Music has transformed dramatically in the last two decades. Although the nature of music, especially popular music, has taken an interesting direction, music as a whole continues to be an extremely influence for the masses. In spite of the structural and technical changes in the music industry, one aspect has been unanimously favorable – for all kinds of musicians, composers, and music-lovers in general.
The aspect of recording music has become incredibly convenient for everyone in this digital age, and the idea of creating good quality music from the comfort of your own home studio has become a common, but effective tool for many. This is where a USB microphone comes in – as the quintessential tool for recording music and also various other audio content, such as podcasts in this review we will cover the highest quality and best budget usb microphones available.
The USB microphone is basically a recording device that can be connected to any USB port on your laptop or personal computer. The plug and play feature of these devices have resulted in a huge surge in their sales, as more and more people can now record their own music with relative ease and minimum hassle. It has also made recording very easy and cost-effective for the average unestablished musician.
Various mixing and mastering softwares, used in tandem with the USB microphone, further expand the horizons when it comes to editing and fine-tuning your own music files and recordings. If you’re looking for a few tips and pointers on how to choose the best budget USB microphone for your recording purposes, you have come to exactly the right place.
In this article, we will take a detailed and in-depth look into the various USB microphones available in the market and which one is best suited for your own musical tastes and preferences, while also keeping a strict eye on any financial constraints you might have.
You have the option of going straight to our top 10 list of the best budget USB microphones, although we always urge you to be diligent in your own research, before choosing a product. Now, we will take a look at some of the important factors that makes a USB microphone stand ou,t and the benefits and advantages that you may expect from different models.
You can properly weigh up your options and be confident while spending your hard-earned money. We start our initial discussions with why you should choose a USB microphone for your purposes as opposed to a traditional one.
USB Microphones vs Traditional Microphones
Both of these types have advantages and disadvantages when it comes to connecting them to an audio interface via XLR or ¼-inch inputs. The major reason why USB microphones are increasingly preferred by artists, is because it does not require additional audio equipment to be plugged into a computer. So long as you have a laptop or desktop computer or other USB-equipped audio recording device and DAW software, you can be assured that the USB microphone will serve all your purposes without much hassle.
Another potent feature that tips the scales in favor of USB microphones, is that they usually come with an audio interface that is built into their housing, and for this reason it constitutes a much cheaper option, than buying a separate mic and interface. If you a strict budget, consider the USB mic. It is far more superior to the traditional variant, owing to the fact that it’s much easier and affordable, and makes good quality records, without breaking the bank.
As far as limitations or disadvantages go, it’s quite uncommon to find USB inputs on mixing boards or audio interfaces. A few of our most favored USB mics listed below have additional XLR connectors to overcome this problem. Moreover, a separate mixing board or interface allows you to assert greater control over the EQ and mixing of your microphone signals. This is something seasoned and experienced sound engineers favor and are highly appreciative of.
Factors to Consider Choosing The Best Budget USB Microphone 2019
Conversion To Digital Audio
This factor is likely to determine how competent your USB microphone is, or will be and whether it is really worth the money you are planning to spend on it. The capacity to convert audio from analog to the digital format is inbuilt in the case of a USB mic.
In other cases, this function is usually performed by a computer audio interface or a mixing board. This function is very important and should be given adequate importance, as it will ultimately determine three other vital cogs of the system. These are the sampling rate, bit depth, and latency.
Essentially, conversion of audio waveforms into digital data format, basically means to capture a significantly large number of samples, with each sample being considered as a snapshot or a window of the music’s current waveforms.
The rate of the speed and depth at which these samples are captured, are usually the overriding factors that determine the quality of your digital recording. In the case of a USB mic, the sample rate and bit depth gives clues about the level of quality we can come to expect from the recording.
The sample rate is fundamentally, a yardstick, used to measure the speed and is denoted by the unit Kilohertz or kHz. The human ear can only capture sound in a range of limited frequencies and for that purpose, it is necessary to use a sample rate of at least 44.1kHz—the rate used on CDs. Although this is a standard sample rate suited for purposes of recording, you will want to make sure your microphone supports it at a minimum.
