Hi friend and Welcome!
When it comes to the best mics for podcasting, there are some really great options out there! Too many in fact to condense them all into a single review. It’s also no secret that Blue has quite a large footprint in this niche. All of their options solid as a rock, and really get the job done. This review will outline 2 great Blue options, an MXL, plus the AT2020 USB. I chose these mics because they all primarily do exceptional with pod-casting. They also all happen to be very versatile and affordable.
At the bottom I touch on the absolute best dynamic mics, so stay tuned! This will be quite a lengthy and in depth review, so grab a snack (or two), sit back, and relax because..
You’ve come to the right place!!
If you don’t want to sift through all the technical stuff, I’m recommending the Blue Yeti for podcasting over the other 3 options because of it’s:
- Overall Convenience
- The fact that it appeared the most times in my research
It was a tough decision between the Yeti and AT2020 USB.
- Versatility. Does well in a variety of applications. Just don’t purchase it with the intent on solely recording vocals and instruments. It can also be used with the provided stand, or with a separate mic stand + shock-mount as well as: a windscreen or pop-filter depending on your preference.
- Features. This baby is basically ready to go out of the box. 4 polar patterns, gain switch, zero latency headphone jack for live monitoring, mute button, great USB cable, and elegant design make it perfect for pod-casters who need everything in one place. What is latency?
- It’s solid as a rock. It may look like an industrial sized dildo, but rest assured this beast is strong and durable. 🙂
- Well rounded sound. Does exceptional with an array of voice types.
- Popular. Opinions do vary, but you will find the Yeti at or near the top of many short lists for best pod-casting mic.
- An array of colors. Comes in Blackout, Platinum , Silver, Space Grey, and White-out!
- 4.5/5 on amazon with over 3,500 reviews. That’s says something.
AT2020 USB (and USB Plus)
- Lifetime warranty.
- Does have better sound quality and more clarity in many eyes.
- The AT2020 Plus Version has built in headphone jack for live monitoring.
- More versatility. The AT2020 does well with nearly anything, while the Yeti is more geared towards podcasting.
- Also rock solid. May have better longevity than the Yeti.
- 4.5/5 on amazon with over 600 reviews. Also impressive but with a smaller sample size.
You can see why this isn’t exactly clear cut!
So in a nutshell:
- If you’re only going to be using the mic for pod-casting, the Blue Yeti is the way to go.
- If you want more out of your purchase overall, and better sound quality, the AT2020 USB is your best bet.
Now before we get into all the details, grab a snack, sit back and relax because..
You’ve come to the right place!!
What I will bring you in this review
a detailed review of each mic
- Ratings/Best Price
- Video Review
- Who this mic benefits?
- What you will need?
- Final Word
Now without further ado, let’s get into it!
Blue Yeti (Top Pick)
- Price: Amazon: 4.5/5 (Over 3,500 reviews) | Check eBay!
- Best Buy: 4.7/5 (Over 450 reviews)
- B&H Photo Video: 4.5/5 (Over 350 reviews)
- Guitar Center: 4.5/5 (Over 14 reviews)
- Sweetwater: 4.5/5 (Over 15 reviews). Currently Unavailable.
- Musicians Friend: 4.5/5 (Over 25 reviews)
- Microphone Type: Condenser.
- Polar Patterns: Cardioid, Omni, Stereo, and Bi-directional.
- Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz.
- Max SPL: 120dB.
- Signal to noise ratio: 100dB.
- Colors: Silver, Platinum, Blackout, Whiteout, Cool Grey.
- Connector: USB.
- Weight: 1.2 lb. 2.2 with stand.
- Impedance: 16 Ohm
- Sample Rate: 48 kHz. Bit depth vs. sample rate
This is a really popular mic, and for good reason. Standing about a foot tall on your desk, it’s got a great sound with many different types of voices, is really solid, reliable, and most importantly it’s convenient. I know many of you don’t really want to bother with the whole XLR setup. You just want to be able to plug and play. If that sounds like you, then this is your mic!
