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Best USB microphones for work calls, music, podcasting and more

Bored of relying on your laptop’s built-in microphone? Getting poor quality sound or unwelcome background noise? Take your sound recording to the next level with a USB microphone.

By Mumsnet HQ | Last updated Feb 2, 2022

Best USB Microphones for work, music, podcasting and more

If you’ve been working from home during the pandemic, or are even adopting a hybrid model of working going forward, then chances are you’ve been on your fair share of Zoom calls and Teams meetings. You might have coped with an in-built microphone until now, but if you’re looking for a more long-term solution, it may be time to invest in a USB microphone.

USB microphones are a great option for all your sound recording requirements, whether it’s basic audio, virtual or conference calls, podcasting, gaming, streaming or even recording music and lyrics. 

Not all USB microphones are created equal though, and they can be a complex bit of kit with many different modes. Luckily, we’ve done the hard work and for you, hunting for the top microphones, as recommended by our Mumsnet army, sound and recording experts, and authentic customer reviews. We’ve also extensively researched how to choose the best model for you, so don’t miss our buyer’s guide further down the page.

Here are the best USB microphones to buy this year.

1. Best overall USB microphone: Blue Yeti USB Microphone

Blue Yeti USB Microphone

Price £99.99 | Buy now from Amazon

Blue Yeti Microphone is supposed to be good, it's fairly expensive though.” (Suggestion by Mumsnet user allofthetings)

DS uses a PC and has a Blue Yeti Microphone which is apparently very good sound quality. At the time, I thought it was eye-wateringly expensive but he has had it over a year and uses it every single day for recordings, talking to his friends online and making YouTube videos.” (Vetted by Mumsnet user ProlificLurker)

Blue has a really solid reputation within the microphone industry and, despite it being released over a decade ago, the Blue Yeti is still one of the world’s most talked about USB microphones. 

With its custom three capsule array (offering cardioid, omni and bidirectional modes - scroll down to our buyer’s guide to learn more about the different modes), the Blue Yeti is an extremely versatile and flexible USB microphone, offering broadcast quality sound for a variety of uses including YouTube, game streaming, podcasting, conference calls and much more. 

The Blue Yeti is really simple to use (plug and play), requiring limited technical knowledge or expertise. It also provides full control over your audio settings including headphone volume and the ability to instantly mute the sound as required. 

It comes with a basic desktop stand, which can be adjusted and pivoted as required.

Key specs

  • Type: Condenser 
  • Modes: Cardioid, omni, bidirectional 
  • Sample rate: 16-bit/48kHz
  • Frequency response: 120 dB 
  • Stand: Desktop stand included
  • Connections: USB
  • Size‎: 12.5 x 11.99 x 29.49 cm
  • Weight: 1.59kg 

Pros

  • Plug and play - quick and easy to set up 
  • Very high quality sound recording
  • Versatile - suitable for a wide range of recording requirements 
  • Available in a wide range of colour combinations to match your desired aesthetic 

Cons

  • Can be a little too sensitive (will pick up background noises such as fans or humidifiers) 
  • Some users purchased a pop filter to avoid distortion when speaking close to the microphone
  • Pricey

2. Best budget USB microphone: FIFINE USB Microphone

Fifine USB microphone

Price: £29.99 | Buy now from Amazon

At under £30, this cheap and cheerful USB microphone is a great option for basic audio recording or for enhancing your voice on work calls. 

We love that the neck is easily adjustable, a helpful feature when in use, and that it takes up minimal desk space. Reviewers also raved about the impressive audio quality for the price, making this a great value buy if you're wanting something for a beginner or for standard work calls.

One user did say a taller stand would have been a welcome feature, but the 6.5ft long cord offers lots of manoeuvrability.

