Even the best phones and gaming headsets can’t compete with the sound quality of a stand-alone microphone. Sure, the little built-in mics in your devices will get the job done when chatting with your mom over FaceTime and strategizing with your teammates during a game, but these microphones are often an afterthought compared to the device’s other features. And they aren’t going to cut it if you’re looking to start game streaming, podcasting, or even recording music. Listeners don’t want to hear choppy, distorted vocals, and a quality microphone could be the difference between seeing your subscriber numbers sink or swim.
Stand-alone microphones give your audience the ability to hear your voice in all the rich-sounding, nuanced glory you intended. It’s in part thanks to the wider frequency response, higher sample rate, and bit-depth of these mics. Some offer additional software, onboard buttons, and indicators to help make you sound even better. It’s virtually impossible to escape all the noises from this chaotic world, whether it’s the hum of your gaming PC, tapping on your gaming keyboard, or the garbage truck making a racket outside, but a quality microphone will offer different pickup patterns to help eliminate the unwanted clamor. Cardioid is your best option for streaming and podcasting, but other pattern options might come in handy.
There is a huge range of microphones available these days, and we’ve picked some of our favorites to help you narrow down the search. So, whether you're looking to up the quality of your game streams or start a murder podcast, you can find the mic that works best for you – click here to find them in the UK.
TL;DR – These are the Best Microphones for Streaming:
- Blue Yeti X
- NZXT Capsule Mini
- HyperX SoloCast
- Shure MV7
- HyperX QuadCast S
- Rode NT-USB+
- Elgato Wave 3
- PowerDeWise Lavalier Microphone
Blue Yeti X
Best Microphone for Streaming
Blue has been synonymous with high-quality, affordable streaming microphones for years, and with the Yeti X, the tradition continues. This USB condenser mic has everything you loved in the original Yeti but adds additional features like an onboard vocal meter, Smart Knob, and a fourth condenser capsule. So, if you're streaming while gaming, you can ensure you're not blowing out the ears of your teammates, while the new knob offers controls for gain, mute, headphone volume, and blend. That extra capsule also helps improve your overall sound.
The Blue Yeti X is insanely versatile, thanks to the ample ways it helps you capture quality vocals. There are four polar patterns to choose from, so it’s perfect for recording live streams, one-on-one interviews, group conference calls, and even instruments. Its build quality is impeccable, with a durable metal body and stand accommodating a wide tilt range, making finding the perfect angle a breeze. And once you start recording, if you want to tune the mic in any way or make customizations, you don’t need to invest in any additional software, as the Blue Voice platform is robust but simple enough for anyone to figure out.
NZXT Capsule Mini
Best Budget Microphone for Streaming
You don’t need to spend a fortune to get into the streaming game. Just look at the NZXT Capsule Mini. It’s a smaller, cheaper version of the NZXT Capsule but still delivers crisp, clear vocal and sound recording. With only a cardioid pattern, this mic is best for solo users. However, that also means it picks up less noise from behind, so you won’t hear your PC humming or other distracting sounds in your stream.
The NZXT Capsule Mini’s looks are sleek and simple, while a good deal of plastic is used in the design, making it slightly less durable than other mics on this list. On board is a USB-C mic for connecting to your computer and an aux jack to plug in headphones. Unfortunately, there are no advanced audio controls, only a volume on the mic, so if you want to make adjustments sound, you’ll need to do that using NZXT’s CAM software. Even then, you’re still limited to changing gain, volume, and some tone settings.
Best Ultra Cheap Microphone for Streaming
Are you just starting the streaming game and not ready to invest in a super pricey microphone? We’ve got you covered. The HyperX SoloCast is an excellent, beginner-friendly option coming in under $40. Sometimes you sacrifice sound quality for a lower price, but with this option, there’s no need to worry. The sound is on par with its bigger, more expensive brother, the HyperX Quadcast S.
The HyperX SoloCast might not have all the fancy features of a more expensive model, but it gets the job done. There is only a single cardioid polar pattern, hence the “solo” in the name. It works best with a single voice, so the mic is ideal if you're looking to use it for streaming while gaming or creating content. You may occasionally want to set up at a friend's house or take the mic with you on vacation, and with its compact size and simple plug-in-play USB-C setup, that’s easy to do. However, if you're hoping for more advanced audio controls, you may be better off uping your budget for a mic with a bigger feature set. With the SoloCast, you aren’t getting any dials or buttons, only a tap-to-mute feature. But, if you want high-fidelity and all the basics, the HyperX SoloCast is your best option.
