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The Ultimate Podcast Microphone Guide

Professional Reviews of the Best USB, Dynamic, and Condenser Mics for Podcasting

Best Podcast Microphones

Updated September 28, 2020 | Posted May 2, 2019 | Jacob Bozarth & Dayton Cole

With 122 million search results in Google for the term podcast microphone, you may feel overwhelmed in your search for the best podcast microphone. Frankly a-lot of the top results out there may provide you with ill-informed information. The reality and truth is that many of these top ranking posts for the topic “best podcast microphone” are not written by audio experts who have actually used the podcast microphone they are recommending.

Now before you think I am just making an assumption and going off on a rant about this, let me explain. I recently read a popular article that linked to a post on the best podcast microphones. I reached out to the author of the podcast microphone post who also happens to be a well known podcast host who has a reputable site for podcasters. I was familiar with one of the podcast microphones that they recommended, so I decided to ask them what they liked about it and why they endorsed this particular microphone. I personally would not have recommended it myself, but I was interested to know why they liked it and maybe I would give it another shot. 

But to my surprise this was their response:  “I have never used the microphone. I wrote this article based off other reviews I found online about this particular mic.”

As an audio engineer and someone with a Degree in Audio Recording, this really bothered me. A well known podcaster and influencer, recommending a podcast microphone that they had never even used! Your podcast microphone is arguably the most important element when it comes to recording your podcast, and every podcaster will need a microphone, and you also need a source that you can trust. But what kind of microphone is the best for your recording setup?

This blog will review the best USB microphones, dynamic microphones, and condenser microphones for podcasting. We’ll also do a brief review of some of the more “popular” podcast microphones that we know about, but don’t recommend as a first choice. We will also provide some general advice on how to pick the best mic for your specific podcast setup and voice, and will walk through some of the basics of microphone technology. Let’s dive straight in. 

 Best USB Podcast Microphones
  1.  Samson Q2U ($69)  
  2. Audio-Technica AT2005 ($79) 
  3. Audio-Technica ATR2100x ($99)

Best Dynamic Podcast Microphones

  1. ElectroVoice RE320 ($299) 
  2. Shure SM7B ($399)
  3. Electro-Voice RE20 ($399)

Best Condenser Podcast Microphones

  1. Neumann KMS 104 ($699)
  2. Mojave MA-200 ($1,095)
  3. Neumann TLM 193 ($1500)
  4. Neumann M 147 ($2,900)
  5. Lauten Eden LT-386 ($2,999)
  6. Neumann U 47 FET ($4,000)
Before we look at each of these podcast microphones in detail, let’s discuss some microphone basics.

How to Choose the Right Podcast Microphone

Your Voice is Unique 

Like many things in life, podcast microphones are not a one size fits all. Different voices and sources will sound different on different microphones. After all, this is why there are many different styles and kinds of microphones for different recording applications. If possible, I recommend trying out a few microphones before deciding which microphone is the best fit to record your podcast. Let’s discuss a few categories we will look at for each of these podcast microphones.

Frequency Response

Like many things in life, podcast microphones are not a one size fits all. Different voices and sources will sound different on different microphones. After all, this is why there are many different styles and kinds of microphones for different recording applications. If possible, I recommend trying out a few microphones before deciding which microphone is the best fit to record your podcast. Let’s discuss a few categories we will look at for each of these podcast microphones.

Microphone Types 

What is a Dynamic Microphone?

Dynamic microphones are the #1 type of mic we recommend to podcasters.The microphones we recommend here are all dynamic microphones. We recommend dynamic microphones because they pick up the least amount of background and room noise. We have found that many podcasters are not recording in a studio, and that is ok. Spare bedrooms, closets, offices, and conference rooms can make a great recording space. A dynamic microphone will best suit these types of scenarios while providing a great sounding recording. Dynamic microphones are normally less sensitive and will pick up less room noise than most condenser microphones.

What is a Condenser Microphone?

According to Neumann, Condenser microphones usually offer much higher sensitivity and lower noise than dynamic microphones. In our podcast recording experience, we’ve seen this to be true. Condenser microphones are usually great for recording lead vocals for music and allow you to get a larger than life sounding podcast VO, but we strongly recommend a professionally treated studio or room if you decide to use a condenser microphone for podcasting. 

