A Podcast is a digitally available program that enables recording and downloading over the internet using a computer or mobile device. The microphone, on the other hand, is a transducer used to convert sound into an electrical signal.
What's the best type of microphone for recording a podcast?
There are a few types of microphones they are; condenser, dynamic, and Ribbon. These different types of microphones drastically vary based on their capabilities and uses.
If you're not sure what the best kind of microphone is for your situation, here is the cliff notes version of what you need to know.
All-around great microphones that excel in loud environments and are typically more durable than any other microphone. They provide great sound quality in most situations. Many of them have built-in pop filters helping them be close to your mouth without the harsh exhales affecting them. Dynamic microphones often will be the cheaper alternative to a condenser microphone or a ribbon microphone.
Ideal for recording studio microphones where there is limited background noise. Typically produce the highest quality of vocals possible. Ideally paired with a mixer to get the best-sounding audio quality. Condenser mics are very popular among podcasters within their studio, where background noises can be controlled.
Typically fragile but provide a warm vintage tone great for instrument recording. Very popular to help manage excessive and harsh high-end sounds like musical instruments.
All three of these microphones will produce fantastic audio quality when used appropriately.
People used podcasts for recording in various locations, and they recorded on skype, google, hangouts, and twitch. Other podcasts are used to record in person, and in this case, the environment and microphone have a big role to play as they ensure that the record is professional and quality.
Microphones range in price from a few dozen dollars to hundreds and thousands of dollars. The goal of this article is to provide alternatives at three price points; $50, $50-$100, and under $200. The reason
This article will address about best affordable microphones for podcasting and factors to put into consideration in case you are interested in getting one for yourself. Without much ado, let's dig into microphone types for podcasts.
Why is a Good Podcasting Microphone Important To Have?
Podcasts are primarily audio-only, except for a few of them being recorded on video. Keeping this in mind when people are listening to podcasts it's an expectation to have great audio quality to have the best listener experience.
Also while people listen to podcasts they typically aren't using high end studio headphones. Because of this it's important to produce the best quality audio so your listeners can enjoy the best listening experience possible.
Depending on the microphone, high end microphones also give you more flexibility when it comes to recording and editing a podcast. While some will include small luxury like a built-in pop filter others may have different pickup patterns that are better suited for your situation. They give a more detailed sound and when editing in post-production it gives more freedom to get audio to where you would like it.
Should you choose a USB or XLR Microphone?
Microphones come in two different connections. These are XLR and USB connections, and both of them serve different purposes. A USB is a simple connection that plugs into a computer. This makes recording over zoom or onto a program like Audacity simple and easy. The audio is recorded right into your computer. Sometimes these microphones come with a few auxiliary controls to help adjust your gain.
Microphones that have an XLR connection also need an audio interface to get the sound out of the microphone.
There are two main types an audio interface that typically has a few buttons/switches to help modify audio, and then there are Mixers. Mixers are typically what you see on most podcasts recorded in a studio. They typically contain dozens of buttons/switches and levers to help control everything from the gain to the audio tones. It allows for much more flexibility however, there is a steeper learning curve.
Long story short, if you're recording on zoom or it's just you in a room, and you want something simple, a USB microphone is a great option. It's going to record your audio clearly and removes the need to go out and buy and learn additional equipment. This removes all headaches and shortest the learning curve to get started in a matter of minutes as opposed to hours. Be aware if you're trying to record two people on two USB microphones your computer will give you a hard time. Computers struggle with multiple audio inputs especially if they have a built-in microphone. I know this because of experience, when I first started and I went to try and record it was nothing but issues trying to record.
If you're looking to do a podcast with multiple speakers in the same room, you will want to get an XLR Microphone with a mixer. Think of a Joe Rogan style podcast. This gives you the most flexibility while recording your podcast. This isn't just because you will get better audio and more flexibility computers have a hard time with multiple audio inputs. This is exaggerated when you have two of the same USB microphone.
Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Microphone Podcast
Now that we have covered the types of connections microphones use, we need to cover a few other factors when choosing a microphone.
When you're looking at budget options, you can give and take in all categories. Typically cheaper microphones are a little more durable as opposed to higher-end microphones this is because they spend more money on making it feel high-end than using a high-end microphone. The trade-off is they don't sound as good. Now, most podcast listeners play shows when they drive. Myself included. Most people don't have high-end audio systems. Because of this, in many cases, a middle-of-the-road mic is great, and for more seasoned podcasters investing in a microphone may be a good thing.
