The best microphones for YouTube

The best mics for every content creator

The best microphones for YouTube

by William Austin-Lobley |
Updated on

If you’d told us fifteen years ago that YouTube, home to shaky home videos and 320p music videos, would be the all-encompassing hub of user-created content that it is today, we’d have laughed. But of course, we would’ve been very wrong. As it stands, over one billion hours of content is streamed a day, making YouTube the internet's most visited site (just ahead of Wikipedia in second and well clear of Twitter in third, according to AHREFS).

If you’re looking to get traction on a site that has 500 hours of video footage uploaded every minute, you need to do all you can to stand out. Other than making great videos full of engaging content, you need to do all you can to maximise your production value. One of the key elements of having a squeaky-clean video is to have a great, clear microphone. So, that’s why we’re here to help you find the best microphone for YouTube.

Related: Get the full picture with one of the best affordable video cameras

If you’re looking to have the microphone specifically for use during live streams, then head over to our article summing up the best microphones for streaming. Unsurprisingly there’s some crossover here, but in this article, we'll be focused on the mics that are going to deliver you excellent audio for pre-recording YouTube videos.

Having said that, while we’ve made out picks based on the needs of a YouTuber, these mics are extremely versatile and of a high quality. Whether you’re looking to casually chat your way through an interview, show off your pipes by hitting some high notes, or demonstrate your finesse on an acoustic guitar, you’ll be covered. The USB microphones are also going to help you be heard on the next Discord, Zoom, or Skype chat, too.

The best microphones for YouTube at a glance:

Blue Yeti X USB Mic

Samson Meteor Mic

Rode Smartlav+ Lavalier Microphone for Smartphone

Shure SM58-X2U Dynamic Vocal Mic

Logitech StreamCam

If you’re new to the world of microphones, head down to the bottom of this article for some guidance and jargon-busting.

Here are our picks of the best mics for YouTube:

The best microphones for YouTube

The best all-rounder for commentary, reactions and voice-overs

Professional in every way. That's what you feel when you start using the Blue Yeti X, and you suddenly understand why it's the go-to option for a wide range of full-time content creators. The sound quality is crisp and clear, due to the four condenser mic capsules, which can be run over a choice of four polar patterns. While the Yeti X has the flexibility to record instruments, the response and quality of vocal cardioid recording is where it shines. It'll pick everything up, from subtle whispers to distortion-free shouts (within reason, of course). The Yeti X's access to the Logitech G-Hub and the Blue Vo!ce software enables full customisation, from audio equalisation, right down to LED colour profile.

The best portable mic for the on-the-road travelling creator

Samson Meteor Mic
Price: $39.00
Alternative retailers
Adorama$24.00View offer
B&H Photo Video$42.99View offer
Walmart$45.00View offer
Best Buy$68.99View offer

The Samson Meteor is a versatile little plug-and-play driverless device that's ideal for podcasters, streamers and YouTubers who are often travelling or running low on desk space. Under the retro styling sits a 25mm condenser diaphragm with a cardioid pickup pattern, picking up and transmitting pure and clear audio, thanks to the flat frequency range. There's a headphone jack for no-latency monitoring, and the tripod stand is great for flexible and optimal positioning. Its compact size makes it both unobtrusive and portable. This is a great first mic, though those with a sharper ear and more experience may want to tweak the settings to get the most out of it.

The best for the YouTuber hitting the streets

Rode Smartlav+ Lavalier Microphone for Smartphones

Rrp: $99.00

Price: $50.78
Alternative retailers
Adorama$39.00View offer
B&H Photo Video$47.66View offer
Target$79.00View offer
Walmart$79.00View offer

Rode, one of the most trusted names in audio recording, has put together a very simple yet highly effective lapel microphone ("lavalier" is the technical term). This microphone is ideal for those who want to record high-quality, broadcast-ready audio handsfree. The mic is omnidirectional, so can be placed in whatever position works best for the user's need, and the foam pop shield helps reduce vocal plosives and wind noise. Audio is recorded either the dedicated iOS app or other recording apps that accept jack-connected inputs. Having the audio directly recorded to a smartphone makes sending, backing up and editing audio a very intuitive process. The microphone can also be attached to DSLR cameras using an SC3 converter cable. All-in-all, a great little package.

