Those of you who happen to need a good recording mic, but who also can’t afford to go all out in terms of price may think that you are out of luck, but that just isn’t the case. There are actually very good and useful options out there for those of you trying to get a good mic for recording your voice on a budget.
Typically, those looking for a less expensive option will opt for USB microphones. These microphones are the definition of an affordable, simple way to get your voice out there. While the words “simple” and “affordable” may throw up some red flags right away, trust us when we say that these microphones are well-mad enough for all but the pickiest audiophile.
As you may have been able to guess, this article is going to be dedicated to talking about this very useful and very common type of microphone. Even though you can USB microphones just about everywhere, we are willing to bet that a lot of people out there won’t even consider them for their recording studio, instead opting for pricier condenser microphones.
However, we think that a lot of people out there could benefit from going the USB microphone route, and we are going to help you make that decision by explaining all the details that you need to know to convince you to give these types of mics a try.
USB Microphones: What Are They and How Do They Work?
Let’s start this article off as simply as possible, by looking at what these mics are and how they work. On the surface, this may seem like an exceedingly simple question, but we imagine that quite a few of you out there are curious about this.
After all, some of you may wonder how is it that some microphones require all these wires and other things to work properly, but other mics can just be plugged in via USB and work perfectly. So, let’s explain it briefly.
The long and short of it is that a USB mic is, in most respects, similar to any other type of microphone. It has things like diaphragms, capacitors, etc. So, where do the differences come into play? Well, there are two main differences that are worth noting.
First off, they have a converter built into the mic that allows them to convert analog audio directly to digital audio, this is why they can be plugged directly into a PC and upload audio automatically.
Secondly, they have a preamp that is also built directly into the mic, which eliminates the need to hook the microphone up to any sort of secondary machine. In other words, all a USB mic needs to function properly is power, which it gets directly from your computer.
Why Go With A USB Mic?
Next up, we want to cover all the various reasons why you, as a person looking to get into recording for the first time, would want to give a USB mic a try over more conventional options like say condenser mics or dynamic mics. So, in this section of our article, we figured that we would cover just some of the many benefits that USB microphones have to offer.
First and foremost, we have to talk about price. Let’s face it, money talks and everyone here is at least somewhat interested in saving money.
Even if you are building a recording studio without any sort of thought to overall costs, you still want to save a couple of bucks where you can, right? Well, USB mics are by far and away from the most inexpensive type of mic that you can get, while still being able to rely on said mic to provide at least decent audio quality.
Obviously, one could go for an extremely cheap $10 microphone, but that isn’t going to do a very good job. What makes USB microphones a bit more special is the fact that they are available at good prices, without sacrificing too much in terms of quality.
Whereas one has to expect to spend at least $150 to even get close to getting a good condenser or dynamic mic, you can spend around $50-$75 and get a good USB mic that will last you for a few years at the very least.
If you are in the process of setting up a professional recording studio for say podcasting, then the chances are good that you are spending a lot of money already, so these savings end up being fairly significant.
Easier To Setup a USB Microphone
If you aren’t a tech whiz, and most people probably aren’t despite how important technology is these days, then the chances are good that you aren’t going to want to go through the very complicated process of setting up something like a condenser microphone.
While we wouldn’t necessarily call the process “difficult,” it does require a lot of technical know-how, different pieces of equipment (most of which must be bought separately), and to top it all off, there is a high margin for error.
Based on what we just described, there is a good chance that a lot of you reading this would much rather just avoid the hassle altogether. Thankfully, one can do that by just buying a USB microphone. As we talked about way back near the start of the article (in the “What Are They and How Do They Work?” section), USB microphones are designed to operate very simply.
You just plug them into your computer and that is it, there isn’t anything else that you really need to do. You may need to fiddle with some settings, but unlike other types of microphones, which usually require special software to change the sound of the mic, USB microphones can have their settings changed directly from your computer screen.
So, once again we want to state that if you want something that is plug and talk, then the USB mic is easily your best option.
USB Microphones – What Are They Used For?
The next thing that we need to talk about is what exactly it is that USB microphones are meant for. We want to cover this because while we have talked a lot, and we do mean a lot, in this article about the various time, effort, and money aspects of these mics, we haven’t actually explained when you would use them as opposed to using a different type of microphone.
So, let’s deal with that now. The main use of USB mics is for voice recording, as opposed to singing. While there are plenty of well-made USB microphone options out there, the reality is that your average USB option just doesn’t have the quality to properly record a singing voice and produce the final product that most singers will be looking for.
However, they excel at just recording talks. Because of this, USB mics are often used for anything that just involves plain old talking. This can include things like recording podcasts, doing commentary for videos, doing voiceover work, and anything else that doesn’t require the vocal complexity of singing.
Podcasting is becoming an increasingly popular thing for people to do, both as a hobby and as a potential career. So, if the idea of podcasting interests you, you can’t go wrong with a standard USB option. The same goes for making YouTube videos (although that isn’t quite as popular as it once was).
Know What Brands Are Consistently Good
Look, much like with any other product out there, you can find good off-brand USB microphones. However, the reality is that brands develop reputations for a specific reason and there are certain brands of microphone that you can just more consistently rely on to provide a quality product.
When it comes to USB microphones, the brand that you are likely to see pop up the most is Blue Yeti. They make relatively high-quality, easy to use mics that also happen to be in an extremely affordable price range. So, you can probably see why they are so popular, especially among people who do commentary on YouTube, as the mics are really designed to be an affordable option.
If you are looking for something a bit more higher-end, then you can go for a mic from either Razer or Elgato, both of which make very good USB mics at a slightly higher (but still affordable as far as high-end microphones go) price.
Finally, Shure is a brand that is typically known for making condenser microphones, but they also dabble in other types, and you can find USB mics from them. Shure is a very reliable brand, and you can never go wrong with one of their mics.
This article probably has more info about USB microphones than you will hear for the rest of your life. In other words, you should now be well-equipped to buy a USB mic on your own and know enough to make a well-informed purchase.
Like this guide? Then you’d definitely love our other guides on the best microphone for vocals.