With over 4 billion online, live streaming has never been more popular or more accessible. It doesn’t matter if you’re a podcaster, gamer, musician, or vlogger, the platforms are there for you to gain an audience and even generate online income. Yes, there are an abundance of platforms and streaming software out there, as well as equipment and that’s where it can become tricky. With so many options to choose from, how do decide on which gear to buy?
The main things you’ll need for online streaming are a webcam, headphones, an audio interface, and a microphone. If you’re not sure what an audio interface is, check out my article ‘What is an Audio Interface?’. You can also find my suggestions for audio interfaces best suited to live streaming in my top 5 recommendations. In this article I’m going to cover the best microphones for liver streaming, from low to high price. It’s important to make an informed choice before buying any kind of audio gear. As I am going to cover a variety of microphones, I’m sure you’ll find a mic well suited for you needs.
USB vs XLR Microphones
The first question you need to ask yourself is should I buy a USB microphone, or an XLR microphone? USB microphones are the simplest to use, you just plug them in and begin recording or streaming. However, simplicity brings limitations. It’s difficult to record or stream with more than one USB microphone at a time, plus if you want to monitor and mix them, you’ll need to do this digitally.
XLR microphones require you to buy an audio interface, as the in-between device to connect them to your computer. That’s because they require more power than a USB microphone, which results in better sound and more flexibility. Using an audio interface allows you to mix and monitor your mic before it even reaches your computer, which can be a huge advantage.
It’s really down to personal preference. If you’re on a budget, want a minimal setup with a plug-and-play mic, and only need to record one person, then buy a USB microphone. If you want a higher-end, more complex setup, with a requirement to record more than one person, then an audio interface with one or more XLR microphones is the way to go. In this list I’m going to give both USB and XLR options to choose from. Let’s start with the USB microphones first.
Blue are a superb company, I own an XLR Blue microphone, called the Bluebird and I love it! Not only are they well-made and reliable, they have a wide price range available for every budget. The Blue Yeti iCE is a very affordable mic that packs a punch. It’s their smallest microphone in their USB collection, meaning it’s compact, portable, and won’t take up much space on your desk.
This unique ball shape design comes in white or a classy satin black. It’s sturdy and can be can be angled up or down due to its swivel joint. This means you can easily point it towards you recording source with no issues. Despite its low price, the Blue Yeti iCE has surprisingly good sound. It’s well-balanced and with a little EQ and post editing, you can easily get a professional sound with plenty of clarity. Overall this is a great entry-level USB microphone and perfect if you’re on a budget.
If you have a bigger budget then you may want to consider the Blue Yet Pro. This microphone is cased in metal, making it built like a tank. Its black satin appearance keeps it looking sleek, professional, and timeless.
What’s unique about this microphone is that you can choose from four different polar patterns. Not sure what a polar pattern is? Check out my article on polar patterns and microphone types. Using the selector knob, you can choose either a cardioid, omni, figure-of-eight, or stereo polar pattern, making this microphone exceptionally versatile.
The Blue Yeti also features a mute button, gain control, and headphone volume knob, making this microphone easy to adjust when you need it most. If you can expand your budget and liked the sound of the Blue iCE ball, consider the Blue Yeti. It provides you with a smoother workflow and its reliability and ability will serve you well.
Hyper X Quadcast S
What immediately stands out about the Hyper X Quadcast S? Well of course it’s the coloured LED lighting behind the microphones mesh. You could consider this to be gimmicky, but to be honest it does look pretty cool! You can choose between different radiant RBG lighting with dynamic effects, to really customise your working environment.
To match the RBG lighting, the overall design of this microphone looks sleek and sophisticated. This microphone also has four selectable polar patters allowing you to choose between cardioid, omni, figure-of-eight, and stereo. Giving you more flexibility for recording different sound sources in a variety of environments.
The touch sensitive mute button is conveniently located on the top of the mic for easy access, aided by an LED button. The gain control is located under the microphone which can be adjusting by turning the dial. In terms of audio, it sounds clear and consistent. This is a unique looking mic, but if you’re not bothered about the RBG lighting then pick up the normal Quadcast model, which is slightly cheaper.
Audio Technica AT2020USB+
Audio technical are well established company that have been making quality audio equipment for decades. Their AT2020USB+ microphone is versatile and robustly built, with sound quality that will give your live streams a professional sound.
The front of this USB microphone features a volume control and monitor mix, which gives you the option to dial in how much of the mic or computer audio you want in your headphones. This is really handy if you’re a musician live streaming, or recording music. There is also a blue LED behind the microphone’s mesh that lights up to eliminate the mic in dark lighting.
This is a really great all-rounder microphone for the price, which should have no problem recording or streaming different sound sources. In my opinion it’s not the nicest looking on the list, but looks aren’t everything right? It sounds great and the controls are easy to access and tweak.
Despite being the most expensive, this is my personal favourite microphone on the list. Why? Because this microphone is based on the famous Shure SM7B, which I own. The SM7B is an XLR microphone which is sort of a legend as Michael Jackson used it to record his Thriller album. It’s a microphone that you see everywhere these days due to its superb sound and dependability.
Following the popularity of the SM7B, Shure decided to make the MV7, which is like its USB equivalent. It can also be connected via an XLR cable though, giving you the best of both worlds. Its price point is lower than the SM7B, but you still get the same professional sound and robust build quality with its metal casing.
I also really love the unique slider touch control on this microphone, which allows you to control your mix, gain, monitor level, and muting. The slider is illuminated by green LEDs, so you can effortlessly see your levels at a quick glance. The MV7 is an incredible microphone for the price, it’s versatility and Shure’s track record mean this microphone will not let you down.
Choose the Right Microphone for Your Needs
I hope you found my recommendations for the best microphones for live streaming helpful. Choosing the right microphone doesn’t have to be complicated. As long as you go with trusted brand with a solid reputation then you won’t have to worry. And those are exactly the type of microphones I have included on this list. Budget will be your biggest deciding factor, followed by practicality, sound quality, and looks. Don’t overthink think it. Sometimes we spend far too long worrying about making the wrong decision when buying gear. As a result, it can disrupt and halt our creativity and productivity. I’ve certainly fallen into that trap many times before.
What do you want to live stream with your microphone? Let me know in the comments.