The 10 Best USB Microphones for Content Creation
Laptops today have integrated webcams and microphones which are good enough for casual use, but fall short for content creation. To improve the audio quality of any recording done with your laptop, you’re going to want to get a dedicated USB microphone.
USB microphones are plug and play devices that are not only low cost, they vastly improve the audio quality of any laptop over the integrated option you already have.
The only laptop we’ve tested that has a decent integrated microphone is the Macbook Pro and even that can benefit from a dedicated USB microphone. So what should you look for in a USB microphone? Here is what is important:
Multiple sound channels
An ideal USB microphone should have the ability to switch between multiple sound channels. This means that you can setup the microphone to record sound coming from multiple directions or just one direction by changing the sound pattern.
In general a super cardioid pattern sounds best for individual narration and omni-direction would be ideal for an interview.
Sound patterns super cardioid on the left, cardioid on the right. – Source
When purchasing a microphone, please take note of the sound patterns it allows for and if you can adjust anything. The cheaper the microphone, the less customization over the pattern (if any) you have.
Cheaper microphones also limit your ability to adjust the mic gain which is the overall sensitivity of the device.
Small and portable
Small and portable is the most ideal for a USB microphone for a laptop. As your laptop is mobile, you’ll want your accompanying microphone to match in size as well.
You may very well be in situations where having a large microphone is impractical so when looking at different microphones pay attention to the size and if it something you could easily travel with if that’s important for your needs.
Best USB Microphones for Laptops
So here are the best USB microphones for laptops we’ve tested. We tried everything from the budget level microphones (which were surprisingly good) to professional level recording devices:
- Zoom H2N
- Rhode NT USB Mini
- Blue Yeti
- Fifine Microphone
- Samson Go Mic Portable
- Goose Neck Microphone
- Jounvio Desktop Microphone
- Samson Meteor Mic
- Blue Snowball Mic
- Tonor Condenser Microphone
- Audio Technica AT2020 USB
Zoom H2N – The best multi-purpose microphone
The Zoom H2N Handy Recorder tops the list because it’s the most flexible, multi-purpose microphone on the list. You can pair this microphone via a USB connection to your laptop or computer or you can buy a wire and attach it to your DSLR (or mirrorless) camera for some rich sounding audio.
You can even use this as a stand alone recording device for interviews and on the go podcasts as it’s battery powered (when not plugged in via USB) and can save audio recording directly.
This microphone is the most feature rich device on this list as it has multi channel functionality due to it having 8 mini microphones built into it you can change the sound pattern with ease.
- High quality audio.
- Works with both cameras, laptops, computers and can be used as a stand-a-lone recording device.
- Multiple sound profiles. Everything from omni-directional to super cardiod
- Built in mic gain.
- Headphone output.
- This is a fairly expensive microphone.
- The accessory kit comes separately is an essential buy.
Rhode NT-USB Mini – The budget Zoom
The Rhode NT USB Mini is simply a smaller, less expensive version of their larger studio microphone the Rhode NT. This USB microphone is great for recording voice primarily and is ideal for streaming and voice overs.
It’s small, surprisingly heavy, comes with it’s own stand but also the ability to attach to a boom arm. Overall the stand looks great, but is not particularly functional as it’s too low. You’ll need put this microphone on a stack of books or something to get it closer to your voice when on a laptop.
- Good audio for voice recording.
- Can attach to a boom arm for streaming.
- Stylish and minimalistic.
- No mic gain to adjust the sensitivity. You’ll have to to adjust the gain via your laptop.
- Surprisingly heavy.
- The stand it comes with looks great, but is too small.
Blue Yeti – High quality recording device
The Blue Yeti is a highly recommended microphone for podcasters and anyone looking to do voice over work for a video. The main issue however is that this microphone is big, heavy and quite bulky. If having something that is portable is important to you then skip on the Blue Yeti.
Where this microphones shines however is that for a fair price you get a lot of professional grade features like a mic gain, multiple condenser capsules and a headphone jack output.
- Excellent quality audio for YouTube videos or podcasts.
- Mic gain, headphone output, plug and play USB microphone.
- This microphone is big. It lives up to it’s name and is not particularly portable.
- Can’t be used with a camera.
Fifine Microphone – The budget friendly microphone
We love the Fifine microphone for it’s simplicity in design, usability and sound quality. While not at the same level as the H2N and lacking a lot of the pro features like controlling the mic gain and having multiple sound directions, the audio quality out of this microphone is sufficient for YouTube narration.
If you’re just needing a basic microphone for voice overs that does not cost too much, then the Fifine microphone may be a good choice for you. It’s a medium sized microphone that is plug and play via USB and reasonably portable.
- Good microphone for voice. Designed to pick up vocals and not any background noise.
- Good built quality.
- Small enough to take with you if need be.
- Plug and play for ease of use.
- Lacks more advance features of more premium microphones.
Samson Go Mic Portable – The tiny microphone
Another excellent, budget option. The Samson Go Mic is a cute, tiny little microphone that packs up for on the go use and won’t take up too much space in your bag.
As a more budget microphone, don’t expect any premium features. However, if you’re looking for a simple and portable USB condenser microphone the Go Mic is a good choice.
