Best budget USB microphones 2024: Get creative and sound better for less

Quick menu

Rode Podcaster microphone on a mount in a studio

(Image credit: Rode)

1. The quick list
2. Best overall
3. Best for audio quality
4. Best for gamers
5. Best for versatility
6. Best for simplicity
7. Best for podcasting
8. Other mics we've tested
9. Buying advice
10. How we test budget USB mics

How we test
We personally research and test the latest microphones to provide unbiased recommendations. Read more about how we test products here.

In the world of content creation, where recording or streaming music, podcasts or vlogs is the norm, the role of a USB microphone cannot be overstated. These sleek, hassle-free devices are designed with one core purpose in mind: to make recording or streaming audio a breeze, no matter your level of recording expertise or technical know-how. 

The best budget USB microphones in this guide represent a simple plug-and-play setup, all you need to do is connect the USB cable to your laptop, tablet or smartphone and you’re good to go, without the need for an audio interface or external mixer.

Fast forward to today, and the landscape of USB microphones has evolved leaps and bounds. The current line-up of budget USB mics represents a significant leap forward from their predecessors - both in terms of features and value for money - showing the remarkable growth and maturation of the technology. In this guide, we’ll delve into the world of the best budget USB microphones and explore some of the top contenders available today.

Best budget USB microphones: The quick list

Want to cut to the chase and find out exactly which we think are the best budget USB microphones on the market right now? Below, you’ll find a round-up of our top choices. You can jump to a more detailed review of every pick, plus other options we've tested, along with our price comparison tool to help you find the best deals online today.

The best budget USB microphones available today

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Below you'll find full and detailed write-ups for each of the best budget USB mics in our list. We've tested each one extensively - and there are also links to full reviews -  so you can be sure that our recommendations can be trusted.

Best overall

Joby Wavo Pod in a home studio setting

(Image credit: Chris Corfield)
Inexpensive mic hits the spot for streaming and vlogging applications

Specifications

Type: Condenser
Connectivity: USB-C
Pickup pattern: Cardioid and omnidirectional
Features: Multifunction gain and volume control
Accessories: Pop filter

Reasons to buy

+
Superb value
+
Simple to use
+
Includes pop filter

Reasons to avoid

-
Plastic build feels cheap
At a glance

✅ You want a simple mic that does the job: The WavoPod is a no frills mic designed to do one job without costing a bomb.
❌ You need something robust: This isn't a particularly sturdy mic, so if you need more of a workhorse, look elsewhere.

Video creators will likely be familiar with Joby, on account of its famous Gorillapod tripod clamps. With the Joby Wavo Pod, it has now branched out to include a simple USB-powered microphone to the line-up, and we found it to be well worthy of bearing the Joby name.

We’d have doubts over how robust the Wavo Pod is, on account of its lightweight plastic construction, but as a pure plug-and-play mic with little in the way of frills, it’s an easy one to recommend. Pair it with the accompanying boom arm for a great little low-cost desk setup.  

Read the full Joby Wavo Pod review

Best for audio quality

Best budget USB microphones: PreSonus Revelator

(Image credit: Future)
Versatile budget USB mic with a few neat tricks

Specifications

Type: Condenser
Connectivity: USB C
Pickup pattern: Cardioid, omnidirectional, figure-8
Accessories: Mic stand adapter, tabletop tripod

Reasons to buy

+
Loopback functionality is superb
+
High-quality audio  

Reasons to avoid

-
Bulky stand 
At a glance

✅ You want great audio: Of all the mics on test for this guide, the Revelator performed the best in our tests, delivering crisp, clear sound.
❌ You need a mic that looks good on camera: The Revelator isn't the prettiest option on this list, so if looks are important, this isn't the one for you.

