- Our choice for the #1 Best Overall Podcast Microphone is the Shure MV7.
- The podcast industry has a market size of about 23.56 billion and comprises nearly 500 million different podcasts.
- When you’re shopping for the best microphones for podcasting, keep the following criterion in mind: type of microphone (condenser vs dynamic), type of hookup (XLR vs USB), and type of pickup (omnidirectional vs directional).
If you’re new to the podcasting game, you might think that a microphone is just a microphone. Of course, if you wound up here, you’re probably starting to realize that isn’t the case. There are microphones for music recording, live performances, film and video production, and any other possible use you can imagine. However, which are best specifically for podcasting?
Depending on your recording situation, a dynamic mic might be better than a condenser. The condenser will pick up more vocal frequencies but also more background noise. If you record in a controlled environment, go with the condenser. If you know you’ll be contending with background noise, consider a dynamic.
The same consideration is basically made for omnidirectional vs. directional/cardioid. The omnidirectional will, as a general rule, pick up more. This could be a good or a bad thing depending upon your situation. If you record with a partner and are in the same room, definitely consider a cardioid to avoid sound bleeding. If you’re by yourself in a controlled situation, an omnidirectional can provide a nice sound. After reviewing numerous options, our ranking for the best podcasting microphones are:
Best Overall: Shure MV7
The Shure MV7 tops our list for several reasons, but high among them are the build, quality, and reliability. Shure is one of those companies that has a reputation for dependable equipment. Some of you may know the ubiquitous SM58, and if you don’t, you have no doubt seen one without realizing it. That particular model of Shure became the staple for live entertainment. However, the company isn’t resting on its laurels. They’ve turned out a pretty solid podcasting mic in the MV7.
One of our favorite features of this microphone is the fact that it has hookups for both XLR and USB. That’s great news for beginners, especially those on a budget. You can purchase this quality mic and use it with no hookups beyond your computer or laptop. Then, as you’re ready to invest in equipment again, you can pick up an interface, but you won’t need to upgrade your mic along with it. It’s compatible with both Windows and MacOS, so you can basically start recording audio straight out of the box. The MV7 is also compatible with Shure’s MOTIV app, which allows users to clean up recording files in real time.
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|The sturdy build provides a level of durability not found in a lot of podcasting mics.||Its heavy chassis isn’t suitable for all mic stands and isn’t very portable.|
|It has both XLR and USB connectors, making it a good investment for beginners.||The price point is fairly high making it out of reach for some beginners.|
|It is compatible with Windows and MacOS. Also comes with an app to help beginners. It’s a pro mic that a new podcaster can grow into over time.||This high-quality mic requires a bit of understanding of the basics. It has plug-and-play features but is still a professional piece of equipment.|
Best for Beginners: Blue Yeti
- Features flexible cardioid, omnidirectional, bidirectional, and stereo pickup patterns
- Adjustable desktop stand lets you shift the mic to the source of the sound
- Audio controls on the mic allow you to control all aspects of the recording process
- Plug and play with both Mac and PC
The Blue Yeti has become a staple of things like Twitch streams and YouTube channels for a reason. It’s a user-friendly USB microphone with decent output. At the time of its debut, most USB mics on the market were little more than a novelty for personal use. Blue changed all that with the Yeti. Now there was a USB mic with high-quality input and many features. Finally, there was a mic fit for the prosumer market.
The Yeti is also incredibly versatile as far as polar patterns are concerned. You can switch between cardioid, bidirectional and omnidirectional. This basically means if you are recording just yourself, you can use the cardioid, if you have a partner or an interviewee, you can switch it to bidirectional and use one mic, and if you have a group you can switch on the omni. It’s like buying 3 different mics in one. Although, in our experience, any kind of gear that has multiple functions never does the job quite as well as a piece with one function.
Another nice feature of the Yeti is the 3.5-inch headphone jack built into the body. You can actually plug your headphones straight into the mic and monitor the sound in real time. Anyone who has ever been bothered by latency will love this feature. But maybe the best thing about this microphone is the price point. Blue claims they have sold millions of the Yeti, and the way this mic provides pro quality at an amateur price, it’s easy to understand why so many have been sold.
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|It has a very affordable price point that is perfect for beginners and part-time podcasters.||This mic only has a USB hookup. It will have to be replaced if the podcaster invests in an interface.|
|The mic has multiple polar patterns, basically like purchasing three mics in one.||The 16-bit audio resolution limits its uses to podcasts. Most musicians and audio engineers prefer 24-bit.|
|It has a sturdy build.||It’s heavy.|
Best Podcast-Only Mic: Rode Podcaster
- Dynamic USB microphone
- Contains 28mm neodymium capsule
- 3.5mm built-in jack allows for direct monitoring via headphones
- Built-in shock mount and pop filter
- Sturdy build with a solid casing
The Rode Podcaster is specifically marketed as a broadcast microphone. This means that it is unmatched in recording people talking, but tends to fall a little short if you ask it to do anything else. The Podcaster contains a 28mm neodymium capsule which gives it a rich, dulcet sound that rivals mics twice its price. It’s a dynamic USB mic that sounds like an old-school ribbon mic. A very odd combo, but one that is very vocal-friendly. It’s ideal for the calm, confident tone of an engaging podcaster.
Much like the Yeti, the Podcaster features a 3.5mm jack built into the casing which allows for direct monitoring via headphones. The casing is solid and painted in a unique glossy white. It contains a shock mount and a pop filter, both built into the microphone itself. This is nice because it can save you from needing to buy too many accessories. In our experience, the equipment is a big investment, and the accessories can add up and be just as big over time. On that note, you will need to invest in a stand or a boom arm because the Podster is an end-address mic, meaning the user needs to point it directly at themselves.
