Best USB Microphones of 2021
$169.99 at Amazon
$128.75 at Amazon
$249.00 at Amazon
$79.99 at Amazon
$199.99 at Amazon
|Pros||LED directional interface, retro-styling||Reasonable price, easy angle adjustment||Advanced LED Interface, Most connection options on this list, Space-age aesthetics||Inexpensive, great sound quality||High-pass filter, Easily adjustable foam cushioned-stand, Lots of customization potential|
|Cons||No carrying case, pricey||Echoey, only supports mini-USB connection||Expensive, Not Portable, Requires ShurePlus MOTIV App for most advanced features||No polar directional patterns, awkward screw stand adapter||Expensive, Underwhelming sound quality, Requires third party software for many advanced features|
|Bottom Line||The choice for anyone who wants the very best sound and user experience from their microphone||If you're looking to seriously upgrade your recording quality without breaking the bank, this is the way to go||The pick for anyone who's willing to pay to have the most control over their tech||A stylish, high performing mic for users who want top of the line performance in a small package||While this clean, slick microphone is the pick for somebody who likes to play around with a lot of fun features, it's probably not the best option for anyone looking to quickly and easily up the quality of their podcasts or streams|
|Rating Categories||Blue Mic Yeti X||Blue Mic Yeti||Shure MV7||Blue Mic Yeti Nano||Razer Seiren Elite USB|
|Ease Of Use (35%)|
|Sound Quality (40%)|
|Specs||Blue Mic Yeti X||Blue Mic Yeti||Shure MV7||Blue Mic Yeti Nano||Razer Seiren Elite USB|
|Weight||2 lbs 13.6oz||2lbs 11.4oz||1lb 3.5oz||1lb 5.9oz||1lb 11.4oz|
|Polar Patterns||Cardioid, Stereo, Omnidirectional, Bidirectional||Cardioid, Stereo, Omnidirectional, Bidirectional||Cardioid||Cardioid, Omnidirectional||Cardioid|
|Gain Control||knob||knob||touch slider||Bue Sherpa app||knob|
|Input Types||micro-USB||mini-USB||micro-USB, XLR||micro-USB||micro-USB|
|Software||Blue Sherpa app||Blue Sherpa app||ShurePlus MOTIV app||Blue Sherpa app||none|
Best Overall USB Microphone
Blue Mic Yeti X
The Blue Yeti X blew us away with its clean and clear sound quality, even during a Zoom Video call. With retro-type styling that is consistent with the Blue Yeti brand, it sports a mic screen with a distinct tapered look. Its clean and shiny base gives the X a professional and high quality aesthetic that looks far more expensive than its relatively reasonable price tag suggests. The X was top-scoring in sound quality, recording clean, full-sounding bass when tested with music. Its clear metering visual, lighted directional pattern and easy mode-changing make the Blue Yeti X's user interface simple and intuitive.
Unfortunately, the Blue Yeti X's outstanding sound quality routinely picked up plosives on the breath during testing, so you're probably going to want to utilize a pop filter with this mic. Although it's one of the larger microphones on this list, the Blue Yeti X does not come with a carrying case. However, the quality foam packaging it comes in means you're probably fine transporting the microphone in its own box. The X features four distinct directionality options, which makes it ideal for a variety of uses. Whether you need to go bidirectional while recording a podcast with another person or stereo to record more immersive sound like ASMR, the Blue Yeti X is a great overall pick for whatever you intend to create.
Best for Most Applications
Blue Mic Yeti
The shine of gunmetal blue you gleam while unboxing means this is the iconic original: the Blue Yeti. This classic model scored second overall in our testing with a price tag indicative of its accessibility. The Blue Yeti is heavy and sturdy with a stand that enables you to adjust and tighten your mic to any angle, even flipping it upside down to become more compact for transport. The Yeti also supports alternative stand capability with threads to mount onto any standard stand or boom. Its simple and intuitive gain and volume control, along with easy switching between four polar patterns, make the Blue Yeti ideal to start working right out of the box.
The enticing value and ease-of-use do come with some drawbacks. The music we recorded was fairly echoey sounding with some fuzziness. While voice recording was significantly brighter, it was still a bit distant and echoed. However, the gain and volume control is consistently strong and responsive, and the Blue Yeti allowed for loud and clear discussion over Zoom calls. Overall, its ease-of-use, convenience and features make the Blue Yeti a solid choice for an attainable price.
Good Sound, Great Value
Blue Mic Yeti Nano
Completing the Blue Yeti Trifecta is the Blue Yeti Nano, a great pick for anybody whose priority is maximizing sound quality per dollar spent. This mic was one of the top scorers in our sound quality metric, retaining a strong and clear bass that penetrated any fuzzy echoes. During a Zoom call test, the Blue Yeti Nano was clear, free of static and a definite upgrade from a standard headset mic.
However, be forewarned that you will miss some of the features available in the other products in Blue Yeti's catalog. Unlike its beefier brothers, the Nano does not support four polar directional patterns. Instead, you will have only cardioid and omnidirectional options. So, to record a conversation with multiple people or need rich immersive sound of ASMR, you may want to look elsewhere. If you're just looking to enhance the quality of your streams or conference calls without too intense an investment, however, the Nano is the mic for you.
Best on a Tight Budget
If you're a back-to-basics person, the Audio-Technica AT2005USB might be for you. This mic is our budget option. With only a volume control toggle wheel and an on/off switch, a traditional microphone look and a simple pleather carrying case, the Audio-Technica AT2005USB is perfect for people who are looking to up the production value of their work-from-home setup without any fluff.