Some USB microphones on this list offer much more than basic microphone duties. The Presonus Revelator, if you can excuse the bizarre name, is one such offering, packing in a quality condenser mic capsule with a fully-fledged audio interface. Its biggest trick is with something called Loopback, which takes care of the otherwise tricky task of recording audio coming from another application. You might, for example, want to capture the audio from a Zoom call, or your gaming stream, which isn’t as easy as it sounds. This alone opens it up to a wider audience, so kudos to Presonus for that.

It’s not the most attractive mic on the list, thanks in no small part to the mic base, but look past that and you’ll find a highly capable, great sounding mic with a few tricks that none of the others here can compete with. 

Read our full PreSonus Revelator review

Best for gamers

Best budget USB microphones: Razer Seiren X

(Image credit: Razer)
Sleek gaming mic for streamers

Specifications

Type: Condenser
Connectivity: USB-C
Pickup pattern: Super-cardioid
Accessories: Microphone, stand

Reasons to buy

+
Great value 
+
Slick looks 
+
Integrated base 

Reasons to avoid

-
Possibly a little too sensitive 
At a glance

✅ You're a gamer: This mic looks and sounds the part.
❌ Audio is important to you: As more of a gaming mic, the Seiren X is overly-sensitive and shouldn't be your first option for serious voice recording applications.

Gamers and streamers know the importance of a clear voice channel. Whether it’s making yourself heard in co-op, or ensuring viewers can follow your streaming adventures, a decent USB mic can make all the difference. And where it used to be traditional mic brands that had the monopoly, now gaming brands like Razer are getting in on the act. 

The Razer Seiren X is a great example. You can tell from the aesthetic which users will gravitate towards this, but even if you’re not part of the RGB faithful, there’s a lot to like here and we got on great with it in our tests. The Seiren X is small, nicely designed and features an integrated base so there are no extra accessories needed. It does the job for which it’s intended very nicely, and all for a very attractive price indeed.

Read our full Razer Seiren X review

Best multi-purpose USB mic

Bets budget USB microphone: AKG Lyra

(Image credit: AKG)
Four mics for the price of one

Specifications

Type: Condenser x 4
Connectivity: USB-C
Pickup pattern: Switchable multi-array
Accessories: Stand

Reasons to buy

+
Extremely versatile
+
24-bit/192kHz recording
+
Both attractive and durable 
+
Competitively priced

Reasons to avoid

-
None
At a glance

✅ Versatility is important to you: If you have multiple recording scenarios to contend with, the Lyra is versatile and tweakable enough to cover you in most cases.
❌ You prefer modern looks: Let's face it the Lyra looks like a vintage microphone. That may appeal to some, but could prove divisive amongst the YouTube and Twitch set.

The worthy recipient of NAMM 2021 Tec Award, the Lyra is a rather ingenious do-it-all budget USB microphone that represents astounding value when you consider its comprehensive multi-use feature set.

Hidden within its smart retro futuristic metal body is an array of four condenser mic capsules, set up in a double bank stereo configuration. One pair of capsules faces towards the front, while the other faces towards the rear, providing all-round coverage.

The clever bit is that you can choose from four capture modes to best suit your subject and artistic intentions: Front, Front & Back, Tight Stereo and Wide Stereo. 

Front mode will suit most recording applications, from podcasting and voiceovers to vocals, while Tight Stereo and Wide Stereo are a godsend for recording multiple members of an ensemble or wide ambient spaces.

Front & Back caught our attention most because, just like a Figure-8 mic, it enables podcasters to interview guests without having to fork out for an additional mic, or suffer the complexity of setting one up. This mode is also perfect for recording a singer and an instrumentalist, or two instrumentalists – most duos, really.

What you’re getting here, for a street price of around $/£150, is a mic from a reputable brand that can handle just about anything. If you’re starting out, have a limited budget and don’t yet have a firm idea of what you’ll be recording then the Lyra is a great investment.

