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The Best USB Microphones for Crisp Audio and Static-Free Zoom Calls

Be heard loud and clear with one of these top-rated USB microphones.

usb microphones
Photo Illustration: Bridget Clegg: Courtesy Samson; Blue; Rodeo; El Gato

These days, a quality USB microphone has become as essential to a complete home workspace as a desk lamp or a good pair of noise-canceling headphones. That's because in addition to months of remote work making us more conscious of our Zoom call sound quality, many of us have also picked up hobbies during that initial round of lockdown that necessitates a sharper, crisper audio.

Many comedians, scholars, and other creatives have found a new way to connect to the world through podcasts and Twitch streams — including myself. As a result, upgrading beyond the average laptop's built-in mic has become a worthwhile investment. If this is your first time working with an external mic, USB microphones are a great way to start, as most models are “plug and play,” meaning you’re good to go as soon as you plug it into your USB port and requires no additional interface. And because having everything built right into the mic makes portable set-up a breeze, it allows you to bring that better Zoom call sound quality with you wherever you go.

The Best USB Microphones

What to Consider

Indeed, not all USB microphones are created equal, but that’s because many are created for different purposes. So the biggest thing to consider is what you’ll be using it for. There’s no sense going all-in on a mic that offers a wide range of customizability if you’re only using it for the occasional remote meeting. For example, while podcasters can consider solely sound quality when choosing a mic, streamers will want to consider a mic’s aesthetic elements if they often appear on camera.

You'll also want to think about whether you're looking for a dynamic mic (often used by musicians and comedians for live vocals) or a condenser mic (which is what most recording studios and radio stations use). Condenser mics are far more sensitive, which means they're capable of picking up on the nuances of a speaking voice. Dynamic mics are better suited for louder sounds and can easily be moved around, or in the case of musical performances, they can handle loud vocals and instruments.

Lastly, think about the environment you'll be using it in. Remember, a mic that can pick up everything will pick up everything. That means unless you're recording in absolute silence, your listeners will be about to hear all the goings-on in your home. I learned the hard way to invest in mics that get be a bit more focused and discerning in what they record after my producer had the unfortunate task of spending hours editing out the sounds of a very hyper puppy running around in the background.

So with all that in mind, if you're ready to start recording your content and just need the mic to do it with, here are the best USB microphones options to consider.

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Best Reviewed
Yeti USB Mic
Blue Microphones

I know quite a few podcasters who swear by the Blue Yeti, and they're not alone. This powerful USB mic is the best-reviewed USB microphone on Amazon, with over 30,000 shoppers giving it five stars. 

Users applaud the mic's sturdy stand, built-in headphone jack, and onboard audio controls so you can adjust gain, headphone volume, and even change the pickup pattern from bidirectional to omnidirectional or even stereo, all on the unit itself.

More: The Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers, According to Music Experts

Most Versatile
Q2U USB/XLR Dynamic Microphone
Now 44% off

Coming from a musical background made me much more comfortable working with a traditional handheld mic than any kind of stationary condenser. In my early days of recording, I turned to the modestly-priced Samson Q2U USB/XLR.

This USB microphone functions just like a regular handheld microphone but offers the option to use either a USB or XLR cable, meaning you can connect it right to your laptop or run it through a soundboard or amp for live sound. 

While it's not the most ideal microphone for stationary sound recording compared to others in this list, the level of versatility it offers for those who need a multipurpose microphone more than makes up for it.

Best for Streamers
Wave:3 Premium USB Condenser Microphone

As someone who doesn't do any Twitch gaming myself, I was first introduced to the Elgato Stream Deck via a gift guide for gamers we published earlier this month, but I've become obsessed with it since. 

The Stream Deck offers customizable controls for every element of the streaming experience, from switching camera feeds and adjusting lighting to queuing up music or video clips, all at the push of a button. But it's worth noting that it doesn’t matter how many camera angles you can cut to if your viewers can't hear what you have to say.

That's what makes the Elgato Wave:3 the perfect mic for the serious streamer. Not only does this powerful condenser mic sport intuitive built-in controls, but it works directly with Stream Deck to ensure a smooth streaming experience on all fronts.

Best for YouTubers
NT-USB Cardioid Condenser Microphone

Is anything more interminable than when you find a YouTube video on a subject you’re fascinated by, only for it to be ruined by a voiceover that sounds like the narrator is drowning in a tin can or physically punching the mic every time they have to make a “P” sound?

Help your viewers hear you clearly with this studio-quality USB mic — which is compatible with both laptops and iPad tablets. It offers a built-in headphone jack, a ring mount for mic stands, and a small tripod for desk use. Best of all, it sports a pop filter to help prevent those painful “P” sounds.

Best Space-Saver
MV5 Digital Condenser Microphone

Just because you don't have the space for a home studio doesn't mean you shouldn't have quality sound. The mic itself clocks in at an extremely compact 2.5 inches tall (5.5 inches when placed on the included stand), making it a perfect space-saver while still delivering the sound quality the Shure brand is known for. It's the perfect mic for those recording on the go, too, as transporting it is a breeze.

Best for Video Calls
USB Lavalier Microphone

I've been working remotely since I joined BestProducts, which means none of my coworkers have ever met me in person. And because I have a massive microphone setup during our video calls, most of them have also never seen the bottom half of my face. I'm like the neighbor on Home Improvement.

But if you want to make sure you’re fully seen during your work calls and don’t want some big clunky mic in the way, look for a lavalier mic. You’ve probably seen these worn by talk show hosts and news anchors, as they’re a great way to capture one person’s voice without a massive amount of extra noise and without having to carefully aim a boom mic from a distance.

With this USB microphone, you can look “ready for air” in your next meeting with crystal-clear sound, all without worrying about your boss hearing your kids arguing in the next room.

Best Budget Option
Snowball iCE USB Mic
Blue Microphones
Now 17% off

For the first season of our podcast, my co-host relied on this affordable Blue Snowball for every record and absolutely loved it. It's a simple, no-frills, plug 'n play condenser mic that works for just about any purpose, from Skype calls to streaming and certainly podcasting.

I'll admit, even after a year of hearing it firsthand, I'm still surprised the Snowball delivers sound this good at that low a price point. While it's not an entirely studio-quality setup, it's the perfect starter mic for those looking to get their voice heard without over-investing.

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