The best cheap USB microphone is quite an easy pick once we really get down to brass tacks. Before we get into things though, grab a snack, sit back and relax because…
You’ve come to the right place!!
What I will bring you in this review
Now without further ado, let’s get rolling!
One of the main reasons that I enjoy reviewing these types of products is because I am always in the market for a piece of gear. The reason I don’t rush out and buy one in particular is because I want to be super mega ultra sure that it’s a great investment. A lot of the time I won’t really need to be sure that it’s the absolute best.
Because that’s a bit unrealistic. There’s no one best microphone. Discrepancy in reviews, mixed reviews, bad reviews, and difference of opinion all hold back any mic from the ultimate top spot. In a nutshell what I’m trying to say is that no mic is perfect. The good news is that there are a few that consistently appear in best of lists and because of that, the Pros greatly outweigh the Cons.
If I see a microphone that keeps appearing and re-appearing over and over for a specific search, I naturally come to the conclusion that it’s probably just about the best I can find in that price range. After a certain amount of time researching, I have no choice but to trust what people are saying, and I do because the reviews usually become very consistent the more you dig; this can go for the pros or cons of a specific product. Even better news is that I can tell you without a doubt that I’ve never been disappointed in any piece of studio gear that I’ve researched thoroughly. In fact because of that, I’ve never had to really replace anything in my studio for the reason of it being downright terrible.
That said, before we dive right into the mics that come up most in my searches, some things need to be taken into consideration.
Budget. In this article we are referring to “the best cheap” which narrows it down somewhat. It’s still a bit hazy, but I’ll venture out and guess anything for around $150 and below.
Application. What is your intended use? Do you need it to record vocals, instruments, voice-over applications (pod-casting, you-tube, skype, etc.) or a combination of all three? Some of my recommendations cover all, others are very specialized.
Acoustic Sound Treatment. This mainly applies to cardioid condenser microphones (What is a cardioid capsule?), but because USB mics pick up a lot of background noise, you will still want to take some of these things to heart and apply them to your own studio. Even something as simple as surrounding the mic with a blanket or an acoustic shield can work wonders for the quality of your recording.
Top Picks (according to vigorous research/first hand experience)
Blue Yeti. This mic pretty much tops the list in any “best of” competition as far as USB mics go. It’s simple, convenient, and has an array of nice features that will keep you occupied more than an old dude with the runs. Lol. If I had to choose one in this category right now, I would likely go with the Yeti, even despite the fact that it resembles that of an industrial sized dildo. Lmao. Learn more in some of my in depth articles praising and comparing the Yeti with the competition:
Audio Technica AT2020 USB. This one comes in at a close second to the Yeti, and is said to be a bit more versatile. So if you’re looking for a mic that can do a little bit of everything, the AT2020 is your best bet.
Blue Snowball. This one is for peeps who don’t feel like dishing out more for the Yeti. By nearly all accounts the Yeti is better, but this would be sort of that first dive into the world of USB mics. It’s a solid mic no doubt, but does have it’s own share of issues. If you want simple, efficient, and practical results on the cheap, the Snowball may be for you.
Samson Meteor. This is one that I kept neglecting and ignoring for the longest time, but like I said in the open, it just kept popping up in my searches so I had to dig a little deeper. While not the best sounding mic in this general price range, it certainly is an incredible value for the money, and very small and compact to boot. A great mic on the cheap yo! Wirecutter did a great article on the best USB mic and this came in a close second. Nice! You can also see my official Samson Meteor Mic Review!
Samson C01 USB. Rounding out the list, this is always an option to keep in mind, because of longevity. I’ve had a Samson C01 since 2007, and it’s never failed me. Check out a more in depth discussion:
I’m gonna leave it at that. I find that the more options I have at my disposal, the more confused I get. You may not be that way, but these are the mics you really need to consider. Are there more USB mics out there? Sure. Are they better? Probably not. The Yeti tops most lists, and is your all in one solution. Interested in learning exactly why? Check out my in depth and informative:
Stu is determined to provide the truth about all things audio, and strives to deliver excellent content to you the reader! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, attend church, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His attention to detail and perfectionist attitude are what allow him to excel, but it can be both a blessing and a hindrance at times.