Podcasting has become 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 rising. Who knew that the simple act of voices telling stories, conducting interviews or teaching weird and wonderful things would become so popular! Want to record your own? We're here to help you get started by matching you with the best podcasting microphones around.
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 to get started, just a decent podcasting microphone, a way of recording yourself and a means to edit the audio later. With that in mind, here's a look at some of the best podcasting microphones you can buy right now, whether you're a total beginner, or a seasoned podcaster.
With Black Friday incoming on 13 and 14 October, it could be worth holding off on picking up a new podcasting mic until the Black Friday music deals start emerging. We'll be reporting on the best offers right through to Black Friday itself.
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The best podcasting microphones right now
There's one podcasting mic in this round-up 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 must also go to the Rode Procaster. If you have a decent budget, and you're looking for a dedicated speech mic, this is the one for you.
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 step into the world of podcasting – there are a few questions it's important to answer first. 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 – like your bedroom or a kitchen studio – using a laptop or tablet as your hub, then this will affect the type of mic you should go for. 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 ready 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! Our guide to some of the best podcasting microphones around right now should help.
The best podcasting microphones you can buy
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.
Read the full Blue Microphones Yeti review
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.
Read the full Rode Procaster review
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.
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.
Read the full Rode NT-USB review
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.
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.
Read the full Neat King Bee review
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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.
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.