A good microphone needs two things: warm sound and versatile functionality for streaming. Although XLR microphones are typically the better choice for the former, the latest USB microphones are closing the gap each year because they excel in the latter. Because of these advancements, it’s important to know what mic to use for your streaming setup.
When choosing a microphone, you have to consider the polar patterns, the sampling rate, bit depth, and the condenser size — all of which influence the sound pickup of the microphone and the overall quality of the recording. It also can help you decide how you plan to record vocals and other sounds during a stream.
The best streaming microphones you can buy today
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Streaming newbies and professionals alike can agree that in addition to a great webcam, you need an equally impressive streaming microphone. Although it can be a little expensive, we recommend the Shure SM7B as our best overall streaming mic due to its excellent recording and audio quality and its great versatility when not being used to stream to Twitch or YouTube.
Looking for a less expensive option? The Blue Yeti X might be the peripheral you’re looking for. In addition to the premium quality build, it also offers simple plug-and-play connectivity. It also features easy-to-use software which makes it ideal for beginners and pros who want a no-fuss streaming setup. The Neat Bumblebee II is also a great choice that is both affordable, has a built-in pop filter, and high sampling rate –– all for under $100.
Even after years of new competitors, Shure’s SM7B is still considered by many to be the best of the best in vocal recording. Streamers from all over choose the mic for its warm clarity of voice in recordings, wide dynamic range, and optional additions.
The premium sound and features of the mic justify its price, but it may not be for new content creators. SM7B requires phantom power as it is an XLR microphone, and this means you’ll have to purchase a MixAmp to use the mic correctly. There are other barriers of entry into using the mic, but those willing to learn the ins and outs of this peripheral will discover what many others have about the SM7B.
The Blue Yeti is a tried-and-true classic microphone that professionals and newcomers can use with great ease of use. Its successor, the Yeti X, improves upon the Yeti’s offerings with LED lights and a slimmer body that’s more pleasing to the eye on the camera.
It still has that great sound found in the original Yeti, but it improves with a higher sample rate and bit depth. The better specs allow the mic to capture a more accurate sound recording. As a result, Yeti X has a warm sound that accentuates lower vocal registers and bassy notes.
The functionality of the Yeti X is almost identical to the Yeti, with four polar patterns and a physical gain knob with an LED ring. The LEDs act as a visual gain monitor for both the mic gain and headphone volume level, and LEDs also adorn the back displaying the four polar patterns.
All of the mic’s lights are customizable in the Blue Voice software available in the Logitech G Suite. The software lets you customize your sound output through processing effects and frequency tweaks. All of this comes in a $170 package, which is well worth the price.
See our full Blue Yeti X review.
Neat is a newer name in the audio space, but its creators are the same people that brought Blue microphones to prominence. Its first foray into the USB audio space was decent, but the Bumblebee II sounds just as good as the pricier options on this list at an entry-level price of $99.99.
Bumblebee II is a compact USB-C microphone that is as simple as plugging into a laptop or console to get started. It features one cardioid polar pattern, but it does so exceptionally well. Like Blue microphone condensers, this mic gives a warmer tone to voices. However, Neat’s condenser capsule captures clear sound due to its higher-than-average sampling rate of 96KHz. Anyone looking for a starter or extra microphone can’t go wrong with this one.
BEACN is one of the newest names in audio, but that doesn’t stop it from having a potential game-changer on its hands. The BEACN Mic is a USB-C cardioid microphone that delivers near XLR quality audio recordings. It has a studio-quality 24-bit/96KHz condenser that captures the best vocals we’ve used in a USB microphone. Yet, the microphone isn’t the only attractive thing about the BEACN Mic.
Along with its devices, the manufacturer has a proprietary software called the BEACN App with extensive customization options. High pass filters, normalizers, de-essers, noise suppression and much more are available for real-time adjustment in the app. You can also assign different profiles based. At $279, the BEACN Mic is among the best USB mics on the market in its raw form. With some more development time, the software can be a game-changer in the streaming audio space.
Razer’s recent Seiren V2 Pro is a solid microphone that blends in organically with the rest of the manufacturer’s product lineups, but this isn’t the most intuitive. Like BEACN’s software, you can use Razer Synapse software to tweak audio parameters to get the desired sound out of the mic. Though the software enables customizability, the mic itself is lacking.
The mic comes in a black pill shape, similar to the Blue Yeti and other USB microphones. On the front are two physical adjustment knobs and a mute button. However, the knobs spin infinitely, and a lack of LED gain meter prevents accurate leveling without the software. Otherwise, the Seiren V2 Pro is a solid choice as a streaming mic.
See our full Razer Seiren V2 Pro review.
HyperX Quadcast mics are perfect for those who want a mic with a wide variety of customization options and look great on stream. The standard Quadcast comes with red LEDs, while the QuadCast S is RGB LED-lit from the inside. Both use a large number of physical buttons for you to use during streams
These include the tap-to-mute button on top, the gain dial on the bottom, a polar pattern knob, pop filter, and shockmount. All of the features make it perfect for new streamers since many of them would cost extra in other microphones.
Quadcast also comes in an RGB light-covered Quadcast S version. Both have the same specs with a bit depth of 16 and a sampling rate of CD-quality 48KHz. While the specs may not make it the best-sounding mic on the list, its host of features help make it a work.
See our full HyperX Quadcast S review.