually using this microphone, it’s what USB mics are most known for — usability. What’s nifty with USB microphones is their ability to act as it’s own audio interface. If you want to save some money on purchasing an external mic preamp or perhaps audio interface, USB mics (especially this one) don’t need anything else — just plug it in and you’re good to go. Your computer should recognize it instantly and download the drivers automatically and it’s the same for the EM-USB.

In regards to build, we noticed mainly with all of Mackie’s new EleMent microphone series, the builds are great quality here, something Mackie never messes up on. It’s not going to break on you easily even if you drop it on accident — no cheap plastic here, and the included desktop tripod is a higher-grade material that will definitely come in handy for those who need this mic to sit snug on their desk.

Sound quality of the Mackie EM-USB

What’s the most important aspect of a microphone? The answer is obvious here, so we won’t waste any more of your reading time. Let’s talk sound quality. It’s hard to convey what we think is “good quality”, or even describe a microphone’s sound objectively using superlatives that may resonate with you. So a large part of reviewing microphones for us is sticking straight to the numbers first (especially when it comes to USB microphones). The EM-USB condenser microphone’s bit-rate and resolution hasn’t been provided yet and we didn’t catch it at the show so we are going to wait until they release the technical specs and include it in here. We’ll do our best to explain the (pretty subjective) sound quality below.

The marketers, biased bloggers (not us, promise) and eCommerce sites that want you to buy it are going to call the sound quality of this using a lot of different words, such as ‘pristine’, ‘crystal clear’, ‘beautiful’, etc. We’re not going to cram more of those adjectives into your head but give you a heads up — the audio indeed does the job here. It’s definitely not going to mimic studio-quality condenser microphones that are straight up meant to be as sensitive as possible for professional audio, but we don’t expect that considering those mics go for double, triple the price of this (and many other USB mics in general). Our main concern is this — does it compare with others in the USB mic game within the same price? Yes. Is it “better” than any of them? How are you really able to tell? Human ears can’t even detect the difference really between 16-bit and 24-bit. But the biggest concern to leave you with is that yes, the Mackie EM-USB gets the job done in regards to sound quality and isn’t going to sound cheap, murky or bad. Especially if you’re podcasting, streaming or creating content in general for the internet, you are totally fine here.

If you’re indeed recording vocals for music, it isn’t completely professional and we don’t usually recommend using a USB microphone for recording vocals since you don’t get as much of a raw sound and sensitivity as real condensers, plus not being able to use a interface or preamp doesn’t give you as much room for customizing your sound as we’d like. But if you absolutely must do so and your budget is low, or you’re creating a new home studio, be our guest — it’ll be fine for now and you can upgrade later.

The EM-USB microphone in action with it's stand

Included software bundle

This is going to be a make or break for many people, considering nowadays a lot of USB microphone are relatively the ‘same’ when it comes to sound quality (especially the technical aspects, such as bit-rate and resolution). Even if you do prefer a few buttons on the front as compared to others, we don’t think that’s a big deciding factor when all of the specs of certain compared USB microphones are lined up. So here’s where the bigger fish to fry comes in — software! Here’s where your money is going to start being worth it. A question to ask is this — am I in the market for a digital audio workstation (music software), plugins (both VST sounds and effects), and more? Or do I really just need a microphone and am I focused on getting the best quality of mic for my money?

Here’s what we’re getting with the Mackie EM-USB in regards to software, sounds and effects. First and foremost, a copy of Pro Tools | First, essentially their version of a ‘beginners’ or ‘trial’ copy of the beloved digital audio workstation. Mackie recently partnered with Avid so you’re going to be seeing this a lot more often. If you don’t have a DAW yet, or have always been itching to dive into the deep world of Pro Tools, this is a big deal. Next we have something called Waveform OEM, which is another DAW that’s a little less known than the popular music software out there, but may be a little fun to play with if you still don’t have any software at all.