Being that it’s USB, you won’t have to tinker around with extraneous gear. Some folks get scared off from USB set ups because they seem cheap, easy, but not satisfying (like 2 dollar hooker). What you’re getting here is a versatile piece of equipment with great sound quality.
Called exceptional, this mic handles a variety of applications very well. I’ve seen it endorsed mostly for Skype, conference calls, pod-casting, you-tube, and any thing that requires voice over. You may not want to pick this up as your primary vocal mic, but it has been known to handle that as well.
It has a very nice build, is made of metal, and feels solid in your hand Some have complained that it leaves a rather large foot print on your desk, because of the fact that it stands so high.
- Sound quality is exceptional. Works with many voice types.
- Solid build (made of metal) and a great mic stand that comes with it.
- Convenient, just plug and play.
- Recognized by all windows platforms. Easy like Sunday morning.
- Has a mute button. simple knobs and design.
- Good USB cable provided.
- Versatile. you can record almost anything in any type of circumstance..
- 4 different polar patterns for amazing versatility.
- Gain control and headphone jack on the back.
- Needs to be plugged directly into a USB port on your laptop/computer. Some say it doesn’t do well plugged into a separate USB hub.
- Mic does not actually have a switch to turn it off.
- Extremely sensitive, picks up everything (this can be a good and bad thing).
Check out the super informative review! (mic test comes around 7:30)
Who this mic benefits?
- People who do video conferencing
- Pod-casters, people who need to do voice over
- People who want to Skype
- People who need to record for videos or animations
- Pretty much any voice over!
What you will need?
Really the only thing you need is the windscreen!
So many people rave about it’s sound quality, build, convenience, and versatility. It’s really an all purpose mic that is super easy to use. Complaints include size (a bit large), and you can’t include a standard pop filter unless you Jerry rig it, or use a different stand. People were also saying it’s hyper sensitive, but recording in the right environment greatly helps.
This is probably the best option you can go with if you’re looking to record with skype, doing any pod-casting, you-tube videos, video conferencing and any thing similar. I wouldn’t recommend it much for vocals, although it can be done. The 4 different polar patterns, it’s rugged build, and remarkable versatility make it a serious contender in any capacity.
Audio Technica AT2020 (USB model) (Runner-up)
- Element: Fixed-charge back plate, permanently polarized condenser
- Polar pattern: Cardioid.
- Frequency response: 20-16,000Hz.
- Power requirements: USB power (5V DC).
- Weight: 13.2 oz (374 g).
- Dimensions: 6.38″ (162.0 mm) long,
2.05″ (52.0 mm) maximum body diameter.
- Output connector: USB-type.
- Accessories furnished: pivoting stand mount for 5/8″-27 threaded stands; 5/8″-27 to 3/8″-16 threaded adapter; soft protective pouch; tripod desk stand; 10′ (3.1 m) USB cable.
- Bit depth: 16 bit
- Sample rate: 44.1kHz
In my research, I’ve found that people just tend to get really excited about this baby. It’s well suited for a plethora of different applications, including pretty much any voice over instance you can think of.
Some say it gives off XLR quality even being a USB mic, and goes well with your iPad, adobe audition, garage band, audacity, and even your Playstation 4. It’s also so easy to use that even your grandma could hook it up. You plug the USB into the port and BAM! You’re done. Your mac or PC will recognize it instantaneously, as well as your PS4.
I’ve also read a ton of reviews from people that have had this for upwards of 6 years. It’s a great long term investment, and even has a lifetime warranty. There are reviewers that have had this thing from 2 to 6 years and it still works like a charm.
It delivers XLR quality results that you typically would get if you had an audio interface and XLR cables. What is XLR? Many people commented on just how pristine the sound is. It’s also really easy to EQ with, but I have heard it doesn’t work with Pro tools, so be weary of this.