Polar Pattern

Polar pattern refers to the shape in which the microphone picks up or rejects sounds. Most of the microphones we look at are unidirectional mics meaning that they just pick up in one direction. Each of the microphones in this post will be cardioid, supercardioid, or hypercardioid. A cardioid pickup pattern allows the mic to pick up sound that is directly in front of the microphone and reduces pickup of unwanted sounds from the rear and side of the microphone. This type of polar pattern is ideal for recording a podcast with each guest having their own isolated microphone. The cardioid pattern looks like a heart or balloon shape coming out the front or side of the microphone.

Address Style

Address style refers to what part of the microphone the diaphragm/pickup pattern is facing and allows you to know if you will speak into the front of the mic (like most handheld microphones) or the side of the mic (like most large diaphragm condenser microphones).

Connector Type 

Most of the microphones in this list are XLR connector type. This means that you will use them with a standard microphone cable and plug them into an interface, microphone preamp, or handheld recorder with XLR connectivity. A couple of the microphones in this list are also USB compatible which means you can use them with a computer with USB connectivity.

With all this podcast microphone knowledge, lets dive into the details of each of the microphones. We have put the list in order from most expensive to least.

System Requirements

Many of these microphones have specific system requirements and may only be compatible with specific versions of operating systems. We will look at what platforms for both Mac and PC these USB mics will work with. 

With all this podcast microphone knowledge, lets dive into the details of each of the microphones. We’ll start with the best USB mics, then dynamic and condenser microphones.  

Best USB Microphones for Podcasting

A USB microphone allows you to simply plug a microphone into a USB port on your computer and record to pretty much any recording application. Many of our clients use USB microphones to record remote recordings through Zencastr, Squadcast, Zoom, Skype and many other remote recording applications. With major microphone manufacturers like Shure, Sennheiser, and Rode recently releasing new USB microphones designed for podcasting, we figured it’s time for us to weigh in on the USB microphone conversation.

Best USB microphones for podcasting:

  1. Samson Q2U ($69)  
  2. Audio-Technica AT2005 ($79)  
  3. Audio-Technica ATR2100x ($99) 

If you are looking for the most affordable USB microphone, the Samson Q2U may be the perfect fit. Like the ATR2100 and AT2005, the Samson Q2U comes with USB and XLR connectivity. With a handy light and on/off switch this microphone is a great place to start. The versatility, price point, and great sound are a few of the things making this USB microphone shine! You can use the USB output to record directly to your computer for remote recordings or the XLR output to record an on the go or in-studio recording with a handheld recorder like the Zoom H5. For the price, it will be hard for you to find a better sounding USB microphone.

Frequency Response: 50hz-15khz 

Microphone Type: Dynamic

Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Address Style: Front

Connector Type: USB, XLR, ⅛” (headphones)

System Requirements: OS X 10.9 or later, Windows 7 or later

The AT2005 is pretty much the exact same microphone as the ATR2100x. If they were the exact same price, I would pick the AT2005 due only to the aesthetics. There are few people that claim that they can hear the difference in sound, but we had a hard time distinguishing when doing a side by side test recording. As mentioned, the looks are a bit different. The AT2005 has a large on/off switch, is black, and the grill has a flat top. You can reference the frequency response and the polar pattern graph to see that the ATR2100x and AT2005 are essentially the same mic. The AT2005 is usually about $10 more on Amazon, but the price does change from time to time.

Frequency Response: 50hz-15khz

Microphone Type: Dynamic

Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Address Style: Front

Connector Type: USB, XLR, ⅛” (headphones)

Software Requirements: OS X 10.9 or later, Windows 7 or later

The ATR2100x is an amazing entry-level podcast microphone because its affordable, well built, versatile, and doesn’t pick up much background noise since it’s a dynamic mic. It is a very popular and affordable USB podcast microphone. It’s a top choice for many podcasters. Even compared to the larger microphone market, the ATR2100x holds its own and has a great frequency response. 