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|The mic is perfect for vocals. It will give that ideal “podcast sound.”||It is not very useful if you ever need to record music or other sound effects.|
|It has a built-in shock mount and pop filter.||A stand or boom is required.|
|The mic is well-built with a solid casing.||The mic is USB only.|
How to Pick the Best Microphone for Podcasting: Step-by-Step
Choosing a podcasting mic involves four basic considerations for the average buyer:
- Microphone Type (Condenser vs Dynamic)
- Polar Pattern (Omnidirectional vs Directional).
- Hookup Type (XLR vs USB)
Let’s review each of these considerations in more detail.
There are three basic types of microphones: condenser, dynamic, and ribbon. In essence, a microphone converts sound waves into electrical signals. The three different microphones do that essential function in slightly different ways. Condenser microphones typically have a free-moving metal diaphragm attached to a static metal plate. As soundwaves hit the diaphragm the movement caused creates an electrical charge that’s similar to the original sound waves. Condensers are great at capturing high-frequency audio, making them a good choice for capturing vocals.
Dynamic microphones convert sound waves into electrical signals using electromagnetic induction. Each dynamic mic contains a coil attached to a diaphragm. As sound waves hit the diaphragm, the coils move, creating an electric charge. They typically require higher sound pressure levels, meaning they are better for loud sources. That lack of sensitivity also means they are less prone to feedback, however. That’s why dynamics are the go-to for live performances. Dynamics are the adaptable workhorse of the microphone world.
Ribbon mics are not commonly used today. Technically a ribbon mic is a type of dynamic, but the mechanics and sounds are different enough that they are considered a different type of microphone altogether. They have a diaphragm made of a small piece (or ribbon) of metal, attached to magnets. As sound waves hit the ribbon, the vibrations create an electric charge. The sound from a ribbon mic isn’t as clean or bright as say a condenser. But they have a very smooth, natural sound that is particularly good for vocals — think the crooners of the 1940s like Bing Crosby.
The type of microphone you choose will depend upon your needs. If you are recording in a controlled environment, we recommend the sensitivity and high-frequency performance of a condenser mic. If you are in a situation where you may have a lot of background noise, we recommend taking advantage of the lack of sensitivity of a dynamic mic.
The polar pattern of a microphone defines the sensitivity of the microphone based on the direction it is pointed. There are many polar patterns but they can be boiled down to two basic categories: directional and omnidirectional. A directional microphone is just like it sounds, it is more sensitive to one direction. Examples of this are cardioid (pattern roughly looks like a heart), hypercardioid (like the cardioid, but covering a wider area), or bidirectional (sensitive to two specific directions). Omnidirectionals are sensitive in all directions and are great for capturing the natural sounds of a room.
Much like the type of mic, the polar pattern will depend upon your needs and situation. If you have a dedicated mic for one person, we recommend a cardioid or hypercardioid. If you need multiple voices to be captured by one mic, we recommend a bidirectional or an omnidirectional. Keep in mind, the larger the pickup pattern, the more controlled your environment should be. A cardioid will give you an advantage in an environment filled with background noise, whereas an omnidirectional is likely to pick up a lot of unwanted sounds. So, get a hypercardioid or set aside some room as studio space.
Hookups are just the type of cable that transfers the soundwaves to digital files. The two main types are USB and XLR. Most people are familiar with the USB (Universal Serial Bus) port. They are standard on most consumer-level computers and electronics. Your personal computer or laptop probably has an input for this. The XLR (eXternal Line Return) on the other hand is the standard hookup for audio professionals. These provide top quality but they require an external recording interface. The interface will give you better quality overall, so there is a toss-up. Are you serious enough to invest the time and money it will take to utilize an interface? If so, the XLR hookup is our recommended way to go. If not, USB is the obvious choice.
What you spend on equipment is a personal choice that should reflect your needs and budget. If you’re just starting out and not sure if you want to make podcasting a long-term thing, maybe you shouldn’t spend a lot on a microphone. For those of you looking to make podcasting a long-term career, then you should absolutely invest in quality equipment that is going to last. If you’re serious but not sure how long you’ll be podcasting, perhaps consider investing in some quality equipment. On the chance that the podcast takes off, you won’t have to replace everything. If the day comes when you decide to walk away, you can get a decent resale price on good equipment. Cheap equipment is hard to resell and usually winds up being given away.
What to Know Before Buying a Microphone for Podcasting
Microphones can last for years. Digital audio technology doesn’t move as fast as some other digital tech markets. Audio equipment has a better chance of being futureproof than say, video equipment. If you’re serious about podcasting, a microphone is a solid investment. Make sure to buy one that fits your situation. For example, if you can’t afford an interface, don’t get a mic that’s XLR-only.
Using a Microphone for Podcasting: What It’s Like
Buying a professional-grade microphone for podcasting will provide a deeper, richer sound. This in turn will be more immersive for your audience. It will make your cast sound more professional, and therefore more authoritative and trustworthy. Quality is an important step on the journey of building a following. There are dozens of brands and models of microphones, many specifically designed with podcasting in mind. Still, your best choice will be the one that addresses your individual needs. If you do a lot of interviews and can’t afford multiple mics, consider a bidirectional or omnidirectional one. If you have an interface or are planning to get one someday, buy an XLR mic. Whatever choice you make, purchasing a professional microphone is essential if you want to be taken seriously as a podcaster.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Alex from the Rock/Shutterstock.com.