How to choose the best USB microphone for you

If you’re looking to improve the quality of your voice recordings, it’s a good idea to consider getting a dedicated microphone instead of relying on the built-in microphone on your headphones. However, there are several factors to consider before making a purchase to ensure that you get the right one. In this article, we’ll provide you with some key considerations for buying a USB microphone for your PC.

When it comes to choosing a dedicated microphone for your PC, opting for one with a USB connection is often the easiest and most straightforward option. In most cases, all you need to do is plug it in and start using it, without having to worry about configuring or installing anything. However, choosing the right USB microphone for your needs requires careful consideration, and we’ll cover some of these factors below.

usb microphone

The keys to choosing the best USB microphone for you

Our intention with this article is not to assess whether a microphone has studio quality or to declare one better than another. Rather, we aim to guide you in choosing the best option for your needs by highlighting the key characteristics you should consider. And the first and perhaps most important feature to look for is the pickup pattern.

Microphone pickup patterns

The pickup pattern is a crucial factor to consider when choosing a microphone. As shown in the table above, the most common pattern is the cardioid, which is recommended if you plan to have the microphone on a table or a mobile arm. This pattern captures sound from the front while reducing unwanted background noise.

Another critical aspect to consider is the resolution, which directly affects the sound quality. While headphones’ built-in microphones typically pick up frequencies between 10 and 10,000 Hz, a USB desktop microphone can have a much higher resolution. However, it’s not just about the frequencies they pick up; a 24-bit depth and a sample rate of at least 48 kHz are recommended for optimal quality.

RODE microphone

When choosing a USB microphone, the third important aspect to consider is the form factor, which depends on your situation and preferences. While there are Chinese USB microphones that resemble headphone rods with a table stand, you should look for a microphone with a base designed for table placement, or a universal thread that allows mounting on a tripod or mobile arm. So, take into account the microphone’s correct form factor based on where and how you plan to place it.

In addition, it is recommended to pay attention to whether the microphone has controls on itself, such as gain and volume controls, and a mute button, at the very least. Although analog microphones typically lack these controls, USB microphones often have them, providing convenience in configuring settings without accessing the software field.

Ok, and how much should you pay for it?

Typically, high-end microphones are not equipped with a USB interface since this interface can lead to a loss of audio signal fidelity. Although the audio is captured analogically by the microphone, it must be converted to digital in order to be transmitted via USB to the computer. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that USB microphones are inferior in quality. In fact, there are USB microphones that provide better results than some microphones with XLR connections.

Yeti X WOW

In terms of pricing, USB microphones can be found for as low as €50, and there are high-end options that can go up to €300. For those seeking good quality without breaking the bank, we recommend looking in the €50 to €120 price range, where you can find excellent options such as the Blue Yeti microphones. If you are willing to spend more than that, it’s up to you and your budget.