I’ve used this mic in different recording applications including Skype, in-person interviews, and other remote recordings. The ATR2100x is one of the few microphones that offers both XLR and USB connectivity. You can use the USB output to record directly to your computer and you can also use the XLR analog output and run the microphone into a recorder like a Zoom H6 handheld recorder. 

The ATR2100x is the latest model of an older microphone that we used to recommend but is no longer in production: the ATR2100. The main difference between the old and new model is that it comes with the USB-C connector cable (great for new Apple Computers). Check out this comparison video from Pat Flynn to learn more about the new model. 

ATR2100x Microphone Specs

Frequency Response: 15hz-50khz

Microphone Type: Dynamic

Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Address Style: Front

Connector Type: USB (Both USB A and USB C), XLR, ⅛” (headphones)

System Requirements: OS X 10.9 or later, Windows 7 or later

Best Dynamic Microphones for Podcasting

Dynamic microphones are the best option for most podcasters, whether you are using a USB dynamic mic or running through an audio interface. Dynamic mics tend to pick up less of the room noise that can be so distracting to listeners. They also start out very cheap, with some quality options for under $100. 

Best dynamic microphones for podcasting: 

  1. Electro-Voice RE320 ($299) 
  2. Shure SM7B ($399)
  3. Electro-Voice RE20 ($399)

The RE320 is likely my all time favorite podcast microphone! For the price you absolutely cannot beat it. The RE320 is, “A professional- grade dynamic microphone designed specifically for recording and sound reinforcement applications requiring extremely low noise and the best possible tonal and transient response. Ideal for capturing a wide variety of vocal and instrument sources, the RE320 delivers unparalleled detail, dynamic response, and pleasing natural tone.” 

This microphone allows you to record a pleasing natural tone for your podcast vocals. The RE320 looks similar to the legendary RE20 broadcast microphone and in our opinion sounds just a bit darker but very similar as well. The RE320 features a supercardioid polar pattern, which helps isolate the sound of your voice while rejecting background noise that can creep in from behind the microphone. If you only have $300 to spend on a microphone go with the RE320.

Frequency Response: 30Hz – 18kHz

Microphone Type: Dynamic

Polar Pattern: Super Cardioid

Address Style: Front Address 

Connector Type: XLR

The SM7B is a legendary microphone being used by many legends including Michael Jackson, Sheryl Crow, Sammy Hagar, John Paul White of The Civil Wars, Joe Rogan, and many more. The first time I recorded using the SM7B, I was struck by the warm transparent tone of the mic. The Shure SM7B is not just a contender in the podcasting space; it can compete with many other well known vocal microphones in the $1,000+ price range. The biggest downfall of the mic is the low output. For this reason, I recommend using it with a Cloudlifter mic activator to give the mic +25 dB of clean gain. You can’t go wrong with the Shure SM7B for your podcast mic. 

Frequency Response: 50Hz – 20kHz

Microphone Type: Dynamic

Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Address Style: Front Address 

Connector Type: XLR

The legendary Electro-Voice RE20 has been used by broadcasters and podcasters from NPR, Tenderfoot TV, to ESPN. The RE20 use Electro Voices’ patented Variable D technology to minimize the proximity effect. Normally as you get closer to a microphone, the low frequency bass response increases, but not with the RE20. The Variable D technology controls the low frequency bass response of the microphone as you get closer, creating a smooth, warm, big, full, and transparent sound. The RE20 also features a supercardioid polar pattern, which helps isolate the sound of your voice while rejecting background noise that can creep in from behind the microphone. The RE20 is a recommended microphone for both the novice and advanced podcaster!

Frequency Response: 45Hz – 18kHz

Microphone Type: Dynamic

Polar Pattern: Super Cardioid

Address Style: Front Address 

Connector Type: XLR

Best Condenser Microphones for Podcasting

Condenser microphones are incredible for recording high-quality vocals of all kinds, but they require a quiet (or ideally a sound-treated) space because they pick up so much background noise. If you have a dedicated recording space with sound dampening and can trust that there won’t be a ton of background noises, then a condenser microphone might be for you. The microphones in this section of our blog are all from a higher price point because we wanted to offer several options for the professional podcasters looking to buy the very best microphone. 