Some microphones have additional features you may find appealing. While these are almost always found on USB microphones there are some exceptions with XLR microphones. These additional features can be built-in shock mounts, internal shock mounts, mic controls for gain, poler patterns and more. The goal is to get the right mic for podcasting that fits your needs.
What Kind of Audio Do You Want to Record
Knowing what you want to record is a huge part of choosing a microphone. Along with what you're recording but where you are recording will steer you in your decision. For many people, podcasts are typically conversational or interview style.
There are some exceptions. Knowing what you want to record will play a factor in choosing the right microphone. If you're doing live interviews at events you may want to go with a dynamic microphone for its durability and ability to handle louder environments. If you want to record in a secluded area where sound quality is the paramount objective then a condenser microphone for crisp clear audio may be the preferred method. Additionally, with podcasts covering a wide range of topics and ideas it's not uncommon for music to be playing, sound to be added, or you may want to capture the background noise to help tell the story.
The key is to know what kind of audio you want to record and pick the microphone that best suits your situation.
Location for Recording
Your location should suit the microphone. Know if you will be working indoors in a cool quiet environment or if you want to record outside where there can be background noise.
Keeping in mind the the polar sensitivity of the microphone you're likely to find some microphones having a directional pattern that enables the front part of the microphone to be more sensitive.
Other microphones are specifically for an omnidirectional patterns where they peak sound from the front and the peripheral. Consider whether you want to include or exclude environmental sounds.
Directional polar patterns such as shotgun or hypercardioid will work perfectly find if you want to record primary sounds in the outdoors with an environmental sound interface. You also want to choose the right type of microphone with the right polar pattern. For environments that are well-controlled like a studio or a room with soundproofing a condenser microphone will be a far better option. Knowing the environment you plan to record in, and choosing a microphone becomes much easier.
What Is a Microphone Polar Pattern?
In a typical audio system, a microphone's polar pattern describes the shape of its frequency response curve (FRC). This FRC in turn defines how much sound energy is picked up at any given frequency. For example, if the FRC has a peak around 500 Hz, this means that most of the sound energy will be picked up between 300 Hz and 700 Hz. If you have a high pass filter set at 100 Hz, then only sounds below 100 Hz will be allowed to enter your recording device.
This is a fancy way of saying, every microphone has a different type of pattern and can suite different needs based on what you're recording. USB Microphones can sometimes contain switches that will allow you to adjust or change the poler pattern on the fly giving your audio a different sound and your microphones more flexibility.
Author Top Pics For Best Budget Microphones At Each Budget
Best microphones under $50
The two best options for microphones under $50 are both USB. There are microphones on the market that do have XLR connection however, they aren't products I would recommend. See the under $100 area for XLR options.
This is one of two microphones that come to mind when someone asks for a microphone for under $50. The value per dollar on this microphone is simply amazing. A smaller microphone that can sit on your desk without being flashy is amazing. The sound produces a nice round sound with the ability to pick up the deeper and mid-tones of your voice. You will need room to have some level of sound treatment as it is a bit sensitive. There is a button on top to press to mute it, giving you a nice tactile feel and letting you know it's on mute.
Pros Small and professional looking and won't take a lot of desk space The amazing audio quality for the price USB plug and play
Cons Low to the desk and would benefit from a boom arm It helps to have some level of sound treatment, but everyone's situation and environment are different
My second favorite microphone under $50. It's a great quality microphone, and if you're someone who wants to avoid buying a boom stand down the road, this is a fantastic choice. It offers two different polar patterns allowing you to capture audio right in front and omnidirectional. The audio that this records tend to be a little flatter but allows for editing in the post and doesn't have as much processing as the HyperX Solocast. It comes with a base that will lift it to the right about in front of your mouth, removing the need for an additional boom. It feels a little cheaper, but the audio quality is fantastic for the size
Pros Plug and play No need for a boom Multiple polar patterns
Cons Can benefit from post processing Feels cheap
While this isn't a stand-alone microphone it's a fantastic mic. I know not everyone has access to standard USB ports, and others may want to be able to record on the go. The RodeSmartlav+ has incredible audio quality while being small and versatile. It can be connected to a computer and a cell phone to record on the go. I have tried several lavalier microphones across a variety of different prices, and this one far exceeds the competition for price. I would only recommend this if you're on the go or are looking for something small, easy to use, and hassle-free.
