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The 10 Best-Rated Microphones for Streaming (2022 Overview)

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The 10 Best-Rated Microphones for Streaming (2022 Overview)

Streamers no longer have to stick with their computer or headset’s in-built mic. Most streamers will advocate for a desktop mic every single time. They’re super easy to set up, come at all sorts of price points, and will make a difference in your stream. 

Whether you're live streaming to YouTube, Twitch, or LinkedIn, you should be ready to upgrade your setup with an external mic. With the number of different mics on the market, it can be hard to tell A from B. Various factors come into choosing a mic; in this article, we walk you through what each of them means to make an informed decision.

TL;DR 

  • Our top recommended mic for streaming is the Shure SM7B.
  • When you’re choosing a mic, you should think about frequency response, connection method, polar pattern, the ADC, the sample rate and bit depth, as well as the capsule type.
  • USB mics are great for beginners, XLR mics offer enhanced audio quality but are more expensive.
  • The best gaming mic is the Razer Seiren X.
  • The best mic for streamers on a budget is the Blue Yeti Nano.

What type of mic is best for streaming?

When you ask what type of mic is best for streaming, you’re asking an extremely broad question. This is because multiple variables can make a mic different, ranging from the connectivity, the polar pickup pattern, whether it’s a condenser or dynamic mic, and its frequency response. These elements come together to give a microphone its specific characteristics, making it more or less suitable for different environments. For this reason, it’s essential to know what your streaming setup looks like and understand what all these various aspects mean. 

What is the best microphone for streaming

If you’re simply on the market for the best of the best, we’d recommend the Shure SM7B. You won’t be disappointed. 

How to choose the best microphone for streaming

Before we dive into our recommendations, we’re giving a quick intro to the key factors that come together to give a mic its characteristics: 

Frequency response

A mics frequency response tells you about the range of frequencies that your mic can capture. The standard frequency response you’re looking for is 20Hz - 20kHz. 

Connection method

You can either choose to have a USB or XLR mic and in all honesty, you can achieve pretty similar high-quality audio with either connection method. That said, each streamer has their preference. 

Should I get a USB or XLR mic for streaming?

USB microphones are better for beginners or streamers who want to keep their setup affordable and straightforward. Simply plug into your pc or mac and start recording. 

XLR mics are more ‘professional,’ offering outstanding audio quality, but are also a much more significant investment because they require you to have an XLR cable, an audio interface (or mixer), and a digital audio workstation (DAW). That being said, XLR mics are also more robust and resistant to rough handling. 

XLR Three pin microphone cable

Polar pattern

A mic’s polar pattern indicates which direction(s) or angle(s)it picks up the most audio. The three most common polar patterns are cardioid, omnidirectional, and bidirectional. 

Cardioid

Cardioid pickup pattern mics are most sensitive to audio coming from the front of the mic. They’re a good choice for live streaming because they cut out irrelevant sound and noises stemming from the back of the mic, meaning the main focus will be your voice. 

You’ll also come across super-cardioid and hyper-cardioid mics. These are different variations of the standard cardioid polar pattern designed to be even better at cutting out background noise. 

Cardioid microphone polar pattern

Omnidirectional

As the name suggests, omnidirectional mics pick up sound around the mic. The only thing to watch out for with omnidirectional mics is that in addition to your voice, they’re prone to picking up unwanted background noise too. 

Omnidirectional microphone polar pattern

Bidirectional

Bidirectional mics, also known as ‘figure 8’, pick up audio from two directions - usually the front and back. They’re most useful in an interview context, for example, because you can position the mic between you and your guest. 

Bidirectional microphone polar pattern

Analog-to-digital converter quality

All digital microphones (USB mics) have a built-in analog-to-digital converter (ADC). The converter’s job is to transform the input analog audio into a digital output format. The quality of the ADC will affect both the tone reproduction and vocal clarity of your mic. 


Analog to digital conversion from a Blue Yeti condenser microphone to a laptop
Image source: Blue Mic

Digital signal quality (bit depth/sample rate)

The quality of the audio output produced by the ADC comes down to its bit depth and sample rate. 

Sample rate tells you the number of times per second the analog signal picked up by the mic is ‘sampled.’ The most standard sample rates are 44.1kHz and 48kHz. 

Bit depth refers to the difference between the loudest and quietest volume or what is otherwise known as the ‘dynamic range.’ A typical bit depth is 16-bits. 

Generally speaking, the higher the bit and sample rate are, the better the audio quality. You’re looking for a minimum of 16-bit/48kHz. 

Tonal reproduction

Tonal reproduction is all about how closely the microphone outputs match the input. How closely the microphone can reproduce your voice. 

Different mics accommodate different voice and vocal ranges, better or worse. For example, if you’ve got a lower voice, look for a mic that boosts mid-range frequencies. 

Vocal clarity

Vocal clarity is all about how clear the output sound is from a microphone. The biggest influence on a mic’s vocal clarity is its sensitivity and the ADC’s amplification of the input audio. 