Read the full AKG Lyra review

Best for simplicity

Best budget USB microphones: Blue Microphones Yeti

(Image credit: Blue Microphones)
Industry veteran still going strong

Specifications

Type: Condenser
Connectivity: Micro USB
Pickup pattern: Cardioid, Bidirectional, Omnidirectional, Stereo
Accessories: Stand

Reasons to buy

+
As simple as they come
+
Great quality recordings 
+
Sturdy build 

Reasons to avoid

-
Official accessories are expensive 
At a glance

✅ You want plug and play simplicity: The Yeti is one of the most straight forward mics here: plug it in and away you go. It's built to last, too.
❌ You want the latest tech: This is a no frills mic that has been around a while, so if you want to future proof yourself, this mic will be obsolete sooner than most.

One of the first USB microphones on the scene was the Blue Microphones Yeti which is still, over a decade since it launched, one of the best-selling mics on the market. It achieved popularity at first thanks to its simple operation, great design and versatility from its four separate pickup patterns, which allowed it to shine in a variety of different situations. 

Nowadays, the Yeti family has expanded to offer smaller versions, gamer-specific versions and versions with additional connectivity. In our experience, however, the OG Yeti is still hard to beat and an easy recommendation for one of the best budget USB microphones around. It's slightly pricier than some of the other mics on this list, hence it's a few places further down the guide, but if your budget will stretch, it's a no-brainer. 

Read our full Blue Microphones Yeti review 

Best for podcasting

Best budget USB microphones: Rode Podcaster

(Image credit: Future)
Specialist podcasting mic is big on quality

Specifications

Type: Condenser
Connectivity: Micro USB
Pickup pattern: Cardioid
Accessories: Mic stand adapter

Reasons to buy

+
Rigid build 
+
Works wonders on speech 

Reasons to avoid

-
No tripod included 
At a glance

✅ You're a podcaster: As the name suggests, the Podcaster is aimed squarely at podcast creators and it does that job brilliantly.
❌ You don't want to pay extra for a tripod or base: The Rode Podcaster doesn't come with a tripod, so you'll need to factor extra into your budget.

There’s a lot to be said for buying a specialist tool for a specialist job. Where other mics on this list play up their versatility, the Rode Podcaster leaves you in no doubt as to what its intended use is - there's a reason it's the number one choice in our best budget podcasting microphones guide

The Podcaster is a heavyweight mic - literally - without much in the way of frills. You get one pickup pattern, nothing in the way of pads or filters, and the package doesn’t even come with a tripod. This could be annoying for anyone starting up, but then this mic is perhaps intended for users upgrading from an existing mic to something suitable for a specific purpose. 

In our tests we found the build quality to be amazing, with full metal construction giving the Podcaster a nice heft, although be careful once it’s mounted as its weight can cause it to topple easily. Sound quality is however superb, breathing magic onto speech in particular, and providing top quality performance right out the box.

Read our full Rode Podcaster review 

Other we've tested

Best budget USB microphones: Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP

(Image credit: Chris Corfield/Future)
Best value mic that's a brand new take on an old favourite

Specifications

Type: Condenser
Connectivity: USB-C
Pickup pattern: Cardioid
Accessories: Stand

Reasons to buy

+
Great sound
+
Pop filter included
+
A breeze to set up

Reasons to avoid

-
Capacitive mute button is easy to accidentally engage
At a glance

✅ You want great value from a respected brand: Few brands do mics better than Audio-Technica, and this one is an absolute steal.
❌ You want an XLR mic: If you're still rocking XLR then you'll need to hunt down the older version of this mic.

Once upon a time there was a mic called the AT2020. It was conjured up to please podcasters, voiceover artists and musicians who couldn’t afford to pay a king’s ransom for a top-of-the-line microphone, but still needed something that sounded enchanting. It was a basic XLR mic that worked a treat, unless you only had a USB connector.

So, Audio Technica magicked up the USB-C connected AT2020USB-XP, which builds on the existing (and still available) AT2020USB, with automatic gain control and built-in active noise cancelling which all help make life that little bit easier. This model can also record up to 24-bit, which is way more precise than the 16-bit of the very first model.

