best podcast microphone

Choosing your podcast microphone is probably the first major purchase you’ll make as a podcaster.

In fact, I’d argue that buying the right microphone is the single smartest investment you can make in your podcast. 

It’s not hiring Oprah’s podcast editor or finding the right theme music. And it’s not having the perfect podcast graphic, or even landing your dream podcast guest.

It’s the microphone.

Audio quality is your podcast’s first impression on listeners, and if it sounds like it’s been cheaply produced, you’ll immediately come across as unprofessional or inexperienced. (And we can’t have that.)

But here’s the good news! Getting great audio quality on your podcast isn’t as expensive as you’d think, and it all comes down to choosing the right microphone.

In this post, we’ll share why great audio matters, how we researched our top recommendations, and why our top USB microphone for podcasters is the fan-favorite Blue Yeti.

This blog post may contain affiliate links. These links do not add additional cost to your purchase, but I may receive a small payment if you choose one of these products. Please read our disclosure if you’d like more information. (Your trust matters to us, so we promise to only recommend products we love!)

Why does a great podcast microphone matter?

Even though your tribe (probably) isn’t full of audio production experts, they’re all listening experts. In fact, you’re probably a listening expert yourself!

Here’s what I mean.

Think about how often we’re exposed to professional-quality audio:

We listen to Sara Bareilles on Spotify. (On repeat…) 

We watch bakers stare down their ovens on the Great British Bakeoff. 

We gasp when something happens in Harry Potter that I’d never dream of spoiling.

And in every movie, TV show, or song we hear, we’re listening to high-budget high-quality audio perfection.

On the other hand, we also know exactly what bad audio sounds like. 

Have you ever been on a conference call with someone across the country, and all you hear is, “Thanks, Mandy for sh—-ing—– {static static fizzle fizzle}.”

And then you lose ‘em.

Those grainy, staticky conference calls are what your podcast will sound like if you don’t invest in the right microphone. 

And since we can’t afford to lose your listeners based on something as fundamental as audio quality, we need to get the right microphone in your hands ASAP.

How different could the best podcast microphone possibly be? (I’ve got audio samples!)

I really want you to hear the difference for yourself. 

So here are two audio clips I recorded: one with my computer microphone and one with my Blue Yeti.

I didn’t move between recordings, so everything is the same except the microphone. (I didn’t even get up to get my second cup of coffee, even though it is definitely time for another round.)

Also, these are raw audio clips, which means I have made zero edits or adjustments. This is not fake news, people.

So here’s round one. This is what a recording sounds like using my computer microphone:

Doesn’t it sound like I’m far away? I’m literally sitting at my computer, but it’s very echo-y, which distracts me from the content.

Compare that to round two. Here’s what a recording sounds like using my Blue Yeti microphone:

Can you hear how much clearer it sounds? Instead of feeling like I’m halfway across the room, now it feels like we’re in a room together.

And that’s what I want you to sound like. 

Quick Note: I’ve been shocked to realize how many new podcasters don’t invest in the right microphone. So when you choose one of our favorites from the list below, it’s one more big way your podcast will stand out from the pack.

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Criteria for the best podcast microphone

If you’ve done any microphone research on your own, you may have noticed that there are about a thousand microphones out there. A zillion, probably.

Some are better for podcasters. Others are better for musicians or gamers.

And lots of microphones are very complicated and very expensive.

Before we share our top microphones for new podcasters, I want to talk about the criteria we used to make our recommendations. That way you won’t just feel confident about which microphone to choose, but also why you chose it.

But if you want to jump ahead to our #1 podcast recommendation for beginners, please feel free!

Here’s what you should look for in a microphone:

1. Unless you love gear, choose a universal USB microphone.

Here’s the first eye-opener; not all microphones connect to a computer right out of the box.

Many microphones were created with musicians in mind, and musicians aren’t typically plugging microphones into laptops the way we are. 

But in the last 5 years, USB microphone quality has come a long way. And it’s largely based on the demand from both podcasters and gamers. (Good news for us!)