Lastly, let’s talk effects. Mackie really crammed a lot in here. We have “The Musician Collection” for ProTools | First, which has 23 plugins (notables include 304E EQ, 304C compressor, BBD delay, and Eleven Lite). You then have “The DAW Essentials Bundle” for Waveform OEM with 16 effects plugins (like compressor, reverber8, limit and equaliser). Our only gripe here is that these effects only work with their respected DAW, and can’t be used with other software if you’re already using a particular digital audio workstation. Interestingly enough Mackie doesn’t include any VST sounds, but focuses on effects. That’s because they’re really marketing podcasters, streamers and other non-musical uses as the years go by, which is fine with us. Pro Tools | First or even Waveform OEM is going to be good enough if you’re trying to just record some simple audio with a few talkers and music in regards to streaming or videos.

Your ins and outs of the EM-USB microphone

What’s in the EM-USB’s box?

  • One (1) EM-USB condenser microphone
  • One (1) USB-C cable
  • One (1) desktop tripod mount
  • The software bundle (you download these — CD’s don’t really exist anymore)

Concluding our Mackie EM-USB review

This USB microphone here is perfect for streaming, content creation (whether that’s YouTube videos or vlogging in general), podcasting, and yes, even music recording if you need something cheap (in particular vocals or guitar). We think it’s going to make it’s way through the ranks as the year goes by and USB microphones continue to evolve, especially within the lower price-point with a street price and retail of $150 (double check sites to see exact pricing at the moment). If we could give you two comparisons to look into the other’s software or overall design to for some options, we’d say this gives both a few of our favorites. the Blue Yeti and Audio-Technica AT2020USB+, a run for their money.

The EM-USB doesn’t necessarily bring features of a USB microphone that make us say that it’s going to change the game or anything, but Mackie here is merely giving us another great option for a USB mic that offers affordability, up-to-par sound quality (anything lower than our bit-rate and resolution here is considered old now), and of course, a very massive software package that in our opinion appears to be relatively above-average. Again, it will definitely matter if you need the software or not (some great effects included as well as DAW), but even if the software wasn’t something you completely needed, this is a good option to buy if you don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on a USB microphone. The Mackie EM-USB condenser microphone will be around for a while, but you can always read our best USB microphones guide for a better comparison of some of the more popular models (but have had more time to sit in the game) out there for the time being. All in all we’re digging it, Mackie.

The Top 10 Best Wireless Lavalier Microphone Systems

Our guide on the best wireless lavalier microphones

A wireless lavalier microphone system in your repertoire is going to be a great addition, especially if you’re in need of a discreet and easy way to record some audio. Regardless of your use, whether it’s lectures, interviews, public speaking, theater and more, we’ve learned in our lavalier microphone guide that there’s just nothing else like a lapel. However, in that guide we focused on a mixture of those with and without wires, so today we wanted to specifically get into wireless lavalier microphone systems. Let’s get into our picks.

The best wireless lavalier microphone systems

Shure BLX14/CVL

The best wireless lavalier microphone

Up first in our guide, we have a solid model here to consider that in our opinion covered most bases to recommend to our broader audience — decently affordable, great quality audio and transmission, and of course by a brand that’s reputable. The BLX14/CVL boasts of far-reaching analogue wireless transmission that makes it one of the best wireless lav mics for spoken word use.  It incorporates an intuitive setup into a simple setup with enhanced sound recording abilities, thus, allowing for a generally reliable audio performance.

What’s more, it is available in a number of configurations which makes it a solid choice for individuals looking to use it on different stage platforms. Its box package comes fully equipped with all the necessary apparatus for successful recording. These include the BLX4 wireless receiver, a CVL lavalier mic, one clip, a body pack transmitter, a comprehensive user guide, and windscreens. There is also a power supply system that enables users to charge the mic for extensive portable use. We love the Shure BLX14/CVL as the best wireless lavalier microphone for many reasons if you can squeeze into your budget.

Audio-Technica ATW-1311/L

A great pick as the best wireless lavalier microphone system

Ease of use, expandability, and solid quality sound performance-these are some of the key traits that make the ATW-1311 one of the best wireless lavalier mics available in today’s market. We try not to be biased but when it comes to brand name, Audio-Technica always gives us a sense of safety when it comes to microphones. This lav system features a 19 inch rack running on the ‘System 10’ and with the capacity to install 4 different channels which makes it relatively compatible.

