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Content creation has grown ever more popular in the last year, and if you’ve been shopping around for the right gear to start your own YouTube page, buying a proper microphone should be at the top of your list. Sound quality is obviously a major part of the YouTube experience, especially when it comes to audio clarity and background noises — both of which can ruin a prerecorded video or live stream (crystal clear audio also makes it easier to generate captions for the hearing impaired).
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Whether you’re a seasoned YouTuber or a newbie to the vlogging sphere, we comprised a short list of the best microphones that you can get online, no matter what your budget looks like.
Below, find seven of the best XLR and USB microphones to use for YouTube, gaming, video chatting, and podcasting. For more tech guides, read our recommendations for best podcast gear and best webcams.
If your content creation involves music, the Sennheiser MD 421 II microphone is an excellent option. Besides being one of Sennheiser’s most popular microphones for more than 35 years, this versatile mic features a large diaphragm to handle high sound pressure levels, which is ideal for recording guitars and drums. The MD 421 II delivers clear sound reproduction with a full-bodied cardioid pattern and five-position bass control making it great for most instruments, as well as group vocals and broadcasting. You can get it at Amazon or directly through the Sennheiser website, and other major retailers, including Walmart and Guitar Center.
Audiophiles might debate over the level of premium sound quality, but the El Gato Wave 3 is one of the best-reviewed condenser microphones that you can get for under $200. Wave 3 works for video conferencing, live streaming, and gaming. It’s incredibly user-friendly, with a built-in digital mixing solution for an easy plug-and-play set up.
From a design perspective, Wave 3 fuses retro and modern with impeccable sound and a tight cardioid polar pattern to capture speech with precision. Other features include up to 24-bit (96kHZ) analog to digital conversion, anti-distortion technology, and as many as 9 different channels to blend sound. With the Wave Link App, you can combine all your audio sources and create two independent mixes — one for yourself and another for your audience.
Blue Yeti is one of the top USB microphones on the market. You’ll get pristine broadcast-quality sound for your YouTube channel, but also for game-streaming, podcasting, video calls, music, and more. Just plug it in and press record. The Blue Yeti has four different pattern settings, serving up incredible flexibility to let you record vocals for music, podcasts, Twitch streaming, YouTube videos, or whatever else you might need. Speaking of necessities, you might also need Lavalier mics, which you can buy for less than $20.
Another super affordable option from Blue Mics is this compact USB mic. If you’re new to YouTube, the Blue Snowball iCE USB Microphone is a good starter option (mostly because it doesn’t cost much). With a 40 –18 kHz frequency response, the Blue Snowball offers crystal-clear capabilities for your YouTube recordings, but also Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, and more. The mic is available in black or white.
There’s a good reason why Rode microphones are so popular among YouTubers. The Rode VideoMic Pro+ is designed to be used with camcorders, DSLR cameras, and portable audio recorders. An upgrade from the VideoMic Pro, the VideoMic Pro+ features two-stage high pass filter which reduces low frequencies (like traffic or air conditioning); a high frequency boost that enhances recording details, and three-stage gain control with +20dB function that’s designed to improve audio quality on DSLR or mirrorless cameras. If you want something cheaper, try the Rode PodMic for $99.
The Shure SM7B Dynamic Microphone is one of the top rated microphones for YouTubers, due in part to key features such as blocking the electromagnetic hum generated by electrical devices (including computer monitors and neon lights). This version is an update from earlier models and offers up an improved bracket design to give you more stability.
For those on an extra-tight budget, USB mics can be cheaper than XLR options which offer more versatility. This desktop microphone from TKGOU will only set you back $20 for an all-in-one package, with no setup and clear sound. Use it for YouTube, live streaming, gaming and more.