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Top 5 USB Condenser Microphones for Recording

Updated on December 7, 2013
Top 5 Best USB Condenser Microphones
Top 5 Best USB Condenser Microphones | Source

Rapidly advancing Internet technology has opened up opportunities for virtually anyone to record or broadcast their own Internet talk show, podcast or music and deliver it to the masses like never before. Practically anyone with a computer and decent microphone can produce their own recordings as easily as a major studio. Recording technology is also evolving rapidly and is at the point where everyday users have access to recording software and tools once reserved only for industry professionals.

Besides having a computer and some type of recording software, the most important investment for any home recording artist is a decent sounding microphone. If you want to produce a professional sounding recording, then picking up the cheapest USB microphone at Wal-Mart is probably not going to cut it. The quality of a USB microphone directly affects the overall quality of the digital recording and can mean the difference between hearing something pleasant or awful. USB condenser microphones are specially designed to produce the highest quality sound output for a variety of recording applications.

What are the Differences between a USB Microphone and a Regular Microphone?

Well, without going into a lot of technical detail, a USB microphone has a built-in digital interface specifically designed to go directly through a computer. It is already optimized for digital recording and works well with computer recording software packages. Audio is immediately processed and digitized in the microphone during recording and the result is instantaneous. Basically, a USB microphone is a microphone and soundcard combo. A good quality USB microphone will be able to produce a higher quality of sound output.

Normal (analogue) microphone sounds must be captured and then processed or digitized before hearing the final result. In order to accomplish this, the microphone would have to be plugged into some type of digital interface hardware that could accomplish these tasks before sending the digitized audio signal to the computer sound card. The obvious disadvantage to this is the cost of extra equipment to get started, but the other downside is that most computers come equipped with relatively low quality sound cards. These sound cards will only produce average quality at best, whereas a USB microphone can use its built-in digital processing to enhance the sound quality independent of the computer’s sound card.

1 - Audio-Technica AT2020 USB Condenser USB Microphone

The Audio-Technica AT2020 is one of the best USB microphones for making high-quality podcasts or live music recordings. It connects to a computer or laptop via a normal USB interface and produces crisp, clear professional sounding recordings. The sounds from this microphone are just as good as those coming from condenser mics costing hundreds of dollars more. Whether you are using just a laptop or have a complete studio setup, the AT2020 can do an amazing recording job without a lot of fuss. This is the perfect USB microphone for podcasting, voiceover work and music recording from home.

User review by J. J. Marino:

“I give this product a 5 star rating. It is easy to use, high quality and very competitively priced. This is a great desktop mic to use for making podcasts or recording music.”

Audio-Technica AT2020 USB Microphone Video Review

Audio-Technica AT202 Specs:

  • Element: Fixed-charge back plate permanently polarized condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 20 -16,000 Hz
  • Bit Depth: 16 bit
  • Sample Rate: 44.1 kHz
  • Power Requirements: USB power (5V DC)
  • Weight (less accessories) 13.2 oz (374 g)
  • Dimensions: 6.38" long, 2.05" diameter
  • Output Connector: USB-type connector

2 - Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone

The Yeti USB microphone uses Blue Microphone’s proprietary technology known as “tri-capsule”. This innovative technology allows the Yeti to record extremes such as low-level or whisper all the way to deafening loudness without losing any fidelity. This particular USB microphone also features four separate recording pattern modes to fit your specific recording setup or needs. They include stereo mode, cardioids mode, omnidirectional mode and bidirectional modes. The Yeti also features a hassle-free setup which includes plugging it in, calibrating to the operating system and begin recording. If you are looking for simple yet powerful, then the Yeti USB microphone is right up your alley.

User review by ATailoredSuit:

“The Blue Yeti is an excellent plug and record USB microphone that has dramatically increased the quality of my voice recordings. It has a solid & sleek build, is easy to use, and most importantly clearly records my voice.”

Yeti USB Microphone Video Review

Yeti USB Microphone Specs:

  • Tri-capsule array - 3 condesner capsules can record almost any situation
  • Multiple pattern selection - cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional & stereo
  • Gain control, mute button, zero-latency headphone output
  • Perfect for vocals, musical instruments, podcasting, voiceovers, interviews, field recordings
  • Plug 'n play - Mac and PC compatible

3 - Samson Go Mic Compact USB Microphone

The Samson Go Mic is an extremely versatile USB microphone that is specially designed to be highly portable. This microphone produces an incredibly rich sound that is capable of capturing an impressive range of tones. Don’t let the small size of this microphone fool you, it is packed with power and is more than adequate to handle a wide variety of recording applications. It is also equipped with a headphone jack that comes in handy when recording multiple tracks. This mic is truly plug and play and does not require the need for any particular sound drivers. If you find yourself always on the go and recording away from a studio, then the Samson Go Mic would definitely be a good fit and is easily transportable. For the price, this USB microphone is definitely top quality.