Best Condenser Microphones for podcasting: 

  1. Neumann KMS 104 ($699)
  2. Mojave MA-200 ($1,095)
  3. Neumann TLM 193 ($1500)
  4. Neumann M 147 ($2,900) 
  5. Lauten Eden LT-386 ($2,999)
  6. Neumann U 47 FET ($4,000)

Thinking about hosting a live podcast recording? Want to record a microphone and actually be able to hold the microphone as you record? This is the perfect microphone. Neumann claims that this microphone is perfectly designed with the benefits of a powerful condenser microphone, all in the body of a microphone perfectly suited for the stage. 

In addition, Neumann claims that the mic is equipped to clearly record “percussion, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, harmonica, acoustic guitar, and guitar cabinets.” This microphone provides a balanced and full sound, applicable for both male and female vocals. We highly recommend the Neumann KMS 104! 

Dayton’s Opinion: 

A male and female voice sounded balanced and full 

Pat’s Opinion: 

Balanced, good sound

Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz

Microphone Type: Condenser

Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Address Style: Front

Connector Type: XLR

In the age of digital audio, digital artifacts are a prevalent issue. But the Mojave MA-200 claims to have “none of the shrillness and high-frequency distortion artifacts that are often encountered with modern condenser microphones.” But for a tube microphone, we felt that it was a little on the brittle side in terms of high-end frequency response. Overall, this microphone is likely better suited for recording singing, but still could be applied to dialogue and voiceover situations. Fun fact, this is the microphone we use to record voiceover for the hit podcast Culpable and it sounds great on the host’s voice. 

Dayton’s Opinion: 

Sounded better on female voiceover than male voiceover

Might be better suited for recording singing 

Pat’s Opinion: 

High-end issue – sounds really brittle and harsh

This caused a problem on the sibilance of the female voice, but also for the male vocals

Microphone Type: Tube Condenser 

Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Address Style: Side

Connector Type: XL-

Thinking about hosting a live podcast recording? Want to record a microphone and actually be able to hold the microphone as you record? This is the perfect microphone. Neumann claims that this microphone is perfectly designed with the benefits of a powerful condenser microphone, all in the body of a microphone perfectly suited for the stage. 

In addition, Neumann claims that the mic is equipped to clearly record “percussion, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, harmonica, acoustic guitar, and guitar cabinets.” This microphone provides a balanced and full sound, applicable for both male and female vocals. We highly recommend the Neumann KMS 104! 

Dayton’s Opinion: 

A male and female voice sounded balanced and full 

Pat’s Opinion: 

Balanced, good sound

Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz

Microphone Type: Condenser

Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Address Style: Front

Connector Type: XLR

If you’re looking for a consistent microphone that just works, the TLM 193 will work for you. Suitable for a wide range of studio applications, the Neumann TLM 193 claims the ability to “capture the source and its room ambiance without unwanted coloration.” As our engineers mentioned in the comments below, this mic just does its job. It wasn’t all that inspiring and didn’t have a lot of warmth or depth to it, but simply performed as a middle-tier option might. Frankly, we were underwhelmed by this microphone based on the price range, but the one beauty of this microphone is its streamlined design, lack of buttons, and consistent performance. With a fairly flat frequency response, this microphone allows for a wide range of changes to be made in post-production. 

Dayton’s Opinion: 

EQ on the male sounded a little off. Overall middle of the road performance. 

Pat’s Opinion: 

Sounded better on females. Didn’t like how it sounded on male dialogue

Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz

Microphone Type: Condenser

Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Address Style: Side 

Connector Type: XLR

Transitioning to one of three tube microphones we tested out, the Neumann M 147 offers a grittier, warmer tone for those podcasters who want to reinstate a sense of depth and character to their sound in the age of digital audio recording. According to the manufacturer, this microphone is “ideally suited for vocals, both male and female, as well as speech applications such as voice-over and film dubbing.” This is a respectable microphone, and we like the warm tone that it provides, but Pat was largely uninspired by this one.

