Your podcast microphone is the most important piece of equipment for your podcast.
It is your magic wand, turning your voice into episode gold. The only question is which is the right one for you. 🧙
You could go to a wand shop… I mean microphone shop… to see if one literally jumps out at you
You could read the rest of this blog post where we list our recommendations. 😄
But before we get into specific microphones, let’s first go over some of the terminology you are going to see as you look at podcast mics. ⬇️
Key Podcast Microphone Terms
Here are some key terms that will really help you when sorting through podcast mics to choose the best one for your show.
Dynamic Podcast Microphone
Dynamic mics use a magnetic coil to change the sound waves of your voice into an electrical signal to be recorded. 🧲
There are two different ways that dynamic mics are not sensitive microphones. First, it is pretty hardy. It can get bounced around a little and not break. Second, it does not pick up faint noises or super nuanced audio. 👂
Condenser Podcast Microphone
A condenser mic uses an electronically charged diaphragm to change the sound waves of your voice into an electrical signal to be recorded. ⚡
In these kinds of podcast mics, the diaphragm needs to be electrically charged. That means a condenser mic needs a little bit of an electrical input from a music board or podcast mixer. This is what the industry calls “phantom power.” A XLR cable or USB cord can carry this electricity when plugged into a microphone.
Because of the diaphragm structure, condenser microphones are sensitive in the same way dynamic microphones are not. Condenser microphones are somewhat fragile. It is best to leave them in the safety of a studio. They also pick up small sounds and nuances of audio. This makes them really high quality recorders. 🏆
You may think you know what a USB cable is, but with all the recent versions, it can help to have a refresher. You do not want to buy USB microphones or USB cords and realize afterward that they are not the exact kind of USB connection you need. 😳
There are different types of USB connection, so you need to make sure you get the right one base on what shape your USB mics will receive. There are two things to check: The shape and the capabilities. 👯
The shape types are: A, Micro A, Mini A, B, Micro B, Mini B, and C. Remember, you need to think about if the plugs are male and female too. A male plug sticks into into a female plug. Some cords have two male plugs, some have two female plugs, and some have one male and one female.
The capabilities are versions 1.1, 2.0, 3.2, and 4. The lower the version number, the lower the capability. The version/capability refers to how fast the cable can transfer data and/or energy. 🏃
The latest and best USB cable is a USB 4 2.0 Type C. This USB connection conducts electricity and data at a transmission rate of 80Gbps. Look for these when buying USB microphones.
This connection cable is less familiar to most people. But if you have done any professional work in audio, you definitely know it. This cable can carry high-quality audio for long distances without picking up noise and without losing any quality. The XLR cable also carries electricity to power condenser microphones. Sometimes you will see a mic called an “XLR microphone” and that just means it uses an XLR cable. 💁♀️
Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
A digital audio workstation is software that receives audio recordings, processing them to be usable files for editing and publishing. In most cases, your microphone will feed right into a DAW. Sometimes microphones (especially USB mics) even come with their own very simple DAW. There are free DAWs, GarageBand being on of the most well known. Here is a full list of options for podcast recording software. 🎸
Podcast Microphone Directionalities
Microphone directionality, also known as a polar pattern, describe how a microphone will pick sounds around it. 📍
- Omni Directional: The microphone picks up noise all around it in equally. This makes it good for capturing podcast formats that involve group discussions, though you should watch out for background noise.
- Bi-Directional: The microphone picks up sound directly in front of it and directly behind it. If you only have one microphone and you may be recording one-on-one with people, this mic option might be the best for you. Otherwise,it is usually used for instruments.
- Uni-Directional (also know as Cardioid Directional): The microphone only picks up the sounds in front of it. These are the most common kinds of podcast microphones and for good reason– they pick up the speaker’s voice and not much other noise, including other speaker’s voices. This is critical for clean audio!
- Super Cardioid: The microphone picks up even less noise in front of it. Rather than capturing a full 180 degrees, it narrows down to 115 degrees.
- Hyper Cardioid: The microphone picks EVEN LESS noise in front of it, only capturing the central 105 degrees in front of it.
