Group of best podcast microphones

Best Podcast Microphones [2019]

Shopping for a podcast microphone can feel daunting. You want to make the right choice for your podcast, but you can't really know if you'll like the one you choose until you pull the trigger and make a purchase (and then it's too late!).

That's why we put together this guide of the best microphones for podcasting. Every microphone on this list will make you sound like a pro so you can confidently invest in your podcast without worrying about buyer's remorse.

But before we dive into our recommendations, it's essential to understand which kind of microphone is best for your particular podcasting setup. Here are four things you should know when choosing a microphone:

XLR or USB

Every podcasting microphone you consider will capture your audio using either an XLR or USB connection.

XLR is the audio industry standard and is used by rock bands, radio stations, and podcasters around the world. When you're first starting, the main drawback with an XLR microphone is that you need to buy additional gear to capture your audio. However, once you invest in a mixer or audio interface and some XLR cables, you'll be able to use virtually any microphone.

If you have the budget to invest in your podcast, an XLR microphone setup will give you the greatest flexibility and open up more microphone options.

A USB microphone allows you to plug your microphone directly into your computer, eliminating the need to go out and purchase a mixer or USB interface. USB microphones are "plug and play," working with both Mac and Windows computers seamlessly so they make recording new podcast episodes simple and straightforward without having to be an audio engineer.

If you're recording a solo podcast or conduct all of your interviews over the internet, a USB microphone is probably your best option.

Dynamic vs Condenser

Microphones are designed to record audio in one of two ways: active listening or passive listening. Condenser microphones use active listening. Dynamic microphones use passive listening. Here are the pros and cons of each:

Condenser microphones are designed to pick up sound with great detail and accuracy. This makes them ideal for professional studio environments, but they can be tricky and problematic when used in a home or office environment since they are more sensitive to ambient background noise. 

Condenser microphones also require external power, known as "phantom power," to record audio signals so you'll need a mixer or interface that can supply power to your microphone.

Dynamic microphones are passive listening devices that convert sound waves to an electronic signal. Dynamic mics are better at ignoring ambient background noise, which is why they are the preferred microphone type for most podcasting applications. Dynamic mics also don't require phantom power so they can be used with a wider variety of mixers and interfaces.

Their performance in less-than-ideal recording environments is the reason all of our microphone recommendations are dynamic microphones.

Polar Pattern

Polar pattern - also known as "pickup pattern" - refers to a microphone's directionality (how it's designed to record your audio). Common patterns include bi-directional, omnidirectional, and cardioid. 

A cardioid pickup pattern is the preferred recording orientation for podcasting applications. It essentially means that the microphone will emphasize and pick up the sound coming directly into the top or front of the mic and minimize or ignore sound coming from the rear and sides.

All of the microphones we recommend have a cardioid polar pattern, so they're tailor-made for podcasting.

Why is a good microphone important?

It's simple really - a microphone that records high-quality audio benefits every other aspect of your podcast. Your episodes sound better, your listeners connect with you on a deeper level, and you spend less time editing each episode to make up for sub-par sound quality.

Sure, you can get the best audio interface, edit with studio-quality headphones, and have your episodes mixed and mastered by an audio engineer, but there is only so much you can do with a poor vocal recording.

When you have a good microphone you can depend on, everything else becomes easier.

Now that we've go that out of the way let's jump into the best podcasting microphone! We've divided them into two tiers depending on your price range and how much budget you've set aside for your podcast setup.

Don't feel like you have to spring for the most expensive microphone to get high-quality sound. Every option on this list is a quality microphone that will make you sound like a pro!

Disclosure: Some of these product links are affiliate links, which means Buzzsprout might receive a small commission if you decide to purchase them..

Entry-Level Microphones

Audio-Technica ATR2100 - $63

  • XLR and USB
  • Dynamic
  • Cardioid Pickup Pattern

The Audio-Technica ATR2100 is the microphone we recommend to most new podcasters. In blind sound tests, the ATR2100 compares favorably to the more expensive microphones on our list and is a great all-around microphone for podcasting and voiceover work.