Dayton’s Opinion: 

“Warm.” Female had more low end. Male sounded more round 

Pat’s Opinion: 

“Uninspired.” Neutral on this mic 

Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz

Microphone Type: Tube Condenser

Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Address Style: Side 

Connector Type: XLR

Transitioning away from the Neumann microphones, the Lauten Eden is a big and shiny tube microphone with fairly balanced frequency response. However, we were surprised that this microphone didn’t have a very shiny top end. In fact, it was rather dull. It just doesn’t seem to correspond to the shiny gloss on the outside of the microphone.

If you record your podcast on video, this microphone would be a wonderful microphone simply based on the look. It’s classy, clean design will look excellent in many different contexts. 

Dayton’s Opinion: 

Fairly balanced. Too dark sounding on the female. Less top-end overall than the rest of these mics.  

Pat’s Opinion: 

Despite the chrome, shiny look of this mic it sounded “Dull” and “lumpy.” 

Frequency Response: 40Hz-16kHz

Microphone Type: Tube Condenser

Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Address Style: Side 

Connector Type: XLR

Housed in a beautiful wooden case, with all of the legacy and history of 70’s rock and roll, the Neumann U 47 is a high price tag that Dayton thinks “could work well to cut through a dense mix.” Probably more suited for singing vocals and recording some instruments, the Neumann U 47 FET is an iconic microphone in many recording studios, but isn’t ideal for podcasting dialogue or voiceover, as it has  a harsher high-end than the other microphones in this shootout. 

Dayton’s Opinion: 

Warm with more top end than the other ones. Probably better for singing vocals than dialogue. Too harsh for female vocals. Could work well to cut through a dense mix.

Pat’s Opinion: 

Sounded better on the male dialogue. 

Frequency Response: 40Hz-16kHz

Microphone Type: Condenser

Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Address Style: Side 

Connector Type: XLR

Microphone Accessories and Necessities 

We recommend using a microphone stand with a boom arm to avoid unwanted sounds being picked up from your desk or tabletop. A boom arm will also allow you to adjust the microphone so you and your guests feel comfortable. You can use either a standard mic stand with a boom arm or a table-mounted boom arm. 

pop filter or windscreen is a cheap way to prevent bursts of air or pops from making it into your recordings.

When recording a podcast, isolation is very important. That’s why we recommend closed-back headphones when recording. Need recommendations on what headphones to get? Check out this post!

Most dynamic microphones have relatively low gain outputs. The Cloud Microphone Cloudlifters will give your podcast microphone up to 25 dB of ultra-clean gain and can make a cheap preamp sound much better. We have also found the cloudlifter’s adds a bit of a warm tone to the podcast microphone when putting it in your signal flow.

These are usually made of tiny bungee or rubber band-like cords that suspend your mic in the air and prevent it from touching the microphone stand. They can help eliminate sounds that may resonate through your microphone stand and into the recording due to movement. Most shock mounts are made to go with specific models of mics, so make sure to get one that fits your microphone.

Conclusion

Your microphone is arguably the most important piece of your podcasting set up so it’s critical that you find a microphone that fits your budget and your recording scenario and that is reliable. 

Selecting a microphone can be a big decision in your podcasting career. We are thankful that you have allowed us to be a part of helping you make this decision. In addition to recording a podcast and selecting a microphone, we know that podcasting can be hard. 

At Resonate Recordings it is our mission to make podcasting easy. If you have questions about our services or want to offload the editing or production of your podcast, our team of professional engineers are here to help! Feel free to schedule a call or chat with us on this page below. Cheers and happy podcasting!

JB Headshot square

Jacob Bozarth

As President & CEO of Resonate Recordings, Jacob leads the team & oversees the vision and growth. Jacob can be found recording, producing, & mixing podcasts when he is not spending time with his family. Jacob & his family live in Louisville, KY.

Dayton Cole

Dayton Cole

As Lead Mixing Engineer at Resonate Recordings, Dayton oversees the audio editing and mixing process for many entertaining podcasts. When Dayton is not mixing and mastering audio he enjoys making tacos with his wife in their home in Louisville, KY.

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