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The best USB microphones 2021: the best standalone mics you can buy today

PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
A Razer USB microphone in from on monitors
(Image credit: Razer)

Don’t rely on those mediocre microphones built into your webcam or laptop. The best USB microphones are a vast improvement and should be part of your setup if you care about the way you sound. While any mic will do for Skype or Zoom calls with family and friends, if you’re serious about making YouTube videos, Twitch streams, or professional conferencing, then you need one of these USB mics.

It’s so easy to connect with people these days thanks to the increasing bandwidth available and improving internet-based technologies. All you need to telecommute, stream, or podcast, is a computer, a microphone, and an internet connection. You can do it from anywhere in the world. But, regardless of where you are or what you’re doing, you need to sound clear and present, and you can only do that with a top-notch USB microphone.

To help you find an excellent USB microphone to meet your needs, we collected our top picks for all sorts of budgets and needs. So, read on if you want to improve the way you sound online.

Razer Seiren Elite against a white background

(Image credit: Razer)

1. Razer Seiren Elite

A professional mic for the discerning Twitch streamer

Specifications

Sample rate: 16-bit/48kHz
Impedance: 16 ohms
Features: High-pass filter, analogue/digital limiter

Reasons to buy

+
Easy setup
+
Features ideal for streamers

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited options for a Razer product

If you play a lot of PC games, you’re likely very familiar with Razer hardware already so it shouldn’t be a surprise that they make one of the best USB microphones for professional Twitch streamers on the market. Razer’s Seiren Elite USB microphone sports a single capsule design with a built-in filter and limiter, making it a great mic for any broadcasting setup. The high-pass filter cuts out low-frequency background noise like whirring fans on the back of your PC while the vocal limiter automatically adjusts the gain and volume if there’s a sudden change in volume. 

Those who are well acquainted with Razer peripherals might be surprised by the limited customization features of the microphone and the microphone does not integrate well with Razer’s Synapse software, so don’t expect it to blend in seamlessly with the rest of the Razer ecosystem.

Blue Yeti against a white background

(Image credit: Blue)

2. Blue Yeti

Professional-quality sound hiding in plain sight

Specifications

Sample rate: 16-bit/48kHz
Impedance: 16 ohms
Features: Lots of onboard controls

Reasons to buy

+
Multiple pattern modes
+
Great for podcasting

Reasons to avoid

-
Audiophiles might be disappointed

The Blue Yeti is one of the most popular mics out there for podcasters and it’s easy to see why. With stereo and bidirectional modes, this is one of the best USB microphones on the market for recording one-on-one interviews or group conversations. With 5v of power from its USB connection, the Blue Yeti has several essential controls built into the mic, including a gain dial, live-headphone monitoring with volume control, and a pattern switch. 

The major downside of the Blue Yeti is that everything is being recorded through a single mic rather than a multihead design. For most users, this will hardly be a problem, if it’s even noticed at all, but it might be an issue for audiophiles. Blue has a smaller-profile Yeti Nano as well for the more budget-minded, though it isn’t as feature backed as its Bigfoot older brother.

Read our full review: Blue Yeti

Rode NT-USB Mini against a white background

(Image credit: Rode)

3. Rode NT-USB Mini

A portable solution for high-quality audio

Specifications

Sample rate : 24-bit/48kHz
Impedance: Not specified
Features: Integrated pop filter

Reasons to buy

+
Weighted mic stand limits audible bumps
+
Compact and mobile

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited onboard controls

The Rode NT-USB Mini is Rode’s answer to the Blue Yeti Nano. Meant for more of a mobile recording solution than a fixed setup, the NT-USB Mini has more limited onboard controls than larger mics. But what it lacks in controls it makes up for in terms of focusing on sound recording. 

With an integrated pop-filter and built from steel and reinforced nylon resin, the mic itself is a solid device that won’t pick up a lot of extraneous sound. It also benefits from a heavily-weighted mic stand so it can withstand audible shocks if you accidentally bump the desk or table. 

A year after launch, Rode introduced free software (Rode Connect) that seamlessly connects up to four NT-USB Minis to a single computer, providing a simple way to balance levels, mix, record and apply utilitarian effects to multiple speakers in the same room. While already ideal for podcasters, the addition of 'virtual' and 'system' channels means you can also record people on Zoom calls as well as pre-recorded materials or soundbeds, making it great for streamers as well.

As a compact, mobile option, the Rode NT-USB Mini is one of the best USB microphones for the money.

HyperX QuadCast S against a white background

(Image credit: HyperX)

4. HyperX QuadCast S

Not just a pretty face

Specifications

Sample rate: 16-bit/48kHz
Impedance: 32 ohms
Features: RGB lighting and dynamic effects, tap-to-mute, included mount adapter

Reasons to buy

+
Great sound quality
+
Customizable RGB lighting

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly expensive

The HyperX QuadCast S might be eye-catching and RGB-enthusiast approved, but it’s more than just a great addition to your RGB trimmed setup. It delivers great sound, four polar patterns, and a highly effective shock mount in its superb metal build – not to mention, features like a built-in pop filter, included mount adapter, and multi-platform compatibility. All that makes it worth that albeit higher price. Of course, if you are an RGB fan, you’ll appreciate that it has gorgeous RGB lighting right on the mic itself that’s customizable via HyperX NGENUITY software. 

Samson Meteorite against a white background

(Image credit: Samson)

5. Samson Meteorite

Out of this world sound-recording in the palm of your hand

Specifications

Sample rate: 16-bit 48kHz
Impedance: Not Specified
Features: Magnetic base

Reasons to buy

+
Highly compact profile
+
Great sound for a general use microphone

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited features

Samson’s Meteorite USB microphone punches well above its weight in terms of sound quality, making it a longtime favorite of musicians on the go. With a plug-and-play design and compact profile, this condenser microphone can capture CD-quality sound right on your desktop. 

Unfortunately, it tends to capture everything else in the background too. This can be corrected with a paid plug-in, but that can be off-putting for some. If that isn’t an issue or you’re looking for high-quality sound that doesn’t need to be studio-perfect, this is one of the best USB microphones out there for portable, general use.

Shure MV5 against a white background

(Image credit: Shure)

6. Shure MV5

A professional’s mic for any purpose

Specifications

Sample rate: 24-bit/48kHz
Impedance: Not specified
Features: DSP presets

Reasons to buy

+
Easy setup
+
Professional-quality recording

Reasons to avoid

-
Software might feel overwhelming for general use

Any musician will tell you that Shure has been putting out industry-defining hardware for close to a century, so it’s no surprise that they also put out the best USB microphones in the world. Shure’s MV5 is meant to be mobile and interfaces with your computer or mobile device so you can record professional-quality audio on the go. Its DSP presets switch between podcasting, voice-over, and vocal/instrument recording modes, effectively making it three microphones in one. 

Being geared more toward the professional musician set, the Shure MV5 might be more microphone than the average remote worker or YouTuber might be looking for, but if you’re looking for something more substantial, it doesn’t hurt to take a cue from the pros.

John Loeffler
John Loeffler

John (He/Him) is the US Computing Editor here at TechRadar and he is also a programmer, gamer, activist, and Brooklyn College alum currently living in Brooklyn, NY. 


Named by the CTA as a CES 2020 Media Trailblazer for his science and technology reporting, John specializes in all areas of computer science, including industry news, hardware reviews, PC gaming, as well as general science writing and the social impact of the tech industry.


You can find him online on Twitter at @thisdotjohn


Currently playing: EVE Online, Elden Ring.