There was a time that if you wanted a decent quality USB condenser microphone your options were severely limited.
But over the past few years there have been a number of microphone manufactures that have recognised the growing market for USB microphones.
The offerings have gone from a couple of options to many. Here are just 5 of the best USB microphone options, based on pro features, sound quality and robustness.
1. Blue Microphones Yeti USB
The Yeti by Blue Microphones delivers studio-quality audio via USB to your computer. If you are a budding vocalist or podcaster, this robust microphone has a host of incredibly useful and professional features at an affordable price.
It also looks fantastic and comes with an integrated custom stand to make sure that it remains stable
Its versatile features include:
- 16 bit/48kHz sampling rate
- Four recording patterns (stereo, omni, cardioid, and bi-directional) – This gives recording flexibility to help you record more of the content you want and reduce noise you don’t record
- Adjustable microphone gain/volume control
- Mute button
- Zero-latency headphone output with volume control for direct monitoring
- Adjustable integrated desk stand
- Driverless installation for both Windows and Mac
- Skype Certified
Links and further reading for the Yeti:
You can find a more in depth review here
You can find the Blue Microphones Yeti at Amazon for around £86.
2. Blue Microphones Yeti Pro (USB & XLR!)
If your still looking for more after reading about the Yeti, you’ll be pleased to know that the Yeti is also available as a studio quality ‘Pro’ version.
The pro version adds a combination of 24 bit/192 kHz digital recording resolution together with an additional analog XLR output and an awesome black matt metal finish.
The addition of the XLR output make this a mike that is truly interchangeable between the studio and your desktop set up.
Here is a video of the Blue Microphones CEO outlining the Yeti Pro:
Links and further reading for the Yeti Pro:
An in depth review of the Yeti Pro at the-Gadgeteer.com
You can find the Blue Microphones Yeti Pro at Amazon for around £190.
3. Samson G Track
The Samson G Track USB microphone recording solution.
- Large Diaphragm, 19mm, Studio Condenser with built-in audio interface and USB Digital Output.
- 16 bit/48kHz sampling rate
- Mic and Instrument/Line gain control with clip LED
- Stereo input jacks for instruments or line level signal
- Stereo headphone jack for no latency monitoring with level control
Sadly its analogue to digital converters only send audio to your USB port in 16 bit, although it can provide up to 48 kHz sampling frequency. Most podcasters will probably not miss the omission of 24 bit operation, but serious musicians who want a versatile high clarity mic may want to find another option that can manage 24 bit (see the Yeti Pro – above or MXL 009 below)
A video outline of the features and audio test examples:
Links and further reading for the Samson G Track:
You can visit the manufacturers product page for some more specification and information.You can find the Samson G Track GM1U USB condenser microphone (bundled with Cakewalk Sonar software) at Amazon for around £110.
4. AKG Perception 120 USB
AKG have a reputation for making exceptional microphones like the legendary C414. The Perception 120 USB is a 2/3-inch diaphragm true condenser microphone with solid build quality and outstanding performance. It’s worth noting that the Preception can record at 44.1 and 48 kHz sample rates at 24-Bit and also incorporates 128 times oversampling. Here are some of the features:
- Supports Windows 7, Windows XP, Windows Vista and Mac OS
- Integrated high-quality Analogue-to-Digital Converter (24-bit, 128x oversampling) for convincing sound quality and low noise
- Two-third-inch condenser capsule with a low-mass diaphragm delivers sonic details
- Switchable bass-cut filter reduces mechanical vibration and wind noise
- Switchable attenuation pad for close-up miking and loud instruments
- Blue LEDs indicate operation
- Integrated pop filter avoids plosives effectively
- Tripod table stand, swivel mount and USB cable included
Here’s some video with an audio test for the Preception 120:
Links and further reading for the Preception 120 USB:
You can purchase the AKG Preception 120 USB microphone at Amazon for around £102.
5. MXL USB.009 24-bit/96kHz USB Microphone
The MXL 009 is a USB microphone that lets you record at high sample rates with 24 bit resolution, ensuring you get the best dynamic range, with detail and punch for your recordings.
Its looks will also wow any vocalists you get in and ensure they know which way to sing, as it has an attractive blue glow courtesy of an integral blue LED.
Here are some of the features:
- Large gold diaphragm cardioid condenser microphone
- 32 mm pressure gradient condenser capsule with a gold sputtered diaphragm
- 24-bit A/D and D/A converters
- Sample at rate of : 44.1kHz, 48kHz or 96kHz
- 1/8th inch headphone jack for monitoring, with zero latency
- A control that lets you set the mix between playback and recording for comfortable monitoring of multitrack recordings
- Desktop stand, mounting clip, aluminium flight case, cleaning cloth, and 10 foot USB cable
- Plug and play (no special drivers required) USB class compliant device
- Perfect for vocals, instruments, broadcasting & podcasting
A video review and test of the MXL USB.009:
Links and further reading for the MXL USB.009:
You can find the MXL .009 at Amazon.com for around £287.