If you want to stream, podcast or record gaming videos for YouTube, then one of the first steps is picking up a good USB or XLR microphone. These mics can provide that extra bit of audio quality, noise reduction and control you need to be a successful content creator, things you won’t often find from your standard gaming headset microphone. There are plenty of options on the market, so we tested the most popular USB and XLR mics to find out which we could recommend for gaming, streaming and recording.
We’ve split our picks into a few different categories: the best mics for streaming, the best for recording voiceovers or podcasts and the best cheap option. There’s a separate category for XLR mics, as these are a different kettle of fish. We’ve also selected a handy attachable mic that trounces those built into most gaming headsets but remains just as convenient to use. All of our choices retail for less than $150/£150, as we’re focusing on affordable options for those new to content creation rather than truly professional-grade solutions which can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Finally, we also picked runner-up options for a few categories to recognise good alternatives that may be preferred by some people. With that out of the way, let’s get into the selections!
The QuadCast is the best USB microphone we’ve found for streaming thanks to its excellent audio quality and its long list of well-implemented features. There are four recording modes on offer and a physical gain dial, allowing the mic to be adapted for one audio source or multiple voices with ease. Being able to mute your audio quickly can be indispensable, and the tap-to-mute system – accompanied by the entire microphone dimming – is the best implementation we’ve seen. Other handy features include an internal pop filter that ensures p and b sounds don’t result in an annoying pop, a shock mount in the provided desk stand and lag-free audio monitoring. The only real drawbacks are that the LED lighting isn’t optional and the default stand is a little short, so using a proper boom arm or another mount is recommended.