One of the more curious growth areas in media has been the rise - largely under the radar - of podcasting. The simple act of voices telling stories, conducting interviews or teaching weird and wonderful things has made it one of the most important communication mediums of the 21st Century. Around 73 million Americans identify as regular podcast listeners, and that number is only forecast to rise. With that in mind, we want to help you get started making your own with our pick of the best podcasting microphones around.
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The popularity of podcasting can be largely attributed to communities that form around popular podcasts. So it makes sense that more and more people are looking to podcasting as a way of telling their story.
The good news is that there is a relatively low barrier to entry. You don't need expensive cameras or exotic locations, just a decent podcasting microphone and a way of editing the audio later. With that in mind, here's a look at some of the best podcasting microphones you can buy right now, for all budgets and ability levels.
The best podcasting microphones right now
There's one microphone on this list that stands out over the others, and for a number of reasons. The Blue Microphones Yeti is, simply put, the perfect blend of versatility, ruggedness and great quality. Blue, to its credit, has found the sweet spot of making an affordable podcasting mic range that is more than the sum of its parts. We're yet to find a Yeti user who regrets their purchase.
A special nod also to the Rode Procaster. If you're shopping at the high end, and looking for a dedicated speech mic, that's your ticket right there. Both microphones, in their very different ways, come with our full seal of approval.
Best podcasting microphones: buying advice
When shopping for the best podcasting microphone - whether it’s to replace an old studio workhorse or as your first foray into the world of podcasting - there are a few questions it helps to answer. While microphones all largely carry out the same function, there are some differences that can make certain types better suited to specific applications. Allow us to explain.
If your podcasting career revolves around recording one person in a static location - e.g. a bedroom or kitchen studio - using a laptop or tablet as your hub, then this will affect the type of mic you'd choose. Likewise, recording multiple people or sound sources means your horizons will need to broaden in order to achieve this.
A good place to start involves looking at the way the microphone will connect to something in order to record. In one corner you have trusty old USB. Mics using USB are predominantly plug and play, and require very little knowledge of sound. You plug it into your laptop, hit record in the software and you're good to go. For more advanced scenarios, you'll want to use mics with an XLR connector, and a mixer of some kind. This enables you to vary the input levels of multiple mics, to ensure a balanced output sound.
The microphone type will often differ, too. For podcasting, it'll likely either involve a condenser or a dynamic microphone. Condensers are perhaps better suited to studio locations, as they bring out a richness in voices. However, the trade-off is that they can be more sensitive to ambient noise. Dynamic mics, on the other hand, are a bit more lively, and are ideal for outdoor recording or in environments with lots of loud noise. Ultimately, you have some decisions to make. Let us help with this guide to some of the best podcasting microphones around right now.
The best podcasting microphones you can buy
1. Blue Microphones Yeti USB
The best and easiest option for any user
Price: £84.99/$149.99 | Connection: USB | Type: Condenser | Polar pattern: Cardioid, bidirectional and omnidirectional | Includes: Microphone, stand
The Blue Yeti has become synonymous with a number of different applications. From Twitch gaming to YouTube tutorials, this mic is perhaps the best known out there, and for good reason. It's easy to use, sounds superb thanks to its three condenser capsules, and doesn't cost the earth to buy.
Its multiple pattern selection feature is particularly neat. You can choose to either have the mic pick up the sound being directed straight into it, which is great for podcasting, or you can set it to pick up audio from a wider angle. This makes it the perfect choice for recording group sessions, where a single mic is placed in the middle of a table. Highly recommended for anyone – beginner or otherwise.
2. NEAT King Bee
Large diaphragm condenser with added sting
Price: £179/$99.99 | Connection: XLR | Type: Condenser | Polar pattern: Cardioid | Includes: Microphone, pop filter, shockmount, XLR cable
Who says microphones have to look dull? The NEAT King Bee is a great antidote to all the usual mic stylings, and will look great in any recording studio. Behind the lively exterior there is some nice technology at work too.
The King Bee is an XLR-fed large diaphragm condenser, meaning it's great for voice applications. The sound quality is superb, and the package comes with both a shockmount and a pop filter, so your recordings will benefit too. A great package, all told.
