The best 10 microphones in comparison

Which are the best microphones of 2020?

Best microphones of 2020 (1 - 5)
microphone comparison
Comparison winner
microphone comparison
Comparison winner
AKG Lyra
Comparison winner
Blue Yeti X
Comparison winner
Neat Beecaster
Comparison winner
Blue Yeti Pro
Comparison winner
Maono AU-903
Comparison winner
Neat Bumblebee
Comparison winner
Senal UC4-B
Comparison winner
Maono AU-PM420
Comparison winner
HyperX QuadCast S
Comparison winner
HyperX QuadCast
Image
AKG Lyra
100points
Blue Yeti X
89points
Neat Beecaster
89points
Blue Yeti Pro
87points
Maono AU-903
87points
Neat Bumblebee
85points
Senal UC4-B
85points
Maono AU-PM420
83points
HyperX QuadCast S
80points
HyperX QuadCast
80points
Best price
Best price
Summary
Summary
  • Sound quality (97)
  • Features (95)
  • Headphone output (86)
  • Design (67)
  • Sound quality (70)
  • Features (92)
  • Headphone output (86)
  • Design (56)
  • Sound quality (81)
  • Features (69)
  • Headphone output (72)
  • Design (77)
  • Sound quality (92)
  • Features (88)
  • Headphone output (84)
  • Design (44)
  • Sound quality (96)
  • Features (73)
  • Headphone output (63)
  • Design (71)
  • Sound quality (81)
  • Features (35)
  • Headphone output (86)
  • Design (84)
  • Sound quality (92)
  • Features (77)
  • Headphone output (84)
  • Design (59)
  • Sound quality (100)
  • Features (35)
  • Headphone output (11)
  • Design (100)
  • Sound quality (41)
  • Features (81)
  • Headphone output (82)
  • Design (71)
  • Sound quality (41)
  • Features (81)
  • Headphone output (82)
  • Design (71)
Pros
Pros
  • Higher audio interface frequency rate
  • Higher signal-to-noise ratio (SNR)
  • Higher sound pressure level
  • Compatible with iOS
  • Compatible with Android
  • Higher signal-to-noise ratio (SNR)
  • LED sound level indicator
  • Higher audio interface frequency rate
  • Higher signal-to-noise ratio (SNR)
  • Compatible with iOS
  • Higher audio interface frequency rate
  • Higher signal-to-noise ratio (SNR)
  • Lower low-frequency
  • Higher high-frequency
  • Higher audio interface frequency rate
  • LED sound level indicator
  • Compatible with Android
  • Pop filter
  • Higher audio interface frequency rate
  • Higher signal-to-noise ratio (SNR)
  • Higher audio interface frequency rate
  • Pop filter
  • Higher audio interface frequency rate
  • Pop filter
  • Pop filter
Cons
Cons
    • Shock mount
    • Sound pressure level
      • Shock mount
      • Number of polar patterns
      • Sound pressure level
      • 3.5mm audio jack
      • Shock mount
      • Number of polar patterns
      • Highest mic frequency
      • Number of polar patterns
      • Number of polar patterns
      • Shock mount
      • Sound pressure level
      • 3.5mm audio jack
      • Number of polar patterns
      • Signal-to-Noise ratio (DAC)
      • Audio interface bit rate
      • Audio interface bit rate
      Sound quality
      Audio interface bit rateAudio interface bit depth/rate describes the number of bits of information recorded for each sample. Bits represent the resolution. The more bits, the more accurate sound is reproduced.
      Audio interface bit rateAudio interface bit depth/rate describes the number of bits of information recorded for each sample. Bits represent the resolution. The more bits, the more accurate sound is reproduced.24bit24bit24bit24bit24bit24bit24bit24bit16bit16bit
      Audio interface frequency rateAudio interface sampling rate/frequency defines the number of samples per unit of time taken from a continuous signal to make a discrete signal. Sampling rate determines the quality of a digital recording.
      Audio interface frequency rateAudio interface sampling rate/frequency defines the number of samples per unit of time taken from a continuous signal to make a discrete signal. Sampling rate determines the quality of a digital recording.192kHz48kHz96kHz192kHz192kHz96kHz192kHz192kHz48kHz48kHz
      Highest mic frequencyThe highest frequency that the mic can pick up. Better for recording treble.
      Highest mic frequencyThe highest frequency that the mic can pick up. Better for recording treble.20000Hz20000Hz20000Hz20000Hz18000Hz20000Hz20000Hz20000Hz20000Hz20000Hz
      Lowest mic frequencyThe lowest frequency that the mic can pick up. Better for recording bass.
      Lowest mic frequencyThe lowest frequency that the mic can pick up. Better for recording bass.20Hz20Hz20Hz20Hz20Hz20Hz20Hz20Hz20Hz20Hz
      Sound pressure levelMicrophones with a higher max SPL (sound pressure level) can record at greater volumes without the audio distorting.
      Sound pressure levelMicrophones with a higher max SPL (sound pressure level) can record at greater volumes without the audio distorting.129dB122dB128dB120dBN.A.128dB120dBN.A.N.A.N.A.
      Total score for "Sound quality"
      Total score for "Sound quality"
      Features
