So you’ve decided to start a YouTube channel.
Or perhaps you’re already running one, but you’re looking to take things up a notch and upgrade your audio production level.
Whatever the case, you’re going to need a decent mic for YouTube.
You’re going to need the best microphone for YouTube. Why settle for anything less, right?
Problem is, there are a lot of great mics out there, many of them making suitable options for recording audio for YouTube, depending on what kind of content you’re creating, of course.
In this article, I’m going to review the 11 best mics for YouTube content creation, so you can decide which one is best for you.
But first, let’s clarify a few important factors when it comes to choosing a mic.
Choosing the best YouTube microphone
USB vs XLR
The first thing you need to consider is how your microphone is going to connect to your computer (assuming that’s what you’re going to record with).
There are two microphone options: USB and XLR.
XLR mics are the classic, and as yet, most commonly found type of microphone for professional audio recording.
The microphones have a three-pronged, analog audio output, which can’t talk directly to your computer. That’s because your computer speaks digital.
So, to connect an XLR mic to your laptop or iOS device, you’re going to need a USB audio interface. These devices take the analog signal, turn it into a digital one, and then plumb it into your computer via USB.
The other option is a little simpler, the USB mic.
These microphones basically have an analog to digital converter built-in, so the output of the mic is USB, and can connect directly to the computer without the need for an interface.
On the whole, USB microphones are easier (because of that plug-and-play design), but they tend to be aimed more at the consumer market rather than the pro audio arena.
For that reason, XLR mics tend to be, pound for pound, better quality units than their USB counterparts. Of course, it depends on the specific mics you’re comparing, and as usual the adage ‘you get what you pay for’ applies.
Condenser vs dynamic
USB and XLR isn’t the only decision you’ll need to make, though.
These two terms refer to the way that the internals of the mic convert sound energy into electrical energy, but the two styles also have an impact on the tone of your recordings.
The main difference is that condenser mics are much more sensitive, so they tend to pick up a lot more background noise, but they also give you more detail, particularly in the top end.
For that reason, condenser mics are excellent choices when recording in a well-treated room (like a recording studio), and work well on pretty much all instruments, including vocals.
If you’re working in a room that isn’t particularly well-treated (such as your home), then a dynamic microphone might be a better choice, as it is going to be more focused on your voice, and less likely to pick up unwanted room and background noise.
Common sense seems to dictate that when you point a mic at something, that’s what it picks up.
Though this is mostly true, it’s only because most microphones use this kind of polar pattern (called the cardioid polar pattern).
In fact, there are a few other polar patterns (which is a microphone’s sensitivity to sound with regard to directions) that you’ll find on different mics.
Let’s look at the main ones:
- Cardioid – picks up sound from the front, a little from the sides, and not from the back
- Omnidirectional – picks up sound equally from all directions
- Figure-8 or bidirectional – picks up sound from the front and back but not the sides
- Supercardioid and hypercardioid – more intense versions of the cardioid pattern, with a stronger rejection of the sides, but with a little bit of a rear bulb of sensitivity due to the way the mic capsule is constructed.
In most cases, especially most speech-related applications, you’ll want a cardioid mic.
Omni mics, though, can be good to pop in the center of a group of people, allowing everyone to be heard equally.
Figure-8 polar patterns can be helpful for recording two people at the same time, like a one on one interview.
Then, you’ve got multi-pattern mics, which allow you to switch between different polar patterns depending on the situation you’re in.
Some microphones are big, bulky, and kind of heavy. Not to mention sensitive, which means they need to be lugged around in even bigger, bulkier, heavier cases.
This doesn’t make for a lot of portability.
This makes sense when you consider those mics are mostly made for use inside the studio, rather than for taking on the road.
If you’re going to be shooting YouTube videos only in-studio (for example some form of consumer equipment review channel), then this probably won’t be an issue.
If, however, the content you plan to create will involve you moving from destination to destination, such as a travel vlog or documentary style channel, then you’ll want a mic that offers a bit more portabliltiy.
We’ve got a few of each in this article, just make sure you pay attention to the size, weight, and sensitivity of each mic we review.
Lastly, you should consider what kinds of accessories you need from a microphone, and whether the mic you’re looking at buying comes with them or not.
If not, you can pretty much always buy them separately, but you’ll need to factor this into your budget.
Such accessories include:
- XLR cables
- Shock mount
- Bags and cases
- Pop filters
- Mic clips
Okay, let’s get started.
Best USB microphone for YouTube: Rode NT-USB
I honestly cannot get enough of Rode mics.
