The 10 Best Microphones For Streaming
This wiki has been updated 20 times since it was first published in October of 2018. Whether you're going live on YouTube or casting your real-time gaming activity to the web, the microphones for streaming on our list will provide you with a higher quality of sound than any built-in mics you might have on your devices. There's a wide variety of models available for amateurs and pros, and we've ranked them here by their audio fidelity, durability, and versatility. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
August 26, 2020:
One of the most vital considerations when deciding to invest in a streaming mic is that it provide you with better enough audio than your computer's microphone to justify its cost. With that in mind, we got rid of the CMTeck USB Omnidirectional, which added a little bit of pickup proximity by having a sturdy stand for your desk and being flexible enough to position right in front of you, but its actual audio quality was something of a disappointment.
New to the list are far superior offerings in the Apogee Hype Mic and the JLab Audio Talk Pro. The Apogee is a USB microphone with some of the best audio fidelity in its class, as well as reliable and high-quality analog-to-digital conversion for your signal. The JLab is a very fine option, also, with an illuminated level meter to keep you from peaking a wide frequency response, though its build quality was clearly sacrificed to keep its price down.
November 27, 2018:
For the most part, this category is best served by mics with USB outputs, as these can most easily interface with computers and mobile devices. Some options will offer both XLR and USB outputs, like the Blue Yeti Pro. A few made the list despite their not having a USB out (the AKG option and the Blue Spark), as some users will prefer the flexibility of a separate audio mixer with its own USB out, and as these often feature superior capsules.
Why You Need A Streaming Microphone
The human oral tradition has evolved in enormous ways since the telling of such famous ancient stories as the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Iliad, and the Odyssey.
The human oral tradition has evolved in enormous ways since the telling of such famous ancient stories as the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Iliad, and the Odyssey. That tradition became a written one as language took shape on stone, papyrus, and paper. And just a handful of measly centuries after the advent of the printing press, the cinema would come along. Interestingly, each new development was decried as the end of knowledge and discourse by even the most renowned thinkers of the day. Socrates, for example, famously forbade his students from writing down his teachings — a rule that Plato thankfully disregarded.
And now we sit amidst the greatest upheaval to our oral tradition — our tradition of storytelling and communication as a means of expression and connection — that we have ever faced: The Internet.
Streaming can encompass a whole host of online activities nowadays, from going live on your favorite social media channel with an exciting new video to creating the perfect podcast for a wide-reaching audience. And if you buy into the notion that the livestream is the modern incarnation of the human oral tradition, then the quality of that stream's audio is likely going to be one of the most important aspects of your production. Bad audio can make even the best video streams seem unwatchable and cheap, and it can make things like podcasts utterly worthless. That’s why it’s incumbent on you, who’s producing the content in question, to invest in a good streaming microphone.
Say you’ve decided that your skills in a certain video game are only outmatched by the speed and hilarity of your in-game commentary. You could keep broadcasting yours wits and witticisms through the mic on your gaming headset, but the odds are that it was designed to serve as a basic means of communication, not as a means of creating polished content. And its proximity to your mouth almost guarantees a certain degree of distortion if you get too loud or excited, as you can’t pull back from the mic to control its response. With a better streaming microphone on your desk — one that’s dynamic enough to avoid clipping and to smooth out the harsher tones in your voice — you’ll have total control over a much nicer sound.
At the end of the day, no microphone can ensure that the likes of Logan Paul will be regarded in the same breath as Homer or Shakespeare when future generations of historians look back on the birth of the web. But as long as Logan and the rest of the streaming community invests in good microphones, at least those historians will be able to hear them clearly.
Choosing The Right Mic For You
The specific nature of the stream you’re creating is going to have a lot to do with what microphone will serve you best. In some cases, it might be obvious that a certain mic is built for a certain use, especially when it has words like “gaming” or “podcast” right in the name. But it’s important to familiarize yourself with certain features, so you can compare your options effectively and make an informed decision.
Most mics designed for streaming are going to streamline the process of sending a digital audio signal to your computer by relying on a USB connection.
One of the most important aspects to consider here is the mic’s output. Most microphones aren’t hardwired, so you don’t have to worry about replacing the entire microphone if its cable dies on you. You simply swap out the cable. Most mics designed for streaming are going to streamline the process of sending a digital audio signal to your computer by relying on a USB connection. Others offer only analog XLR connectivity, while some offer both. USB mics are certainly the most convenient, but they also process the analog signal created by your voice inside the microphone’s body, turning it into a digital signal to send over USB. That severely limits the space — and therefore the processing power — of this conversion. If you know you might want more control over the quality of your analog-digital conversion, it’d be wise to at least get a mic with an XLR option that you can run through an external USB interface.
Another important feature to look for is headphone connectivity and onboard mixing capabilities. Some of these devices have their own headphone jacks, so you can hear your voice, control its level, and even control the mix that you hear between your voice and the rest of your content, all on the body of the mic. This is a particularly nice feature to have when live streaming, as you can make adjustments on the fly without stopping the flow of the stream.
Keep an eye out for some of the seemingly little things that can make a big difference, as well. These include things like included pop screens that can take the sting out of plosive sounds from the letters T and P when you’re speaking. A desktop stand of some kind is also always welcome, and the sturdier the better.
Perfecting Your Stream
As you produce your stream, you’re going to want to do everything you can to ensure its quality is as professional as possible. One of these mics will go a long way toward that goal, but there are some other things you can get your hands on to make the task go even more smoothly.
One of these mics will go a long way toward that goal, but there are some other things you can get your hands on to make the task go even more smoothly.
One of the most effective tools in this kind of media production is a mixer. Even a small USB mixer can help you balance out voices and music, and apply useful effects like reverb and compression to really up the production value. Many of these mixers will also perform your analog-digital conversion for you, so you can invest in a high-quality XLR mic from our list and get excellent results.
It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to invest in a small laptop specifically to devote to your stream. You can use this in concert with a console or gaming PC for game streaming, or install professional audio-video software to create a mobile production studio on a single, portable computer. And for a truly portable setup for podcasters, think about a high-quality field recorder. These can be lifesavers as backups for more comprehensive setups, as well, ensuring that there’s something to track to other than your phone if your primary equipment fails.