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The Best USB Microphones in 2017

With podcasts, streaming, and bedroom music studios becoming more and more commonplace these days, USB mics have become invaluable. Thankfully, there are some truly studio-quality USB-connected microphones out there. Here are our picks for the best USB microphones right now.

Our top pick: Blue Yeti

Blue Yeti

We’re starting the show with a showstopper here, for better or worse. The Yeti microphone from Blue has managed to establish itself as the industry gold-standard of USB microphones. Since it’s introduction only a handful of years ago, the Blue Yeti has climbed the ranks thanks to a huge amount of exposure on YouTube. This little microphone that could become the USB mic of choice for many YouTubers including, of course, PewDiePie and the rest, as they say, was history.

But it’s not just a case of being in the right place at the right time for the Blue Yeti, the fact is that this is an absolutely stellar USB mic. If you put us on the spot right here, right now, which USB mic you should spend your hard-earned cash on, it would be this one. The mic’s designer, Blue, prides itself on the precision of its design and the company absolutely knew all the right things to do when creating the Yeti.

Kitted out with a pattern selector – users are able to select from cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional and stereo – along with gain, mute and headphone volume controls front and centre on the body, a stand built right into the setup and a beautiful-yet-solid metal construction, the Yeti offers an answer to practically every question you have. It’s also available in an array of colours and styles, which is nice if that’s your thing. Audio wise, the Yeti is fantastic, offering excellent clarity as well as crisp highs and deep, rumbling lows. This one has also managed to be an award winner across multiple years now, earning ‘best’ trophies from a variety of sites who all seem equally impressed.

In short, if you’re looking for what is ostensibly the best USB microphone on the market right now, it’s incredibly difficult to recommend anything higher than the Blue Yeti. That’s not to say there aren’t other fantastic USB mics out there but the Blue Yeti sits at the top of the mountain.

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Audio-Technica AT2020USB

AT2020USB

Of course, there are a few USB mics that give the Blue Yeti a real run for its money. One of the most popular USB mics in the world right now is the Audio-Technica AT2020. It’s been around in various forms and formats for many years now and is, as they say, an established brand. Audio-Technica has been making audio equipment since 1962, so you’d imagine they would be fairly good at it by now, after all. With the AT2020 range of microphones, the company delivered a hugely accessible and versatile series of microphones, arguably the most versatile of which is the AT2020USB.

Forgoing the XLR cables of other mics in the range, the USB iteration delivers every last bit of the intensely high quality that other AT2020 mics deliver. In fact, it keeps up with its XLR brothers so well, we were barely able to tell the difference. What you do get from the USB model, though, is accessibility beyond compare. Being able to pack one of these in a bag and take it with you to use with a laptop or something similar is invaluable. With this mic, you’re getting an incredibly quality USB mic that is entirely as mobile as you are.

Specs wise, the AT2020USB features a side-address condenser mic, cardioid polar pattern and a massively impressive clarity across highs, lows and everything in between. Also included is a stubby little tripod stand, designed to hold the mic at an ideal angle for setting up on a desk, as well as a storage pouch for when you feel like taking it with you on the go.

This mic is ideal for singers, songwriters and recording artist, moreso than a traditional podcast set up but whatever you want to use it for, it will perform excellently and deliver some seriously impressive audio quality.

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Blue Snowball

Blue Snowball

Typically enough, Blue happens to be quite good at making these USB microphones and, as such, the company is seeing its second product in our list of the best USB mics. Much like it’s big Yeti brother, the Blue Snowball is an excellent piece of tech that delivers far more than you’d ever expect from it. Surprisingly so, given how affordable the Blue Snowball actually is. With a price tag that usually sits around half of the Yeti’s, you’d be excused for writing the Snowball off as the “cheap option” of Blue’s range of microphones.

You’d be wrong, however. The Blue Snowball is essentially every bit as capable as the Yeti, albeit with a few extra caveats. The first difference you’ll notice is the design itself – the Snowball has a spherical design much like, say, an actual snowball – which is accompanied by a small tripod stand that the mic ball sits on. This mic is almost specifically designed for podcasters and Twitch streamers, as its design stays out of the way while still maintaining high audio quality.

Audio quality on the Snowball is impeccable, as you’ll be getting a sample rate of 44.1kHz / 16-bit which is about as good as you could hope from a little guy like this. That sample rate actually rivals many USB mics twice the price of the Snowball. One more caveat from the Yeti, however, is the reduced amount of options when selecting your mic type. Here, you’ll get an excellent condenser mic that can be switched between omnidirectional or cardioid, lacking some of the extra options of its sibling.

What you do have here, though, is a surprisingly powerful and capable, extremely portable USB mic that’s lightweight and frankly, looks really cool on your desk. It’s small enough not to dominate your desk space while also retaining some impressive audio clarity when recording. Oh, and if none of that swayed you, you should know it comes in a staggering amount of colour choices. Because it’s pretty.

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Razer Seiren

Razer Seiren

The Razer Seiren is the dark horse of this list, both figuratively and literally (well, except for the horse part). Razer has maintained a bit of a reputation for making and distributing fairly well-regarded PC gaming accessories and peripherals over the years. These mainly consist of mechanical keyboards, gaming mice and the like but the Razer Seiren marks the first time the company has ventured into the slightly wider territory of USB mics intended purely for recording.