3. Audio-Technica AT2035PK
High quality podcasting kit
Price: £160/$199 | Connection: XLR | Type: Condenser | Polar pattern: Cardioid | Includes: Microphone, headphones, boom arm, XLR cable
As a well-respected name in audio production and recording, you can reasonably expect the Audio-Technica AT2035PK to perform well in the podcast arena. Thankfully, it doesn't disappoint. This cardioid patterned condenser reduces pickup of sound from the sides and rear, making for superb isolation of the voice. Perfect for podcasting or streaming.
The addition of headphones, a boom arm to connect to a desk, and an XLR cable makes for a great starter package too.
4. Rode NT-USB
Mic specialist with a classy offer
Price: £155/$169 | Connection: USB | Type: Condenser | Polar pattern: Cardioid | Includes: Microphone, pop shield, ring mount, tripod desk stand
Australian brand Rode has genuine pedigree in the world of microphones. Hence why we were drawn to the Rode NT-USB. As a specialist USB desktop mic, you're not likely to be taking it out in the field very often, but as a set-and-forget desktop option it's ideal.
Included in the pack is everything you need, including a six-metre USB cable, so if it were required to move away from the desk and into the music studio it could comfortably work its magic on acoustic guitars, for example.
5. Samson Meteor
This mini desktop mic is a great entry point
Price: £86/$59 | Connection: USB | Type: Condenser | Polar pattern: Cardioid | Includes: Microphone, integrated stand
The Samson Meteor is tiny. Let's get that out the way first. This diminutive device has fold-up legs so it can be stored when not in use, and is ideal for throwing in a bag and taking out into the big wide world.
Its cardioid polar pattern and wide frequency response deliver a higher-quality sound than you'd expect at this price point, and its ability to connect with iOS and Android devices makes it ideal for recording instruments on the go.
6. Shure SM7B
High-end dynamic mic for the professionals
Price: £327/$399 | Connection: XLR | Type: Dynamic | Polar pattern: Cardioid | Included: Microphone, windscreen
If you've ever been in a recording studio, or watched a band play live, you'll have seen Shure microphones. Simply put, they are the standard against which all other microphones are judged. The Shure SM7B adds to this reputation by doing one thing really, really well: making the audio it records sound brilliant.
There's no USB connection, no bundled gear other than a windscreen. Nope, this dynamic microphone is designed simply to deliver clean, clear audio. As one of the only dynamic mics on the list, we should point out the ease with which the SM7B copes with loud environments too.
It's the flat frequency response we're most taken with, though: essentially, none of the frequencies it receives are emphasised in any way. This means that when you come to process the audio - e.g. add compression, EQ - it sounds as natural as when it was recorded. A top-drawer microphone for podcasting.
7. Rode Procaster
Specialist vocal mic that's built for work
Price: £169/$228 | Connection: XLR | Type: Dynamic | Polar pattern: Cardioid | Includes: Microphone, stand mount, zip pouch
Some of the mics on this list are equally happy recording vocals, guitars, streams or Skype chats. Not so, the Rode Procaster. The second Rode mic on this list is built specifically for vocal recording, and more specifically for speech. Its pitched as a broadcast microphone, which means it could feasibly be used for TV, radio or other high-pressure situations.
The way it copes with ambient noise stands out; its tight polar pattern meant that no matter how noisy the environment, what we recorded sounded extremely focused and clear.
8. IK Multimedia iRig Mic HD 2
Ideal for mobile casting
Price: £106/$129 | Connection: USB | Type: Condenser | Polar pattern: Cardioid | Includes: Microphone, tripod, carrying pouch
IK Multimedia was at the forefront of creating tools for people to unlock the recording potential of their phones and tablets. The Italian brand has a huge legacy in recording software and apps, but its iRig range brought portable device recording to the masses.
The IK Multimedia iRig Mic HD 2 is an all-in-one USB-connected microphone that includes a built-in pre-amp, so it can be connected directly to mobile devices. The sound quality is good, too, making it a solid choice for on-the-go producers, while we also liked the bundled suite of apps to record and process your audio.
9. Blue Microphones Snowball
It may be small but it is mighty
Price: £55/$50 | Connection: USB | Type: Condenser | Polar pattern: Cardioid | Includes: Microphone, stand
The second entry from Blue on the list, and also the smallest overall. The Blue Snowball is marketed as a solution for improving the quality of voice calls, yet as a podcast solution it's also pretty solid.
It's truly plug and play, so you can be recording within minutes, but the audio quality isn't going to be high enough to impress the professionals. But, as a starter for the novice podcaster, it's well worth a look.