Nonetheless, uses do not have to worry about system 10’s complicated configurations. It is an effective wireless professional system that needs zero training. It is straightforward system with heightened sound abilities. In terms of expandability, this system can connect up to 10 receivers and 5 frames. This is made possible by the presence of an external RJ12 cable. More importantly, the System 10 provides users with high-end audio quality over the whole frequency band — a trait that is largely attributed to the lack of compression not only during the transmission phase but also during reception. Look into the Audio-Technica ATW-1311/L. for a great quality wireless lavalier microphone system. It’s obviously nearly double the price of our previous pick but if you have a larger budget, this thing is going to be perfect and never give you any trouble.

Sennheiser EW 112P G4-A

Sennheiser's highly rated wireless lav system

For users looking for the best wireless lav mic offering broadcast quality sound transmission, Sennheiser’s EW 112P G4-A is a viable pick. In addition to its sound performance, it also offers optimal flexibility especially for outdoor applications. Its battery offers an operation time of 8 hours and it serves a maximum range of 100 meters, thus, making it ideal for field use.

What’s more, the EW-112P G4 is quite easy to use and especially when it comes to setting it up. Mounting this apparatus is a straightforward venture and its interface is not overcrowded. By and large, its ease of use, rugged construction, and sound transmission ability make this one of the best body microphones for use in the outdoors. Within the middle price-point but great for the money if you can buy it.

Rode RODELink FM

Rode's super convenient solution to a wireless lavalier

The RODELink FM is designed to enable all manner of content creators to come up with solid quality recordings. As one of the best wireless lavalier microphone systems in our opinion (at least within the relatively affordable options), this system boasts of a plug-and-play operation, extended battery life, and a pretty good sound performance. It comprises of a single omnidirectional lav mic and a body pack transmitter for convenient hands-free operations. The kit also includes a camera mount receiver that makes it possible to conveniently place the mic on the camera for enhanced audio recording capabilities.

More importantly, the mic’s 2.4 GHz operational spectrum makes it possible to utilize this appliance from all corners of the globe without worrying about radio or television signal interference. Ease of use is among its prime attributes given that the receiver and the transmitter are paired during manufacture. This implies that all that is needed is for one to power up the system and it is ready for use. Additionally, the Rode RODELink FM has a battery life of at least 30 hours and a total of 8 systems, not to mention by a brand we trust very much.

Comica CVM-WM100 Plus

A budget-friendly wireless lavalier system here

The CVM-WM100 Plus is an ultra-high frequency microphone that is fully equipped with a single receiver and a dual-transmitter. This combination makes it use quite convenient. Among its other strengthd is the lavalier microphone’s signal range as it covers a distance of up to 100 meters. However, this is limited to open spaces. Otherwise in areas with obstacles, the frequency range is reduced to 60 meters.

This is one of the best wireless lavalier mic for multiple devices that are setup to work simultaneously while avoiding disruptions from other signals. This is made possible by its optional 48 channels which offer a variety of distribution points for the different devices. Other notable features of the Comica CVM-VM100 Plus include the lattice LCD display, volume dynamic monitor with up to 16 volume adjustments, real time monitoring, and multiple power supply systems i.e. 2 AA batteries and external charging. It’s pretty affordable if you didn’t want the ‘cheapest of the cheap’, and needed to take just a smaller step above for something of better quality.

Sennheiser EW 100 G4-ME4

The best high-end wireless lavalier microphone system

Most people describe the EW 100 G4-ME4 as a rugged mic with all-in-one application. Ideally, its versatility is what makes this one of the best wireless lavalier mics given that it is ideal for all manner of uses including interviews, singing, and even playing instruments on stage. It definitely isn’t the most cheap wireless lavalier mic in here and sits around the middle price-point as compared to the others.

It features 12 systems which have been linked together to produce an impressive bandwidth of 42MHz. This, added to its unobtrusive design makes it ideal for on-stage moderators as well as other highly mobile presentation roles. Some of its other notable features include a transmission range of 330 feet, 20-channel compatibility, and an RF output of 30 mW although this is dependent on the regional regulations. The EW 100 G4-ME4 is another great wireless lavalier microphone by Sennheiser to consider if you have a decent chunk of cash at hand.

