The microphone on your headset is great for gaming but not for podcasting or streaming. Here are the mics you need.

The microphone on your headset is great for gaming but not for podcasting or streaming. Here are the mics you need.

You might have the voice of an angel, but when you go to record it, the sound other people hear will be limited to the quality of your microphone. So, if you’re planning to start podcasting or streaming, it doesn’t matter how many gigahertz your gaming PC’s processor can hit or whether you have the best gaming keyboard. What you’ll need is a great microphone.Even good gaming microphones aren’t necessarily going to help you build an audience, as the sound quality isn’t quite up to broadcast levels. To really have a podcast or stream worth following, you should have a microphone with sound quality worth listening to. That means no buzzing from a low-quality cable plugged into the 3.5mm jack on your motherboard’s built-in sound card. No roaring chatter from your keyboard because the mic can’t filter out your mechanical key switches. And, no clipping from a cheap mic that can’t handle loud sounds.We’ve rounded up a wide variety of options that will do a strong job capturing your voice, whether you’re narrating your epic battle in a video game or documenting your thoughts in a podcast. They won’t even require you to build out a professional studio setup around them.
TL;DR These are the Best Microphones for Streaming and Podcasting:
1. Samson G-Track Pro
Best Microphone for Streaming and Podcasting
Type: 2 x back electret condenser capsule Sensitivity: +6dB FS/PA Frequency Response 50Hz 20kHz Sample rate: 96kHz Bitrate: 16-bit, 24-bit Max SPL: 120dB Polar Pattern: Cardioid, Bidirectional, Omnidirectional Headphone Amplifier: 85mW @ 32ohms
The Samson G-Track Pro (read our review) won us over with its extra features that put its functionality above and beyond the other mics on this list. It’s a solidly built, multi-pattern USB mic perfect for streaming or podcasts that doesnt require any extra software, and it comes at an attainable price to boot.But what really sets the Samson G-Track Pro apart is its 1/4-inch audio input, making this mic essentially a 2-track audio mixer. That means you can plug in an extra mic, second audio source, or even a sweet keytar without needing to buy a separate mixer. That kind of functionality at this price puts it at the top of my microphone list. You can buy the Samson G-Track Pro for your podcasts and streams, and even professional interview shows.
2. Blue Yeti
Best Plug-and-Play Mic for Streaming and Podcasting
Type: 3 x Blue 14mm condenser capsules Frequency Response 20Hz 20kHz Sample rate: 4.5mV/Pa Bitrate: 16-bit Max SPL: 120dB Polar Pattern: Cardioid, Bidirectional, Omnidirectional, Stereo Headphone Amplifier: 130mW @ 16ohms
The Yeti microphone from Blue (read our review) offers a near-perfect combination of performance and price, making it our almost-top pick for anyone getting into the game of streaming and podcasting. It’s not that expensive and it includes cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional capture patterns, so it can start recording audio in pretty much any environment without breaking the bank.It’s also a USB microphone, so setup is super easy, and I also dig the fact that it has gain control and comes in a bunch of nifty colors. For fledgling and even advanced streamers/podcasters, the Yeti does everything you need it to do at the right price, with fantastic performance too.
3. HyperX QuadCast USB Microphone
Best Broadcast Mic for Streaming and Podcasting
Type: 3 x 14mm condenser capsules Sensitivity: -36db Frequency Response 20Hz 20kHz Sample rate: 48kHz Bitrate: 16-bit Max SPL: 120dB Polar Pattern: Cardioid, Bidirectional, Omnidirectional, Stereo Headphone Amplifier: 7mW @ 32ohms
The HyperX QuadCast USB Microphone (read our review) has arrived as a stunning debut from the company better known for making gaming headsets. This microphone is clearly tuned to capture the spoken word with a warmth that makes it perfect for voiceover or talking while streaming.In this way, the QuadCast USB Microphone is even more of a broadcast microphone than other products Ive tested like the Razer Seiren or Blue Yeti. While I appreciate the included shock mount, the HyperX QuadCast USB Microphone stands a little too short for us to be talking into its side without having to lean down all the time. So, youll want to pick up an aftermarket boom arm and a better pop filter to make the most out of this microphone.