This little triumph can record in 24-bit depth, and up to 192kHz sampling rate, for far superior levels of accuracy and detail. The AT2020USB-XP is also endowed with a sprinkling of other nice-to-have features including a touch sensitive mute button - although we found this was accidentally engaged more than once - and an LED behind the grille that glows blue when the mic is live and red when it’s muted. This is a very useful feature for podcasters and streamers.

Other than bit-depth, the most welcome update to this plug and play mic is automatic gain control and built-in active noise cancelling, the latter of which really helped cut background noise during our tests, without colouring the recording.

Read the full Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP review

Best budget USB microphones: Mackie EM-USB

(Image credit: Mackie)
Superb budget USB mic for podcasters that comes with loads of software

Specifications

Type: Condenser
Connectivity: USB C
Pickup pattern: Cardioid
Accessories: Mic stand adapter, tabletop tripod

Reasons to buy

+
Solid build
+
Nice added software

Reasons to avoid

-
Tabletop tripod is pretty flimsy
At a glance

✅ You need software to start recording: The EM-USB comes bundled with loads of great software tools to get you up and running.
❌ You want something robust: While the mic itself feels like it can go the distance, the supplied tripod is made from flimsy plastic that doesn't inspire confidence.

Mackie is well respected for creating low-cost (but very well-made) audio gear and with the Mackie EM-USB there’s now a great, entry-level option for budding podcasters. The EM-USB features on-mic control for input gain and headphone levels, while the USB-C connection will ensure reliable data transfer of your recordings. 

Recording quality is perfectly acceptable for the price bracket, while the included accessories and bundled software make for a very well-rounded package. If we were being super critical we could note how the tabletop tripod doesn’t look like it’ll survive being dropped too many times, but for the sake of keeping costs down it’s perfectly fine. 

Read the full Mackie EM-USB review

Best budget USB microphones: IK Multimedia iRig Mic Studio

(Image credit: Future)
Best small mic that's ideal for speech applications

Specifications

Type: Condenser
Connectivity: Micro USB
Pickup pattern: Cardioid
Accessories: Stand

Reasons to buy

+
Small enough to carry around
+
IK gear is well made 

Reasons to avoid

-
There are better mics for music 
At a glance

✅ You want a compact mic: Need something portable and unobstrusive? The iRig Mic Studio is ideal.
❌ You want to record some music: This option is a functional voice recording mic, but don't expect it to make your acoustic guitar sound good.

IK Multimedia has a good heritage in creating recording and production gear designed around your smartphone, tablet or computer. Its long-standing iRig sub-brand has delivered audio interfaces and other connectivity products for a while, but with the iRig Mic Studio and its stablemates, there’s now a nicely stocked range of microphones for a range of different purposes. 

The IK Multimedia iRig Mic Studio is small but perfectly formed; we found its cardioid pickup pattern ideal for recording voices, and it can do music at a push too, although if that’s your primary purpose there are possibly other mics we’d recommend first. That said, the iRig Mic Studio is still a very competitive, nicely priced mic that will serve most users very well.

Read our full IK Multimedia iRig Mic Studio review 

Best budget USB microphones: sE Electronics Neom USB

(Image credit: sE Electronics)

10. sE Electronics Neom USB

Best for pro-level features at a consumer-level price

Specifications

Type: Condenser
Connectivity: USB-C
Pickup pattern: Cardioid
Accessories: Stand

Reasons to buy

+
Pro-level sound quality
+
Excellent design and build
+
Gain goes to 11!

Reasons to avoid

-
Very few, other than its size
At a glance

✅ You want pro features on a budget: sE has put some serious engineering weight behind this mic, despite being known mostly for higher end gear.
❌ You want something compact: The stand and mic design combine to make this quite a tall rig - worth keeping in mind if it's going to be appearing on camera with you.