Best Higher-End Microphone for Streaming
Not all microphones are built alike, and the Shure MV7 is proof of this. Though it’s pricier than the others on our list, it might just be worth a little splurge. The design is second to none, as the mic totes a sturdy, reliable metal form factor paired with both XLR and USB connections. Making it perfect to use with your favorite DAW for a more professional, higher quality sound, or via USB, you can just plug it into your laptop for use on the go. Heck, you can even do both simultaneously if that’s your jam. You’re getting the best of both worlds with this option.
There is a whole lot more to love about the Shure MV7. First, on-mic controls allow you to dial in the gain, monitor mixing and adjust the volume. As a bonus, it comes with access to Shure’s MOTIV app to make real-time adjustments to sound levels and tone without things getting overly complicating. You’ll be able to figure it out even as a newbie. Plus, this should help limit your time stuck in post-production. And, with a high audio resolution of 48kHz sample rate and a 24-bit depth, you get a superior sound to other mics. Whether you’re newly into podcasting, have been game streaming for a bit, or are aiming to record music, the mic’s versatility makes it perfect for anyone.
HyperX QuadCast S
Best Microphone for Gaming
If you’re streaming your game to fans or even just interacting with teammates, a better quality mic, something you won’t find in a gaming headset, can make all the difference. One of the best microphones made specifically for gaming is the HyperX Quadcast S, and it stands out from all the rest, quite literally, with the customizable RGB lighting. But, it’s packing plenty more like a superb, sturdy build and top-notch features you’ll be excited to show off as you stream.
Though the HyperX Quadcast S may have all the gaming peripherals you’d want, it’s not exclusively for gaming — all the bells and whistles are there for anyone getting into the recording game. There are a total of four different pickup patterns, each one delivering impressive results. You can use it for streaming on Twitch, but it’ll also work for interviews, group meetings, or live music. You can swap between those polar patterns using an on-mic selector while also being able to adjust the gain. As a word of warning, it’s pretty easy to nudge the levels, so be careful after you’ve found the ideal gain settings. The 48kHz sample rate at a 16-bit depth and 20Hz-20kHz frequency response range also ensure accurate recording by covering the full range of human hearing.
Best Microphone for Podcasting
Everyone has a podcast these days, and maybe you’re ready to join in on the fun, so to be sure you don’t make a rookie mistake by recording subpar audio, grab the Rode NT-USB+. This professional condenser mic delivers crisp, sultry vocals while eliminating most other noise thanks to its cardioid polar pattern. A detachable pop filter also comes in handy to prevent the annoying popping sound from too much air hitting the mic—so feel free to get overly excited about a topic with no editing nightmare later.
If you’re new to microphones, you’ll especially appreciate the plug-and-play nature of Rode’s NT-USB+ USB-C connection, while a high-power headphone output offers zero-latency monitoring. Unfortunately, you don’t get on-mic gain control, though, with only dials for controlling mix and headphone volume. However, using one of Rode’s various apps, you can bring your recordings to the next level and take advantage of its internal DSP for advanced audio processing.
Elgato Wave 3
Best Plug-In-Play Microphone for Streaming
Sometimes all you want is a microphone that you just plug in and sound great on, and the Elgato Wave 3 is exactly that. Setting it up is as simple as it gets; you just plug it into your computer via USB-C, and you’re ready to run. There are no extra wires or programs you’ll have to figure out like you would with an XLR mic. To make life even easier, you get loads of control on-mic. In addition to a mute button, a dial can alternately control volume, gain, and adjust the balance between system level and side tone. There’s even a port on the back of the unit if you want to listen to your recording on headphones.
Since there is such ease of use, you may question whether the Elegato Wave 3 will sound great, and there is no need to worry. There is an impressively high audio resolution with a 96kHz sample rate and 24-bit depth. Sometimes, you might get a little loud or too close to the mic during an intense moment in a game, but thankfully the Clipguard cuts out any distortion. Unfortunately, there is only one cardioid polar pattern, but it’s all streamers and podcasters really need. There’s also an unexpected bonus in the Wavelink software, making audio mixing a breeze.