The remarkable thing about this mic is that it does well with not only voice over applications, but vocals as well as instrument recording. I’ve heard it endorsed for acoustic guitar, violin, vocals, video games (game play audio), you tube, interviews, streaming, webinars, etc. It has a rich full sound, and your vocals will come out crystal clear.
“Do I make myself clear, Mr. Bender? Crystalll.”
What you will frequently encounter is other people, friends, fans, etc. commenting on the amazing sound that comes out of this puppy. Be aware though that it is very sensitive, and could pick up a wee baby crapping his diaper 2 houses down. Lol. If you don’t have a sound proofed room, turn the gain down some. It should really help out. Acoustic Sound Treatment!
It’s a durable and heavy piece, and can withstand a ton of abuse. Just goes to show how solid metal can contribute to the longevity of this monster. It pretty much functions like your standard issue barbell. Haha just kidding, but really I’m not.
I’ve read about people dropping this thing, kicking it (not on purpose), and what have you. Still holds up. If you enjoy abusing microphones, this may be the one for you.
- Plug and play, doesn’t get any easier.
- Your CPU will recognize it immediately.
- Does well with a variety of programs including audacity, adobe audition, garage band, your PS4, and your iPad.
- Works with Mac and PC, and even your iPad.
- Called the best mic for game play audio.
- Good with a variety of studio and in home applications such as guitar, violin, ukulele, video games, voice over, you-tube, interviews, pod-casts, tutorials, Skype, etc.
- USB mic that delivers XLR quality recording.
- Durable and heavy.
- Comes with a nice zipper pouch.
- Lasts a long time. So many reviews were people who have had it anywhere from 2-6 years.
- Easy as pie to EQ with.
- Amazing, crystal clear, rich sound.
- Portable, you can take it anywhere.
- The stand/tripod that comes with the AT2020 is awful. Nearly every review pointed this out. As a separate stand I would recommend the DS7200B.
- There isn’t a headphone jack built into the mic. This means there will be a delay in your voice when recording live.
- Low audio complaints for users on Windows 8, 8.1, and 10. The issue may be with a specific port on your PC. Try using different ports first to remedy the problem.
- If you change locations of the mic, i.e. different rooms, or different places in one room, the mic may give you driver installation errors.
- Very sensitive and picks up a lot of noise, keyboard clicks, etc. Can emit some echo. Make sure you treat the room or use some acoustic studio foam around the mic to block out some of that noise. Turning down the gain also helps.
- has limited settings and features.
Check out the review!!
Who this mic benefits?
Napoleon Dynamite says that this mic benefits everyone.. Wait he’s right here and has something to say: “Yeah, it’s pretty much my favorite mic ever” Lol, really though it’s great for everything from voice over, to vocals, to instruments. A jack of all trades.
What you will need?
- A better stand, as alluded to above.
- A pop filter. I do recommend the Samson PS01, as I’ve had it since 2007. The one that is frequently bought with the DS7200B mic stand (above) also works fine.
- shock-mount is optional but recommended.
- You will need to be in an isolated space away from ambient noise as much as possible. Also use some acoustic studio foam, or line the walls with comforters. Anything to encase the sound in a bit.
Amazing sound quality and super easy to set up and use. Does well in a variety of situations, and is built to last. The tripod stand however is terrible, and you will need to invest in a new one should you purchase this mic.
MXL 990 (Bronze)
- Analog or digital: Analog.
- Frequency response: 30Hz to 20KhZ.
- Max SPL: 130 dB.
- Connectivity: XLR.
- Capsule: Condenser.
- Polar pattern: Cardioid.
- Type: Mounted.
- Applications: Studio.
- Diaphragm size: Large diaphragm. Large diaphragm vs. Small diaphragm.
- Switches: None.
- Phantom power required: Yes (48V).
- Width: 2.4″
- Height: 5.11″
- Weight: 1.2 lb.