      Compatible with AndroidIt is compatible with a range of Android devices such as smartphones and tablets.
      Compatible with AndroidIt is compatible with a range of Android devices such as smartphones and tablets.
      Compatible with iOSIt is compatible with a range of iOS devices such as iPhones, iPads and the iPod Touch.
      Compatible with iOSIt is compatible with a range of iOS devices such as iPhones, iPads and the iPod Touch.
      Compatible with Mac OS XIt is compatible with Mac OS X devices such as MacBooks and iMacs.
      Compatible with Mac OS XIt is compatible with Mac OS X devices such as MacBooks and iMacs.
      Number of polar patternsMicrophones that have multiple polar pattern options can be used for different scenarios. The more patterns that a microphone supports, the more versatile it is.
      Number of polar patternsMicrophones that have multiple polar pattern options can be used for different scenarios. The more patterns that a microphone supports, the more versatile it is.4443213144
      Hyper-cardioid patternA hyper-cardioid or super-cardioid pattern is a narrower version of the cardioid pattern. It captures audio in front of the microphone at a narrow angle and is particularly useful when you wish to record a single audio source in a loud environment.
      Hyper-cardioid patternA hyper-cardioid or super-cardioid pattern is a narrower version of the cardioid pattern. It captures audio in front of the microphone at a narrow angle and is particularly useful when you wish to record a single audio source in a loud environment.
      Total score for "Features"
      Total score for "Features"
      Headphone output
      3.5mm audio jackWith a standard mini jack socket, you can use the device with most headphones.
      3.5mm audio jackWith a standard mini jack socket, you can use the device with most headphones.
      6.35mm audio jack connectorHas 6.35 mm standard jack connector to plug in your headphones.
      6.35mm audio jack connectorHas 6.35 mm standard jack connector to plug in your headphones.
      Highest frequencyThe highest frequency at which device produces audio. The higher the high-frequency response, the clearer and crispier the treble.
      Highest frequencyThe highest frequency at which device produces audio. The higher the high-frequency response, the clearer and crispier the treble.N.A.20000HzN.A.22000HzN.A.N.A.N.A.N.A.20000Hz20000Hz
      Lowest frequencyThe lowest frequency at which the device produces audio. The lower the low-frequency response, the stronger and juicier the bass.
      Lowest frequencyThe lowest frequency at which the device produces audio. The lower the low-frequency response, the stronger and juicier the bass.N.A.20HzN.A.15HzN.A.N.A.N.A.N.A.20Hz20Hz
      Signal-to-Noise ratio (DAC)When a digital signal is converted to an analog one (for example when playing audio through speakers or headphones), a certain amount of noise is carried in the signal. A higher SNR means that there is less noise and the audio quality is better.
      Signal-to-Noise ratio (DAC)When a digital signal is converted to an analog one (for example when playing audio through speakers or headphones), a certain amount of noise is carried in the signal. A higher SNR means that there is less noise and the audio quality is better.98dB100dB98dB114dBN.A.98dBN.A.74dB90dB90dB
      Total score for "Headphone output"
      Total score for "Headphone output"
      Design
      Control panel on deviceThere is a control panel on the device body, so you can easily access the volume control or remote without having to interact with a cable or another device it's connected to.
      Control panel on deviceThere is a control panel on the device body, so you can easily access the volume control or remote without having to interact with a cable or another device it's connected to.
      LED sound level indicatorAn LED sound level indicator makes it easier to monitor and control the audio level.
      LED sound level indicatorAn LED sound level indicator makes it easier to monitor and control the audio level.
      Pop filterA pop filter (also known as a pop shield) is a filter that is placed in front of the microphone to prevent popping noises when recording vocals.
      Pop filterA pop filter (also known as a pop shield) is a filter that is placed in front of the microphone to prevent popping noises when recording vocals.
      Shock mountA shock mount protects the microphone from physical noises such as a foot tapping on the floor or passing traffic.
      Shock mountA shock mount protects the microphone from physical noises such as a foot tapping on the floor or passing traffic.
      Integrated touchpadWith a touchpad, users can control the device by moving their finger on a touch-sensitive surface.
      Integrated touchpadWith a touchpad, users can control the device by moving their finger on a touch-sensitive surface.
      Total score for "Design"
      Total score for "Design"