A pop filter is a physical mesh or metal shield for the microphone. It helps eliminate hisses and pops that often get recorded when we say words with an ‘s’ or a ‘p.’
To appreciate the problem, just put your hand in front of your mouth and say “Pop”. You’ll feel a hot, dry puff of air, and this is what can damage your recording! 👀
A pop filter solves this problem and doesn’t require a big budget. Some times you have to buy a pop filter separately, but sometimes it comes built in. It is usually a must for podcast mics.
A shock mount suspends a podcast microphone in the air with elastics so it does not pick up vibrations from the mic stand it is sitting on. It can be built into a microphone body, but it is also offered as an accessory for podcast mics. 😊
You will see the term “plug-in-play” a lot in microphone descriptions (especially USB mics). It means that you do not need a driver to make it work. A driver is a software that helps connect hardware to a computer and interact with it. So “plug-n-play” means you just plug it in and it automatically works with a computer. 💻
A boom arm is a professional piece of audio equipment that holds the microphone. Usually the boom arm attaches to a recording table or it may be held by a stand. You can learn more about these in our blog post about mic stands.
Best Podcast Microphones
This guide is adapted to your needs, meaning the podcast mics are sorted according to various scenarios: indoor recording, outdoor recording, budget, supplemental equipment needed, etc. Decide which scenario fits you best and go for it! 🏃♀️
Scenario 1: You’re looking for a podcast microphone for recording your show at home
You’re at home, and you want to record your voice with a microphone set up for the occasion in your living room, office, bedroom (or your bedroom/living room/kitchen/bathroom for those who live in New York). The room in which you’re recording has no particular acoustic treatments and causes (slight) echoes, your windows allow city noises to pass through and your walls are so thin, you can hear your neighbors’ snoring, etc. In short, you need a microphone that’ll not only record your voice, but that will limit pesky sounds and background noise!
The ideal solution for you is a one of the USB microphones, since you won’t need any extra equipment. A computer, your microphone (an anti-pop filter), and then everything is good to begin recording.
Our favorite: Audio Technica ATR2100X-USB 💜
This Audio Technica dynamic microphone comes with a USB-C digital output and XLR analog output (the best of both worlds). It also has a headphone jack. In terms of digital recording, it can be used with a PC or a Mac. This podcasting and streaming Audio Technica microphone is made from metal and will last longer than its plastic counterparts. It is a handheld model, but it is often sold with a stand. The microphone is uni-directional with a 120 degree cardioid pattern to reduce background noise. It’s extremely versatile and its price/performance ratio is among the best. You can get the Audio Technica mic for $99 anytime, but you might find better deals on some marketplaces like Amazon.
The great classic: Blue Yeti 👣
It’s quite normal that this microphone regularly tops the rankings of podcast mics. You can control a lot of recording features directly on the microphone: Headphone volume, microphone gain, mute button, and more. It uses a USB cable.
It is plug-n-play with both Macs and PCs. This podcast microphone comes with sturdy little stand, weighing in at 2.2lbs.
Ever so stylish, it comes in black, blue, and silver.
Its $130 price tag is easily justified by Blue Microphones’ triple-capsule technology, which gives you a choice of four distinct directional modes: cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional and stereo.
For smaller budgets: the Samson Go Mic 💸
This small podcast microphone folds and includes a carrying case which doubles as small stand. It can also be attached directly to your laptop… This is the least unwieldy microphone you’ll find!
You can easily travel with this microphone and record your podcast in any situation, but be careful. If you try to use it in a space with a lot of background noise, like in a restaurant… Your recording may be too low quality to be used. It is a condenser mic so it will pick up everything!
It has two patterns: cardioid and omnidirectional. The headphone jack means you can monitor the recording live.
You can plug-and-play it on either Mac or PC without the need for any drivers.
It costs $49.99
Scenario 2: A podcast microphone for recording your show in your studio
Are you looking to create a space dedicated to recording your podcasts and/or your other audiovisual productions? Do you have nice acoustic panels which allow you to improve the natural acoustics of your room? Maybe even a mic stand that allows you perfectly place your microphone? Then your microphone can be more sensitive than in Scenario 1, and you’ll be able to record the nuances of your voice with more finesse.