- Case: Carrying case.
- Clip: Yes.
- Shockmount: Yes.
I’m proud to say that I read through every single amazon review, and can give you a nice clear concise summary of what this bad boy is all about.
It’s a condenser microphone and seems to be at it’s best in voice over type situations. One of the defining characteristics of the 990 is that it has a warm, bassy undertone. Some call it “muddy”, I personally really enjoy that type of sound. It’s got that radio quality to it.
It has also been known to do extremely well in live situations (choir, etc.) as well as a simple starter home recording studio. If you take away one thing from this review, it should be this: As an entry level mic, this is amazing. If you’ve been stuck using your computer speakers, the 990 will sound like music to your ears. However, as you grow and develop your equipment and sound, it’s flaws and shortcomings will be made apparent.
One other important thing to keep in mind is that it won’t necessarily sound as good without some EQ. This was very common among-st reviewers who needed it for vocals, and applies in most recording situations. As a condenser, it is very sensitive and picks up a lot of sound. Some common techniques I came across, which are pretty standard:
- EQ (equalization)
- A Noise gate (to block out extraneous sounds, ambient noise, etc.)
- A properly treated room. This can mean using blankets, acoustic studio foam, or anything that will deaden the sound and block out noise. Check out my article on Acoustic Sound Treatment for some tips on setting up your space!
All that said, this baby will serve as your go to mic in a bind, and makes a more than serviceable backup if you’re a bit more advanced. If you’re just starting out, you may want to consider it!
- Perfect for beginners. Entry level heaven.
- Good for vocals
- Well made and durable
- Rich tone, nice bassy undertone. Gives your vocals a pleasant warm quality. Can enhance your voice.
- Clear and crisp sound, pristine.
- Longevity. Mic will last you a good while before you decide to upgrade.
- Picks up a lot of nuance, and subtle sounds in your voice.
- Smooth radio sound, great for speech. People loved the fact that it makes you sound like you’re on NPR or something
- Nice durable case with foam padding. A professional looking piece.
- Muddy. A lot of people used this term in their review. I counted 10 (at the time of this review). Depends on your taste and opinion I think.
- Shock-mount. Some liked it, others did not. The outer ring on it may wear out.
- One guy had an issue with the cable, said it needed to be wiggled at times to keep it working. If you have this problem, just send it back and the new cable will be fine.
- Not as good for instruments or amps. Some said otherwise, but the low end starts at 30 Hz. It’s better to start off with 20 Hz for instruments.
- Doesn’t record loud very well. If this is the case, you may consider standing a bit farther away, and lower the gain on your interface/mixer. There are solutions to most of the 990’s problems. You just may have to experiment a bit…
Check out the video review!
Who this mic benefits?
I’ve seen it endorsed for all of the following, but keep in mind that it’s at it’s best in a voice over type environment. Some examples:
- live streaming/you-tube
- Video math lessons (very obscure, but cool nonetheless!)
- google hangouts calls
- internet radio hosting/radio broadcasting
- Vocals. I found that you most likely will want to EQ it for vocals. For just speech, it does fine without.
- Acoustic Guitar
That said, the majority of people liked it for voice-over, with vocals coming in second, and instruments third. It will also do quite nicely in a live setting.
What you will need?
This is a cardioid condenser mic, so you will need the following:
48v Phantom power via audio interface or a mixer. What does an audio interface do? Some great options that I came across:
- Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. I personally recommend this one as I have owned it for awhile now and it works pretty flawlessly. It also looks sexy and is quite durable, and will stick with you as you upgrade mics.. Check out my Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Review!
- Steinberg U22. Similar to the 2i2, this is also a great option, and will be more than adequate to power the 990.
- Behringer Xenyx 802. A very common, more affordable solution if you don’t want to shell out the money for the 2i2 or the U22. It gets pretty nice reviews overall.