User review by Daniel Newman:

“This mic sounds great, has an impressive form factor, and once you factor in the crazy low price, you really can't go wrong here. If it were lost or stolen, I'd order another one immediately without hesitation.”

Samson Go Mic Video Review

Samson Go Mic USB Microphone Specs:

  • Portable USB condenser microphone
  • Plug and Play Mac and PC compatible, no drivers required
  • Custom compact design that clips to a laptop or sits on a desk
  • Perfect for recording music, podcasting and field recording
  • Ideal for voice recognition software, iChat, VoIP and web casting

4 - Samson C01U USB Studio Condenser Microphone

Samson has produced another winner with the C01U Studio Condenser Microphone. It is not only affordable, but it produces some of the most pristine, studio-quality recordings you could ever imagine from a home studio setting. Just as the previously mentioned mics, this excellent USB microphone is plug and play and requires no extra equipment or software drivers to set up if using it with a PC. However, there is a free driver software download available from the manufacturer’s site for Mac users. This microphone is highly adaptable to any recording situation whether in studio or on the road. This microphone also comes with the highly acclaimed Cakewalk Sonar LE recording software that will get you up and running in no time. The Samson C01U is the perfect solution for musicians and podcasters to capture high-quality recordings that they would be proud to have their fans listen to.

User review by Eric Booth:

"So far I am loving this mic. I've created this short YouTube video using the mic. It's a tutorial on how to use OneNote. Yes, it's a shameless plug, but I think it gives a good demonstration on the recording quality of the mic.”

Samson C01U Video Review

Samson C01U Studio USB Microphone Specs:

  • Frequency Response: 20 - 18000 HZ
  • Polar pattern: Hypercardioid
  • Element type: Electret condenser type
  • Diaphragm thickness: 3 microns
  • SPL: 136 dB Max.
  • Dimensions (H x W x D): 7 x 2.125 x 2.125 inches
  • Weight: 1.06 lbs. (.48 kg)

5 - MXL USB007 USB Stereo Condenser Microphone

The MXL USB007 is a top-of-the-line quality USB condenser microphone. It is also the first Large Gold Diaphragm stereo condenser mic. There is no need for extra equipment like mixers, pre-amps or anything. Just make a few preference settings and you are ready to start recording high-quality audio from anywhere. This mic opens up so many possibilities for home recording professionals and hobbyists alike. It produces warm rich tones and captures a dynamic range of high and low sounds that will amaze you. The MXL USB007 is completely user friendly and is perfectly suited for voice and music recording. This microphone is one of the best in its price range and one of the best USB condenser microphones on the market today.

User review by James Shin:

“Recoding studio in your pocket! Wow. All you need is a decent laptop, a quiet echo free room and BAM, You are a record producer in your studio.”

MXL USB007 Mic Video Review

MXL USB007 Microphone Specs:

  • Stereo recording with 44.1kHz and 48kHz
  • 16-bit Delta Sigma A/D Converter with THD+N - 0.01%
  • No Special Drivers Required
  • Supplied with Carrying case, desktop stand, USB cable, and manual.

The Wrap Up

Whether you are planning to be the next hip-hop producer, country singing sensation or radio talk show guru, you are going to want to get the best sound you possibly can to attract fans. The single most important factor in attaining the perfect sound balance is the quality of the microphone. By using any of the top 5 best USB condenser microphones listed here, you will be sure you are getting the sound quality your recording deserves. You’ll begin to wonder how you ever got by without the smooth, clean, professional tones these condenser mics easily provide.


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    • ChrisCalcano profile image

      ChrisCalcano 4 years ago from New York City

      I've owned the Blue Yeti for nearly 4 years now.. it was my first mic and I still find use for it - as it picks up a clear, unique, high quality sound. This is an ideal mic for anyone starting up!

    • GAbaptist profile image

      GAbaptist 4 years ago from Alaska

      Thanks for the comment toptenluxury! Yes, the Yeti is a good one, especially for the heavy home user.

    • toptenluxury profile image

      Adrian Cloute 4 years ago from Cedartown, GA

      I have the Blue Yeti and I use it just about everyday. I think that the sound quality is really good and I have not had any problems with it at all.

    • dslrtipsandtricks profile image

      dslrtipsandtricks 5 years ago

      I personally like the At 2020 usb mic myself

    • GAbaptist profile image

      GAbaptist 6 years ago from Alaska

      Thanks for the comment Jared and glad you found it useful!

    • Jared Zane Kessie profile image

      Jared Zane Kessie 6 years ago from Richland, Washington

      Your article had perfect timing for me,as I am currently debating a new sound card or go for the USB. I think I may just go ahead and try the USB now. Thanks! Voted up and useful.