The first thing about them is that they are so stupidly affordable. I mean, there are cheaper alternatives, for sure, but in my opinion, the price point Rode mics represent for each style of microphone represents more or less than the minimum you need to pay for a pro-quality mic, for that category.
That is, if a large-diaphragm condenser mic from Rode costs $250, that the majority of LDC mic at that price point isn’t what I’d consider ‘pro’ quality.
Here’s the thing, though:
A $250 mic from Rode tends to be equivalent to a $400-500 mic from other manufacturers.
That’s what so damn good about them.
Okay, enough about Rode, let’s look at the NT-USB itself.
The Rode NT-USB is, as you’ve probably gathered, a studio-quality USB microphone.
It’s a large-diaphragm condenser mic, meaning it’s capable of picking up sound right across the frequency spectrum and is also super sensitive.
That means you’ll want to use it in a treated room, or in an environment where you can be sure there isn’t going to be a lot of background noise going on.
The mic offers a fixed cardioid polar pattern and has a frequency response that is mostly flat, other than a big, smooth presence boost in the 6kHz range, and a gently sloping off of the low frequencies below 100Hz.
This gives the NT-USB a fairly refined tone that is still quite forward, great for speech reproduction and for recording most kinds of YouTube videos.
It ships with a handy desktop tripod stand, so if you’re recording YouTube vids at a desk, you won’t need another stand. However, you can still attach the NT-USB to a regular microphone stand if you want to.
You’ll find two knobs on the side; one for controlling the volume of the headphone output (yep, it’s got one of those), and one for controlling the mix between your mic input and the computer output.
This allows for zero-latency monitoring of the input signal – ideal for podcasting and YouTube production.
On the whole, this is a seriously capable mic, despite the reasonable price tag, and is hands down the best USB mic for YouTube.
Best cheap USB mic for YouTube: Blue Snowball
You can’t talk USB mics without talking Blue microphones.
I mean, personally, I’m more of a fan of their pro-quality XLR mics than I am their USB range, which tends to be a bit more consumer-focused.
But then again, we’re talking about the best cheap USB mic for YouTube, and if we’re talking cheap USB mics, we’re talking Blue.
Okay, so what’s cool about the Snowball?
Let’s look at five fast reasons this is an epic microphone:
- It comes with a desktop tripod stand (removable)
- It’s a multipattern condenser (omni, cardioid, cardioid with -10dB pad)
- It comes in three colors (white, black, chrome)
- It offers reasonably good sound for an affordable price
- It is very mid-focused, which enhances speech intelligibility
The Snowball is also very light and super portable, but most importantly, it’s only $70 or so.
This allows you to get into the YouTube game without investing too much of that hard-earned cash.
Plus, it comes with a 2-year warranty, so what could go wrong?
Best dynamic XLR microphone for YouTube: Shure SM7B
So, we’ve covered the best USB mics, let’s now turn our attention to their old-school counterparts, the XLR microphones.
I say old-school, but in reality, these are still the most popular type of mic.
And the best of the best, in my humble opinion, is the Shure SM7B.
It’s a large-diaphragm dynamic mic (somewhat rare in nature) and is designed specifically for broadcasting duties.
That means it is going to sound great as your YouTube mic.
- It isn’t very sensitive at all, so it won’t pick up a lot of background noise
- It comes with two types of windscreen
- It has a handy, flexible swivel-mount
- A low-cut switch allows you to get unwanted rumble out of the way
- A switchable presence boost brings vocals to the forefront
This dynamic mic is used by tonnes of professional broadcasters, podcasters, and YouTubers alike, including our lord and savior Joe Rogan.
Not only that but it’s been used on countless records for vocal duties, by artists such as Michael Jackson and Red Hot Chili Peppers. So yeah, it sounds pretty damn good.
One thing to bear in mind, though, is that the output of the SM7B isn’t super sensitive. In fact, this mic needs at least 60dB of gain, which many consumer audio interfaces don’t deliver.
So, if you’re considering buying this mic (which I couldn’t recommend more), make sure you have an external preamp that can give this guy the juice it deserves.
Best condenser XLR microphone for YouTube: Rode NT1-A
If your room is treated well enough, or you’re recording in a super quiet environment where background noise is never going to be an issue, then you might consider purchasing a condenser microphone.
And if you’re looking at condensers, then look no further than the NT1-A.
Yes, there are more expensive mics with more features and switches on them, but the NT1-A is the perfect balance between function, sound, and cost.
This mic, like the NT-USB we looked at earlier, is crazy affordable, considering how good it sounds.
First of all, the NT1-A has, for years, been touted as the world’s quietest mic, with an incredibly low self-noise of just 5dBA.