When USB mics first appeared, they tended to be cheap, plasticky affairs aimed at the bottom-end of the market. If you wanted a robust, good quality mic of the sort that the pros use then you had no choice but to go down the XLR route, which tended to be expensive. 

Thankfully the NEOM, together with some other mics in this guide, are proof that the big mic brands are now taking the middle ground seriously – USB-equipped mics that can rival their XLR counterparts for build quality and recording prowess.

sE touts the NEOM as a professional podcaster or content creator mic, and its team of engineers has clearly invested a lot of thought in its design. It’s a large diaphragm condenser, which means it’ll add a pleasing depth to most voices as well as a rich character to many instruments. It may be a little on the tall side, but when positioned in its stand, on a desk, the capsule is at near optimal height to speak into. So, it’s very easy to position.

With its all-metal body the NEOM is a solid mic that’s reassuringly hefty without being unnecessarily heavy. There’s certainly an old school weightiness to it though, and the fit and finish are flawless.

Those engineers are practically minded too. Instead of a fiddly single monitor mix dial you get two, one for mic level and the other for playback, giving you independent control over both. They also have a sense of humour – the gain dial goes all the way up to eleven!

sE has built a reputation for both excellence and value. In many ways, the NEOM is the perfect brand ambassador. 

Best budget USB microphones: Shure MV7

(Image credit: Shure)
The (pricey) choice for podcasters in untreated rooms

Specifications

Type: Dynamic
Connectivity: Micro USB and XLR
Pickup pattern: Cardioid
Accessories: None

Reasons to buy

+
Superb tone
+
Noise rejection
+
Durability
+
MOTIV software

Reasons to avoid

-
Not really budget, but worth saving for…
At a glance

✅ You want a mic that will work in various rooms: Whether you're recording in a studio or a busy cafe, the MV7 will produce great results every time.
❌ You're on a budget: Of course, this is a guide to budget mics, but we couldn't not include the MV7 as it's an excellent and great value mic. But it might be near the top of your budget.

Yes, we know. At over $200 the MV7 isn’t really a ‘budget’ USB mic option but we’ve included it anyway because it is Shure’s cut-price version of its venerable SM7B, the choice of pro podcaster and voiceover artists the world over. It also deserves a place here because it’s a darned fine mic.

So, what makes it special? Unusually for a USB mic it’s dynamic, which means it’s an excellent performer in less than acoustically perfect rooms. If, like most podcasters, you’re broadcasting from a small spare bedroom or larger bare space, with undesirable sound bouncing off the walls and ceilings, then this is one of the best mics to tame your surroundings. Let rip with the MV7 and you’ll find that your voice shines through. 

It's also a robust little mic that’s built to last, with a quality metal body and a durable mount that makes it easy to place anywhere without obscuring your face.

The icing on the cake is the included easy-to-use MOTIV software that provides a plethora of added functionality including auto gain, EQ, a limiter, a compressor and more. 

Fundamentally though, this is a truly great sounding microphone that will flatter most voices. Which is what really matters.

Read the full Shure MV7 review

Best budget USB microphones: Rode NT-USB microphone

(Image credit: Future)
Another golden oldie still delivering the goods, complete with integrated pop shield

Specifications

Type: Condenser
Connectivity: Micro USB
Pickup pattern: Cardioid
Accessories: Stand

Reasons to buy

+
Decent sound quality
+
Integrated pop shield 
+
Small footprint 

Reasons to avoid

-
One of the pricier USB-only options 
At a glance

✅ You want an integrated pop shield: The NT-USB's design includes a pop shield to add an extra layer of quality control over your audio.
❌ You're on a budget: Once again, this one of the priciest mics on this list, so if your budget is tight there are more affordable options for you.

Another of the first dedicated USB mics on the scene, the Rode NT-USB isn’t quite as old as the Blue Yeti but it has been around long enough to prove its credentials. As a first USB mic for podcasters and musicians, we found it to be a superb option. The sound quality is high enough to make it suitable for acoustic instruments like guitars and strings, with the condenser pickup drawing plenty of nuance from the sound, while for voice work it also shines. 

