The most common setup for the early content creators usually involved an XLR mic, and a mixer with a USB output or some other recording device to plug into. That was a lot of equipment and far too many cables for a newcomer’s small setup. Then a couple of companies released USB microphones to simplify creator’s setups. For a while, that was good enough.
Cut to the present day and people demand more of their USB mics. They want style. They want it to look like a real studio mic. They want control. They want function. They deserve all that and more. CGMagazine went out and tested as many USB mics as we could get our hands on to give you all the information you need.
Here are our top ten USB microphones:
Honourable Mention – Mackie Chromium
The Mackie Chromium is a great mic that is full of control with its on-board mixer built into the base. It has inputs for an instrument and another auxiliary device like a phone, which makes it a versatile device.
Its biggest challenge is the inflexibility of the mic, you are unable to mount it to a mic arm, not to mention the fact that I needed to max out the gain to get the levels to an acceptable place, limiting your ability to adjust when needed.
#10 – HyperX SoloCast
This is one of the lite mics on our list, which is light on features, but affordable. The SoloCast is a simple, beautiful little microphone that is plug and play. It has a tap to mute button, which gives more in the way of functionality than some lite mics tend to offer. It’s sleek and the price ($69.99 USD) is certainly right.
The only thing moving it down the list is that the sound quality could be a bit better and the number of functions compared to the other lite options. It is a good mic and a wonderful entry-level device for beginner content creators.
#9 – Roccat Torch
Here’s another mic with a control panel for a base. More stylish than the Mackie with a beautiful shape and RGB, it also has the ability to detach from its base and mount on a mic arm. This does require extra cables as the mic still needs to be connected to the base electronically, but you have the ability to bring it up to your face, which is a huge advantage.
The mic features a contactless mute function, and connection to Roccat’s Neon software that allows you to sync the RGB with other Roccat devices.
#8 – JLAB Talk PRO
JLAB offers a nice collection of mics with their “Talk” Series. The Talk Pro is a more affordable option than other comparable microphones on the market, with a simple, but slick design that would look good on any stream.
The audio quality is clean and its plug and play functionality is great for the novice creator. Its major drawbacks are the grating around the capsule can be bent and disrupt that beautiful pattern, and that the RGB is hidden from both the creator and the viewer.
#7 – HyperX QuadCast S
Arguably the prettiest mic on the list, the HyperX QuadCast S is a full RGB microphone with a shock mount and the regular on-board controls, including a capacitive mute button on the device.
It’s one of the better sounding mics out of the box, made better with the use of some VSTs, and it feels high-end. There is a higher than average price tag that comes with the quality though. It’s a microphone mainly meant for people making visual content, like streamers or YouTubers.
This mic was actually the lowest scoring mic that I had tested at the time, so why does it rank so high on this list? Well, some fatal flaws in the microphone were specific defects with my particular unit and while this is an issue in itself, its build quality was great, and I loved how it made my voice sound.
The EPOS B20 is one of the few mics on the list with robust control software with full EQ (including presets for people who aren’t experienced with such things), noise gate and so much more.
#5 – JLAB Talk GO
JLAB’s lite offering is a little higher up on the list than its higher-end sibling, mainly because of its cheaper price tag compared to how little is lost from the Talk PRO. There are still a lot of features on the mic, including polar pattern selection and an improved RGB strip that you and your viewers will be able to see.
To get all of that for less than half of the price of a Talk Go and still get great sound, it’s hard not to recommend it to creators who might be on a budget.
#4 – Razer Seiren Mini
Easily the most bare-bones of the microphones on this list, the Seiren Mini lacks the features of the Solocast or Talk GO, but the overall sound and build quality of this mic edge out the other lite models.
There is also a certain “je ne sais quoi” about this microphone that really hooked me in when I tested the mic. Perhaps it is the overall look, or perhaps it is the super simplicity of the microphone, having absolutely no features on the device, that makes it so appealing for the beginner creator. Add to that the rock bottom price, and you have an attractive microphone.
#3 – Blue Yeti X
The Blue Yeti X was my favourite USB mic in terms of audio quality. Blue has a reputation for making top-notch microphones and is a pioneer in USB audio with the popular early model, the Blue Snowball Ice. This mic builds on the strong foundation of the original Yeti and creates a true beast of an audio device.
Its superior build quality and sturdy base, combined with the control in their Blue Voice Software, allows you control over the broadcast quality of the mic as well as some voice mod abilities that are miles ahead of most microphones.
#2 – Elgato Wave 3
This microphone, almost on top of the list, is not here due to its build quality or top of the line sound. Don’t get me wrong, both of these are great traits of the Wave 3 Microphone, but its true strength is in its software and integration capabilities.
The Elgato Wave Link software turns your microphone experience into a whole mixer, with the ability to run music, chat, game audio and so much more through one single output, making any stream as simple as possible. It also has submixes, allowing you to hear what you want to hear in your headphones without disrupting what goes out into the stream.
On top of this, mic control couldn’t be simpler. A single button controls gain, headphone audio and the blending between the mic and other audio that you hear in your headphones, plus a capacitive mute button on top of the mic.
Another powerful source of control is its integration with the popular Stream Deck, where you can perform any function of the microphone, from muting to adjusting audio to specific levels with a push of the button. No company yet has come up with an audio solution as elegant as this.
#1 – Razer Seiren V2 Pro
Coming in just under the gun to make this list, the Razer Seiren V2 Pro microphone offers the general style that I enjoyed in the Seiren Mini (only larger) with all of its missing functionality. It is the only dynamic microphone on this list, seeing as the bulk of USB microphones are condensers.
The one thing they needed to do to make it this high on the list was to create a software that competes with Elgato’s Wave Link and Razer did it. They have controls to allow you to toggle their high pass filter and analog gain limiter on and off as well as adjust the sample rate.
But the biggest part of the software (found in Razer’s Synapse), is the Stream Mixer, allowing you to add up to ten sources to send out as one single output to your stream or audio recording software. Also included is a submix, allowing you to control what you hear and what your stream hears separately,
So, with #1 and #2 being good microphones with great software, what tips the scales? While the Elgato Wave 3 is great, and they now offer VST control (EQ, etc.) in their software, The Razer Seiren V2 Pro’s build quality and overall audio quality gives it the slightest of edges, making it CGM’s Best USB Microphone to date.