Pros Clips to your shirt so it won't move The great audio quality for the size of the mic Very portable Durable & Versatile
Cons Not a good option for recording podcasts with multiple people Not as good audio quality
This is my clear winner for a microphone under $100. This microphone has the ability to use XLR and USB connections allowing you to plug and play as well as work with an audio input like a mixer. In the box, they include everything you need with a stand, xlr cable, and USB cable, so no matter what you're doing it's ready. It has a great hand feel and is incredibly durable. I had four of these microphones for my podcast for well over four years, and they still continue to perform. The audio quality that it produces is amazing, and when utilizing the USB features you can plug 3.5mm headphones into the bottom of it. I can't say enough good things about this microphone. Also, if you're just getting started, this is a great microphone for beginners. This is because it allows you to alternate between USB and XLR connections based on your needs and recording setup.
Pros Great audio quality USB & XLR on the same microphone Durable
Cons A boom stand would help keep it higher than your face Best USB Microphone under $100
This is the best USB podcast mic you can buy for under $100. This is a condenser mic with a USB connection. Setting up and using this m is easy, produces high-quality sound, and it's a four-directional pattern mic, it goes for $99. This is another plug-and-play option but has a lot of processing done in the microphone, making most people who don't have a mixer sound significantly better. It comes with a small stand to help keep it off your desk. This mic comes with a variety of features as well that help set it apart. It offers four different polar patterns, volume control, and gains control, as well as a manual mute button.
Pros Great sound Tons of options to fit all needs Plug and play Mute Control
The rode Podmic is a clear winner for XLR microphones under $100. This mic is regularly compared against the legendary SM7B by Shure. This is a true professional podcasting microphone, and if you're looking to wow your audience with high-end audio, you can end your search here. It is a dynamic microphone and, when purchased, only comes with the microphone. The recording capabilities of this microphone are crystal clear, with a robust level of depth for a microphone. If you're doing a podcast with multiple people or using a mixer, this is the best option for you. Remember that you will need a mic stand as it only comes with the microphone.
Pros The best-sounding microphone under $100 Incredible audio quality Well built and feels premium Affordable price for quality
While tons of microphones are amazing, there are a few that would fit into a budget category without getting into the thousands of dollars. I have tested all the microphones on this list, and these are the best over $100 options without getting carried away.
One of the best podcast microphones that money can buy. With an average price of around $200, this microphone takes audio quality to the next level. This is getting into high-end microphones with sound quality that is unparalleled. The microphone provides a full natural tone of voice. It boasts an internal pop filter and a tight polar pattern to help reduce background noise. It's a microphone that, when you pick, you can tell its quality and will help take your podcast to the next level. It provides an XLR connection but makes voice recordings a work of art. This truly is a microphone for podcasting.
Pros Extremely well built Incredible audio Designed for podcasting and recording
It's a veteran USB microphone that brings versatility in spades. This is an extremely popular USB microphone that brings an incredible depth of voice and ease to use to record. If you speak to any podcaster, they know what the Blue Yeti is. The Blue Yeti has stood the stand of time, and for a podcaster that plans to record directly to a computer it's an incredible option. It features switches on the back to control poler patterns and a gain knob. While you might not have it, you can sound like you're in a professional studio. While it's over $100 I would consider this an affordable option and it is another true microphone for podcasting.
Pros Built-in stand Plug and play Amazing sound quality Well built
Cons Not really any you pay for what you get, and this is an incredibly versatile microphone
There isn't a podcaster out there who doesn't know what the SM7b is. It's used in the Joe Rogan experience, professional recording studios, radio talk shows, and more. This is the epitome of the best podcast microphone but for a steep price. It retails for $399 and has stood the test of time. The Shure SM7b has been around since 2001 and is still widely regarded as the best podcast microphone. It's ideal for close-talk applications such as radio, podcasting, and voiceovers. It has also been featured in numerous albums. While it's the most expensive microphone on this list, the audio recordings it can produce are incredible. It is hands down the perfect microphone for podcasting.
While I love this microphone it's important to understand there is quite a bit that you need to make it work. It doesn't require phantom power it does need a cloud lifter to increase the gain. It also needs a boom or stands as well. It shouldn't be an option if you're on a tight budget. This is the microphone you get when you have a full recording setup, and you plan to record a variety of vocals from female voices to the deepest of male voices. This is the most expensive option but far exceeds other every other microphone for less than $1000.
Pros It's the best microphone for podcasting incredible vocal recordings Professional sound quality Handles ambient noise well
Expensive Not a microphone for beginners Need extra equipment to make it work Not Beginner Friendly
Regardless of where you're at getting a good microphone for podcasting or anything else is a good idea. Regardless of price range there is a microphone that best suits you and your needs. There is a perfect microphone for you but if you're getting started its not recommended to break the bank. Get what you can reasonably afford. All the microphones on this list are going to do a great job. If you're just getting into podcasting then you need to check out my blog on how to start a podcast.