Which is the best USB microphone (2018)?

Which is the best USB microphone Tips

Buy Plug’n’Play microphones for direct connection to the computer

Podcast, home recording etc: Select the right USB Micro for purchase

Buying USB microphones has the advantage that the microphones can be connected directly to the computer. The purchase of an audio interface you can save yourself, additional cables, headphone amplifier and microphone preamp you do not have to buy: USB microphones are connected via USB cable to Mac, PC or even tablet and smartphone, can already be recorded. But which is the best USB microphone? Which one is particularly inexpensive? What do you have to pay attention to when buying? Here you get tips!

Buying best USB microphones: Almost all have a condenser capsule

Although it is also possible to record voices and instruments with dynamic microphones (swap-coil microphones and tapes), the condenser capsule is still the top dog. In recording studios it is often used because it can record a very detailed sound image. However, there are certainly differences in quality: While some manufacturers obstruct the cheapest small-capsules (must … to be able to keep the lowest prices), are used in some high-quality capsules, as they are synonymous in more expensive studio microphones. The decent USB microphones usually have a large-diaphragm capsule, which is a little larger than a two-euro coin.

Which is the best USB microphone Tips

Through the grille of this USB microphone, the large diaphragm capsule can be seen.

In USB microphones, the microphone preamplifier is installed

The usual chain is: microphone, microphone preamplifier, digital converter / audio interface . Frequently, the mic preamps are built into interfaces . It is always possible to adjust the amount of preamplification with a regulator. Because with USB microphones this preamp is built in, also here this gain should be to be found. Unfortunately, some cheap USB microphones have only a fixed or only a switchable gain. As a result, the usability is limited: especially loud signals in front of the microphone (guitar amplifier, drums, “screaming” singer) can distort, especially quiet signals are amplified too little and can therefore be noisy.

Who hears what when? Check the monitoring before purchasing a USB microphone

Significantly different is the equipment with regard to the monitoring of USB microphones. It makes sense for a USB microphone to offer “Direct Monitoring”, where the microphone signal is immediately routed to the built-in headphone amplifier for latency-free listening. For this purpose, two controls must be present: headphone level and level of the direct signal. Sometimes a “blend” control is also installed, with which the proportions of playback signal from the computer and microphone signal can be determined. Almost all of the best USB microphones offer such a possibility, only the very inexpensive do without it.

Which is the best USB microphone

“Monitoring section” of a USB microphone: Blend, headphone level and headphone jack.

If you only record voice, for example, for a podcast or as a voice-over for video, you do not have to hear yourself talking through headphones. However, it is always good to hear the “microphone voice” in order to be able to assess the sound image and to detect technical problems (distortions, background noises, pop-pings …).

Compatibility of USB microphones: Mac OS, Windows, iOS, Android & Co.

It is important to clarify in advance whether the microphone works on the system of choice. Especially with smartphones and tablet computers it is important to make sure that they are compatible.

Typical microphone characteristics and equipment are also important when buying USB microphones

Of course, when buying a USB micro-technical features include, for example, the noise or the resolution of the digital converter. Of the current USB microphones you can actually buy almost all of them, really bad outliers hardly occur even in the really lowest price segment.

Who buys a USB microphone, of course, does so not least because of the sound. If you do not want to be an all-rounder for different voices and instruments, but for those who buy the micro for themselves, you just have to try and find out if it fits your voice. Or, using sound descriptions and sound samples in pre-purchase testing, try to see if it will fit.

Almost all USB microphones that you can buy are simply equipped. Even the best USB microphones come with a fixed directional characteristic. The switching (to eight or ball, for example), however, is not necessarily required in the individual microphone of vocals or speech, with the kidney (rare supercardioid) as the most important polar pattern is well served.

Further advice and links about USB microphones, microphones etc.

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