That said, Razer’s initial entry into the world of USB microphones is a good one. The Seiren comfortably handles pretty much everything you can throw at it, and the microphone itself is powerful enough and versatile enough to deliver smooth, clear, bassy tones in whatever you’re recording.

The first thing you’ll notice about this mic, as with a lot of Razer products, is the design. This is an incredibly sleek looking microphone, sat upon its own proprietary stand and completely constructed out of aluminium. It’s got a matte, almost brushed metal finish and is generally just a sight to behold. It’s not quite as subtle as the Blue Snowball but it’s definitely a conversation starter.

Spec-wise, this Seiren offers cardioid, stereo, bidirectional and omnidirectional modes, to satisfy your needs. This is a superb USB mic for singers, podcasters, and recording musical instruments. The funky little LED display on the front is a nice touch, too.

It’s available in two forms – the one listed here and a ‘Pro’ version which adds another £100 / $100 onto the price and adds an XLR input as an additional option. To be honest, though, the USB connection in this version is more than enough here. The Seiren offers a stylish, eye-catching alternative to the Blue Yeti microphone but doesn’t quite offer enough difference to justify the higher price.

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Samson Meteor

Samson Meteor

This little guy, the Samson Meteor, has proved particularly popular as of late. For good reason, too, since the Meteor does well to keep up pace with the Blue Yeti, its closest competitor in both capability and size. The biggest difference between the Yeti and the Meteor by far, though, is the price. The Meteor routinely costs about half the price of the Blue Yeti but offers a very serviceable audio quality and a unique design. It might just be the best budget USB mic for those who don’t have the cash for fork out for a Blue Yeti.

In the Meteor, you’ll be getting a 25mm diaphragm with a cardioid pickup, delivering impressive 16-bit, 48 kHz quality for a mic in this price range. It’ll also work with your Apple smart device, be that iPhone or iPad as long as you have Apple’s official converter. One of the nicest features of the Samson Meteor, though, is its folding tripod stand that retracts enough to make this an incredibly portable USB mic and a good one to keep with you on your journeys.

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CAD U37

CAD

While we’re talking about some of the more affordable options out there for USB mics, the CAD U37 is an impressive package for a relatively tiny microphone. This little mic packs in a large cardioid pick-up pattern which offers impressive sound isolation along with 10dB overload-protection to prevent clipping and distortion. You’ll also find a bass reduction switch just in case you can’t handle all those rumbly lower tones.

This one is designed and works best when recording musical instruments, so keep that in mind when you’re considering which USB mic is best for you. Because of this, the sound quality doesn’t quite match up to some of the other mics on this list when it comes to podcasting, streaming or singing. That being said, if you’re in a pinch budget-wise, you can do far worse than this one. For the price, it’s actually one of the better USB mics on the market and you won’t find it letting you down anytime soon. A fine alternative to the more expensive heavy hitters.

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Rode NT-USB

Rode NT

Rode is rather legendary for creating some of the absolute best microphones and other audio equipment in the world. You can find their microphones in virtually every recording studio, radio station or podcast room you can find. The Rode NT-USB does the company proud once again, delivering an impeccably solid and well-built USB mic that manages to deliver astounding audio quality each and every time.

The NT-USB is actually one of the newest models available from the company and one of the first to be purely USB-connected. It’s got a cardioid directional pattern, mixing controls directly on the mic itself, a pressure gradient with a SPL of 110dB (meaning it can take pretty much anything you could possibly throw at it), and comes with an included pop-screen, tripod, ring mount and storage pouch, along with the USB cable you’ll need to actually use it.

That’s one heck of a complete package, especially from such a well-regarded company and for such a high-quality microphone. This one gives the Blue Yeti some serious competition, especially with all the included accessories but it hasn’t been around long enough for it to dethrone the Yeti. Not yet, at least.

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Samson Go Mic

Samson Go Mic

Another one of these ultra-tiny USB mics now, with the Samson Go Mic. This one stands out from the crowd a bit due to its unique design. It’s also one of the cheapest USB mics we’ve seen that’s actually worth buying.

Design-wise, the Samson Go Mic is a bit of a wonder. It quite literally folds in on itself to become a travel-sized USB mic that you can slip into a pocket with ease. This makes it ideal for anyone who needs to journey across the country, be mobile for podcasting or record while out at events. It also comes complete with a USB cable, a clip for said cable, a stand adapter and a zipper carrying pouch.

For the budget-level price this thing has, the audio quality is remarkable. It’s not going to rival the bigger and more expensive USB mics on this list but considering the cost and the size of the Samson Go Mic, you’re getting far more than your money’s worth. With the Go, Samson is competing directly with the Blue Snowball and from the looks of things, has created a very worthy contender who is far more portable and just a little bit more adorable.

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So there you have it, our top picks for the best USB microphones in 2017. Did we miss any USB mics that really should be on this list? Feel free to let us know over on Twitter or Facebook and we’ll take a look. Be sure to sign up to the Jelly Deals newsletter, too to never miss a bargain.

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