Congratulations, you’ve finally decided to take the plunge and get the best tools for your podcast. But which microphone will suit you best?
With the gazillion microphone options out there, you can easily confuse a stage/performance microphone with a podcast microphone. And it’s even easier to pick a USB mic when what you need is an XLR mic.
But don’t panic. This article will show you the 10 best podcast mics on the market and what to look for when buying one.
Things to consider while choosing the best microphone for podcasting
There are a variety of microphones, each with its characteristics and use case. If you are looking for a great podcast microphone, here are the things to consider.
Connectivity: USB vs. XLR
This is how you will connect your microphone to your devices.
- USB: USB microphones are pretty straightforward to use. All you have to do is plug the microphone into your PC, Mac or smart device, and you’re good to go. They’re cheaper than XLR microphones and better suited for applications requiring less audio quality, which means that they’re ideal for beginners and podcasters who have a limited budget.
- XLR: XLR microphones require additional hardware and are more expensive than USB microphones. These microphones provide balanced audio, enabling users to get a crisp sound. Plus, the best audio recording gear works with XLR microphones. These microphones are ideal for pro podcasters and, of course, beginners who are willing to start strong.
Sensitivity: Condenser vs. dynamic microphones
Both condenser and dynamic microphones are great for podcasting, but for different reasons.
While dynamic mics are excellent for capturing loud and strong sounds (like they’re best for a stage performance or live setting), condenser mics capture pure and more nuanced sounds.
The best audio rendering will depend on factors like the acoustics of your podcasting space and the number of people you’re recording in the room. So it’s up to you to weigh them up based on your podcasting space, co-hosts, and all the other factors.
10 best microphones for podcasting to consider in 2023
Arguably, there are more than 10 microphones you can use for podcasting. But this is a list of the best podcast mics you can choose to hit the perfect sound mark based on your podcasting level.
1. Samson Q2U [Beginner]
The Samson Q2U is one of the best microphones you can buy to take your first plunge into the podcasting world. . It gives you a significantly better audio experience than a headset or the built-in microphone on your computer. No wonder it’s Pat Flynn’s favorite mic for podcasting.
- Easy to set up: It comes with accessories such as a microphone clamp, desktop tripod stand with extension cable, and windscreen—making it easy to install.
- Both USB and XLR outputs available: The Samson Q2U takes away all the connectivity headaches by offering users both USB and XLR outputs—making it an excellent choice for home, studio, and mobile recordings.
- Better odds of file recovery: You can use both outputs simultaneously to record on two devices. This can be useful for backing up your recordings. Even if one device runs out of battery, you can still have a copy.
- Poor noise cancellation: The top of the microphone reduces noise from the sides and back, but the microphone makes noise when the body touches something.
- Lack of pop filter: Since the microphone lacks a pop filter, minor speaking issues like plosives (b, d, p, etc.) will pop more loudly, thus hindering its rendering quality.
Verdict: For fewer features, most competing microphones come at a much higher price, so the Samson Q2U is an excellent microphone if you are a beginner podcaster on a shoestring budget.
2. ATR2100-USB [Beginner]
The ATR2100-USB is a dynamic microphone that seamlessly integrates with most podcasting tools. It offers USB and XLR outputs, pretty much like the Samson Q2U, and is one of the microphones in Noah Kagan’s YouTube mic gear.
- Offers both USB and XLR outputs: Featuring USB and XLR outputs, the ATR2100-USB microphone is perfect for digital recording and connection to the audio interface of a sound system.
- Noise cancellation: It comes with dynamic sensitivity and a cardioid polar pattern that eliminates unwanted background noise and improves the quality of sound reception.
- Frequency and compatibility: It works perfectly for studio vocals and larger spaces, thanks to its excellent frequency response. It is also compatible with Windows and Mac devices.
- Low reception range: It has a short reception range. Users, therefore, need to be close enough to the microphone to get a good sound during recording.
- Fuzzy sounds: This microphone doesn’t capture ambient sound as well as other dynamic microphones. This can sometimes create a muffled sound in the background.
Verdict: While there is not much difference than the price to distinguish the ATR2100 from the Samson Q2U, the former is easily portable with stronger noise cancellation capabilities. That makes it more suited for outdoor podcasting than the latter.
3. Rode smartLav+ [Beginner]
The Rode smartLav+ lavalier mic is our pick for the third-best podcasting microphone for beginners, and for a good reason. Noah Kagan also uses this one as his favorite mic for interviews.
- Convenience: It is a simple, tiny, and easy-to-set-up wearable condenser microphone. Just plug the jack tip into your computer or smart device, and your pony is ready for a ride.
