Looking to start the world’s most popular podcast? Or maybe you are already into podcasting and want to upgrade your microphone? Here is our review of the best podcast microphones available. The rise of podcasts has been nothing but incredible in the 21st century and the forecast for podcasts looks bright. As of right now, around 73 million Americans identify themselves as podcast-listeners. That’s a lot and the numbers are rising!
Now, If you are serious about podcasting and want to deliver the best audio quality to your audience, then investing in a top-notch podcast microphone is a must. Think about it, the story your voice is going to deliver or the fantastic interview of an interesting person is what makes the podcast. I like to scroll through the app podcaster and discover new podcasts created by fascinating people. But if the audio quality is bad and I have to make an effort to actually hear what they are talking about, I’m not even giving the podcast a chance. The human voice is what makes the podcast. No instruments or no sound effects. Finding the best podcast microphone is crucial for the voice recording! You don’t like poor audio quality and your listeners sure don’t do it either.
Before we dive into our review of the best podcast microphones, here’s a quick buying guide for you!
Why investing in a professional podcast microphone is crucial
So why investing in a professional podcast microphone? It seems like an obvious answer but if you are serious about trying to make a living of your podcast you are going to struggle to find your first designated fans if you are blabbering away in a tinny headset microphone. If you are going to record in a professional podcast studio or a home studio environment with 1 on 1 conversations, finding the best podcast microphone is the way to go. If you think about it, it’s the microphone that captures the audio waves of your voice and transforms it into digital bits and bytes.
Choosing the best podcast microphone
When you are trying to find the best podcast microphone for your podcast, there are two major things to consider:
- Your recording environment
- The size of your wallet (a.k.a your budget)
With microphones you get what you pay for. A $7.99 microphone won’t get you very far in terms of sound quality. If that’s what you can afford and will get you started with podcasting, go for it!
With that being said, the best podcast microphone for you won’t cost you a fortune!
Condenser microphone vs dynamic mics
The two most common types of microphones are condenser- and dynamic microphones. I won’t get into heavy detail about how they work here but there are some different characteristics that you should be aware of.
Dynamic microphones are good for vocals but have rougher sound characteristics than condenser microphones but they tend to eliminate background noise. If you don’t have access to a professional podcast studio and recording from home, noise from computers, refrigerators or air conditioning won’t mess up your recordings too much. Dynamic microphones are also more durable than condenser microphones.
- Eliminate background noise more efficiently
- Can record higher volumes without distortion
Condenser microphones have a smoother frequency response than dynamic microphones. The sound is often more clearer and detailed with crisper highs and superb low-frequency response. Condenser microphones are more suited for studio environments. They tend to pick up background noise so unless you’re recording in a super-quiet room you’ll have some problems with disturbing ambient noise in your recordings.
- Produce a clarity of voice with warmth and presence
- Great low-frequency response
- Need external power source (phantom-power) to operate
Polar patterns is a term in microphone technology that describes how a microphone picks up sounds from different directions. If you are talking into a microphone from an angle where it doesn’t pick up sound waves the recordings will sound bad. Imagine sitting and recording a podcast for hours and realize that you have been talking off-axis the whole recording session. So if you are looking for the best podcast microphone for your setup, make sure to get a basic understanding of polar patterns. The most common types of directionality (polar patterns) are cardioid, bidirectional and omnidirectional.
A microphone with a cardioid polar pattern is most sensitive at the front and least sensitive from the back. This is ideal if you don’t want to prevent background noise from getting into the recordings. This is the most commonly used polar pattern and very popular for vocal microphones. If you’re having 1 on 1 conversations in your podcast you should have two cardioid microphones (one each). If you are four people, then you should have four microphones. You get the point!
Bidirectional microphones (also known as “figure-8”) are equally sensitive to sound waves coming from the back and the front. Sound coming from the sides is picked up poorly. Bidirectional is the standard polar pattern for ribbon microphones. A bidirectional microphone could work if you are sitting in front of your co-host and both of you are talking into the microphone but I would still recommend choosing a pair of cardioids instead. For me bidirectional microphones are more useful for “advances” stereo techniques and not very suitable for podcasts.
Omnidirectional microphones are equally sensitive from all angles and don’t have to be aimed towards a specific direction when recording. This type of microphone picks up a lot of ambient sounds which could be ideal for some situations but one downfall is that you can’t really aim away from an undesired sound source.