If you are a professional in this field, then you will probably know that A/V equipment often uses 48kHz and 96kHz sample rates; in part because they are compatible with other professional production tools, and offer the best choices when it comes to aspects of definition and editing options.
The bit depth of a digital recording is the marker which is used to determine how many bits of information each sample contains. This is basically a yardstick to measure the level of detail or resolution of the recording in question. CD’s usually have a 16-bit depth, and this should be the bare minimum depth that your microphone should be able to handle.
When it comes to professional audio equipment, they commonly use 24-bit samples, which can be achieved using a few select USB microphones.
Latency is a concept that is used to gauge the delay between the time a sound reaches your microphone, and the time it takes for the signal to be converted into a digital signal, and played back via monitoring gear. This is another crucial aspect that you should look at, while deliberating on the best budget USB mic. This aspect becomes pertinent when you are recording a new track, or while listening to the playback of previously recorded tracks with headphones.
As a general rule, it should be noted that the higher the quality of a USB mic, the lower is its latency. If real-time monitoring is important for your purposes, there are certain USB manufacturers who deal with latency, by including a headphone output specifically for real-time monitoring during recording.
Condenser vs Dynamic Microphones
This article so far has been based on the assumption that you are looking for a USB mic for recording purposes exclusively, as opposed to performing live on stage. In all honesty, you probably don’t want to plug in your microphone into your computer while performing live on stage!
The same mistake is made by the manufacturers who design their USB microphones for audio recording rather than live sound. This means that most models in this regard are condenser models, as opposed to dynamic. In most studios, condenser mics are far more popular than dynamic ones, and this is because of factors such as extended frequency, response range and better transient response.
However, when it comes to overly loud sources, condenser mics can become a problem, as they are a lot more delicate in build and specs when compared to dynamic variants. Because of this, dynamic mics are a lot more common and desirable to be used on stage, where you expect much more rugged use, especially for hand-held variants.
In spite of all this, certain manufacturers have started to mold the trend somewhat, by building dynamic microphones that add a USB port to the usual XLR connector. These road-ready mics can be easily plugged into your computer or sound console, enduring in function as a double-duty device, ideal for functioning on stage as well as for recording purposes in the studio.
Microphone Diaphragm Size
Another factor through which microphones differ, is by the size of their diaphragms- the mic component that first reacts to the large sound input. It has been observed after careful and considered research, that large-diaphragm models are better for all purposes.
They are a lot more efficient, when contrasted with the small-diaphragm ones. Another additional component of these models is that they pick up low frequencies better, as compared to their small-diaphragm variants.
The latter, however, on the other hand, excel when it comes to recording with various acoustic instruments which are characterized by a high degree of resonance and overtones (for e.g. guitars) and high-pitched instruments. The Audix USB12 USB Condenser Mic, for example, is optimized for capturing vocals and acoustic instruments.
Mic Polar Patterns
Microphones are designed and engineered based on a particular structure, that allows the device to pick up sound in different ways and from different directions. Often, the design is suited to recording sound coming from a specific direction. In some cases or even in most cases, you are probably better off by getting a microphone that is suited to recording sound coming from all directions.
There may be other situations where you might have to look for a more specific design that records sound coming from a particular direction. The most common patterns for USB mics and their mechanism for functioning is given below :
These mics derive their name from their heart-shaped pickup patterns, essentially designed to pick up sound coming from the front, with some partially reduced responsiveness at the sides. If you’re on a recording setup where the source of the sound is diluted, and it is inconvenient to pick up the sound from any one direction, this type of mic is best suited for your purposes. These types of mics are used in various common recording studios. There are also semi-cardioid polar patterns which have a narrower field.
These variants of USB mics are essential if you are looking to capture ambient sounds coming from different directions, or in general if the source of sound is spread out and when you want to capture the sound of the room, as well as the source itself. It is also extremely effective at recording several instruments together, especially acoustic instruments, all in one go.
