Best USB Microphone for Recording Music
The benefit of buying a USB microphone is that they are very portable and affordable as you don’t need to buy an audio interface which is required for microphones using XLR cables. If you don’t know what an audio interface is then you can read about that right here. Although USB microphones are not as powerful as XLR ones, you can still get professional sounding audio if you choose a well-made one.
The USB microphone market is huge as the demand for them has grown drastically. USB microphones are perfect for gamers, live streamers, podcasters, and musicians like yourself who want to record music. USB microphones also tend be more budget friendly than their XLR counterparts. Choosing one can be tricky though with such a large range of companies all competing with each other, how do you decide?
That’s where I’m here to help you. I’ve narrowed down the best USB microphone for recording music from low to high price. How did I select this top 5 list? I’ve taken into consideration the most important aspects: sound quality, build quality, and price. Any of these microphones should fit the criteria well for recording any genre of music at home. Let’s jump right into it with our first microphone.
Mackie make a large range of audio products for recording and live sound. This microphone is the cheapest on the list so expectations should be managed with regards to audio quality. The EM-USB does however sound pretty good, especially for the price. However, it will struggle to pick up the finer detail of instruments like an acoustic guitar.
In terms of design, it’s minimalist and to the point. On the front you have a mute button, gain and volume knob, and a headphone jack on the bottom. It only features a cardioid polar pattern which is the standard for condenser microphones and you also get a desktop stand included with your purchase.
If you’re on a tight budget and need a microphone no-nonsense microphone that is capable of capturing clear audio, then the Mackie EM-USB is the mic for you.
Blue make superb microphones; I own the Blue Bluebird, which is quite an expensive XLR microphone that I often reach to for recording vocals and acoustic guitar. The Blue Yeti has been around for some time, becoming one of the most popular budget USB microphones on the market.
This microphone enables you to choose from four polar patterns: cardioid, omni, figure-of-eight, and stereo, making it incredibly versatile for the price range. I’m a big fan of its satin black design that looks sleek, minimal and cool. It features a gain knob, volume knob, mute button, headphone jack, and it also comes with a desk stand.
This is a great sounding microphone for the price range, although some of the others on this list stood out as being more colourful. If you want a versatile microphone for an affordable price, with all the controls you need at hand, then go for the Blue Yeti USB microphone.
Audio Technica have been making affordable and quality audio equipment for years. The AT2020 USB+ has been designed for versatility and adaptability. The microphone is well-made and sturdy, plus the sound quality is superb. You should have no issues using this microphone on a variety of instruments.
The front of microphone features a volume and mix control, which enables you to choose how much of the microphone or computer audio you want to listen to in your headphones. This is a very unique feature which comes in very handy whilst recording your music. The headphone jack is on the side, making it more accessible than some microphones on this list. There is also a blue LED close to the diaphragm, which lights up the microphone in dark environments. Not a necessary feature, but definitely cool!
This is a pretty great allrounder microphone that won’t break the bank. The sound and build quality are perfect for any home budget recording studio, and the controls on the front allow for a faster workflow whilst recording your music.
The Shure MV7 is my favourite microphone on the list, as it is inspired by the famous SM7B, an XLR mic that I myself own. The SM7B was famously used on Michael Jackson’s Thriller album, nowadays you often see it being used on podcasts. It’s a notoriously versatile, sturdy microphone with exceptional sound quality.
The Shure MV7 is like the USB version of the SM7B, however it can also be connected with an XLR cable, making it a very adaptable microphone. It’s more affordable than the SM7B but is just as sturdy and robust in construction, plus it’s made from metal, so it’s built like a tank.The top of the microphone features a touch control slider for gain, monitoring level, headphone mix, and muting. I thought this was a really unique feature and the slide control is illuminated by green LEDs, giving you a smoother workflow.
As it is a dynamic microphone it is particularly good at eliminating background noise, so it’s very useful for rooms that don’t sound that great. This is a brilliant all-rounder microphone but particularly good for vocals. The reliability and sound quality of Shure’s MV7 won’t let you down.
I always like to include a high-end option on my list, as it gives you a good comparison to see what you can get for spending a bit more. The Earthworks Icon is absolutely stunning, this all metal microphone has an elegant, beautiful stainless-steel finish that is built to last. It looks elegant and feels sturdy in the hands.
The build quality matches the sound quality, as this microphone delivers outstanding sound with an added sparkle, giving your music more presence and clarity. There is headphone jack and volume knob (which can be pressed to mute the audio) on the bottom, that feels durable and it pleasant to use.
Like most of the others on this list, it also comes with a mic stand that has a swivel mount. This allows you to angle the microphone in different positions for recording. Another bonus feature is the LED that changes colour deepening on if you are streaming, recording, in mute, or clipping.
This microphone has it all, the sleek looks, and the high-quality audio. It will make you look and feel more professional but of course it’s the most expensive on the list, so only you can decide if you want to spend that extra money.
Don’t Overthink it
USB microphones are more affordable, portable and are more than adequate of providing professional sounding audio if you choose a well-made one. Remember recording great music is less about the gear and more about the performance. Plenty of ground-breaking albums have been recorded with budget audio gear. As I have covered a range of budgets in this list, I hope that at least one microphone stands out to you. Regardless of which one you choose, remember to have fun and enjoy the process.
If you’re new to recording music at home, be sure to check out my article here, detailing all of the other equipment you need to set up a home recording studio. I’d love to know what you want to record at home with a USB microphone. Be sure to let me know in comments, and feel free to ask me any questions that came to mind.