Without getting too technical, there are two broad microphone connector types:

  • USB Microphones: These microphones come with a cord that connects the microphone to a USB outlet on your computer. No additional equipment needed.
  • XML Microphones: I can tell I lost a few of you already with this new acronym. Unlike USBs, XLR microphones do not plug directly into a computer. Instead, they plug into what’s called an Audio Interface,  aka a snazzy little rectangle that sits on your desk and accepts cords from different places. 

I’ve used both types, and the USB experience is so much simpler.

And it’s true that audio professionals and big podcast production companies use XML microphones in-studio since they’re considered the gold standard, or “most professional.”

But I’m here to reassure you that a USB microphone is the perfect choice for new podcasters. 

In my experience, the difference in audio quality between USB and XML microphones is too slight for the average listener to notice.  

So unless you have incredibly ambitious and complicated audio dreams – btw, maybe simplify? – then the USB mic is the right choice.

Note: Not all USB microphones work on both Macs and PCs, so if you go with your own choice, make sure to double-check the fine print. Typically “universal USB” means that it will work with all computers and does not require advanced setup. All of our picks below are universal and compatible with both operating systems, so booyah.

2. Condenser vs dynamic microphones for podcasters

If USB vs XLR answers, “How does this microphone connect to my other technology?” then this difference tells you, “How is the microphone itself built?”

I’m going to keep this answer high-level because this is a technology rabbit hole that I don’t think most podcasters need to stress about.

Condenser microphones are like a magnifying glass for all audio. They’re very sensitive, and they pick up sound in a very detailed and accurate way.

That’s why our top microphones for new podcasters are mostly condenser mics. Your microphone should ideally focus on just your voice and then capture your beautiful words as precisely as possible.

But the problem with condenser microphones can be background noise. 

Because they’re so sensitive, they’ll pick up on a lot of background noise if you’re in a loud room. But if you’re recording in a quiet place – which is what we recommend! – then a condenser mic is right for you.

Dynamic microphones are typically used to record loud sounds and a narrower range of frequencies, so if you talk right into the microphone, they can be better for recording if you’re in a loud place because they won’t catch as much of the background noise as a condenser microphone would.

That said, you’ll lose a little bit of richness in your tone with a dynamic microphone. So unless you’re concerned about background noise, we tend to recommend condenser microphones for at-home podcasters.

The other noteworthy consideration is the power source. Because of the way condenser microphones are built, they always have a cord that connects to an external power source (like your computer). 

On the other hand, dynamic microphones can be self-powered, which means you could take one on the go and record with the microphone alone. 

3. We want the best podcast microphone under $200.

We know you’re budget savvy, and that’s why all of our microphones are in a reasonable price range. As you grow your podcast and audience, you might want to upgrade your microphone to one of the $400+ options.

But truthfully, most six-figure podcasters are using one of our recommended mics below. They get the job done and they don’t break the bank. (You don’t need that $500 Rode mic for a while. I promise.)

Our #1 microphone for podcasters: Blue Yeti USB Microphone

The Blue Yeti is by far the top-recommended podcast microphone. And for good reason!

It’s a USB condenser microphone (check, check) at a reasonable price point with great audio quality. As soon as you take it out of the box, you can plug the USB into your computer and start recording. 

No software. No complicated setup. So easy.

One of the biggest reasons why people choose the Blue Yeti over similar microphones is the option to change your sound recording pattern. There are settings for solo recording (cardioid), two-person recording (bi-directional), and even group recordings (omnidirectional). 

[Quick note: I’d still recommend two separate microphones for a co-hosted show. You’d have to sit veryyy close together to share a Blue Yeti. But it’s great to have options for different recording types.]

The Yeti comes with a few basic controls right on the microphone. (With an XLR mic, these wouldn’t be on the microphone. You’d need that separate piece of gear, the audio interface.) 

The basic controls include:

  • Mute button
  • 4 pattern choices (you’ll want cardioid, but I’ll save that for another day)
  • Gain setting
  • 3.5mm headphone jack, with volume control

The Yeti also comes on a stand, which means you won’t need to buy one separately. You have your choice of so many colors, and it’s typically priced around $120.