- Minimal background noise: The mic uses a foam noise shield to minimize wind noise. This also helps reduce burst sounds from vocal plosives like the hard “b,” “t,” and “p” sounds.
- Sound quality: The Rode smartLav+ uses an omni-directional condenser capsule that silences the surrounding noises and focuses on the podcaster’s voice.
- Requires the RODE Rec App: The microphone only operates with the RODE Rec App. Plus, the app does not come free—it costs $4.99.
- Compatibility issues: Not all devices have the jack input. And for this reason, it requires a smartphone or tablet to record with the Rode smartLav+.
Verdict: If portability and flexibility are qualities you fancy in a microphone, then the Rode smartLav+ lavalier mic is an excellent choice for you.
4. Rode PodMic [Intermediate]
The Rode PodMic is a pro-grade microphone specially designed for podcasting. The dynamic capsule and the robust construction make it outshine any entry-level microphone. Plus, it is Peter McKinnon’s favorite mic.
- Sound quality: It’s an integrated noise filter makes for rich and harmonious sound output. Plus, it uses an internal shock mount to reduce vibration.
- Easy integration: It performs well in any studio or office and can be used with any XLR interface.
- Prominent farness recording: This is useful if you move about a lot while you talk. Thanks to its cardioid pattern pickup, it preserves even when you move 20 degrees off the axis.
- No setting changes: Unless you pair it with the Rode PodMic PRO, you can’t make any setting changes on the Rode PodMic—meaning it does not give you as much control as other mics in its range.
- No mic stand delivered: It does not come with any frame, which means that you’ll have to fork out a few extra dollars to get yourself a stand or frame.
Verdict: This is the best mic you can get for a budget under $100. And it offers a powerful broadcaster sound for high-quality podcasting.
5. Blue Yeti [Intermediate]
Blue Yeti is one of the best-selling microphones in the US right now. You can see it on the desk of popular YouTubers like Logan Paul, Kenith, and Avxry. It is a premium USB microphone proven successful in many industries, with podcasting topping the list.
- Top audio sound quality: This microphone uses a condenser capsule to produce a clear vocal sound. It combines enhanced audio effects and advanced voice modulation to ensure studio-quality recordings whether you’re at home in a studio or on the road.
- Zero noise: The mic uses cardioid patterns to record sound sources directly from the microphone sensors—delivering high-quality sound while eliminating all surrounding noises.
- Homogeneous sound pickups: With a bidirectional pattern and stereo recording modes, this mic records voices from both ends of the microphone—front and rear. It makes it perfect for recording a duet or an interview podcast.
- Ridiculously heavy: Given its size, the microphone weighs a ton. So setting it up on a proper mic stand or mounting it in an inverted position can be frustrating.
- Records all audio: This is one of the Blue Yeti’s qualities that turned out to be too good for its own performance. It uses a condenser capsule that allows the mic to record every single molecule of air, voice, or noise in the space around you. So, make sure you use it in a professional podcasting setting with minimal noise.
Verdict: This is a high-end mic with a solid frequency to pick up sounds even remotely. It’s ideal if you’re a mid-level podcaster or a pro.
6. JLab Talk [Intermediate]
The Jlab Talk is a pretty straightforward microphone. It works on plug-and-play USB connectivity, allowing you to start recording right off the box.
- Four-directional mode patterns: It combines four-directional mode patterns (cardioid, omnidirectional, stereo, and bidirectional) to eliminate unwanted noises, allow the mic to operate with zero latency, and ensure precise and nuanced audio quality.
- Thrives in any podcasting environment: The three 14mm condenser capsules make it great for home and outdoor podcast shows.
- Complete control over the mic: The microphone gives users full control over the recordings, and you can tweak the audio track to your content.
- Noticeable background noise: For a $100 microphone, the noise cancellation is not as perfect as you’d expect. The JLab Talk still picks up a lot of the surroundings and is still less forgiving even after editing.
- Gain settings don’t save: The gain settings don’t remain when you unplug. You can’t set it and forget it, meaning that you will have to reset your preferred setting every time before using the mic.
Verdict: The Jlab Talk mic is an excellent alternative to the Blue Yeti. If the Blue Yeti hits you as an expensive choice, you can choose the Jlab Talk for your podcasting.
7. The Shure SM58 [Intermediate]
Our last pick for an intermediate-level podcaster is the Shure SM58. This microphone is known for its evergreen popularity on the performance stages and noise-canceling capabilities. The mic comes so well that artists like Paul McCartney, Patti Smith, and Henry Rollins have made it their favorite mic.
