Best USB Microphones 2023: Eight of the best mics for podcasting and streaming

These microphones combine reliable sound capture with a hassle-free set-up for podcasting, broadcasting and live-streaming

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Person recording with a microphone

Image: RØDE

USB microphones are a go-to solution for many podcasters, broadcasters and streamers, as well as those recording vocals or spoken voice from a home studio. Their popularity is born out of simplicity, since they usually have a built-in audio interface and headphone socket, and are bus-powered, dispensing with the usual additional equipment and cables associated with standard XLR microphones. This is especially handy when you’re on the move.

USB mics come in both condenser and dynamic types. Condensers are best suited for capturing crystal-clear voices without worrying about being up-close to the mic. However, dynamic mics work well at close range in spaces with no acoustic treatment or those prone to external noise such as traffic.

For more detailed control over sound shaping, look out for digital signal processing (DSP) capabilities. Having on-board processors means you can carefully tailor your sound ahead of it being fed to a stream – this can range from a quick fix with a noise gate to get rid of next door’s dog barking outside, through to lavish EQ and compression shaping to achieve an upfront, broadcast-ready sound.

With the basics established, let’s take a look at eight of our favourite models.

Eight of the best USB microphones at a glance:


RØDE PodMic USB. Image: RØDE

A new addition to RØDE’s broadcast and podcasting range, the PodMic USB is sturdy and heavy in weight, its cool looking, detachable foam windscreen putting us in mind of iconic broadcasting mics such as the Shure SM7B and Electrovoice RE20. The dynamic capsule offers smooth, natural reproduction of voice and instruments – we’re happy to report there’s no scoops or brittle presence peaks here. A strong headphone amp is another defining feature.

For extra brightness and exact control over the sound, there is onboard DSP, offering a high-pass filter, noise gate, compressor and an Aphex exciter to bring out some extra sparkle, but lacking an option to make a basic tonal adjustment using an EQ graph or slider. All these extra features are accessed using a companion app.

Finally, the XLR port adds to the mic’s impressive versatility by allowing users to bypass all the digital stuff and simply plug the mic into an audio interface or mixer, for use alongside other mics in a live or studio application.

  • Price: $199
  • Type: dynamic
  • Key features: USB and XLR connection; built-in DSP; detachable windshield

Blue Yeti

Blue Yeti by Blue Microphones
Blue Yeti. Image: Blue Microphones

The Yeti from Blue Microphones offers a number of different polar patterns and even stereo capture. You’ve probably seen this on the desks of top streamers, podcasters and content creators, thanks to its affordability and versatility. While mounting on its included desktop stand is the norm, you can screw the mic straight onto a boom stand using the integral ⅜-inch thread, or even explore the range of third-party shock mounts that have sprung up on the internet.

With all controls quickly accessible on the mic body, it’s really easy to adjust gain on the fly, or to reach for that all-important mute button when you’re about to cough mid way through a live session.

  • Price: $129.99
  • Type: condenser
  • Key features: multiple polar patterns including stereo option; mute switch; no software required

Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP

Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP
Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP. Image: Audio-Technica

Audio-Technica’s (non-USB) AT2020 has won many fans in the home recording world, offering detailed, crisp capture of just about any instrument at an affordable price point; the USB version, then, was bound to be a roaring success.

Multiple iterations on from the initial release, we recently reviewed the ‘X’ variant of the AT2020USB that added USB-C, a new look and cool LED lighting to the feature line-up. More recently, an XP variation was launched, adding higher sample rates and noise reduction DSP. In our minds, this is well worth the modest price jump up from the X (which comes in at around $40 less than the XP).

  • Price: $169
  • Type: condenser
  • Key features: noise reduction DSP; LED lights

RØDE NT1 5th generation

RØDE NT1 5th Generation
RØDE NT1 5th Generation. Image: RØDE

Another dual connectivity USB/XLR design from RØDE, this mic packages-up everything we all love about the trusty NT1 into a product that is easy to use and fast to get going with on any computer or iOS device. It enjoys the same built-in DSP as the PodMic USB for shaping the incoming sound, but don’t underestimate its sonic performance straight out of the box.

An option to record in 32-bit floating point is the icing on the cake, making clipping or noisy capture things of the past.

We were blown away with the sound and sheer versatility of this mic, so much so that it scored a coveted 10/10 rating and Innovation Award in our review.

  • Price: $259
  • Type: condenser
  • Key features: 32-bit recording; USB and XLR connection; built-in DSP

Shure MV7

Shure M7
Shure MV7. Image: Shure

Shure really nailed it with the MV7. It has a capsule that sounds nicer than a SM58 (although not quite as nice in the mid range as its big sibling, the mighty SM7B), onboard DSP is easy to use, and there’s a convenient mute switch on the mic’s body. Dual USB/XLR operation is another winning feature, allowing users to swap between a convenient-and-fast USB connection straight into a laptop on the go, and plugging it in alongside other great mics in the studio.

The ShurePlus MOTIV companion app is simple to operate and gives you the likes of EQ curves, playback/mic balance for headphone monitoring, plus a compressor and limiter (but no noise gate unfortunately). For the less initiated, there are a number of presets suited to different applications – these affect EQ curves and the amount of compression – as well as an automatic gain setting function.

  • Price: $249
  • Type: dynamic
  • Key features: detachable windscreen; onboard DSP and user presets (including a simple mode)

JBL Quantum Stream

JBL Quantum Stream
JBL Quantum Stream. Image: JBL

JBL Quantum Stream is a stylish USB-C microphone aimed towards live-streamers and those using a Windows operating system, since its PC-only desktop app offers far more customisation including EQ presets, altering the LED lighting and switching polar patterns (cardioid and omnidirectional are on offer).

The Quantum Stream came out of our review with a very respectable 8/10, and since that time, its price has been reduced, so it’s now somewhat of a bargain, especially in the UK market.

  • Price: $99
  • Type: dynamic
  • Key features: dual polar patterns; LED lights; EQ customisation

AKG Lyra

AKG Lyra
AKG Lyra. Image: AKG

AKG’s Lyra boasts high-resolution recording capabilities reaching up to 24-bit/192kHz, while also delivering healthy amounts of volume to its on-board headphone preamp. The real trick up its sleeve, though, is the choice of switchable pickup patterns via its four-capsule array, including options for front, front and back (for round-table discussion or similar), plus standard and wide stereo options for capturing whole groups or room ambiences.

An integrated, sleek desktop stand is included, so you can get going quickly straight out of the box (mic stand mounting is also possible, if preferred). At the time of writing, the Lyra is available at a heavily-discounted price at Andertons and Thomann.

  • Price: $155
  • Type: condenser
  • Key features: four-capsule mic array offering polar pattern choice and stereo options; desktop stand included

Sennheiser Profile

Sennhieser Profile
Sennhieser Profile. Image: Sennhieser

With ease of use in mind, headphone and microphone giant Sennheiser entered the USB mic arena with the Profile in early 2023. All controls are physical and up-front, with no additional software required, which means users can quickly tweak settings including toggling the mute switch, and adjusting the input gain based on visual feedback from the control’s surrounding ring-LED meter.

To complete the podcasting package, there’s also the Streaming Set option at $70 more, which includes a handy desktop boom.

  • Price: $129 / $199 with desktop boom
  • Type: condenser
  • Key features: ring LED metering; mute switch; desktop boom arm option

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