Microphones matter a lot when making a podcast. The initial costs are fairly low: recording software, a desktop or laptop, and of course, a microphone. So what’s the best podcast microphone?
What Makes the Best Podcast Microphone?
What you’ll want for a podcast microphone differs from what you’ll need if recording music or video game live streaming. While you can get started recording with something as basic as a smartphone, a mic is a must-have investment. Look for a dynamic microphone. A dynamic mic is front-firing and features solid sound-rejection. That way it picks up your voice and filters out unwanted background noise.
Podcasting Handbook has a fantastic breakdown of technical podcast equipment. Podcasting skyrocketed in popularity, rapidly evolving into its own medium. Not only is a podcast an enjoyable hobby, but it can even turn into side income. If you’re starting a podcast, here’s a guide to getting it up and running successfully.
The Best Budget Podcast Microphone
The Samson Go Mic portable USB condenser microphone is compact, affordable, and powerful. Its small stature nevertheless provides superb sound quality. Steven Sande praised the Samson GO Mic in his review for Engadget. Notably, Sande appreciated its minute footprint and capable recording. The Go Mic is designed to be clipped onto a laptop screen but remains compatible with tablets as well. It hooks up with a Mini-USB cable and features both omnidirectional and cardioid modes.
When using the Go Mic for podcasting, it’s best left in cardioid mode. This ensures you’re picking up audio from a certain direction. For a similarly priced and sized mic, the Blue Snowball iCE is an excellent choice. Like the Samson Go Mic, it’s a condenser mic. CNET approved of the Blue Snowball iCE’s construction and retro styling but criticized its lack of audio inputs and outputs, aside from a USB. Additionally, the Snowball lacks recording software. If you’re an on-the-go podcaster, the Samson Go is your best bet. One of the seven most important criteria for mobile podcasting is having an external mic, a need the Samson Go fulfills wonderfully.
- Small footprint
- Cardioid mode
- Omnidirectional mode
- Plug and play compatibility
- More powerful mics available
The Best Mid-Range Podcast Microphone
M-Audio’s Vocal Studio boasts excellent sound quality at a solid price. PC Mag noted its exceptional quality and commented on its inclusion of a mic and mic preamplifier. Moreover, the M-Audio Vocal Studio sports premium features such as a built-in headphone jack. Plus, it’s compatible with loads of recording applications including M-Audio’s own Session.
However, PC Mag criticized the Producer’s latency when the built-in headphone jack isn’t in use. Additionally, its tripod isn’t the sturdiest. Also, while the Producer is superb for vocals like podcasting, it’s not suitable for musical instruments. While the Producer remains compatible with loads of recording software suites, there’s no ProTools compatibility. However, you will find that the M-Audio Producer functions well with GarageBand in addition to Session. Despite its lackluster instrument recording, occasional latency issues, and unsteady tripod, the M-Audio Producer is a solid mic for podcasting.
- Superb sound quality
- Built-in headphone jack
- Compatible with software such as Session and GarageBand
- Occasional latency when built-in headphone jack not in use
- Tripod slightly unsteady
- Lackluster instrument recording
The Best High-End Podcast Microphone
The Blue Yeti is easily the best mic for podcasting. It’s a utilitarian mic that’s stylish and functional. On its sleek metal bullet-shaped exterior you’ll find four recording modes, gain control, a mute button, and a built-in headphone monitor. Its various modes like stereo recording make it suitable for podcasting, instrument recording, and interviews. It’s this versatility in large part that posits the Blue Yeti as the best microphone for podcasts.
CNET highlighted its flexible recording modes and lush sound quality in its review. Yet CNET commented that it’s not portable unlike the Samson Go, M-Audio Producer, or even Blue’s Snowball iCE. Further, CNET editors were wary of its cheap plastic knobs. The Yeti is my go-to for everything from YouTube videos to video game live streaming. I’ve even recorded concerts and jam sessions with it. Admittedly, it’s not lightweight but it’s also not a monstrosity. If you need something portable, you can probably just use a smartphone. There’s a reason podcasters and musicians alike prefer the Yeti. It balances build quality, audio, and style.
- Exceptional sound quality
- Four distinct recording modes
- Great build quality
- Plastic knobs a bit weak
Mic Check: What’s the Best Podcast Microphone?
Which microphone you pick for podcasting depends on your budget and recording environment. For on-the-go podcasters, a small, portable mic like the Samson Go is the best pick. The Blue Yeti, however, remains the top choice overall. I’d recommend sticking with a solid mic even if you’re a casual podcaster with a small audience. The main technical aspect of podcasting that matters to an audience (we’re not including whether or not you are entertaining as a podcaster), is audio quality. Although there’s software for mixing and mastering, the number one factor that determines audio quality: the microphone.
Moreover, even a high-end podcast microphone isn’t all that expensive. The benefits associated with that extra cost can’t be quantified. But if you need something portable and smaller, or simply can’t afford a better mic, stick with a sub-$50 or $100 microphone. Whether you’re podcasting or listening to podcasts, you’ll need a superb player. Check out the best podcast players for Android and these podcast apps for iOS.
What do you feel is the best podcast microphone for your money in 2017? Which mic are you using for podcasting?