- Quality sound for both indoors and outdoors: The rendering is perfect whatever the environment, but it is more suited for out-of-the-studio recordings.
- Uniform cardioid pickup pattern: The microphone can isolate the primary sound source while keeping all surrounding noise to a minimum.
- Pop filter for zero noise: The microphone uses a pop filter on top of the microphone in the ball grid to suppress any unwanted sound from the wind or environment.
- Portability issues: The Shure SM58 is a dynamic mic that works on XLR connectivity. While this comes as a promise of quality audio sound, it can be a deal-breaker as most people recording outside may prefer easier-to-operate mics.
- Not for studio recordings: Many of the competing mics do a better job when it comes to studio recordings. With the SM58, you will need an external pop filter for good studio recordings.
Verdict: This mic is best for outdoor podcasters. So, the experience in a studio may not be as great. We recommend using this microphone primarily if you host your podcast interviews outdoors.
8. Electro-Voice R20 [Pro level]
This microphone is an A-grade microphone. Both the design and quality are top-notch.
- Reputable mic brand: Microphones from Electro-Voice are known for their depth, richness, and resonant quality. Their microphones deliver a smooth, perfect, and even audio track.
- Multiple recording ports: It uses various ports along its body, which indicates a studio condenser-like performance. That makes it perfect for an interview podcast and is especially useful if you record in an untreated room with poor sound quality.
- Perfect vocal output: The microphone has an internal shock-mounted element that reduces vibration-induced noise. It also gives the microphone the ability to minimize proximity effects and stabilize voice rising and falling.
- High price: The mic is pretty expensive, even though the mic lives up to the hype.
- Size and weight: Electro-Voice R20 is bulkier and heavier than other microphones in its range. Users may find it hard to move it around as needed.
Verdict: This mic works excellent in whatever acoustics and has an exceptionally flat frequency response, which is hard to find on a dynamic microphone. It can be the perfect pro-level mic you need for your upgrade.
9. Heil PR40 [Pro level]
If you are looking for a microphone that can give you the best sound, look into the Heil PR40 microphone.
- Wide frequency range: The mic covers from 28kHz to 18kHz. This is a surprisingly wide frequency range for a dynamic mic.
- Loves your ragged podcast studio: It has unique internal filters mounted on the microphone capsule that makes you sound crystal clear even in a non-professional environment.
- Ready-made audio tracks: The mic has audio filters that refine sound quality, reducing your audio editing time.
- Too sensitive: The microphone picks up any noise in the surrounding when your mouth is too close—from your breathing to nearby noises. But with the right external pop filter, you can solve this.
- The price: Most reviews describe this mic as overhyped and overpriced. We still think it outperforms most of the average mics in its range.
Verdict: The mic does a great job of reproducing sounds in all acoustics, even in non-professional environments. It’s a cheaper alternative to the Electro-Voice R20.
10. Shure SM7B [Pro level]
You can see the Shure SM7B widely used among top podcasters. Good examples are Joe Rogan from The Joe Rogan’s Experience, Chris Walker from Refine Labs, Josh Clark, and Chuck Bryant from Stuff You Should Know.
- A+ sound: The sound quality is the first thing you’ll notice about this mic. Its vocal outputs are thoroughly nuanced, it is sustainable, and gives you the best experience in a professional podcasting environment.
- Zero noise: It uses high and low-cut booster filters to offer excellent sound isolation and has exceptional noise cancellation capabilities—a combination that makes it a perfect choice for live recording.
- Requires a preamp with 60DB: This may not look like a con until you realize that the average PC audio interfaces with mic preamps have only about 30 or 40DB.
Verdict: The Shure SM7B combines all the features of entry-level and intermediate-level microphones into one professional microphone. However, you’ll need to record from a well-treated podcast studio to get the best out of this extra sensitive mic.
A great microphone can be the differentiator between an enjoyable podcast episode and a bad one. So think properly before choosing your mic. Here are a few tips to help you choose the best mic for you.
- Choose your mic based on the input patterns of your devices.
- Consider buying a condenser mic if you’re recording from a quiet place, like a study or an office. But if you’re more of an outdoor podcaster, consider buying a dynamic microphone.
- While some microphones like the Blue Yeti are more forgiving, others like the Shure SM7B aren’t. So consider positioning the mic for fantastic audio results.
And if you’re a newbie who doesn’t know where to start, check out our guides on how to start your own show and how to record a podcast. Lucky for you, the AppSumo store has lots of deals on podcast recording and editing software.