Monday, June 24, 2024

Top mics for video calling, podcasting and streaming

When playing with friends, streaming for an audience or creating content for YouTube or any other platform, you need to ensure you’re heard loudly and clearly.

Gaming headsets often pack a built-in microphone, but they’re not always great and certainly not as good as a dedicated microphone. That’s where a USB microphone comes in.

And if you’ve been thinking about adding such a mic to your setup, but aren’t sure what to buy, then we’ve got you covered.


We’ve tested the very best microphones available today, most of which are easy-to-use, plug-and-play affairs with incredible audio capabilities. No matter what your budget is, below are the top options for you to consider.

Best USB microphone: Our top pick

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Shure MV7 podcast microphone

1. Best overall USB Mic

Leading USB microphone

It might be pricier than other USB options out there, but for good reason. This is a fantastic microphone.


  • Rich sound capture
  • Choice of XLR or USB connections
  • Great accompanying software

  • No stand included
  • Pricier than other options

The Shure MV7 is the company’s answer for those who are looking for a studio-quality microphone that’s convenient and easy to set up.

It stands head and shoulders above to competition for its simplicity, user-friendly options and superior sound capture.

The MV7 is also interesting because, as well as the USB connection, you also have the option of using XLR.

Connect it to the GoXLR Mini or the Rodecaster Pro and you’ve got a powerful professional microphone that you can tweak until your heart is content.

Elgato Wave3 Review image 1

Elgato Wave:3

2. Runner Up

Key for audio routing

We love this microphone for its software alone, and it’s even better with a boom arm and shock mount.


  • Fantastic software level controls for streamers
  • Simple design

  • Needs some tweaking to get sounding perfect

It might not be much to look at, but this USB microphone is packed full of interesting tech and features to help you really shine online.

The highlights of the Wave:3 come when you pop it on a boom arm and dive into the Elgato Wave Link software. Clever software that’s basically an audio routing system.

So you can add sources of audio to it – for example, Spotify, the microphone, game audio, Discord chat and more – then adjust each of them individually and also adjust levels not just for yourself, but for what your audience will hear. Perfect for streamers and content creators.

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HyperX QuadCast S

3. A solid USB mic for streamers

Most eye-catching USB mic

A complete package and available at a great price – but the design won’t be for everyone.


  • Superb built-in shock mount and pop filter
  • Great looking design
  • Capable sound

  • Not as easy to customise for streaming
  • RGB might not be for everyone

The HyperX Quadcast S is an interesting alternative and one that really raises some eyebrows, not just because of the snazzy design, but also due to the number of features it packs into its small frame.

This mic has an anti-vibration shock mount combined with the built-in pop shield to keep most unnecessary noise at bay. RGB lighting helps it stand out for streaming and the capture quality is superb too.

This microphone looks fantastic when mounted on a boom arm and it’s really eye-catching, but it’s also really easy to get it to sound great.

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Endgame Gear XSTRM

4. Strong Contender

This is a superb microphone which stands head and shoulders above other USB microphones thanks to AI noise cancellation that blocks out pesky noise with ease.


  • Impressive AI noise cancellation
  • High sample rate
  • Shock mount and pop filter as standard

  • Mic monitoring isn’t on as standard
  • AI causes delay/echo in monitoring

The Endgame Gear XSTRM looks similar to the HyperX Quadcast S straight out of the box. It has similar features too including a built-in shock-mount and pop filter as well as a design that includes RGB lighting.

What makes it interesting though is the 24-bit and 192kHz sampling rate and the fact that it has AI noise cancellation built directly into the microphone. This is a plug-and-play USB microphone, but with the flick of a switch, you can turn on the AI tech that intelligently eliminates background noise.

It doesn’t have mic monitoring as standard, you have to turn that on in Windows sound settings first and there is a delay on that if you use the AI setting, but these are minor issues in our experience.

It captures fantastic quality sound and delivers really rich audio too.

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AKG Lyra

5. Another great USB mic

Premium sound and features

The AKG Lyra is solidly built and sounds great. For the money its a fantastic offering.


  • Superb build quality
  • Multiple polar pattern modes
  • Excellent capture quality

  • No pop filter as standard
  • A bit easy to peak

AKG’s Lyra microphone is a plug-and-play USB mic that’s designed to work with both PC and phones (with an optional adapter).

What makes it interesting though is the various polar patterns. It has four capsules, allowing for the capture of stereo sound and audio from multiple angles or just front-focussed voice-over work.

It supports 192 kHz/24-bit audio and sounds really rich as standard. Get it on a boom arm and you can really improve the quality though we have noticed that it picks up a lot of mouth wind if you get too close.

If you’re looking for a mic for multi-person podcasts, for recording music with instruments or for just doing vocals then this is as great choice.

How to choose a USB microphone

Buying a USB microphone involves more considerations than you might realise. It’s important not to just buy based on price or quality but to also think about what you’re going to be using your mic for, how you’ll use it in your space and the end result you’re trying to get.

XLR or USB mic?

USB microphones like the Yeti Nano and Elgato Wave:3 meanwhile are much easier for less tech-savvy people to use. Perfect for beginners or those who want a hassle-free plug-and-play setup. If you want the very best sound though, XLR microphones are superior and worth considering. They’re more expensive and require an interface to work but deliver a premium sound.

What are you using the microphone for?

What do you need your microphone for? It’s important to think about that before you buy. If you just need to upgrade from your laptop mic for Zoom or Teams calls, then a USB microphone might well be sufficient.

If you’re planning on streaming gameplay or other content on Twitch, Facebook Gaming or YouTube then perhaps the Wave:3 might be a better choice as it gives you loads of flexibility with its audio routing systems. While if you want the very best then consider turning to XLR.

How much space do you have?

Many of these microphones require a mic stand or boom arm in order to sound best. If space is limited then a USB microphone might be the best choice for you but to get a clean sound you need to get them off the desk and away from keyboard sounds or bumps and knocks.

How soundproof is your room?

If you’re having trouble with background sound, ambient noise or low quality in your microphone capture then you might also like to think about your room. A good microphone won’t help if you’ve got hard floors and an empty room with no soft furnishings that might help dampen noise and reverb.

Something like Elgato’s Wave sound panels might be an easy solution to help improve the sound of your room and, in turn, your audio capture. When buying a mic, it’s a good idea to consider these things.


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