PowerDeWise Lavalier Microphone
Best Wearable Microphone for Streaming
Is there really any advantage to using a small microphone over the one on your laptop or phone? We certainly think so. If you’re a content creator using short-form video platforms like TikTok and Reels, you’ll quickly find out that a phone picks up too much outside noise, or if you’re too far away, you can’t be heard. A wearable unit fixes this problem. The PowerDeWise Professional Grade Lavalier Lapel Microphone is a super cheap, compact option that’ll up your audio game. This mic clips directly on your clothes — think news anchor vibes — and plugs in directly to your device.
The PowerDeWise Professional Grade Lavalier Lapel Microphone offers a plenty long 13-foot aux cord with a 3.5mm jack. It should easily plug into most laptops and phones, but you’ll need a separate adapter for iPhones. Once you plug in, you should be good to go. There are no features or adjustments you can make to it like you can with the other options on our list, but it’s simple to use and will, without a doubt, make your voice sound better than whatever your device can record on its own.
Where to Get the Best Microphone for Streaming and Podcasting in the UK
Reaching a worldwide audience from the comfort of your home is just as easy in the UK as it is in the US. We've managed to find a great selection of microphones from our list that are also available to pick up on the other side of the pond, the vast majority in fact. Don't see the microphones below? Click here.
SamsonG-Track Pro Best Microphone for Streaming and Podcasting£114.00 Blue Yeti X £167.59BlueYeti Snowball Set it and Forget it£59.90BlueYeti Pro USB Best Plug-and-Play Mic for Streaming and Podcasting£119.99HyperXQuadCast USB Best Broadcast Mic for Streaming and Podcasting£110.00 HyperX SoloCast £49.99BlueYeti Nano Best Portable Mic for Streaming and Podcasting£99.99Audio-Technica AT2040 Best XLR Mic for Streaming and Podcasting£71.97ShureSM58 Vocal Mic Best Handheld Microphone for Streaming and Podcasting£104.00ElgatoWave 3 Best Customizable Microphone for Streaming and Podcasting£152.45Shure MV7 Best Higher-End Microphone for Streaming£259.00Rode NT-USB+ £185.00PowerDeWise Lavalier Microphone
What to Look for in a Microphone for Streaming and Podcasting
There is such a wide array of microphones available. It’s easy to get carried away or totally lost on the quest for a perfect recording. So, we’ve narrowed down what to look for in a microphone to find the best one to suit your needs.
First off, polar patterns are important to make note of. Cardioid is going to be essential if you’re using this microphone in any streaming or podcasting capacity. It focuses on sounds from the front and sides, ignoring the rear. But, say you also want to use it for one-on-one interviews or a group conference call, a microphone that offer bidirectional or omnidirectional patterns are much better suited. Microphones like the Blue Yeti X and HyperX Quadcast S conveniently offer multiple polar patterns that you can easily switch between.
Another important factor to keep in mind is the type of microphone you purchase: condenser or dynamic. The majority of our picks are condenser mics, and that means the mic is better at picking up a more crisp, detailed sound. That also makes them a bit more sensitive and prone to record unwanted sounds. Condenser mics can also offer multiple polar patterns, which a dynamic does not.
Dynamic mics, however, are more durable and can handle higher sound volumes without distortion. Plus, with a cardioid pattern, dynamic mics are ideal for podcasting because they are better at eliminating background noise to focus just on your voice. These are the type of microphones you’ll usually find in a recording studio. But, either microphone type should work great if you’re just looking to use it for streaming.
Now, the output of a microphone might not be something you’ve given much thought to, but it’s essential to make note of the differences. Most of the mics on our list are USB microphones, which means you won’t need an audio interface for use. You can simply plug it in and get recording. You will sacrifice the ability to change components or use it with a mixing board though.
An XLR output is a bit trickier to use as you need an additional audio interface to plug in to. But say you want to look into special effects, like a compressor, equalizer, or noise gate to make your stream sound even better, an XLR option makes that upgrade easier.
Do You Need a Good Microphone to Stream?
The short answer is no. You can stream on Twitch or YouTube with nothing but your laptop speakers if you want to. Microphones are a great way to stand out, however. Having excellent sound quality is a good way to appear like a professional streamer.
Danielle Abraham is a freelance writer and unpaid music historian.