The best microphone for consistency and reliability

The Shure SM58 is a classic microphone of truly legendary status. This vocal mic is ubiquitous, being found everywhere from basement clubs to stadiums, from Abbey Road Studios to… well, potentially your home recording studio. There are three reasons that this microphone is so popular: it's built like a tank, it's simple to use and it sounds great, even in the hands of a novice. The domed top works as a wind and pop-filter, so the recorded audio should be clear and ready to edit. The SM58 works just as well mounted as in-hand, thanks to the internal shock-mount system which reduces fumbling hand noises. This particular kit comes with the adapter required to convert an XLR to USB. Those looking to record instruments will be able to use this too, or they may prefer the equally regarded SM57.

The best all-in-one for new YouTube channels

Logitech StreamCam
Price: $104.99
Alternative retailers
Walmart$99.99View offer

While this isn't a microphone (clearly), the Logitech StreamCam provides a solution for those taking their first steps into the world of YouTube. The reason being that it's efficient in terms of time and money. The device records both full HD 60 fps footage and high-quality audio through one lightning-quick USB-C connection, and provides access to the Logitech Capture software suite. This software is a great one-stop-shop for newbie vloggers, and can even act as a source for video capture programs. It's like we said in our review, the StreamCam makes capturing broadcast-ready content "so easy that it almost feels like cheating."

Looking for somewhere to store all of your audio and video files? You'll need one of the best external hard drives

Best microphone for sound quality

The Blue Yeti X, and this isn’t just our opinion. As you’ll see from its award wins, the Yeti X is widely held as one of the best microphones on the market, especially considering its relatively low price. It’s feature-heavy, reliable, and well-constructed – even the most steadfast contrarian would have trouble to pick fault. However, it’s not the only choice out there.

The Shure SM58 is a stone-cold classic, and the Rode Smartlav+ is undoubtedly one of the best ways to record vocals on the go.

Best microphone for gaming and streaming

Well, for the answer to that you’ll have to head over to our rundown of the best microphones for streamers.

Best microphone for a new streamer, content creator or podcaster

This very much depends on your budget and goals. However, we think that the Samson Meteor Mic is a good place to start. It’s affordable and the sound quality is great, it’s compact and it’s plug-and-play. As you upgrade your equipment, it’s also a nice mic to have in reserve or for traveling. The Logitech StreamCam also offers a compelling alternative, providing great footage and audio to match.

What are plosives?

Plosives are sounds in speech that cause a forceful blast of air to pass from the mouth. K, T, B and P are common offenders for causing this sound. These can be an issue when recording audio as they cause unpleasant, undesirable distortions and pops.

There are several ways to avoid picking up these sounds, namely pop shields, foam mic domes and positioning the microphone at a reasonable distance from the person being recorded.

Polar patterns explained

A polar pattern refers to a microphones directional sensitivity. You can think of it as being the way a microphone hears and records audio. There are four polar patterns to be aware of:

Cardioid polar pattern

So named because its pickup pattern resembles a heart, a cardioid polar pattern is more sensitive at the front. Side and back audio pickup is limited, if not negated. For this reason, cardioid microphones are best used for picking up a streamer's speech.

Supercardioid polar pattern

The supercardioid polar pattern is similar to the cardioid, only it has greater sensitivity. A microphone using a supercardioid polar pattern is perfect for picking up a voice in a loud environment. This microphone pickup pattern will also hear more sound from the back of the microphone.

Omnidirectional polar pattern

Microphones set to an omnidirectional polar pattern will pick up sound from all around. This polar pattern would suit a talk show podcast with multiple participants, or those looking to pick up ambient audio.

Bi-directional polar pattern

A bidirectional polar pattern resembles a figure of eight, picking up audio across opposite sides of a microphone.

If you’d like a deeper look at polar patterns, check out this video by the studio recording masters at Recordeo.

William Lobley is a Content Writer and reviewer for WhatsTheBest, specialising in technology, gaming and the outdoors. He also writes for Empire Online.

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