USB or XLR
There are two main types of connectors for microphones, USB and XLR. USB microphones are easy to set up and all you really need to start recording is a computer. You don’t need any mixer or audio interface. They are ideal for beginners but the sound quality is not as good as XLR microphones. It’s not unusual for podcasters to start their podcasting with USB microphones but they usually progress on to a XLR microphone. A computer doesn’t have any XLR-inputs so if you are going for a XLR-mic you’ll need a separate mixer or audio interface to get the audio signals into the computer and start recording.
Review: best podcast microphones
Our top picks
The Blue Microphone Yeti USB is probably the most known microphone for podcasts. It is very easy to use and with the USB-only configuration you can connect it directly to your computer without an audio interface. It’s a cardioid, bidirectional and omnidirectional condenser microphone with a superb sound. It’s one of the best podcast microphones for people who don’t want to spend a fortune but won’t sacrifice good audio quality. The multiple pattern selection works great and you can easily switch from cardioid to bidirectional or omnidirectional. The cardioid pattern is perfect if you are having 1 on 1 conversations while the bidirectional and omnidirectional works great if you are more people talking on the podcast. The Yeti is as close to perfect as it comes!
- Great quality for the money
- Very versatile thanks to the different polar patterns
- Plug-n-play without tweaking audio settings
- USB-only could be a limitation
- Mute button feels plastic
Shure SM7B is definitely one of the best podcast microphones on the market. Actually it’s one of the most acknowledged microphones for recording vocals in studio environments. Infact, the biggest podcast on earth “The Joe Rogan Experience ” uses Shure SM7B for all their podcast episodes and Michael Jacksons used it on the “Thriller”-album. Shure SM7B is a dynamic cardioid microphone with a clear and crisp vocal reproduction and an excellent off-axis reduction. I own the SM7B myself and even when I’m not recording in a professional studio, it rejects the background noises from getting into the recordings. You’ll need an XLR-cable to plug it into an audio mixer or an interface. On the microphone you can switch between three modes: Flat, Bass rollof, and mid-range. NOTE: You will have to buy a separate mic stand or a mounted boom arm. This microphone is a classic and if you are looking for the best podcast microphone on the market, look no further.
- Great vocal reproduction
- Professional and affordable
- Built-in pop filter
- Heavy (1.7 lbs/765g)
- Works best with audio interface/preamp due to low signal levels
When talking about the best podcast microphone on the market it would be a crime not to mention the Rode Procaster. This is a dynamic microphone designed for voice-recording and it is very popular in the world of podcasting. Like many other dynamic microphones it got a low signal output so you probably need a sound mixer or a preamp to crank the gain up. Recordings with the Procaster are clean and crisp and it gives my voice an edge while it does a great job maintaining lower frequencies. from getting into the recordings. The microphone is quite heavy so it’s not something that’s handheld (you will need a boom or a microphone stand). This is a professional-level-microphone so it’s not the cheapest but if you are serious about podcasting and looking to improve your sound quality, this is one of the best podcast microphones. When looking at the microphone you might think that you are going to talk into it from the side, but it actually captures your voice from the top.
- Great at shutting out background noise
- Plenty of bang for the buck
- Great reproduction of lower frequencies
- Needs mixer or interface
- Not so versatile for beginners
The Samson Q2U is a dynamic microphone with cardioid pickup pattern. With both USB and XLR connectors, the Samson Q2U is probably the best podcast microphone for beginners on a tight budget. It does a great job of rejecting unwanted background noise so if you are recording in a room that hasn’t been sound-treated you will still end up with a clear recording. The ability to connect the Samson Q2U with USB is cool and extremely handy but it’s when you switch to XLR you get the best sound quality. I do recommend using a pop-filter to get rid of the plosives. The best part is that the “Samson Q2U Recording and Podcasting pack” comes with many useful accessories like mic clip, desktop tripod stand, cables, windscreen and a carry pouch. To sum it up, if you are a beginner and on a tight budget this is definitely one of the best podcast microphone on the market!
- Swiss army knife of podcasting
- Great value for a low price
- USB and XLR connectors
- Not so flashy or stylish
Audio-Technica is a well known and well-respected company in the recording industry and the ATK2035PK is one of the best podcast microphones on the market. Like many other mics for podcasting this is a condenser microphone with a cardioid recording pattern. It does a great job with reducing pickup of sounds from the sides and rear which is ideal for podcasts or streaming. The voice sounds clear and crisp and I really like how it captures and reproduces those high frequencies. The large diaphragm gives a smooth and natural sound with little to no noise. Some of the specs includes a 80 Hz high-pass filter and a 10 dB pad filter for unwanted low rumble.
- Clear reproduction of voice
- Durable – will last a lifetime
- Performs well above its price point
- Switches are sometimes hard to turn on and off
- Not the best built-in pop-filter