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Looking for a computer microphone? Here's our top 14

If you’re in the market for your first mic, buying a computer microphone to make the recording process as simple as possible might be a fantastic option. On this page, you’ll find the computer microphone ranked #1 by our podcast host members, and, below, we go into detail to help you find the best mic for your recording needs.

#1

Blue Yeti

by Blue

Type
Condenser
Connection
USB
Endorsments
298 hosts
#2

Audio-Technica 2100

by Audio-Technica

Type
Dynamic
Connection
XLR & USB
Endorsments
192 hosts
#3

Blue Snowball

by Blue

Type
Condenser
Connection
USB
Endorsments
108 hosts
#4

Rode Podcaster

by Rode

Type
Dynamic
Connection
USB
Endorsments
66 hosts
#5

Blue Snowball Ice

by Blue

Type
Condenser
Connection
USB
Endorsments
27 hosts
#6

Samson q2u

by Samson

Type
Dynamic
Connection
XLR & USB
Endorsments
25 hosts
#7

Samson Meteor Mic

by Samson

Connection
USB
Endorsments
12 hosts
#8

Zoom H5

by Zoom

Type
Condenser
Connection
XLR & USB
Endorsments
6 hosts
#9

Blue Yeti Pro

by Blue

Type
Condenser
Connection
XLR & USB
Endorsments
44 hosts
#10

Samson Go Mic

by Samson

Type
Condenser
Connection
USB
Endorsments
11 hosts
#11

Samson G Track

by Samson

Connection
USB
Endorsments
5 hosts
#12

Shure MV5

by Shure

Type
Condenser
Connection
USB
Endorsments
1 hosts
#13

Samson c01u Pro

by Samson

Connection
USB
Endorsments
3 hosts
#14

Blue Yeti Blackout

by Blue

Type
Condenser
Connection
USB
Endorsments
18 hosts

What is a computer microphone?

No points for guessing this correctly, but a computer microphone is a mic that can record directly into your PC or laptop. They differ most prominently to an XLR mic, which needs to record into an interface via an XLR cable before it can then be directed into a computer via a USB cable from the interface. If you’re a podcaster with very simple recording needs, a computer microphone might be a great mic option for you because you won’t need to buy the additional equipment required by XLR mics (namely, an interface and some form of phantom power). A computer microphone connects straight into your computer, no extraneous gear needed. Need a good quality computer microphone? View the Samson range of mics here.

What are the pros of buying a computer mic?

If you’re on the market for a computer microphone and you’re still weighing up your options, here are some of the advantages to owning one, which might tip the scales in their favour:
Price
The number one advantage of a computer microphone will be its price, especially when you compare it to the average price of an XLR mic. XLR mics, because of their complexity, will not only cost you more for the mic itself, but they’ll cost you even more overall because with an XLR mic you can’t just plug it directly into your computer to record; you need at least an interface, and probably some type of phantom power, to properly record. Both the upfront and hidden costs of XLR mics make your choice of starting off with a computer microphone a pretty good one.
Simplicity
What are your sound engineering abilities like? If the answer to that question is, 'Not very good and I have no time or interest in improving them,' then you’re a few steps ahead of the game with your decision to buy a computer microphone. For the same reasons that they’re cheap, they’re also a whole lot less complicated than an XLR mic, because you don’t need to worry about connecting them via an interface or into phantom power. You just plug and play. So long as you own a computer (which we assume you do), you should be good to go without much hassle.

What are the cons of buying a computer mic?

Now that we’ve lauded the advantages of a computer microphone, it’s time to be upfront with their disadvantages.
Choice
One reason you wouldn’t buy a computer microphone — that is, why you might prefer to buy an XLR mic — is that there aren’t the same level of diversity of computer mic models on the market that exists in the XLR mic market. XLR mics have been around for a century, and in that time manufacturers have produced so many different models, with so many variations of specifications, that you couldn’t not find one to suit your exact recording needs. Computer microphones, on the other hand, clearly haven’t been around as long, and so you won’t be able to find a model to suit literally every recording need. Of course, the above ‘disadvantage’ may not be a disadvantage to you at all if you’re recording needs aren’t that high maintenance. If you’re a regular podcaster hosting a regular show, you’re unlikely to need a mic that does anything special beyond what a good computer microphone can (if you were a musician, thing may be different).
Performance
Slightly connected to the point, above, you’re less likely to get a good computer microphone that performs as well as a good XLR mic. That won’t be necessarily true in all cases, but your chances of getting a very good quality, high-performance XLR mic are higher than your chances of doing the same with a computer microphone. Again, though, if your recording needs are those of a regular podcast host, and you’re not a guitarist for a Metallica covers band, this shouldn’t be overly concerning to you.
Recording flexibility
Another advantage of XLR mics and, therefore, a potential disadvantage of a computer microphone is recording flexibility. When you’re recording directly to your computer, the number of mics you can record at the same time is limited by the number of USB ports your computer has, and you’re also restricted by only being able to record into a PC or laptop. With XLR mics, because they first feed into an interface, you have the freedom to record with numerous mics, to numerous sources. 

What makes a good computer microphone?

There’s a lot that goes into any good microphone, but here are the top three things you should keep in mind when you’re ready to buy:
Noise
You don’t want a noisy mic. Noisy mics, which emit a white noise in the background of anything you record, will distract your audience to the point of frustration. To avoid buying one, make sure you look out for a computer microphone with a low ‘self-noise’ or ‘equivalent noise’ level. This is usually measured in decibels, written like, “dB-A”, and the lower the dB-A number, the better.
Polar pattern
A mic’s polar pattern refers to the directions at which it picks up sound waves. For podcast hosts, all you really need to know on this topic is too look for a mic with a cardioid or, better still, hypercardioid polar pattern. These are unidirectional polar patterns in that they only pick up sound from one direction: from in front of the capsule. Quite clearly, if you’re a podcast host you won’t want your mic picking up sound from the sides or rear of the capsule; you’ll be speaking directly into it, front on, and will want it to clearly pick up everything you’re saying.
Capsule type
Lastly, you’ll have to consider which type of capsule your mic comes with. There are two dominant types: condenser and dynamic. Both do essentially the same thing — record whatever sounds they pick up — but their internal mechanics for doing it are slightly different. We recommend podcast hosts go with a dynamic mic because they’re engineered in a manner that makes voice sound great (as opposed to condenser mics, which can do a better job of recording musical instruments).

Conclusion

If you’re a podcast host who wants to keep their recording setup simple, investing in a good quality, but affordable computer microphone is a fantastic option.