4. Razer Seiren Elite
The Broadcast Microphone you Want on a Boom Arm
Type: 1 x dynamic capsule Sensitivity: -38db Frequency Response 50Hz-20kHz Sample rate: 48kHz Bitrate: 16-bit Max SPL: 120dB Polar Pattern: Cardioid Headphone Amplifier: 58mW @ 16ohms
The Razer Seiren Elite (read our review) is Razers current top-of-the-line microphone and its made for broadcast. It’s smaller than most microphones and it comes with a detachable base so you can more easily mount it onto a boom arm or pack it up for a LAN event or anywhere else you might go on the road. Unlike most gaming microphones, the Elite features a dynamic microphone capsule for excellent background noise rejection.Around the base of the mic, Razer also has a built in a ring light that lights up red to let you know when youre talking too loud and clipping. It also includes a foam windscreen, so you dont need to buy a pop filter to stop those plosives.
5. Blue Yeti Nano
Best Portable Mic for Streaming and Podcasting
Type: 2 x Blue 14mm condenser capsules Sensitivity: -47db Frequency Response 20Hz-20kHz Sample rate: 48kHz Bitrate: 24-bit Max SPL: 120dB Polar Pattern: Cardioid, Omnidirectional Headphone Amplifier: 130mW @ 16ohms
The Blue Yeti Nano (read our review) takes everything great about the Blue Yeti and shrinks it down to a smaller form-factor. Even though it’s the smaller sibling to the Yeti, it still fits into almost any mic stand. Some of the recording patterns have been lost in the shrinking process, but the two that remain are the two mic patterns most used for podcasting and streaming, anyway. It’s solid, well-built, and sounds great, and is exactly the level of quality I’ve come to expect from Blue’s line of excellent USB microphones.6. Maono AU-04 USB Microphone Kit
Best Entry-Level USB Mic for Streaming and Podcasting
Type: 1 x 16mm condenser Sensitivity: -38db Frequency Response 30Hz-16kHz Sample rate: 192kHz Bitrate: 24-bit Polar Pattern: Cardioid, Omnidirectional
Maono may not be a company youve heard of, but theyre definitely one I would recommend to new streamers. The AU-04 microphone comes in a couple of different packages, but Id recommend buying the kit that includes a microphone arm and fixed shock mountThe package includes a microphone capable of recording at an impressive 24-bit/192kHz, USB cable, a shock mount, foam windscreen, and a detachable pop filter. There are no onboard controls for volume or zero-latency monitoring, but for less than $65 each kit is a great value. If you find yourself recording on the road you might want to choose this kit that includes a travel case and desktop stand.
7. Blue Snowball
Set it and Forget it
Type: 2 x Blue 14mm condenser capsules Frequency Response 40Hz-18kHz Sample rate: 44.1kHz Bitrate: 16-bit Polar Pattern: Cardioid, Omnidirectional Headphone Amplifier: 130mW @ 16ohms
The Blue Snowball (read our review) USB microphone is easily the best way to get into quality audio recording without spending much at all. This little guy includes a desktop stand that’s height-adjustable, so you can plug it in, plop it down, and start recording right away.It only offers omnidirectional or cardioid capture patterns, so it’s not as flexible as the more expensive microphones on this list, but it’s perfect for capturing your voice or that of a few of your cohorts huddled around it. It’s available in four colors and can even be mounted to a traditional mic stand if you want to get a bit fancy.
8. Audio-Technica 2020
Best XLR Mic for Streaming and Podcasting
Type: 1 x 16mm-diameter back-electret capsule Sensitivity: -37db Frequency Response 20Hz-20kHz Sample rate: 44kHz Bitrate: 16-bit Max SPL: 120dB Polar Pattern: Cardioid Headphone Amplifier: Yes
The Audio Technica AT2020 (read our review) is a cardioid microphone that requires an XLR cable, so it’s not plug-and-play like a USB mic. You’ll need to plug it into a mixing board, and also buy the aforementioned cable, so it’s more of a pro setup than the mics above, but if you’re looking to something more advanced the AT2020 is a great way to get started. It’s not the best for streaming, but if your jam is podcasting I highly recommend it as long as you’re willing to fork over some money for all the extra gear it requires.9. Blue Ember
Best Looking Microphone for Streaming and Podcasting
Type: condenser capsules Sensitivity: -38db Frequency Response 38Hz 20kHz Sample rate: 44.1kHz Bitrate: 16-bit Max SPL: 132dB Polar Pattern: Cardioid Headphone Amplifier: 130mW @ 16ohms
The Blue Ember (read our review) is the latest mic from Blue Microphones, makers of the Yeti and Snowball, also included in this list. This thin condenser microphone is built like a tank, yet skinny enough to not intrude on your stream. Blue made this with game streamers in mind, doing a great job of rejecting noise outside noise while picking up your voice crisp and clear. Thanks to its unique, vintage design, it will also look great on camera.10. Shure SM58
Best Handheld Microphone for Streaming and Podcasting
Type: Dynamic Sensitivity: -57.5db Frequency Response 50Hz -15kHz Sample rate: 48kHz Bitrate: 16-bit Max SPL: 126dB Polar Pattern: Cardioid
If youve ever watched an awards show with musical breaks, youve probably seen the Shure SM58. This handheld mic often gets forgotten about by streamers and podcasters because of its handheld design, but its a classic for a reason: it sounds fantastic and cuts out background noise.The capsule has been tuned for vocal capture and features an internal shock mount to keep desk noise from invading your stream. All of those recording professionals cant be wrong, can they? Just bear in mind that youll need an audio interface to connect it to a PC.