Key specs

  • Type: Condenser 
  • Modes: Cardioid
  • Sample rate: Not specified
  • Frequency response: 20 KHz
  • Stand: Stand included
  • Connections: USB
  • Size‎: 32.9 x 16.3 x 12.2 cm
  • Weight: 0.52kg

Pros

  • Great value
  • Lightweight
  • Adjustable neck

Cons

  • Not as high-quality as some more expensive models

3. Best stylish USB microphone: Blue Snowball iCE

Blue Snowball iCE USB microphone

Price £54.99 | Buy now from Amazon

If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly Blue mic for personal use that offers good quality audio without the hefty price tag of the Yeti, then this is the obvious choice. 

At just under £50, this retro style USB microphone offers excellent sound quality for spoken word and voiceovers and, unless you’re looking for something for professional recording, you’re unlikely to notice the difference. 

Just like the more premium priced models, the Blue Snowball iCE is plug and play, meaning you can get started pretty much straight out of the box.

Key specs

  • Type: Condenser 
  • Modes: Cardioid 
  • Sample rate: 16 bit / 44kHz 
  • Frequency response: 40 –18 kHz
  • Stand: Adjustable tripod desktop stand 
  • Connections: USB
  • Size: 26.92 x 13.97 x 23.11 cm; 
  • Weight: 0.46kg

Pros

  • Great option for beginners who don’t want to spend a fortune 
  • Plug and play 
  • Stylish design

Cons

  • Some reviews found you have to sit close to the microphone to ensure good sound quality 
  • Only offers cardioid mode, so less suitable for podcasts and multiple voice recordings

4. Best USB headset with microphone: Jabra Evolve 2 Headset

Jabra Evolve 2 Headset

Price £75.94 | Buy now from Amazon

I have a pair of Jabra. I've found over the years you need the mic bit and, to be comfy for long periods, good padding on the ears. So don't scrimp but also you don't need to spend £££.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user Travailtotravel)

I bought a Jabra Evolve 40 Stereo Headset for PC, laptop, mobile phone, smartphone, softphone from Amazon.” (Vetted by Mumsnet user PerryMasonsFriend)

If you are working from home and attending regular online meetings where you require a microphone and headset at the same time, the Evolve 2 Headset was a popular choice on the Mumsnet forums. Not only are these headphones noise cancelling to aid concentration, but they also include memory foam ear cushions for all day comfort.

The Evolve headset comes with three microphones, an enhanced digital chipset and a boom arm to bring you professional audio and call quality. They even have a super handy LED light to show colleagues (or family members!) when you are on a call. 

Key specs

  • Type: 3 microphone 
  • Modes: Unspecified 
  • Sample rate: Unspecified 
  • Frequency response: Unspecified
  • Stand: Not included 
  • Connections: USB-A or USB-C 
  • Size: 18.6 x 15.7 x 6.05 cm; 188 Grams 
  • Weight: 188 Grams 

Pros

  • All day comfort 
  • Professional sound quality - ideal for online meetings

Cons

  • Headphones are not wireless 
  • You need to choose between a USB-A or USB-C connection

5. Best USB microphone for working from home: Jabra Speak 510

Jabra Speak 510

Price £79.99 | Buy now from Amazon

I hate wearing headphones for any length of time. I use a Jabra Speak 510. It has Bluetooth and USB connection and works really well.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user SisyphusDad)

If you’re working from home on virtual meetings but don’t want the restrictions of wearing a wired headset, the Jabra Speak 510 is a highly-rated conference call tool with a two-way speaker and microphone combined. 

With a 360 degree omnidirectional microphone, call control and touch buttons, the Jabra Speak 510 offers crystal clear audio without echo or distortion. 

It is also fully portable and super easy to use, simply plug into your computer with USB or connect via Bluetooth to your smartphone, tablet or headset. 

While we rated this highly for its functionality, it’s not the sleekest-looking piece of kit if that’s what you’re looking for.  