It’s compatible with both Windows and IOS and can also be used with your phone if need be as it’s compatible via a Apple Lightening to USB adapter.
All in all, if you’re looking for a small microphone to replace your integrated microphone on your laptop as a way to give you improved audio this microphone does just that.
- An excellent step up from your built-in, internal audio on your laptop.
- Small, convenient size.
- Good for voice recording.
- Can pair with a smartphone for improved audio if you’re creating content with an iPhone for example.
- Designed for voice recording while using your laptop and not much else.
- Build quality is poor and the USB wires may wear out quickly.
Mini Gooseneck Microphone – The minimalist option
This tiny gooseneck microphone from Fifine is ideal if you’re looking to get the smallest microphone possible that also has decent audio. As a tine microphone, it pairs well with any webcam as you can position the microphone out of the shot due to it’s size.
It’s a simple, minimalistic microphone with no advanced options. It works well for reducing ambient noise for any type of Zoom or Skype call and produces crisp clear audio; all in small, portable form factor.
- Very small and discrete. Ideal for improved audio for online calls.
- Good build quality and good portability.
- Very good audio quality considering the price and size.
- Provides improved audio, but not good enough in our opinion for voice over work or narration for YouTube content creation.
Jounvio Desktop Microphone – The noise cancelling choice
This is the best cheap microphone on the list. While it’s marketed as a desktop microphone, it works fine with any laptop. It’s a USB microphone and works via plug it into your laptop and position the microphone neck as needed.
It’s a basic, cheap, noise cancelling microphone that provides improved audio. As a large gooseneck microphone it’s easy to position the device near your voice as a way to produce high quality audio.
In terms of audio quality it’s average. The noise cancelling effect is helpful for reducing ambient noise so the listener can focus on your voice, but the raw audio is only slightly better than your internal microphone.
Samson Meteor Mic – The prosumer option
Samson really does a nice job with creating small, portable microphones. The meteor mic is no exception. It’s a stylish, portable microphone perfect for recording audio on a laptop or computer.
At this price point don’t expect any advanced controls but if you’re in need of something for voice over work or audio recordings this microphone is a solid choice. As it’s a USB condenser microphone there is no way to attach this to a camera, but if you need improved audio at a low price in a small design this is a good choice.
- A simple, cost effective, no frills microphone.
- Stylish look and surprisingly great audio.
- Lacks the various pro features of more advanced microphones like the Blue Yeti or the Zoom H2N.
- Uni-directional only.
Blue Snowball – The original cheap microphone
The Blue Snowball is still one of the best budget friendly microphones on the market today. It’s a personal favorite of podcasters and YouTubers due to the high quality audio that can be recorded and the fact that it does an excellent job of blocking out background noise.
The main issue however with this excellent microphone however is that the build quality is low. It comes in a plastic body with fragile wires that make recording quite annoying if you intend on using this microphone for years.
However, for the price the Blue Snowball still produces some of the most premium sounding audio at a great price.
- Excellent audio and very good noise cancellation for such a cheap microphone.
- Build quality with regards to the wire as well as the longevity of the microphone could be vastly improved.
- Big logo, not as cool and stylish as the meteor microphone.
Tonor Condenser Microphone – The Pop Filter Option
This is a medium sized microphone that comes with a built in pop filter and tripod. A pop filter is important because when you say words that being with the letter “p” you tend to push to much air at the microphone, making your audio peak. This setup reduces and unwanted audio distortion.
In addition, it comes with it’s own tripod so it’s easy to position the microphone right in front of your laptop so you can record audio with ease. If you need a microphone for your gamming YouTube channel, streaming or voice over work this is great affordable option.
The Tonor condenser microphone is a simple and affordable microphone for both Windows and IOS laptops an computers. It’s easy to setup and works right out of the box. As with all budget microphones don’t expect advanced controls like mic gain or sound direction options.
- Excellent sounding microphone for the price.
- Good build quality with a pop filter included.
- Plug and play installation via a USB connection.
- This microphone is on the larger side and may not be ideal for on the go travel situations.
Audio Technical AT2020 USB – The Podcasting USB Option
This is a beginner friendly podcasting microphone that does not need any complicated, expensive audio interface to work. Simply mount it on it’s stand or a cheap boom arm and plug it directly into your computer.
The audio sounds premium out of this cardioid condenser microphone. It’s ideal for any sort of digital recording like narration or voice overs but it really shines as a budget podcasting USB mic.
Last, you can plug your headphones directly into the microphone to observe and fix any audio distortions in real time. Last, we suggest purchasing a pop filter for this mic as it can be a bit sensitive.
- An easy to use USB microphone.
- No audio interface required.
- Great audio and build quality.
- Built in analog to digital converter which is helpful for beginners but a bit restrictive for more advanced users.
USB Microphones for Laptops Conclusion
So that is for our guide to the best USB microphones for a laptop. Overall, the best microphone you can get is the Zoom H2N. It’s small, portable, produces high quality sound, can be attached to a camera for talking head videos and has various pro features you’ll love like being able to change the sound pattern and mic gain. It is however the most expensive on the list.
Regardless, if you’re doing any type of audio recording getting a USB microphone for your laptop is a great way to get much improved audio.