Don’t mistake this for its sensitivity though, it will still pick up plenty of room noise in an untreated room. It’s just that you won’t get a lot of hiss from the mic itself.
It ships with a perfectly crafted shock mount to keep the mic isolated from acoustic vibrations (knocks and bumps), as well as an XLR cable and a pop filter.
That pop filter is super helpful, as it allows you to keep the mic capsule free from ugly plosives (P and B sounds).
Overall, the sound of the mic is bright and present, with some significant lifts in the upper mid-range. Some find it a little harsh in the top-end, whereas others appreciate the forwardness of the mic, as it allows vocals to cut through in a dense mix.
Either way, it’s a seriously sturdy mic that will go the distance, and Rode guarantees this with a 10-year manufacturer’s warranty.
Best multi-pattern microphone for YouTube: HyperX QuadCast
A challenge many of us face is that a lot of microphones come with just one polar pattern.
This is fine for most studio audio engineers, as you’ll probably have a whole closet of mics to pick and choose from depending on the situation.
However, if you;re looking for the best mic for your new YouTube channel, then you probably only want to buy one microphone, and you’ll want one that’s super versatile.
In short, you’ll want a multi-pattern microphone, like the HyperX QuadCast.
This cool little mic is designed for YouTube and gaming steamers, and features 4 different polar patterns (hence the name).
This allows you to record one person, two people, or a whole room, and even use the QuadCast to capture stereo sound, helpful for recording music beds or music demos.
If you’re expecting your mic to be in shot when recording YouTube videos, then the QuadCast can be a good choice as it has programmable LED lights inside it so you can light up the place in whatever color you choose.
You’ll also notice a tap to mute button (great for gamers), and an easy to manipulate gain control on the bottom.
It’s a USB mic, so it connects to your computer easily, and even has a dedicated headphone output on a 3.5mm audio jack.
Lastly, the HyperX QuadCast ships with a custom-designed shock mount to keep the mic capsule stable and isolated from acoustic interference.
The mic can be mounted to a regular mic stand, or to the desktop stand that is included, so you’ve got a world of possibility when you buy the HyperX QuadCast.
Best microphone for YouTube gaming: Razer Seiren X
Looking to start a YouTube channel to show the world how great you are at Minecraft or Call of Duty?
Then you’re going to need the Razer Seiren X by your side…
It’s a USB mic, available in a stunning dark black, but also in white and pink, so there are options for all kinds of streamers.
The design is pretty simple, with a super precise supercardioid polar pattern, a headphone output, and a volume control on the front, as well as a press to mute button.
The frequency response is relatively flat throughout, tapering off on either side of the frequency spectrum.
Perhaps what makes the Razer Seiren X the best microphone for YouTube gaming is the precision of the pickup pattern.
Being a super cardioid mic, it’s even less likely to pick up sounds from the sides, targeting only what you point it directly at (probably your mouth).
It’s small enough to be quite portable, so you can stream from anywhere, and ships with a handy little desktop stand so you don’t need to lug around a seperate mic stand. Awesome!
Best microphone for podcasting: ElectroVoice RE20
The ElectroVoice RE20 is probably the main competitor to the Shure SM7B we took a look at earlier, and while either makes for a great podcasting or broadcasting mic, the RE20 just has something special about it.
That something special is probably owing to the microphone’s Variable-D design, which helps reduce off-axis coloration and ensures that if you move a little bit while speaking, your voice won’t sound too weird.
This weirdness is a typical by-product of cardioid microphones, so it’s actually pretty cool that the RE20 manages to achieve this.
The ElectroVoice RE20 is a large-diaphragm condenser mic, just like the SM7B, though it is a little more sensitive and can generally be used without a high-gain preamp in front of your interface, making it a bit more accessible for most podcasters.
For that reason, among many others, it’s been a popular choice for radio stations and on-air DJs for years.
Despite being a dynamic microphone, it happens to have condenser-like performance, with a wide frequency response that reaches right up to 18kHz.
The response overall of the mic is fairly flat, with some subtle bumps in the upper mids for a bit of clarity and forwardness in the voice.
If you’re going to get the ElectroVoice RE20, then I’d recommend grabbing the broadcast style mount for it as well, also provided by ElectroVoice.
Best lavalier microphone for YouTube: Rode SmartLav+
Sometimes, when you’re filming YouTube videos, you don’t actually want a big mic in front of your face.
Though for many review and storytime type channels, this has become a bit of a trendy aesthetic, for other types, you’re looking for something a little more subtle.