Movo WMIC70

Another great budget-friendly wireless lavalier microphone

Let’s talk budget-friendly wireless lavalier microphone. If you want something simple and easy that doesn’t break the wallet, this is a great pick as it sits usually under two-hundred bucks. With a frequency range of 584-608 MHz (labeled as ‘Ultra High Frequency’), it is easy to see why the Movo WMIC70 is ranked among the best budget-friendly wireless lav mics of today. This range makes it possible for the system to capture solid quality audio for a wide range of application including DIY videography to professional, on-stage recording. What’s more, it has the ability to cover an extensively wide range of up to 328 feet.

This is in addition to its selection of 48 optional channels which further adds to the microphone’s flexibility especially for filming purposes. Some other highlight specs include an audio output level of 120 mV, an input range of 600-2000 mV, takes 2 AA batteries power supply that facilitate up to 8 hours of operation, and an omni-directional polar pattern.

Shure QLXD14/93

Another Shure option to buy

Given Shure’s continued dominance as a top-rated microphone producer, it is only fair that another one of its products makes it to this list; that is the QLXD14/93. Although it comes in a rather simplified package, this mic features professional attributes that make it ideal for both novices and expert videographers. As one of the best wireless lav microphones in the current market, this model is known for delivering wireless and reliable functionality that is best suited for the business setup as well as mid-sized occasions.

As such, the Shure GLXD14/93 is more commonly used in government offices, conferences, live performance, learning institution, and business setups. It’s pretty high up there in regards to price-point so for those in need of a more professional route, this is a good bet.

FULAIM MX10

A good wireless lavalier for smartphones

What makes FULAIM’s MX10 one of the best wireless lavalier microphones? The answer lies in its unique blend of features which include 4 UHF channels, omnidirectional abilities, real time audio monitoring, and multiple power options. Its optional channels allow for flexible matching of channels. This feature goes a long way in helping users prevent signal interference given that one can easily switch to a different channel whenever channels operate in close proximity or within a similar space.

On the other hand, real time audio monitoring makes it possible to listen in to your recording by connecting earphones or headphones to the 3.5mm plug. As such, one can keep tabs of the audio’s status throughout the recording process. What’s more, the system features an LCD display that is only readable during the daytime to show channels in use, battery status, the overall quality of the incoming signals. A great wireless lavalier microphone especially smartphones here.

Rode Wireless GO

The end of our guide with a different wireless mic option

RODE’s Wireless GO ends our guide with a different spin to what many would consider a ‘lav mic’ and comes in a small package but offers big results. It weighs in at a meager 31 g and boasts of the smallest belt pack in the world making it quite easy to clip-on and carry around. You treat it like any other lavalier — with most of us clipping it on to clothing, a camera, or really anywhere else on your source’s body (or near it, but preferably as cloase as you can). This makes it one of the best wireless lavalier mics for vlogging, filmmaking, and YouTubing, as it maintains solid quality audio performance while offering unobtrusive presentation. Its audio performance is enhanced by the 2.4GHz band that produces broadcast-grade transmissions. Also, its ease of use surpasses all other mics. All one needs to do is power it up and pair it before clipping it onto the recording’s subject. Ideally, the Rode Wireless GO offers a great performance while remaining discreet like all the other wireless lavalier microphones in this guide.

Concluding the best wireless lavalier microphones

Also commonly referred to as body mics, lapel mics, or clip mics, lavalier microphones are best known for their minute size which in turn allows for their unobtrusive use. Usually, these microphones are clipped onto the recording’s subject body or clothing. Just as the name suggests, they are attached to the individual’s lapel, collar or any other strategic location within the upper body. Ideally, lavalier mics are meant to be placed near the speaker’s mouth in discreet manner to ensure that the footage maintains a more candid look while still maintaining solid quality audio.

By and large, their hands-free design is meant to allow for a more convenient means of recording audio during video interviews. As such, these microphones are more commonly used by field journalists such as sports anchors given that it allows both the interviewer and interviewee to move freely during the discourse while still maintaining good quality audio.