Boundary layer microphones with XLR and Standard Jack connections have been around for years. But now there’s a number of USB boundary microphones available adding the convenience of a USB connection, allowing you to plug directly into your laptop computer for high quality, mobile sound recording.
Because boundary microphones generally have a 360 degree omni-directional / hemispherical sound pickup pattern, they’re a particularly good microphone choice when you want to record everything around you, such as meetings, round-table discussions, classroom lectures and conferences. With a little creative placement, they can also produce good results recording instruments, vocals or band recordings.
If you’re looking for a powerful and effective USB microphone, but are on a tight budget, a boundary microphone could be a great way to go.
We’ve rounded up a few USB boundary microphones ideas to take a look at:
1. Samson UB1 USB Boundary Microphone
The Samson UB1 is a USB boundary mic with an Omni-directional pickup pattern. Capable of recording 16-Bit, 44.1 and 48kHz sample rate audio to your computer, it’s plug and play so shouldn’t need any drivers installed.
The Samson UB1 comes with a 10-foot USB cable included in the box and is ideal for recording meetings, conferences or creating podcasts. Its robust ‘low profile’ design allows for convenient and discrete placement.
- Surface mount condenser
- Omni-directional pickup pattern
- USB Class compliant Plug-and-Play operation on Mac OS and Windows
- 16-Bit, 44.1- 48kHz sample rates
- Miniature, low-profile design
- 10-foot USB cable included
- Sleek black finish
- Solid zinc body with steel grille
- Ships with Cakewalk® Sonar LE™ digital audio workstation software.
Useful LinksSamson UB1 | Amazon Find new and used Samson UB1 | eBay
2. CAD U7 USB Desktop Boundary Microphone
The CAD U7 USB boundary microphone has a sleek triangular low profile design. Housed in a robust metal casing, a embedded blue LED gives indication of connection status.
It’s 360 degree pickup pattern and frequency response tailored for speech make it idea for lecture and conference recording.
- Windows and Mac compatible
- Frequency response tailored for speech
- 360 degree omni-directional pick-up pattern
- High sensitivity condenser microphone element
- 10 foot USB cable
- Low profile design
Useful LinksCAD U7 | Amazon Find new and used CAD U7 | eBay
3. MXL AC-404 Black USB-Powered Microphone
Designed with conference calling and Skype in mind the AC-404 mic uses boundary microphone technology and custom circuitry to produce smooth, quiet, and professional sounding conferences.
Features and Specs
- USB powered
- 3 capsule boundary design with 180-degree coverage for great sound over a wide range
- 40Hz – 16kHz frequency response
- 44.1kHz – 48kHz (16-bit) sampling rate
- Standard jack output for headphones or speakers
- Compatible PC and Mac
Useful LinksMXL AC-404 | Amazon Find new and used MXL AC-404 | eBay
4. MXL uChat AC-406 desktop communicator
Again more of a desktop mike for enhancing your Skype and IP conference calls. Plug in headphones for private monitoring.
- Integrate 4 Ohm 5W speaker
- 180-degree coverage for great sound over a wide range
- Integrated mute button for private conversations
- Compatible with PC and Mac
Useful LinksAC-404 | Amazon Find new and used MXL AC-406 | eBay
5. Beyer MPC70 USB Boundary Mic
Suited for desktop use, the Beyer MPC70 USB boundary mic has some additional features not seen on the other mics mentioned in this post. The on/off button on the front of the MPC70 can be configured as PTP (Push to Talk) or PTM (Push to Mute).
- “Intelligent” acoustical boundary microphone, microprocessor controlled
- For the connection to PCs with USB port
- ON/OFF, PTT and PTM function
- Silent film button
- Semi-spherical polar pattern
- Flat, wide frequency response
- Switchable bass roll off (150 Hz)
- Switchable gain (-10 dB, 0 dB, +10 dB)
Useful LinksFind new and used Beyerdynamic MPC 70 | eBay
6. Plantronics MCD100 / MCD100M USB speakerphone
The Plantronics MCD100 is not marketed specifically as a boundary mic, but it does have a 360 degree sound pickup, together with an integrated speaker, headphone output on the rear for private conversations. This one is probably best suited to desktop Skype calls and desktop discussion recording. Also available in a version optimised for Microsoft Office Communicator as the MCD100M.
Useful LinksMCD100-M | Amazon Find new and used Plantronics MCD100 | eBay
7. Microcone USB Microphone array
Again, not exactly a boundary microphone, but the array of 6 microphones built into the Microcone make it idea for meetings, round-table discussions and Skype calls with multiple callers.
What’s more, the Microcone is supplied with some innovative Mac and PC software to enhance group discussion recording and group Skype calling.
Microcone Recorder – is software designed to enhance the recording of small group discussions, enables tagging of participants and recall of specific parts of the discussion discussion
Microcone Voices (for Skype) – is software designed to enhance group call via Skype. Simply tell the software who’s sitting where and it will highlight who speaking and when. There’s even an iPhone app for remote controlling the Microcone Recorder available at the iTunes App store.
Useful LinksMicrocone | Amazon Find new and used Microcone USB microphone array | eBay
8. Terratec – iQuader
The only USB boundary mic here capable of recording at 96kHz sample rate with 24-bit resolution.
The iQuader lends itself to live recordings, podcasts, interviews or VoIP.
- Sampling frequencies 32 kHz / 44.1 kHz / 48 kHz / 88.2 kHz / 96 kHz
- 24-bit audio technology (Core Audio support)
- Separate volume control for input signal and headphone output
- Signal-to-noise ratio: > 72 dB (A)
- High-quality electronics with finely tuned analogue level control
- Analogue limiter prevents digital clipping
- Outstanding sound characteristics
- Optimum recording of sound waves—no special orientation required
- High-quality analogue limiter
- Headphone output with volume control
- Adjustable recording level
- LED indicator for signal level
- Stand-by function
- No driver installation necessary