Capsule type: Dynamic vs Condenser Mic for Streaming

Dynamic mics are an excellent option for streamers without a studio-style space to live stream from. Dynamic Microphones produce good audio quality but are not as sensitive as condenser mics. They’re also more durable, robust, and more affordable. 

Condenser Microphones are more sensitive and accurate than dynamic mics. They will capture high-fidelity audio but will also capture background noise. For this reason, they’re best used in a professional studio environment that is sound treated. 

Build quality

Build quality is about durability and how your mic performs. Generally speaking, you should look for a high-quality microphone that is carefully constructed out of high-quality materials because this will be reflected in the overall audio quality. In addition, if you tend to live stream on the go, you should look for a mic that won’t be sensitive to some rough handling. 

Software controls

Software controls are only relevant to USB mics. This is because you’ll be mixing your audio via computer software. This software should be user-friendly, intuitive, and allow you to fine-tune your audio until it’s just right. 

Mic controls

Some mics, but not all, come with buttons and knobs on the mic itself that allow you to tweak the audio as you go. These different buttons and dials will let you change things like mute, gain levels, and output volume depending on the mic. 

Best 10 microphones for streaming

Razer Seiren X 

  • Price: $99.99
  • Polar pattern - Supercardioid 
  • Capsule type -  Condenser 
  • Connectivity -  USB 
  • Sample Rate/Bit depth -  48khz/16-bit
  • Frequency Response -  20Hz - 20kHz
  • Mic controls - input gain & headphone volume 
  • Software - Razer Seiren X Software 
  • Vocal clarity & tonal reproduction - good clarity, especially for higher frequencies, but not as strong best for bass or mid-range 

Other features: 

  • Shock-resistant with in-built shock mount 
  • Compact size 

Best for gaming microphone

This plug & play mic by Razer is an excellent option for gaming streamers with a small budget who want a straightforward and easy-to-use mic. This will offer an upgrade in audio quality from your computer’s in-built mic without breaking the bank. 

Rode NT-USB Mini

  • Price: $99.00 
  • Polar pattern - Cardioid 
  • Capsule type -  Condenser 
  • Connectivity -  USB
  • Sample Rate/Bit depth -  48kHZ/24-bits 
  • Frequency Response -  20Hz - 20kHz
  • Mic controls -  Control headphone volume 
  • Software -  Rode Connect software 
  • Vocal clarity & tonal reproduction - excellent and full vocal clarity & tonal reproduction for a small USB mic. Although some streams say that the audio is a little ‘gain heavy’, with no gain control on the mic itself 

Other features: 

  • Built-in windshield & pop-filter

Good for streamers on a budget 

This compact and sleek mic from RODE is a great option for streamers looking for superb audio quality on a budget. Plug it in and get recording. 

Blue Yeti Nano 

  • Price: $99.99 
  • Polar pattern - Cardioid & Omnidirectional  
  • Capsule type -  Condenser 
  • Connectivity -  USB 
  • Sample Rate/Bit depth -  48khz/24-bit
  • Frequency Response -  20Hz - 20kHz
  • Mic controls - multi-function knob, volume, and mute button in one, as well as a button to switch between polar patterns  
  • Software - Sherpa Audio App where you can control gain and levels 
  • Vocal clarity & tonal reproduction - Flexibility to change polar pattern means you can adapt the mic to your needs, and good vocal clarity and tonal reproduction overall 

Best affordable & compact mic

The Blue Yeti Nano may be small, but it packs a punch. This mic is a great affordable option for streamers looking for high-quality sound as well as a small, compact microphone. The additional flexibility afforded by the dual polar pattern makes it super adaptable to different recording environments and setups too. 

Audio-Technica AT2020+ 

  • Price: $99.00 
  • Polar pattern - Cardioid 
  • Capsule type -  Condenser 
  • Connectivity -  USB/XLR 
  • Sample Rate/Bit depth -  44.1kHZ/16-bits 
  • Frequency Response -  20Hz - 20kHz
  • Mic controls -  Can control headphone volume 
  • Software -  Works with whatever recording software you’re using 
  • Vocal clarity & tonal reproduction - Picks up even subtle sounds with overall excellent tonal reproduction 

Best budget XLR 

The Audio-Technica is a great option for streamers looking for flexibility. The ability to convert to XLR means you can get that even better audio quality for a fraction of the price of some other XLR mics on the market. 

Blue Yeti USB 

  • Price: $129.99
  • Polar pattern - Cardioid, Bidirectional or Omnidirectional  
  • Capsule type -  Condenser 
  • Connectivity -  USB
  • Sample Rate/Bit depth -  48kHZ/16-bits 
  • Frequency Response -  20Hz - 20kHz
  • Mic controls -  Studio controls for headphone volume, pattern selection, instant mute, and microphone gain 
  • Software -  Blue VO!CE Software with advanced voice modulation 
  • Vocal clarity & tonal reproduction - Picks up even subtle sounds with overall superb tonal reproduction 

Best (affordable) all-rounder 

The Blue Yeti USB is an industry favorite, and it’s not difficult to see why. This mic is affordable, super easy to use, and gives you tight control over the sound you’re recording. 