The design still stands up today, with its sleek black matt finish, while it’s also one of the smaller mics on the list which means it’s ideal for those of us with small spaces.

Read our full Rode NT-USB review 

Best budget USB microphones: IK Multimedia iRig Mic HD 2

(Image credit: IK Multimedia)
Ideal mobile USB mic for podcasters, broadcasters and general recording duties

Specifications

Type: Condenser
Connectivity: Micro USB
Pickup pattern: Cardioid
Accessories: Mic stand adapter, tabletop tripod

Reasons to buy

+
Sturdy build 
+
Bundled apps are fantastic 

Reasons to avoid

-
Still not keen on Micro USB
At a glance

✅ You want an app-based mic: IK Multimedia's bundled apps are fantastic and make recording a breeze.
❌ You want a reliable connection: This mic is still packing micro-USB, which isn't our favourite.

Sometimes products find themselves a niche and become synonymous with that role. The IK Multimedia iRig Mic HD 2 is one such mic, having found favour with roving reporters and journalists the world over. The reason is simple; by hooking the iRig Mic HD 2 to your smartphone or tablet, you have one of the best quality portable recording solutions on the market - certainly at this price bracket. 

It’s well-designed, robust and the accompanying suite of apps from IK provide everything you’ll need to get out there and start work. 

Read our full IK Multimedia iRig Mic HD 2 review 

Best budget USB microphones: Buying advice

Best budget USB microphones: two men sat a desk with a Blue Yeti mic on it

(Image credit: Blue Yeti)

How to choose the best budget USB mic for you

If you're not well-versed in the intricacies of music studios or have never had a compelling reason to own one, embarking on a journey to find the perfect budget USB microphone might appear quite intimidating. The good news is that it doesn't have to be, and we're here to demystify the process. Especially when we're talking about budget-friendly options (let's say, under $/£200), you'll discover a treasure trove of high-quality, thoughtfully crafted microphones that can cater to a wide range of needs.

In your case, this might mean a microphone gracing your desk to elevate your streaming setup. It could be your initial investment as you venture into the world of podcasting. Or perhaps it's a versatile tool for your professional life, aiding in video calls or capturing interviews. Regardless of your specific scenario, a decent USB microphone can work wonders.

Which mic brands should I look out for?

When you're in the market for a budget USB microphone, a few key considerations should guide your decision-making. If you peruse various global retailers, you'll stumble upon a multitude of budget-friendly, look-alike microphones that, let's be generous, could be labelled as 'basic.' For better results, if your budget permits, it's wise to gravitate towards established brands. Names like Shure, Rode, IK Multimedia, and Blue boast a rich pedigree in this category, and their microphones are known to consistently deliver excellent performance.

What types of budget USB microphone are there?

USB microphones typically come in two distinct 'flavours': dynamic and condenser. Dynamic microphones are generally more rugged and robust, ideal for capturing loud sound sources like electric guitar amps. However, they may lack the finesse needed for pristine speech recordings. If your aspirations revolve around podcasts and voice streaming, a condenser microphone might be the more prudent choice. 

Additionally, pay attention to the microphone's connectivity options. While a USB connection is a given (hence the name), you'll encounter micro USB or the more recent USB-C connections. The amount of data (the ones and zeros) the microphone processes for your computer isn't typically demanding enough to mandate a USB-C connection, but considering the prevalence of this connection in newer devices, it might be a future-proof choice. Moreover, USB-C connections tend to be more stable at the connection point, reducing the risk of accidental disconnection during critical moments during your recordings.

Man wearing headphone sings into an iRig Mic HD2

(Image credit: IK Multimedia)

What extras do you need for a budget USB microphone?