Key specs

  • Type: Condenser 
  • Mode: Omnidirectional 
  • Sample rate: Unspecified
  • Frequency response: 150 Hz to 6.5 kHz
  • Stand: N/A 
  • Connections: USB and Bluetooth
  • Size: 12.19 x 3.3 x 12.19 cm
  • Weight: 195.4g

Pros

  • Omnidirectional microphone offers clear, handsfree sound
  • Bluetooth option
  • Good for work calls 

Cons

  • More versatile options available

6. Best premium USB microphone: Blue Yeti X

Blue Yeti X USB microphone

Price £159.99 | Buy now from Amazon

If you’re looking for a microphone which offers seriously professional sound quality (and are prepared to pay the extra), then the premium version of the Blue Yeti – Blue Yeti X – is definitely one to check out. The Blue Yeti X comes with four capsule array for the highest sound quality, making it ideal for professional streaming, podcasting, YouTube videos, voiceovers, online meetings and more. 

A step up from the original, the Blue Yeti X is packed with lots of additional features, allowing you to tune your on-stream sound using the built in controls for mic gain, mute, headphone volume and blend. 

It’s easy to get started by plugging directly to your computer or laptop via USB cable and you can easily switch between cardioid, omni, bidirectional and stereo pickup patterns as required. You can even personalise the colour of your Yeti X’s LED lights to match your aesthetic, which we thought was a nice touch. 

Key specs

  • Type: Condenser 
  • Mode: Cardioid, omni, bidirectional and stereo
  • Sample rate: 24-bit/48kHz
  • Frequency response: 20Hz to 20kHz
  • Stand: Included 
  • Connections: USB
  • Size: 12.2 x 11 x 28.9 cm
  • Weight: 1.3 Kilograms

Pros

  • Extremely high professional sound quality 
  • Additional features offering full control over your on-stream sound. 

Cons

  • High price tag - not essential unless you require extremely high quality recording

7. Best compact USB microphone: Blue Yeti Nano

Blue Yeti Nano USB microphone

Price £97.90 | Buy now from Amazon

Another Blue microphone that’s made its way onto our must-have list (there’s the reason why they dominate the marketplace) is the Blue Yeti Nano. A smaller, cheaper and more portable version of the Blue Yeti X, the Blue Yeti Nano comes with stripped back features to match its lower price tag, without sacrificing on quality. 

This compact microphone takes up less physical desktop space and provides good sound quality for calls or voiceovers, but it doesn’t offer the bidirectional or stereo modes you may need if you are a serious podcaster or gamer. 

Key specs

  • Type: Condenser 
  • Mode: Cardioid and omnidirectional 
  • Sample rate: 24-bit/48kHz
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz-20 KHz
  • Stand: Desktop stand included 
  • Connections: USB 
  • Size: 14 x 14 x 21.1 cm
  • Weight: 0.63kg

Pros

  • Small and compact
  • More budget friendly than the Blue Yeti X

Cons

  • Less suitable for group discussion or instrumental audio 

8. Best USB microphone for podcasting: Shure MV7

Shure MV7 USB microphone

Price £180.99 | Buy now from Amazon

If you’re planning on recording a podcast and want to keep your listeners engaged, switched on and returning for more, then clear, crisp audio is a must. 

With voice isolating technology to pick out voices and separate them from background or environmental noises, the Shure MV7 comes with the full four recording modes to suit a variety of podcast set-ups, whether its a single speaker host or a lively group debate. 

Despite not coming with a stand, the Shure MV7 has a simple user interface and is plug and play, meaning you can get started on recording your podcast content straight away.

Key specs

  • Type: Dynamic 
  • Modes: Cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional and stereo 
  • Sample rate: 44.1kHz, 48kHz
  • Frequency response: 50Hz-16kHz
  • Stand: No
  • Connections: USB
  • Size‎: 10.92 x 31.24 x 12.7 cm
  • Weight: 1.05 Kilograms

Pros

  • User-friendly plug and play
  • Simple user interface
  • Voice isolation technology

Cons

  • No stand included
  • Pricey

9. Best USB microphone for gaming: HyperX Quad Cast S

HyperX Quad Cast S USB microphone

Price £132.99 | Buy now from Argos

If you’re a keen gamer or want to stream gameplay for YouTube or other video sites, then a high quality USB microphone is a must. For the ultimate gaming USB microphone, the HyperX Quad Cast not only helps you sound the part, but looks the part too, with RGB Lighting effects to brighten up your desk as you play. 