11. Samson Q2U
Best Budget Dynamic Microphone
Type: Dynamic Sensitivity: -54dBV/Pa Frequency Response 50Hz -15kHz Sample rate: 44.1kHz Bitrate: 16-bit Max SPL: 148dB Polar Pattern: Cardioid
The Samson Q2U is a great choice for new streamers and podcasters who want the warm sound and tight recording space of a dynamic mic without investing in an audio interface. The Samson Q2U is a handheld mic but dont let that fool you: it comes with a desktop stand (and pop filter), and the microphone clip is compatible with most boom arms. Even better, this microphone also features an XLR connection, as well as zero-latency monitoring, all for less than $60!12. Aston Microphones Stealth
Best Professional Level Microphone
Type: Dynamic Frequency Response 20Hz 20kHz Max SPL: 140dB Polar Pattern: Cardioid
Aston Microphones might be a less well-known audio brand from the UK, but it created one hell of a microphone with the Stealth. It costs the same as the $400 as the widely used Shure SM7B, but you get so much more for your money with its excellent built-in preamp and clever internal shock mount. Both of these features make the Aston Microphones Stealth easy to set up, especially for shows on the road.It’s also extremely versatile thanks to its four different voice settings. V1 and V2 are for male and female voices, respectively. Meanwhile, the G setting is for guitar recordings and D will give you a darker profile like a ribbon microphone. Turning on phantom power engages the mic’s pre-amp, saving the need for an expensive Cloudlifter while allowing it to perform like a condenser microphone.
13. Shure SM7B Dynamic Cardioid Microphone
Best Professional Level Microphone
Type: Dynamic Sensitivity: -54dBV/Pa Frequency Response 50Hz 20kHz Sample rate: 44.1kHz Bitrate: 16-bit Max SPL: 180dB Polar Pattern: Cardioid
The Shure SM7B is an iconic XLR microphone. You might have seen it on high-end productions like the Joe Rogan Experience or even here at IGN! The SM7B features a delightfully warm sound signature with a bass roll-off to keep you from sounding too boomy.It also uses an internal air suspension system to prevent any vibrations from your desk or PC from traveling into the microphone. This level of quality doesnt come cheap at $399, though, and professionals recommend pairing it with a Cloudlifter for some extra, noise-free volume.
14. Rode Procaster Dynamic Broadcast Microphone
The Cheaper Professional Option
Type: Dynamic Sensitivity: -56dBV/Pa Frequency Response 75Hz 18kHz Polar Pattern: CardioidIf the Shure SM7B is too expensive for you (and it just might be!) I would definitely recommend checking out the Rode Procaster Dynamic Broadcast Microphone. Its nearly as highly regarded as the SM7B and features a wonderfully detailed, warm sound thats transmitted over an XLR connection. Its a dynamic microphone that allows you to enhance its already-good noise rejection and it features a high-pass filter to cut down on any signal noise for clean, quiet recordings.
What to Look for in a Microphone for Streaming and Podcasting
While buying high-end audio it’s all too easy to fall into a rabbit hole of purchasing all kinds of expensive gear in a never-ending quest for the perfect recording, but that’s exactly why I’m here to help you find only exactly what you need.The first question youll need to answer is what you plan to record. If youre only ever going to stream, then you need a microphone with a cardioid polar pattern. If you plan on recording interviews across a table or want to record the entire room around the microphone, youll need to look into something with multiple polar pattern options like the G-Track Pro or HyperX QuadCast.