The following mics command a bigger budget and will require you to get an external sound card such as a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 ($180), but this is the best equipment you’ll find for recording and streaming your podcasts.
The Shure SM7B podcast microphone will take your podcast directly to the big leagues in terms of sound quality. The budget is much higher (approximately $399), but the quality of your voice recording will be perfect for your podcast. With a Shure SM7B microphone, post-production is extremely simple!
This podcast microphone comes with a pop filter and a windscreen to eliminate unwanted sounds. The Shure SM7B features a cardioid recording pattern, only capturing what is in front of it. This microphone has an XLR connector, not a USB one.
The Shure SM7B can be found in the best podcasting studios in the world. Its air suspension shockproof insulation and pop filter eliminate both mechanical and breathing noises… In concrete terms, your words will be recorded, and nothing else will be in your audio mix! The good life!
The classic podcasting and radio mic: Rode ProCaster 👊
This microphone is very often used in radio and dubbing studios and for professional podcasting. It has a very narrow cardioid directionality and a bandwidth that’s optimized for voice. It also features a built in pop filter. As such, it’s more than suitable for podcasting, since it perfectly eliminates unwanted noise. Excellent sound quality.
Surprisingly, it is dynamic microphone, not often seen at this high level of a microphone.
For approximately $230, you’ll be well-equipped to record your episodes. Plus it comes with a ten year warranty.
The pro option for less than $100: the PodMic
The PodMic another Rode product. It is a professional-quality, dynamic microphone that’s optimized for podcasting. It produces a rich sound and has an internal pop filter to minimize plosives. Thanks to its internal suspension, it also reduces vibrations. Solid sound quality.
It’s equipped a metal body and comes with a 3 year warranty.
Scenario 3: A podcast microphone for recording your show outdoors
Does your podcast need to be recorded outdoors? You’ll need to adjust your equipment accordingly. You’ll need a microphone designed for outdoor recording and a suitable windshield. A windshield is a bit like a pop filter. It protects your microphone and improves the recording quality. Outside, your microphone can be negatively affected by the wind, your movements or the movements of your guests… The windshield limits their impact and is therefore essential for some microphones in this scenario.
The Reporter is a handheld microphone with a dynamic omnidirectional capsule. It offers great freedom to users since they’re no longer limited by the restrictions of directional microphones which must be held directly in front of the speaker’s mouth. It’s designed to maximize speech intelligibility, and its innovative multi-layer grille protects the capsule from ambient noise and often eliminates the need for a bulky windshield. With a price of about $130, you can record your podcasts outdoors with no worries! Plus it comes with a ten year warranty!
The all-terrain microphone of the pros: the Sennheiser MD 46
The high-quality MD 46 cardioid dynamic microphone ($200) is designed for use in live reporting and broadcasting. Its design also avoids noises from the wind and from handling. This is a XLR microphone (it uses an XLR connection).
Ergonomically, it has a nice long handle with good balance.
With this sturdy microphone, you can focus on what matters while you are out in the field.
The lapel mic: the SmartLav+ 👔
The smartLav+ Rode mic is a professional grade microphone for wearing on your person. It’s perfect for recording yourself or your guests outdoors. A little bonus: It’s very discrete if you decide to accompany your recording with a video! Keep an eye on the folds of your clothes to limit the noise caused by your movements!
It has a TRRS connector rather than an XLR or USB. With the TRRS connection, you can plug it straight into a smart phone for recording. The cable itself is reinforced with Kevlar, which makes it durable and high-quality.
This clip-on microphone features omnidirectional recording, and has a built in pop filter.
This Rode microphone costs $79.99.
And there you have it! Whether you want to record your podcast in your room, your home studio or on location, you now know which one of these podcast mics to use! Of course, this list is non-exhaustive, and many other microphones can also meet your sound quality needs… So feel free to continue your search in choosing the best podcast microphone! 🕵️♂️
I invite you to go read our article, How to Create Your First Podcast, to learn about the steps you need to take in order to get started! In the meantime, I hope I’ve managed to shed some light on this subject 🏮🕵️
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