When that’s the case, you’re going to want a lavalier mic.
Lavalier mics (also known as lav or lapel mics) are tiny condensers that clip onto your tie, collar, or shirt, and then attach to a mic pack on your belt or pocket.
And the best of the best, when it comes to YouTube production, is the Rode SmartLav+.
This handy little guy is an omnidirectional condenser mic that is nice and sensitive, and doesn’t have any specific sensitivity to direction, meaning if the mic moves a little bit while it’s attached to your shirt (or you do), it’s not going to make a huge difference.
Here’s what you’ll need to know about the Rode SmartLav+:
- It’s a 4.5mm mini mic
- It’s compatible with Apple and Android devices, though you’ll need a Lightning adaptor for modern iPhones
- It connectors via 3.5mm audio connector
- It comes with a 2-year warranty
- It costs less than a hundred bucks
- Shops with a foam windshield
- The Kevlar® reinforced cable is built to last
I think you can agree, this is not only a seriously capable mic, but an affordable one too.
Best microphone for YouTube vlogging: Rode VideoMic Pro+
Oh look, it’s another mic from Rode!
I told you they make mics that are absolute market-toppers, right?
So, what’s so awesome about the Rode VideoMic Pro+, and what makes it the best microphone for YouTube vloggers?
- Rycote Lyre shock mount
- Foam windscreen
- Insanely accurate and far reaching polar pattern
- Runs on USB power, AA batteries, or rechargeable lithium battery
- Ships with LB-1 Lithium-Ion Rechargeable Battery
- Connects via USB or 3.5mm audio connector
- Digital switching for long-term functionality
- 10-year warranty provided by Rode
The shock mount this guy ships with is a pretty epic feature, as it keeps the mic super stable when it’s mounted atop your DSLR camera.
That means you can run around shooting video and audio all day, and the Rode VideoMic Pro+ isn’t going to pick up a bunch of rumbling and tumbling from you handling that camera. Nice!
Best waterproof microphone for YouTube videos: Instamic Pro
The Instamic Pro is an insanely cool microphone, not least because it’s waterproof up to a metre deep for 30mins (though this is pretty impressive).
This is a seriously compact microphone. Check out the dimensions: 1.5 x 1 x 0.5 inches. And it only weighs 18 grams!
You could easily fit several of these in your pocket.
And there’d be good reason to, considering you can connect and control several of them from a single mobile app.
Yep, the Instamic Pro connects via Bluetooth, and has it’s very own app to control it with.
There’s more to it than that though. Here’s why I seriously love this little mic:
- Soft-touch finish is super grippy
- 1-year warranty
- Stereo version has 6 mics inside
- Can record in mono or stereo
- 8/16 hours of recording time on internal storage (depending on stereo or mono), or you can record to your phone
- Records at 24bit and up to 96kHz
- Battery lasts for 3 hours and only tackles an hour to fully charge
- Mic body itself has built-in LEDs to display input gain and battery level
- 3 mounting options: velcro, magnet, and tap
Plus, this is quite an affordable little microphone, all things considered, so much so that you could probably grab a few and have yourself a completely mic’d up video set.
Best portable microphone for YouTube: Samson Go Mic
Last on our list is the Samson Go Mic, which is so small and light it can’t not be the best portable microphone for YouTube video creators.
This mic manages to pack in a bunch of different features, like having a stand and clip built right into the body.
Yep, you can fold it out and have this microphone sitting right there on your desk, or you can clip it onto the top of your laptop screen and record YouTube videos with it sitting right there.
Not only is this super handy, but it means the mic is always pointing right at your mouth, so you’re capturing your voice perfectly.
However, you can also use the Samson Go Mic with a regular mic stand, if you so desire.
It’s a USB mic, so it’s compatible with pretty much any laptop that also has USB (like, all of them), and has two polar patterns: cardioid and omnidirectional.
I would use the cardioid mode if recording YouTube videos on my one, and the omni mode to pick up a group of people talking at once.
There’s also a -10dB pad available to trim back loud sound sources, and a 3.5mm headphone output.
This might not be the most stunning sounding mic (not that it’s bad, by any means), but it’s sure as heck the most portable, fitting into your back pocket with ease.
Well, that’s it!
The 11 best microphones for YouTube content creation, tested and reviewed right here so you can choose the ideal mic for whatever kind of channel you’re creating.
Whichever one you decide to go for, just don’t make the mistake that many would be YouTubers do: spending months deciding what gear to buy and then never actually pulling the trigger and getting something.
Your creativity deserves to be out there, and you deserve to live out your dream of being a content creating genius!