One thing that makes the Audio-Technica ATR2100 (and the next microphone on our list) so popular is its versatility. It has both XLR and USB connections, so it will work just as well with an audio mixer as it does plugged straight into your computer.

The ATR2100 also features a built-in headphone jack, so you can monitor your audio directly from the microphone and adjust the headphone volume with easy-to-use controls on the bottom of the microphone.

The ATR2100 also comes with several essential accessories out of the box. In addition to the microphone itself, you also get a mic stand, USB cable, and XLR cable so you can get started without having to buy anything else. The ATR2100 is compatible with both Mac and Windows computers and works with any podcast recording software (this includes online recording solutions like Skype and Zoom).

Play this podcast episode to hear what the Audio-Technica ATR2100 sounds like:

Samson Q2U - $49

  • XLR and USB
  • Dynamic
  • Cardioid Pickup Pattern

Like the ATR2100, the Samson Q2U is an all-around great microphone that captures your voice and minimizes ambient background noise. Like the ATR2100, the Samson Q2U features both XLR and USB connections and has a built-in headphone jack for zero-latency monitoring (no delay).

The Q2U also comes with an XLR cable, a USB cable, a simple mic stand, and a foam cover to give you everything you need to start recording your podcast. The Samson Q2U is compatible with both Mac and Windows computers and works with any podcast recording software.

The Samson Q2U tends to give your voice a deeper, fuller sound compared to the Audio-Technica ATR2100, but you may decide that you prefer the tonal quality of the Q2U over the ATR2100. Listen to audio samples of both microphones to see which one you prefer.

The Samson Q2U is a powerhouse of a microphone at a price point that makes podcasting affordable to anyone.

Here's what the Samson Q2U sounds like in action:

Rode PodMic - $99

  • XLR
  • Dynamic Microphone
  • Cardioid Pickup Pattern

The Rode PodMic was designed with podcasting in mind and comes with several features usually reserved for higher-end microphones.

The PodMic features a built-in shock mount and pop filter. The shock mount helps prevent accidental bumps and vibrations from affecting your audio recording, and the pop filter cuts down on your plosives (those pesky p's and s's that cut through your audio and distract your listeners).

You'll notice that the Rode PodMic has a brighter tonal quality compared to the Samson Q2U and the Audio-Technica ATR2100. This difference should help your podcast sound crisper and less muffled, but only if you exercise good mic technique to get the most out of your dynamic microphone.

If you have an XLR podcast setup (or are planning on building one), the PodMic is an excellent choice. Here's an example of what the Rode PodMic sounds like:

Pro-Level Microphones

Rode Procaster- $229

  • XLR
  • Dynamic
  • Cardioid Pickup Pattern

The Rode Procaster is a professional broadcast quality dynamic microphone that gives studio microphones a run for their money. It's an XLR microphone that features a cardioid polar pattern and a tailored-for-voice frequency response. This makes it ideal for recording your voice and ignoring any ambient background noise.

The Procaster has an internal pop filter which is passable but not fantastic, so we recommend picking up a pop filter, windscreen, or foam cover to cut down on plosives.

It may not get the same publicity as some of the other microphones on this list, but the Rode Procaster is arguably the best "bang-for-your-buck" podcasting microphone on the market. 

Here's what the Rode Procaster sounds like:

Rode Podcaster - $229

  • USB
  • Dynamic
  • Cardioid Pickup Pattern

If you're a solo podcaster looking for a pro-level USB microphone, we recommend the Procaster's brother - the Rode Podcaster.

The Podcaster features the same internal components and frequency response as the Procaster with the simplicity of a USB connection.

Heil PR40 - $289

  • XLR
  • Dynamic
  • Cardioid Pickup Patter

The Heil PR40 is one of the most recommended microphones in the podcasting space, with well-known podcasters such as Pat Flynn and Amy Porterfield among its supporters.

The PR40 is particularly compact compared to other microphones and delivers a broadcast-quality tone to your audio recording. The Heil PR40 is built like a tank, so durability isn't a concern, and it comes in a range of different color options to match your podcast's style and branding.