XLR cables. These will run from your mic into the interface or mixer. Your interface basically converts the analog signal into digital, so your computer (and ultimately you) can make sense of the numbers.
Shock-mount. Luckily for you, the 990 comes with one!
Pop-filter. These basically protect the diaphragm inside of your mic from getting contaminated from your nasty spit and other germs. It also cuts down on the plosives, or consonants in speech that make the Esses, and P’s sound harsh. Investing in a good one is wise. I recommend the Samson PS01. I’ve had it since 2007 and it’s held up amazing.
Mic Stand. You can either go with a tripod boom stand, desktop stand, or scissor arm. I’ve had good luck with the first two, and prefer the desktop stand because I’m lazy and don’t want to stand up while I record. 😛
A sequencing program. Can’t use a mic without a program to record the vocals with! If you’re brand new to recording, I would recommend getting your feet wet with Audacity. It’s free, simple to use, and very effective. As you gain more experience, my top recommendation would be:
- Reaper. It comes with a free trial period, and is almost universally praised in every context.
Some good articles:
- Your audio interface
- Bit depth and sample rate. Here I explain the idea of a Digital to analog converter (DAC) in more depth.
The MXL 990 is the perfect starter microphone if you desire to get your feet wet with audio interfaces and more professional set ups. It’s at it’s best in a voice over type environment, and will give your voice a nice warmth and full body. It also does well with vocals and some recording applications, but it’s at it’s best from a strictly speech standpoint.
Blue Snowball (Grapefruit League :))
- Amazon: 4.5/5 (Over 2,600 reviews) | Check eBay!
- B&H Photo Video: 4.5/5 (Over 250 reviews)
- Musicians Friend: 4.5/5 (Over 40 reviews)
- New Egg: 4/5 (Over 20 reviews)
- Microphone Type: Condenser. Condenser mic vs. Dynamic mic.
- Polar Pattern: Cardioid or Omni-directional. What is a Cardioid Capsule?
- Frequency Response: 40Hz – 18kHz
- Color: Silver, White or Black
- Connector: USB.
- Weight: 460 g
- Included Accessories: USB Cable, Stand.
The Blue snowball just may be the most startling example of price vs. value that you will find in this price range or otherwise. It’s a user friendly mic that delivers simple, efficient, and practical results. For under $100, it just makes sense for all types of voice over work… ranging from pod-casting, webinars, skype, you-tube, and basically anything that requires you to blab into the mic about stuff! 😛
It’s a rather large and unique specimen, standing on a tripod and resembling that of grapefruit .. in both size and weight. Lol. Many reviewers have commented on not being prepared for such a big and textured ball. They were expecting something smaller, but at the same time were pleasantly surprised by it’s solid build quality.
As mentioned above, the value here is remarkable. I’ve read quite a few reviews and many of them have mentioned owning this mic for 2 years, all the way up to 5. It’s longevity and reliability contribute to this, making it a proven solution to your dilemma.. It becomes the #1 safe option in entry level affordability.
It’s got a crisp clean sound, not unlike Rice krispies in the morning. It works well without a pop filter, but you may want to look into accompanying the Snowball with a good one. Reviewers have noted a vast improvement in sound quality in this regard.
You also may want to take note that the output level according to many is a bit low, and you might have to be very close to it when speaking. To some it’s just too quiet, and only picks up sound when you’re right up on it. Ironically, it’s still very sensitive and picks up a lot outside of the immediate vicinity. Make sure you’re in a quiet area away from ambient noise if you can help it.
EQ and Polar Patterns
The good news is that it does very well with EQ. If you happen to want to clean up the sound later on, you can with great results. It doesn’t have a mute button or on/off switch however, but does have a selection of two different polar patterns that may come in handy..
- Cardioid. Meaning it receives sound only from the front.
- -10db Cardioid. Same as the cardioid setting, but reduces the volume a bit.
- Omni directional. Picks up sound from all directions. Works very well with interviews, pod-casts, and any situation that has multiple persons speaking.