This mic's features are pretty scant. The included microphone stand is lightweight, requires assembly, is a pretty tight fit and is relatively difficult to adjust. The Audio-Technica AT2005USB sports no directional pattern adjustment and none of its own software. The sound quality was a bit flat, not the best for music, but was clean and neutral, making it fine for voice calls. This just-the-essentials option curiously and delightfully supports an XLR connection, meaning that it will play well with mixers and offers audio utility far beyond that which just a USB connection would allow.
An Ultra-Portable Option
Samson Go Mic
If the reason you need a USB mic is to have something portable, The Samson Go Mic fills the bill. The microphone is extremely tiny and isn't extensively stylized. While it comes with a ball-in-socket style stand, the main allure of the Samson Go Mic is its ability to be clipped to any laptop or tablet or other thin monitor.
The Samson Go Mic scored middle of the road for sound quality when compared to the other mics on this list, but, in practice the sound recorded on this mic is crinkly, abrupt and loud (albeit not echoey.) This mic supports no volume control, but it does have a gain control switch. The Samson Go Mic gives you three directional options (Cardioid, Cardioid with a 10 dB Pad, or Omni pick-up pattern) and comes with a nice little case. The real purpose of this mic is its ability to easily go with you anywhere.
Why You Should Trust Us
Leading the effort on this particular audio gear review is John Giammona Wilber. John is a graduate of Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, where he worked as a sound mixer and editor on several pilots, web series and short film projects. In addition, John spent years producing several podcasts and radio shows on Chapman Radio, the West Coast's largest internet-based collegiate radio project. John has worked with audio in a wide variety of contexts with a wide variety of budgets, learning what quality to expect at what price.
Here at GearLab, we work hard to ensure a transparent testing process free from biases. We always buy the products ourselves, at the same prices and from the same retailers as our readers do. The microphones we reviewed were all put through rigorous hands-on testing that considered every part of the process: from unboxing to the quality of our final audio recordings. We ran tests using spoken word, music and video-calling software.
Analysis and Test Results
Our test plan gauged these criteria: Value, Ease of Use, Sound Quality and Convenience.
Our first value pick, the Blue Yeti Nano, sets the standard for value. The Nano retains the superior sound quality of its sister microphones: the standard Blue Yeti and Blue Yeti X (both top performers and great values themselves), while sporting a slimmer price tag. The Nano was also a top-scorer in our "Ease of Use" metric.
Another heavy-hitter on the value front was the Audio-Technica AT2005USB. This mic was the second least expensive of the eight we reviewed, and for its relatively small investment, the Audio-Technica AT2005USB really upped the sound quality over video calls. This simple microphone doesn't have a flashy user-interface but its quality mic stand, XLR connection option and exceptional ease-of-use mean it offers an ideal cost-to-performance ratio.
We divided this metric into several parts: how long it took to set up each microphone, functionality of each user interface, connections each mic supported, quality of each microphone stand and alternative stand compatibility.
The Razer Seiren Elite was also a top Ease-of-Use scorer. With its 90-second setup time and already-attached mic stand that's sturdy enough to be adjusted with one hand, the Razer Seiren Elite is exceptionally user-friendly despite all its additional features. The LED indicator for mute status and the included high-pass filter make it a convenient and functional audio-recording tool.
This metric weighed the heaviest during our scoring. We divided sound quality into two parts: voice isolation and playback quality. Our voice isolation metric was tested over a Zoom Video Call, where the Shure MV7 really stood out. It was clean-sounding, free of echoes, free of sibilants and made our Zoom calls have almost face-to-face audio quality, albeit with a slightly "broadcast-y" flavor.
Our playback quality metric examined both music and spoken word recorded. The Blue Yeti X and Razer Seiren Elite both sounded remarkably good and similar during playback. The music we recorded was notably clean and free from fuzziness, although the X's bass sounded considerably fuller than the Razer's. Both produced a clean, though muted, spoken word playback that sounded almost as if we were in an anechoic chamber. Both would be very good options for podcasters.
Another top-scorer for sound quality was the Samson Go Mic. While it didn't filter out background noise on the playback as totally as the other mics, the music and spoken word was free from sibilants. The music was especially pronounced, minimally echoey when compared to the other mics and featured a noticeably strong bass.
We broke this metric into four parts. First, we gave a portability score based on the size and weight of the microphone and whether or not it came with a carrying case. The exceptionally tiny 3.8 oz Samson Go Mic was the obvious portability score winner; the mic is designed first and foremost for portability. But a more surprising portability winner was the Audio-Technica AT2005USB, whose simple but professional looking pleather case makes it ideal for recording audio in a lot of different places.
We scored next based on gain control. While most of the mics on this list have their gains controlled through an app, the standard Blue Yeti and Razer Seiren Elite covered this feature with a simple and tactile knob on the side of the mic. The clear winner here was the Shure MV7, which features a physical touch slider and an automatic mode that sets the gains in real time as you're speaking into the mic.
Our next sub-metric concerned volume control and directional pattern availability. The Blue Yeti and Blue Yeti X scored highest here. Both feature four different directional pattern options and the ability to quickly change between patterns with a knob on the side of the mic. Lastly, when we scored the software that's used with these mics, all the Blue Yeti models scored the best thanks to the Blue Sherpa software used across their product line. The Shure MV7 also scored highly here as the ShurePlus MOTIV app unlocks a whole new realm of functionality.
Whether you're using your USB microphone for streaming over Twitch, giving a Zoom presentation while working from home, starting a podcast with your best friends or whatever else, we hope that we've made your purchasing decision a little easier. Sound good?
— Michelle Powell, John Giammona Wilber, and Austin Palmer