Modern technology has really made so recording so much easier owing to the various kinds of polar patterns their designs are based upon. If there are occasions where you sometimes require a cardioid mic in one instance and an omnidirectional one in others, you might just be better off getting a multi-pattern mic model with switchable pickup patterns. These are also referred to as switchable or multi-directional mics.
USB Microphone Controls
As USB microphones are capable of integrating functions traditionally associated with amplifiers and other external audio interfaces, their mode of operation is slightly different as compared to standard microphones, as they perform more detailed and complicated functions.
This is why they are often endowed with additional buttons and controls that you wouldn’t find in standard traditional mics. They usually have a volume control knob, which allows you to adjust the microphone output. Also, as we have mentioned above already, some may have polar pattern selectors.
Top 10 Best Budget USB Microphones 2018
1. Fifine Technology USB Microphone
Our first product is a well crafted and highly functional USB microphone from FIFINE Technology that uses the simple, yet effective plug and play mechanism. The user is simply required to plug the device in a suitable USB port, and then select it as their input software.
With this mic, you can easily create your own music – that too on the go. The device is also fully compatible with both Windows and Mac operating systems, so you can use it with virtually any personal computer.
Additionally, the distinctive Omni pickup pattern is characterized by high-quality noise cancellation, and isolates the main source. This mic will take care of a whole lot of needs and requirements, apart from traditional audio recordings such as Skype, Discord, Yahoo Recording, YouTube Recording, Google Voice Search and Steam.
It is also endowed with an extended frequency response, which is extremely beneficial for a whole host of other purposes like singing, speech and voice – over all of which contributes to getting a whole new level of quality.
This device in many respects, is among the best in the market for this price range. It can be used as a desktop microphone to use for a whole variety of different purposes such as recording studio vocals to speech, gaming, podcasts, and desktop recording.
As far as the brilliance of transparent sound goes, there are few which can claim to match up to the quality of this mic, and considering the modest pricing of the product, it is easy to see why this has been christened as one of the best budget USB microphones in the market.
2. Blue Yeti USB Microphone – Silver
Our second product on this list is another well known USB microphone, that has been turning heads in the market since its introduction. Equipped with a tri-capsule system, you can use these 3 condenser capsules to record music literally anywhere and at any time.The capsules have an average life expectancy of a lengthy 12 years as well, which is very high and rare for this price range.
This device has been favored by many experienced as well as newbie musicians, because of its incredible versatility and dynamic controls, coupled with fantastic quality. The versatility aspect is typically embodied in its potential for multiple pattern selection comprising cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional & stereo. Other impressive eye-catching features include gain control, mute button, zero-latency headphone output.
This exceptional USB mic is sure to be your boon companion in any number of recording purposes concerning musical instruments, podcasting, voiceovers, interviews, field recordings, and conference calls. The device is compatible with Windows as well as Mac operating systems that allow you to use it without worry, and with almost any personal computer of your choice. It also requires a minimum of 64 MB of RAM, which is found in all computers today.
The operational aspect of this device is what makes it so widely acclaimed among music enthusiasts. All essential controls such as headphone volume, pattern selection, instant mute, and microphone gain, can be controlled using simple and effective buttons. Blue Microphone’s Yeti requires no complicated drivers to operate, and works in the simple plug and play mold, and is also backed by a two-year warranty.
All these factors taken together, should be enough to convince you that when it comes to giving quality service at a cost-friendly price, this mic is certainly not messing around.
3. Tonor PC Microphone USB
When it comes to faith and assurance, Tonor has been setting the standards in the recording industry, by virtue of its impressive track record of performance with all types of equipment in general, and with USB microphones in particular. As far as the discussion goes, for the best budget USB microphone, Tonor will always have a place on that list, and this particular model will surely be in the mix.
A highly portable, efficient and easy to use the device, this is compatible with a wide array of software, and is known for producing consistent levels of excellent performances when it comes to sound quality. Also, in terms of sturdiness and consistency, it is probably one of the most highly durable products of this type found currently in the market.
Using simple plug and play feature, you can connect it to your Windows or Mac operating systems. This device is great for a whole host of audio functions, apart from recording such as video chat through FB, Twitter, Ins, MSN, Skype etc.