The next big question you will need to answer is what type of microphone you want: condenser or dynamic. If you need multiple polar patterns, this decision is easy: a condenser microphone. If you only plan to stream or podcast, you should consider a dynamic microphone. Thankfully, both are available in USB or XLR format, so you wont be forced to invest in a fancy mixing board or audio interface right off the bat. Here are the differences between the two.
Condenser microphones make up most of the market for gaming and streaming microphones and for good reason. They offer excellent capture and are sensitive enough to pick up even quiet sounds. This is great if youre in a quiet environment, but they don’t perform so well in noisy environments full of background sound. Condenser microphones can also offer multiple polar patterns, which can be great for interviews or recording podcasts around a table.
Dynamic microphones, one the other hand, are much less sensitive and require more power to operate. As a result, there arent as many USB options as condensers, but still enough to allow you to shop around. Chances are, youve been seeing them your whole life and havent realized it: dynamic microphones are what your favorite singer carries around on stage!
In fact, dynamic microphones may be the perfect option for you because of their excellent noise rejection. Surely, if they can filter out the sound of a screaming crowd, they can cut down the sound of your noisy roommate! They also typically have a much warmer sound, often giving you that radio voice podcasters crave. Dynamic microphones are also the most common youll find in real-world radio stations!
No matter which you choose, beware of buying the cheapest microphone you can find. With the rise of streaming and podcasting, sites like Amazon are flooded by low-quality mics making big promises. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If all else fails, read the reviews.
One other thing to consider: do you plan to expand in the future? If so, you may want to consider buying an XLR microphone now and an affordable audio interface to use it with your PC. As your stream grows, you may want to look into special effects, like a compressor, equalizer, or noise gate to make your stream sound even better. USB mics are great but often arent compatible with things like mixing boards. If theres a chance you may want to add to your setup, spending a little more now may save you from having to buy a whole new mic later.
If you want to improve the sound quality of your recordings right now, you definitely need to scrap that 3.5mm gaming headset mic. Not that there’s anything wrong with a good gaming headset: It’s fine if you’re using it for chatting over Discord, but if you’re trying to sound professional at all, it’s not going to work. The easiest way to upgrade is with a dedicated mic, like the ones on the list.
Build Your Own Mini-Studio, or Fake One at Least
A mic is just the start of a rewarding career in online broadcasting. OK, there aren’t any guarantees that it’s going to turn into a career, but if you’re serious about sound, you can use your new mic as the foundation upon which your podcast empire will be built. The easiest and least expensive way to further improve your recordings is with a pop-filter. Every time you say a word beginning with the letter “P” you force a little burst of air into your mic. That pop comes through in your recordings and will turn people off pretty quickly.The easiest and least-expensive way to further improve your recordings is with a pop-filter.
A pop-filter catches these so-called plosives and keeps your audio smooth. If you don’t have a pop-filter, you can use software like Adobe Audition to automatically remove pops from your audio files. Failing that, you can put your finger in front of your mouth (think of a librarian “shushing” you) and deliver your audio that way. It works, but the downside is you have to keep your finger in front of your mouth the entire time.Echo is another big problem with recording. Unless you record in a literal vacuum, your room is filled with air. Since you couldn’t record in a vacuum for lots of compelling reasons both physical and physiological, there’s almost certainly going to be an echo. It might be subtle, but it leads to a hollow-sounding audio file.
You can minimize these annoying reflections with a few different methods that won’t cost you any money. If you’re recording VO, you can hide under a blanket with your mic. Another place to hide is a small closet. The garments will soften and absorb any echoing. If youre willing to spend a little extra money, you can also pick up a cheap set of foam sound absorption panels that have the side benefit of looking great on your stream! Polar patterns or recording modes can only do so much to stop echoes
If you do go the XLR-route, youre going to need an audio interface. You can spend a lot of money here but you dont need to. If youre just getting started, something as simple as the Behringer UM2 will connect to your PC via USB and allow to record either an XLR or 1/4″ line-in. If youd like to record two mics or instruments at a time, the UMC202HD is a great choice. On the upper end, you have the iconic Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 for just under $160.
You also need a computer, obviously. A desktop computer or gaming PC might be better for heavy editing, but a good laptop is going to be way more convenient. As far as software, there are lots of professional editing suites you can choose from, but for most people, Audacity or even Garage Band should do the trick.
Looking to put together a powerful PC to stream with the best possible graphics? Check out our guide to the best graphics cards, and while you’re at it, our guides to the best gaming chairs and the best gaming headsets will help you look like a pro.
Mark Knapp is a regular contributor to IGN and an irregular Tweeter on Twitter @Techn0Mark

Share