Oh, and the yeti mascot is adorable. But that’s just the icing on the, er, microphone.

Amazon: Blue Yeti USB Microphone

Other great podcast microphones

The Blue Yeti is my personal favorite and the one I’ve recommended to all new podcasters for the last two years. But of course, there are a few other great options if you prefer a different brand, price point, functionality, or style:

Also Great: Audio-Technica AT2020USB Plus Condenser Microphone with Pop Filter

When you factor in the pop filter and carrying case, this microphone is priced comparably to the Blue Yeti and is from another excellent brand (Audio-Technica).

This microphone is slightly more portable than the Yeti because it comes with a carrying case, and the stand is a folding tripod. 

But other than the aesthetics and stand type, the AT2020+ and the Blue Yeti will offer very similar sound quality. Another great choice!

Learn More: Audio-Technica AT2020USB Plus Condenser Microphone with Pop Filter (Amazon)

Also Great: Rode NT-USB Versatile Studio-Quality USB Cardioid Condenser Microphone

The NT-USB is a highly versatile side-address microphone ideal for recording any kind of vocals with all mainstream recording applications. The body features a zero-latency 3.5mm headphone jack to monitor microphone input. A premium pop-filter is included, which fits onto the base of the mic, positioning the filter the ideal distance from the capsule to minimize plosives during singing or speech. Also provided is a stand mount with 3/8″ thread, desktop tripod stand, and a pouch for storage.

Learn More: Rode NT-USB Versatile Studio-Quality USB Cardioid Condenser Microphone (Amazon)

Portable: Samson Go Mic Portable USB Condenser Microphone

Y’all, this microphone is tiny. The Samson Go Mic folds into itself like origami and is easy to carry around in your pocket. It can also clip onto the top of your computer screen, which can be fun.

At $30-40, this is the most affordable microphone on the list. And we wouldn’t recommend it if the sound quality was poor. However, the Blue Yeti and the AT2020+ will both have warmer, higher-quality audio because the microphone technology hasn’t had to adapt to this portable lil’ pocket size.

So if you’re recording on-the-move, or even want a backup microphone to record sound bytes “on the street,” this is a great choice. If you’re recording primarily at your computer and have the funds, we’d strongly recommend the Yeti or AT2020+.

Learn More: Samson Go Mic Portable USB Condenser Microphone (Amazon)

Budget: CAD U37 USB Studio

Similar to our recommendations above, the CAD U37 is a universal USB condenser microphone that works on both Macs and PCs. But the biggest difference is the price point.

At $59, this budget choice still includes a stand and a USB cable. (Like the Blue Yeti, you’ll need to buy a pop filter separately.) From yet another solid audio brand, this is a great value-packed microphone if you’re on a budget.

You won’t get as many basic controls or sound recording patterns as you do with the Blue Yeti, and audio professionals would notice a difference in sound quality. But this is still a… sound choice. (I couldn’t help myself.)

Learn More: CAD U37 USB Studio (Amazon)

Budget: Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB Cardioid Dynamic USB Microphone

This microphone is often recommended as a great choice for beginner podcasters.

Fans of the ATR2100 love that it focuses on the podcaster’s voice and doesn’t pick up much background noise.  It’s also fairly portable since it’s smaller and lighter than the Blue Yeti. 

It doesn’t have as much flexibility or control as the Blue Yeti does, but if you’re looking for a straightforward beginner microphone, this is another great option.

Learn More: Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB Cardioid Dynamic USB Microphone (Amazon)

The must-have accessory: a pop filter

A pop filter is an inexpensive sound muffler that will make “p” sounds less harsh. (They won’t “pop” as much.) For under $20, this is a must-have accessory, no matter which microphone you choose.

Here are a few options we recommend:

Pop Filter For Blue Yeti Microphone (Amazon)

Aokeo Professional Microphone Pop Filter Mask Shield For Blue Yeti and Any Other Microphon (Amazon)
–> (Note: This one is cheaper than the first choice, but I think the arm is slightly harder to attach to your microphone. )


Leave a comment!

So which microphone did you pick? (Or did I miss your favorite on my list?) Let me know in the comments!