      How to choose the best microphone

      Whether you need a microphone for podcasting or are a musician looking to get the best microphone for vocals, there’s a wide range of options available. The best microphones offer varying degrees of sensitivity, frequency response, and overall sound quality. However, those aren’t the only factors that you need to consider when choosing the right microphone. To help you distinguish between the best microphones for different types of activities, we’ve compiled this helpful guide on what to look for in a high-quality microphone.

      Types of microphones

      Depending on your intended use, you’ll find that there are different types of microphones for different audio needs. Identifying the kind of microphone that you need begins with identifying what you’re going to be recording. If you spend hundreds of dollars on the best microphone for gaming, for example, but need to record acoustics in a unique studio setting, you’re going to find that even the best microphone won't record the sound that you want.

      To help you decide which microphone is best for you, it helps to understand the different types of microphones. The two most common types of microphones are dynamic microphones and condenser microphones.

      Dynamic microphones

      Dynamic microphones are the types of microphones that you see comedians and musicians using at live events. This is because they’re designed to capture loud sounds in noisy environments. The other main difference between the two is that a dynamic microphone doesn’t require power, whereas a condenser microphone does.

      Due to the construction of dynamic microphones (it’s one of the oldest and therefore features the most primitive design), they’re often cheaper than condenser microphones. They’re also much more durable and can withstand higher sound pressure levels. However, because of the primitive design, they’re not as sensitive to high-frequency sounds.

      Condenser microphones

      The design of condenser microphones is a bit more complicated, utilizing capacitor plates instead of a coil and magnets. Therefore, it can capture quieter sounds with more accuracy. Condenser microphones are, generally, considered to be more sensitive and accurate than dynamic microphones and are used mostly for podcast recording or singers recording tracks in a sound booth.

      Because they’re more sensitive, you’ll notice that condenser microphones aren’t great for louder noises. Instead, they’re more fitting for softer sounds at higher frequencies. Overall, they’re more suited for recording complex sounds with a wider range of frequencies. Because they require power (unlike dynamic microphones), condenser microphones are more static. The only major exception is the shotgun-style microphone you see used to capture audio while filming a video.

      Sound quality

      Sensitivity

      The best microphones for podcasting and the best microphones for vocals are going to be the ones that are sensitive to softer, complex sounds. This is why it’s so important to first understand the full intended use of your microphone before deciding which microphone is best.

      Sensitivity comes into play big time here, as it refers to the measurement of the quietest sound that the microphone can pick up. If you need a very sensitive microphone, you’ll need to look for a lower number. The lower the number is, the quieter the sound can be to be picked up and recorded.

      Sound pressure level

      Sound Pressure Level, or SPL, goes hand-in-hand with a microphone’s sensitivity. In short, it measures the loudest sound that a microphone can record without distortion. It’s measured in decibels and therefore makes it easy to compare against different microphones. 

      The SPL for the Marantz MPM-1000U is 132 dB, for example, while the SPL for the Maono AU-902 is only 110 dB. This means that the Marantz MPM-1000U can measure louder sounds than the Maono AU-902.

      Unless you’re recording drums or other percussion instruments, SPL isn’t likely to be an issue for most microphones. This is because these types of instruments produce short peaks or higher frequencies that a microphone with a low SPL can’t pick up on to record clearly without distortion.

      Polar pattern

      What do you want to record with your microphone? Do you need it to record only the sound of your voice speaking directly into it, or are you interested in capturing a range of sounds, for example, in the entire recording studio or room? The answer to these types of questions can help you determine what polar pattern to look for.

      Polar patterns are also known as recording patterns, and they refer to the microphone’s directionality. The most popular polar patterns for microphones include cardioid, hyper-cardioid, omnidirectional, bi-directional, and shotgun. 

      One of the most common is cardioid, which records sound in a heart shape. The Rode Podcaster and the Razer Seiren Elite are two examples of this kind of microphone. They both pick up audio from the front and the sides instead of in all directions.

      Omnidirectional microphones pick up sound in all directions. The Blue Snowball microphone is both cardioid and omnidirectional, which might be easy for some to detect, given the unique globe-shaped design of the microphone. Given the design of the Blue Snowball, it’s easy to see how it picks up sound from all sides and directions of the microphone.

      And, shotgun microphones are highly directional and record sound mostly on an axis; these are the ones you generally see on movie sets and for video and interview recordings.

      Some microphones offer just one of the aforementioned polar patterns, while others have multiple patterns that you’re able to choose between when it makes the most sense for what you’re recording. The Blue Yeti, for example, features four different polar patterns: cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional, and stereo.

      Frequency response

      Audio experts often note that frequency response is one of the most important factors in determining the overall sound quality and style of a microphone. It refers to the range of sound that the microphone can reproduce and how that output varies in different frequency ranges. 

      Because the frequency of a sound wave determines the pitch of a sound, this is crucial in choosing the right kind of microphone. Lower frequencies are heard as deep basses, and higher frequencies are heard as treble sounds. So, consider this when selecting the best microphone. Make sure you know how responsive the microphone is to specific frequencies that you’re going to record.

      USB vs. XLR

      Most microphones are traditional XLR microphones, which stands for External Line Run. As the name suggests, these types of microphones use a cable to connect to an audio interface before connecting to a computer. When choosing the best microphone, you’ll need to consider this as it means you’ll also need to consider the need to purchase an audio interface.

      USB microphones are becoming increasingly more popular. While they often result in lower-quality sound, they balance that out by offering more convenience to the user and ease-of-use. Whereas audio interfaces used with XLR microphones convert sound from analog to digital, USB microphones carry out this process internally. The result is often a reduced quality sound that’s less dynamic.

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