Finally, think of the form factor of the mic, and the accessories you’ll need to get the best out of it. If you’re keeping it in a static location, like a desktop, then a good quality mic stand or boom arm is essential. The mic you choose may come with one, but upgrading to one with a sturdy base might be something to consider in the future. Also, look out for any bundled software that comes with the mic. The fact they function by connecting to a computer means they’re designed to work with recording or streaming software, so it’s worth looking up what added extras you get for your money.

Other features and controls you should consider

The best feature every USB mic shares is USB connectivity. Up until quite recently, the vast majority of mics had bulky XLR connectors that added expense, weight and the complexity of requiring a separate audio interface. The USB standard has enabled mics to become smaller, lighter, cheaper and far less complicated to use for amateur and even pro-am applications. Need a small, portable mic that can sit connected directly to your laptop in your studio, yet can also be easily carried with your phone to record interviews in the field? USB is your friend.

My mother used to reassure me that looks aren’t important. Sorry mum, you were wrong. If you’re a vlogger or content creator who regularly posts to YouTube or Vimeo then you’re going to want a mic that looks the part. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so that may be a smaller mic that doesn’t obscure your face when you’re talking, or it could be one that best matches the aesthetic of your set. 

The big brands are producing some fantastic looking mics these days, so there’s really no need to settle for an ugly block of black plastic anymore. Whether you go unobtrusive, or loud ’n’ proud, is up to you.

Most budget USB mics will have a few basic features and controls, such as a mute button, a headphone socket, a gain control, a volume control and a mix control. The gain control boosts the mic’s signal strength so that you can get a good, clean recording. Dial in too little gain and your subject will sound quiet, with a lot of intrusive noise. Too much and your recording will sound clipped and distorted.

The volume knob may be combined with the mix dial, but either way, these controls enable you to monitor both your subject and any sounds emanating from your laptop whilst recording. For example, a singer will be able to monitor how their live vocal sounds against tracks playing on a DAW or, depending on the set-up, a podcaster may be able to hear other guests contributing to a discussion.

Less commonly, controls may be included to switch polar patterns, attenuate the input level (known as PAD) or, in the case of a mic such as the AKG Lyra, select particular capsules from an array.

How we test the best budget USB microphones

Our testing process for USB microphones is a little different to our usual microphone testing process. USB mics play a very different role compared to most other recording microphones in the fact that they're more often designed to record a human voice than any type of instrument. They're also obviously designed to plug directly into a computer, so the amount (and type) of signal processing is also different to that of a regular mic.

While testing USB mics, for the aforementioned reasons, we've found it's best to focus on voice recording quality, then, often comparing these often cheaper microphones with similarly spec'd studio vocal microphones or standards in the podcasting arena. 

When focusing on vocals we take into account how microphones handle artefacts like sibilance and what has been provided to cut down such an occurrence – a pop shield might well come with the microphone, either separately or built into it, for example. Podcasting mics also tend to come with other items like podcast recording software designed to get you up and running in the world of podcasting, a desktop mount to place the mic firmly next to your computer and (usually) some kind of carry case, so these are all taken into account when we look at value for money. 

While podcasting mics are generally aimed at vocal recording, it's always good to stretch them a little in our tests to see whether they are any good at recording acoustic guitar or, more likely, singing. Having a flexible microphone that can be used for studio tasks as well as broadcasting your opinions can't be sniffed at, and some podcasting microphones are surprisingly adept at recording other instruments. 

Obviously the final factor is price. USB mics tend to be cheaper than their studio equivalent so we take this into account with our overall findings and balance up whether it's worth paying more for a studio vocal mic and interface to get 'proper' BBC radio vocals for (sometimes) not that much more outlay.

Find out more about how we test music gear and services at MusicRadar.

Chris Corfield

Chris Corfield is a journalist with over 12 years of experience writing for some of the music world's biggest brands including Orange Amplification, MusicRadar, Guitar World, Total Guitar and Dawsons Music. Chris loves getting nerdy about everything from guitar and bass gear, to synths, microphones, DJ gear and music production hardware.

With contributions from