Compatible with a range of platforms including Windows, Mac and PS4, the HyperX Quad Cast comes with user-friendly software for editing your recordings, along with a touch sensitive mute sensor for those unexpected interruptions. It also comes with a built-in pop filter and a sturdy, anti-vibration mount, meaning no matter how exciting game play gets, it is unlikely to tilt or fall.

This isn’t the cheapest USB microphone and if the RGB lighting isn’t a must, the previous model of the HyperX (in red only), is a slightly cheaper alternative. 

Key specs

  • Type: Condenser
  • Modes: Stereo, omnidirectional, cardioid, bidirectional
  • Sample rate: 48kHz
  • Frequency response: 20Hz-20kHz
  • Stand: Anti-vibration shock mount 
  • Connections: USB 
  • Size: ‎25 x 12.9 x 10.3 cm
  • Weight: 0.6 kg

Pros

  • Good sound quality 
  • Built in pop filter to avoid sound distortion 
  • Comes with anti vibration shock mount for sturdy support

Cons

  • Paying a premium for the RGB lighting

10. Best USB microphone for recording music and vocals: Audio Technica AT2020USB Plus

Audio Technica AT2020USB Plus USB microphone

Price £115 | Buy now from Amazon

For recording music and vocal audio, you need to look for a USB microphone with a high quality a/d converter and strong sampling rate to capture the voice detail and variation of high and low notes.

A great option for voiceovers, field recorders or recording at home, the Audio Technica AT2020USB plus comes with mix control, allowing you to blend your microphone signal and pre-recorded audio for studio quality sound.

Due to its cardioid-only mode however, this is more aimed at single musicians rather than groups, where a stereo setting and dynamic microphone would be more effective. If you’re just getting started recording music or songs at home, this microphone is a reasonable price for beginners.  

Key specs

  • Type: Condenser 
  • Modes: Cardioid 
  • Sample rate: 44.1/48 kHz
  • Frequency response: 20 - 20KHz
  • Stand: Desktop stand included
  • Connections: USB 
  • Size: 16.2 x 5.2 x 5.2 cm
  • Weight: 386 Grams

Pros

  • Good value - excellent sound quality for a good price
  • Great starter microphone for songwriters at home 

Cons

  • May need a stereo option if singing in a group 
  • Some recommended purchasing pop filter

11. Best on-the-go USB microphone: Samson GoMic

Samson GoMic USB microphone

Price £38.20 | Buy now from Amazon

If you’re looking for a portable USB microphone that can be used almost anywhere (including outdoors) then the Samson GoMic is one of the smallest, most portable USB microphones on our list. 

Suitable for recording music, podcasting and field recording, it comes with a unique clip design which can be attached to your body or propped on a desk or surface for clear, crisp recording. 

Plug and play straight from the box, allowing you to capture audio straight to your computer, the Samson GoMic can be folded and stashed away in a pocket or laptop bag when not in use. 

Key specs

  • Type: Condenser 
  • Modes: Cardioid and omnidirectional 
  • Sample rate: 44.1kHz / 48kHz
  • Frequency response: 20Hz - 18kHz  
  • Stand: Clip design stand
  • Connections: USB
  • Size: 15.24 x 2.54 x 12.7 cm
  • Weight: 226.8 Grams 

Pros

  • Super portable for field recording
  • Clip design stand
  • Compact foldable design 
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Limited to two modes 

What are the different types of USB microphones?

There are two main types of USB microphones - condenser (for more powerful noises) and dynamic (for softer sounds).