Along with this fine microphone, you will also get an impressive desktop tripod microphone stand, that features a holder which can be swiveled up to 180 degrees to achieve precision and accuracy in positioning. you can have complete control over the source of your sound.
This microphone has been turning heads also because of its 10 ft. maximum recording distance, with the utmost low levels of distortion, high fidelity, balanced frequency response, and outstanding HD audio. This product comes with a solid one-year warranty, much like many of its cousin products and it is easy to see why there has been an exceptional surge in sales, as far this USB mic is concerned.
4. Samson Go Mic Portable USB Condenser Microphone
Our next addition on this glorious list comes in the form of Samson Go Mic that has been tearing up the market recently, owing to its incredible service record and more than pleased customers.
This excellent all-rounded device, that is sure to take care of all your audio recording, as well as other accessory requirements. When it comes to portable USB condenser microphones, there are few in the market that can stand toe to toe with this one. Engineered to function using the well-known plug and play mechanism, this device is compatible with your personal computer and does not require any additional drivers to function.
The eye-catching feature of this impressive recording tool, is how well designed it is – to be able to fit in almost anywhere with its custom compact design. You can comfortably clip it to a laptop or even put in on a desk.
Although it has been designed keeping in mind the feature of multiple uses, it is best suited to an aspect of recording music, podcasting, and field recording. Constructed using the best quality components and meticulous and detailed engineering down to the bare bones, it is no surprise that this product has given stiff competition to all other major players in the market.
Also, with a frequency response of 20Hz – 18kHz and a resolution of 16-bit/44.1kHz, you can be assured of studio-level quality for your recordings. The clarity of recording, is great bonus as well, as it is equipped with both cardioid and omnidirectional patterns.
Very rarely is it seen that a product of this quality, with such impressive all-around features, is available at such a low price in the market. We have no qualms to bring it into this list as one the best budget USB microphones 2018 has brought to you.
5. eBerry USB Microphone
Various microphones have been designed for various purposes but few in the marke can stake claim to being great for a number of different purposes. This is where our latest product on this list comes in – as a great budget USB microphone that is compatible with both Mac and Windows operating systems, and is easily usable by accessing the simple plug and play feature.
Weighing in at a meager 2.4 ounces, it is easy to see why this product has been touted as one the best, if not the best portable microphones in the market. One of the most defining features of this mic is the noise cancellation aspect, which is designed to filter out background noises for crisp and clear audio of a level of quality that is unreal for this modest price.
It comes with an adjustable neck, that allows you to fit it in a host of different locations, so that you have a degree of flexibility while using it. You can be guaranteed while purchasing this microphone, that it will give you sustained and consistent levels of impressive sound quality, just as it has given to so many others before you who were smart enough to invest their hard earned money on this product. As far as budget USB microphones go, this is surely right up there with the best on this list.
6. USB Microphone, Fifine Metal Condenser Recording Microphone
The mark of any quality product is based upon the reception it gets in the market. This latest addition on our list has received all the applause that you can think of.
The wide acclaim received by this product has been much deserved, as it has a nearly untouchable track record in terms of consistency of performance and delivery. Based on the traditional plug and play system of use, this USB mic is extremely easy to set up with your personal computer, so that you can get it to record your favorite pieces of music, in no time whatsoever.
A very impressive, but often overlooked aspect of this mic is its incredible durability and stability. A solid sturdy metal foundation is complemented brilliantly by a tripod stand, that is extremely convenient to use when you are you are doing voice-overs or live streams on YouTube.
The recording microphone is provided with an additional button for volume control with a very loud output system, so that your voice can be heard clearly and in detail, while engaging in a whole host of different activities such as gaming, skyping or voice recording.
Additionally, its fine USB condenser microphone works very smoothly with software such as Cortana, Discord, voice chat, and voice recognition. The cardioid polar pattern is built for the explicit purpose of capturing your voice with the utmost clarity, and to also produce clear smooth and crisp sound without static noise. Considering all these impressive features it’s easy to see why it merits a place on this list.
7. Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ Cardioid Condenser
Audio Technica has been one of the most widely renowned brands when it comes various kinds of sound equipment, and it is no coincidence that it has built up such an impressive reputation over the years, as of one the giants of the audio industry.
Its latest model the AT2020USB+ is a fine example of a modern, flexible and user-friendly condenser microphone with USB output ,that is perfect for digital recording.
It is also supplemented by a high-quality A/D converter with 16 bit, 44.1/48 kHz sampling rate for a whole new level of audio quality, that you will be surprised to find at this price range. It also has a headphone jack endowed with a volume control knob, so that you can monitor the mic signal with the greatest of accuracy and precision and avoid delay.
If you’re looking for a device that can give you a superior clarity and musical detail, as well as more volume, this device is your calling – thanks to the high-output internal headphone amplifier.
Additionally, it comes with the feature of mix control, that allows you to blend your microphone signal and pre-recorded audio. AS far as issues of compatibility go, it is compatible with Windows 7, Vista, XP, 2000 and Mac OS X. All of these features makes this product an excellent option for consumers looking for a USB mic to be efficient in podcasting, home studio recording, field recording, and voiceover use. All this is available to you at the most ridiculously modest price – this really is a win-win.
8. Rode NT-USB USB Condenser Microphone
With the next product on this list, we continue to explore some of the best and most effective budget USB microphones that can be used for a variety of different purposes. The Rode NT-USB USB condenser microphone is an ideal choice for many seasoned and fresh music enthusiasts, as well as vastly experienced sound engineers who have been working in the industry for years.
This high-quality studio mic has a very alluring feature of ultra-low noise control and is also compatible with an Apple iPad, along with various other operating systems. Other impressive features include On-mic mix control, and a zero-latency stereo headphone monitoring (3.5 millimeters) jack, that allows you to seamlessly monitor the microphone input in real time. The NT-USB is a highly versatile device that is ideal for different kinds of recording singing and musical performances.
In addition to spoken applications such as podcasting and voice-over. Taking all this into consideration, we are assured of its quality and performance and would like to recommend it to you as one of the best budget USB mics available in the market.
9. USB Microphone, Fifine PC Microphone for Mac and Windows Computers
The Fifine PC microphone comes in as the penultimate product on our list and like all the other products before it, it has the backing of a strong and sturdy reputation, from industry hardened experts, who have given the green light to this device on many occasions.
The ease of setting up this drive is well known for its straightforward plug and play feature, that allows you to install and use it in the blink of an eye, without any imaginable hassle.
Moreover, the all-metal construction is great for ensuring the sturdiness of this product. It also has the added benefit of allowing you to monitor your voice during streaming and live performances, so that you know exactly where you stand at all times.
It also has great compatibility statistics with a host of different software such as audacity, sound forge, dxtory, skype, push-to-talk, VoIP program, Discord etc. If you’re looking to run a tight ship, but are fascinated by the idea of a good quality USB mic, then this will be arguably one of your most cherished buys.
10. Marantz Professional MPM-2000U
Finally, upon reaching the end of this list, our last product is a Marantz Professional MPM-2000U studio condenser USB microphone that has been designed mainly for the ultimate purpose of Digital Audio Workstation recording.
It is equipped with such fascinating features such as fast transient response, and a frequency response of 20 – 18,000 Hz. The body is composed of a solid diecast construction that should be enough to assure you of its durability.
A cardioid pickup pattern brings vibrancy and dynamics to higher frequency sounds and keeps environment noise at a minimum. This dynamic USB mic is perfect for recording high-quality audio directly to a computer or digital audio workstation (DAW), and also allows you to achieve the convenience of recording to your computer through a single USB connection without a trade-off quality.
Adding up all these factors, it is easy to see why this product has received so many positive reviews, and it should definitely be in your shopping list as well, while you are considering the best budget USB microphone in the current market.
Your search for the best budget USB microphone ends here, we have covered all the vital information which will help you choose the best from the lot. We have also listed the top 10 USB microphones after hours of research.