HyperX QuadCast 

  • Price: $139.99 
  • Polar pattern - Cardioid, Bidirectional, Stereo or Omnidirectional  
  • Capsule type -  Condenser 
  • Connectivity -  USB
  • Sample Rate/Bit depth -  48kHZ/16-bits 
  • Frequency Response -  20Hz - 20kHz
  • Mic controls -  Tap-to-mute sensor 
  • Software -  NGENUITY Software
  • Vocal clarity & tonal reproduction - Great flexibility & adaptability with the ability to choose from four polar patterns. Good audio quality overall for streaming. 

Other features: 

  • In-built shock mount 

Best mid-range mic 

The HyperX QuadCast is a versatile mid-range mic with multiple polar pattern settings adaptable to any recording setting. The USB connectivity means it’s quick and easy to set up and start recording. 

Elgato Wave 3 

  • Price: $149.99 
  • Polar pattern - Cardioid 
  • Capsule type -  Condenser 
  • Connectivity -  USB
  • Sample Rate/Bit depth - 48khz/24-bit 
  • Frequency Response -  70Hz - 20kHz
  • Mic controls - multi-function knob that controls headphone volume as well as mic audio mix 
  • Software -  Wave Link Software 
  • Vocal clarity & tonal reproduction - Great for up-close vocals because of the cardioid polar pattern. Clipguard technology ensures even high-frequency sounds don’t get distorted. 

Other features: 

  • Zero-latency monitoring 
  • Clipguard technology that protects your audio from clipping

Best mid-range, easy-to-use mic 

The Elgato Wave 3 is a basic mid-range mic that is straightforward and easy to use. While it doesn’t offer the versatility of some other mics, it provides robust audio quality to enhance your stream quality. 

Shure MV7 Podcast Microphone

  • Price: $249.00
  • Polar pattern - Unidirectional Cardioid Polar Pattern 
  • Capsule type - Dynamic mic 
  • Connectivity - USB & XLR 
  • Sample Rate/Bit depth - 48kHZ/24 bit
  • Frequency Response -  20 -20,000Hz 
  • Mic controls - Touch panel (mic gain, headphone volume, monitor mix) 
  • Software - ShurePlus MOTIV app, easy to use and convenient 
  • Vocal clarity & tonal reproduction - Extremely clear and crisp audio with automatic high-production quality, with further audio enhancement possible through the MOTIV app. 

Other features: 

  • Great vocal clarity & ability to customize your sound signature 
  • Versatile with both USB & XLR connection options 
  • Sound isolation technology 
  • Built-in 3.5 mm headphone jack 

Best for versatility & high-quality sound 

The dual XLR/USB connectivity of the Shure MV7 mic makes it a great versatile microphone. For example, beginners with a bit more budget can invest in this mic to convert their setup to an XLR one later. 

Shure SM7B 

  • Price: $399.00 
  • Polar pattern - Cardioid 
  • Capsule type - Dynamic mic 
  • Connectivity - XLR
  • Sample Rate/Bit depth - N/A 
  • Frequency Response -  50 -20,000Hz 
  • Mic controls - N/A 
  • Software - ShurePlus MOTIV app, easy to use and convenient 
  • Vocal clarity & tonal reproduction - Choose your frequency response mode before recording to optimize the audio quality even more. Overall, an outstanding audio quality that won’t let you down. 

Other features: 

  • Pop-filter included 
  • Highly durable 

Best for bigger budgets 

Designed with broadcasting in mind, the Shure SMB7 delivers exquisite audio quality. That said, it’s a significant investment because the mic itself is fairly pricey, and you’ll need to get yourself a mixer/audio interface as well as a DAW. 

Tips for improving your live stream: how to get the best sound out of your mic

Once you’ve got yourself an external mic, you’ve got to make sure that you’re getting the best sound out of it possible. Though the mic itself will do a lot of the work, there are a few things that you can do too: 

Record in a quiet environment 

If you’re unable to record in a studio environment, do your very best to minimize background noise and ambient sounds in your recording space. This will ensure that your mic only captures the audio you want it to - i.e., your voice. 

Check out our guide to setting up a home studio if you want some tips! 

Invest in mic accessories 

Small accessories like desktop stands, pop-filters, shock-mounts, and boom arms can make a massive difference to your audio quality if you can stretch your budget. Though imperceptible to the human ear, small vibrations on your desk or tapping from your keyboard, for example, can harm your recording. 

We’ve put together a list of top mic arms if you need some inspiration.

Mic etiquette

Ensure that you correctly position your mic in relation to the audio source and that you don’t sit too close or too far away from the microphone. Keep your mic’s polar pattern in mind when setting up your microphone (and make sure you have your mic the right way around!). If it’s got a cardioid polar pattern, remember it won’t pick audio from the back. 

Mic gain 

Mic gain essentially determines how sensitive your mic is to audio. It’s all about achieving a balance because you don’t want your gain to be too high, resulting in your audio being ‘clipped.’

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