Most USB microphones come with a variety of modes too and therefore your choice should be based on what you need your USB microphone for. Here are the different ones to look out for:

  • Cardioid mode - Microphones in this mode tend to work best with a single voice, recording sound sources that are directly in front of the microphone such as online calls and voiceovers. If you're just wanting something just for Zoom or Teams meetings this is the one to look out for.
  • Bidirectional mode - This mode is best if you are recording something with two people, like an interview or podcast. The noise is picked up on both the front and back sides of the microphone so both participants are recorded in high quality. 
  • Omnidirectional mode - Records sound equally from 360 degrees around the microphone. This tends to be best suited to group conversations, podcasts or a work call where multiple people are present in the room and speaking.
  • Stereo mode - This mode is another one to go for if you're a musician or recording a call or interview with multiple people present. Like the bidirectional mode, this picks up on two sides of the microphone, but rather than front and back, stereo mode records on the left and right side. 

How to choose the best USB microphone 

Despite a lot of USB microphones being easy to use thanks to their plug and play set-up, choosing the best one for your needs can be a tricky task. Here are the important points to consider: 

  • Type: Do you want a condenser or dynamic microphone? Think about the types of sound you will be capturing. If it's louder sounds, go for a condenser. Conversely, dynamic microphones are better at picking up more sensitive noises. 
  • Price: There is a huge variation in price for USB microphones. Whilst the more expensive models tend to come with more professional sound quality and features, some cheaper models offer a great solution for personal use.
  • Sound quality: If you’re currently using an inbuilt mic, any USB microphone will be an improvement, but if you need a mic for business purposes such as published podcasts, pay attention to the sampling rate.
  • Recording patterns: Check the different modes the microphones have, and assess whether they fit your needs. For vocals or speech, a cardioid pattern will work well, whereas microphones with bidirectional patterns are great for recording interviews. Omnidirectional is a good choice for group debates or podcasts, but stereo is best suited for ambient sounds, music and larger discussions.
  • What operating system are you using?: Not all USB microphones work on all OS, so check the specifications before you buy.
  • Where are you using it?: Are you simply using the USB microphone at home, or does it need to be portable or travel friendly? Consider where you’ll be using it and whether you need something easily stowed away. 
  • Does it come with a stand?: Not all USB microphones come with a stand included, so you may have to purchase one separately. If desk space is at a premium, consider searching for one that won't take up too much room too. 
  • Will you need to purchase additional accessories?: Some USB microphones recommend using separate pop filters to avoid sound distortion or feedback when speaking directly into the mic. If you want added features like this, factor that into your budget. 

How much should you spend on a USB mic? 

The price of USB microphones varies quite considerably, as generally you get what you pay for in terms of sound quality and features. However, ask yourself a key question: how professional does the sound quality need to be? If you’re just working from home on Zoom or Teams calls or recording a single voice for personal use, then you probably don’t need to spend a fortune.

On the flip side, if you’re recording a track where the sound needs to be pitch perfect every single time, then you are likely to need to invest a little more to get the quality that you need. 

What is the best USB microphone? 

With a solid reputation, a wide range of recording modes and an included stand, the Blue Yeti Microphone offers a versatile option with excellent sound quality to suit a range of audio requirements, from helping create a professional office set up at home, through to voiceover streaming, podcasting, group discussions or even songwriting and music.

It’s a fairly big investment however, so if you’re after something simply for working from home, the Blue Snowball iCE is more budget friendly that still does a great job. 

How did we choose our recommendations? 

First up, we scoured the Mumsnet forums to hear your experiences and recommendations on USB microphones, including the microphones and headsets our trusted users loved, tested and had truly put through their paces whilst working from home or recording sound. We also looked out for your feedback on the headsets or microphones that didn’t impress or that you felt were overrated.

Next, we researched online forums, expert bestseller lists and honest online product reviews to find the most highly rated and popular USB microphones to suit all sound requirements, locations and quality levels and combined this shortlist with your verdicts to create our final list of recommendations. 

Why you should trust us

We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.