Keep in mind that there is a switch on the back for each of these settings, but it’s labeled 1, 2, and 3. One reviewer found that to be a little irritating because they don’t actually tell you which is which. I will though!
- -10db Cardioid
One thing to know about the Snowball is that it isn’t well suited for actual vocals or singing. It does very well as a travel mic on the go, but I’ve read a few reviews saying that if you can, just go for the Blue Yeti instead. It’s the gradual next step up from the Snowball.
Perhaps the best thing about this little beast is the fact that it’s pretty indestructible, especially coming in at such a low cost. Reviewers harp on it’s durability, and that it can withstand quite a bit of abuse. As touched on before, it’s a lot heavier and bigger than pictures would indicate, which ends up contributing to it’s solid structure.
Some have complained about the tripod however. Being that the actual microphone is so big, it can become top heavy and prone to falling over. A good remedy for this is the
This provides a better solution as it’s a lot heavier and more solid. The dragon pop filter that it’s frequently paired with on amazon makes for a great one two punch to go a long with your Snowball. Think of Mike Tyson here, crushing his opponents with speed, precision and efficiency. 😀
All of that Tyson silliness aside, you don’t have to go that route. The tripod that comes with it, in most cases will do you just fine. The separate pop filter however is almost mandatory since you have to be very close to the mic to get that lush sound without the plosives.
- Built solid as a rock.
- Heavy USB cable.
- Easy to hook up. Is automatically detected when plugged in.
- Works well even without a pop filter.
- Good stand.
- Great for voiceovers, podcast, skype, webinars, screencasts, gaming, quick and easy live recording, sax, etc.
- Nice portability.
- Longevity factor.
- Picks up the bass nicely in your voice.
- Does well with EQ.
- Clean sound, does a great job of eliminating noise when you’re very close to it.
- Great customer support from Blue microphones.
- *Output level low, you may have to speak up quite a bit.
- Selector switch labeled 1-3 instead of which polar pattern you’re on.
- Takes up a lot of room on your desk.
- Limited features.
- Proximity issue. You will have to get in real close to get the best sound possible from it.
- No on or off switch.
- No mute button.
- Tends to be top heavy and fall over quite a bit.
- Very sensitive.
Check out the video review!!
Who this mic benefits?
Of course basically anything voice over related, as we’ve discussed. I’ve also heard that it does well with some instruments, from saxophone to acoustic guitar. Just don’t buy it primarily for this purpose.
What you will need?
Nothing unless you would like to upgrade by getting the separate stand and pop filter as I’ve pointed out above. My advice would be to try it out bare bones and see how it functions for you, then add accordingly.
Great sound at an amazing value. Perfect for voice-over, not as good however for vocals. Does well with instruments, but you may not want to purchase it solely to record them.
Above all, the Blue Yeti is hands down the go to option for pod-casting, and voice over work in general. It appears the most times in “best of lists” and remains the most convenient option at this price point. It’s included features blow everything else out of the water, and it sounds good in so many different instances. The other options listed here are very solid as well, but overall I would go with the Yeti.
Not satisfied with these? Wanting to stretch your budget and learn about the absolute best? Here are the top 3:
- Shure SM7B. Extremely versatile, which is why it nabs the top spot.
- Electrovoice RE20. Many say this mic is the king of broadcasting. The Gold Standard.
- Heil PR40. This mic has also been tagged as a Gold Standard, and very similar to the RE20.
Some articles for your research pleasure 🙂
- Shure SM7B dynamic microphone
- The best dynamic microphone for vocals
- Heil PR40 vs. Shure SM7B
- Electrovoice RE20 vs. RE27 (for RE20 info).
Well that’s about it for today my friend. I hope you have a much better idea of what the best mic for podcasting are!
Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Do you feel I’ve left out a microphone that is worthy of being on this list? Let me know below or Contact me!
Until next time, all the best and God bless..