However, when compared to the other microphones on this list, the Heil PR40 fails to stand out. The Rode Procaster is an arguably better microphone at a cheaper price point, and the Heil PR40 isn't nearly as versatile as the next microphone on our list.

You'll also find building out your podcast setup is more expensive with the PR40. For example, most microphone shock mounts cost between $20-$40. The Heil shock mount, which is the only one which works with PR40, is $100.

You won't go wrong with the Heil PR40, but you'll probably be better served with one of the other microphones on our list.

Here's what the Heil PR40 sounds like:

Heil PR30 - $245

  • XLR
  • Dynamic
  • Cardioid Pickup Patter

If you're a fan of Heil microphones be sure to check out the Heil PR30 as well. It has a more "true to sound" recording tone than it's big brother, which makes it a better choice for podcasters with higher-pitched voices. It has to do with something called "proximity effect."

Dynamic microphones are known for generating a "proximity effect," where your voice sounds fuller and deeper the closer you position the microphone to your mouth. The PR30 was designed to reduce the impact of proximity effect, so you get a nice, clean recording right out of the microphone.

Shure SM7B - $399

  • XLR
  • Dynamic
  • Cardioid Pickup Pattern

The Shure SM7B is one of the most popular dynamic microphones on the planet. It was the microphone Michael Jackson used to record the hit song "Thriller" and was popularized in the podcasting space by hosts like Joe Rogan.

The SM7B is an extremely versatile microphone, holding it's own with both voice recording and instrument recording. But the Shure SM7B truly stands out above the rest when used in a well-treated recording environment. The SM7B does tend to pick more ambient background noise when compared to the Rode Procaster and the Heil PR40, so you'll want to invest in some high end sound panels or install sound treatment in your recording space to get the most out of it.

Learn More: Learn how to apply sound treatment to your recording space, no matter what your budget is, by reading our Acoustic Treatment for Podcasters blog post.

The SM7B is a very "quiet" microphone, meaning you'll either need a strong preamp like the Scarlett 2i2 audio interface or gain boosting device like a Cloudlifter to capture a high-quality recording.

If you're looking for a no-brainer, no-risk recommendation that is sure to make you sound like a pro, the Shure SM7B is your best bet. There is a reason so many podcasters recommend it and you won't be disappointed if you decided to splurge on one of the best microphones money can buy.

Here's what the Shure SM7B sounds like:

Why we don't recommend the Blue Yeti

As you research podcasting microphones, there's a good chance you've come across the Blue Yeti and the Blue Yeti Pro. It's a popular recommendation due to its convenient USB connection, a variety of polar patterns (omnidirectional, bi-directional, stereo, and cardioid), and a built-in headphone jack for zero-latency monitoring, but it has several drawbacks you should know about.

First and foremost, the Blue Yeti is a USB condenser microphone, so you need to record in a well-controlled environment to get decent sound quality. The Blue Yeti picks up a considerable amount of ambient background noise when used in a spare bedroom or home office (where most podcasts are recorded).

Secondly, the Blue Yeti isn't great when you use the bi-directional or omnidirectional polar patterns. These recording settings do, hypothetically, make it easier to record more than one person at a time, but you need to speak pretty close to the microphone to get a clean recording. You'd be better served giving each person their own microphone if you're recording multiple people in the same room.

And lastly, the Blue Yeti's audio quality leaves a lot to be desired. It has a hollow, nasal tone compared to the other microphones on our list, which makes your podcast sound less polished.

Why we don't recommend the Blue Snowball iCE

Another USB option from Blue microphones, the Snowball iCE condenser microphone shares the same drawbacks as its big brother.

The Snowball iCE picks up a considerable amount of background noise and struggles to capture good sound quality as a recording microphone. While it is tempting at its $50 price point, you can get the Samson Q2U (a vastly superior podcasting microphone) for the same price on Amazon.

You can get by just fine if you're already using the Blue Yeti or the Blue Snowball iCE. But if you're in the market for a new USB microphone, we recommend the Audio-Technica ATR2100 or Rode Podcaster instead.

So which microphone should you buy?

If you're just getting started and are looking for the best budget microphone, we recommend the Audio-Technica ATR2100. The ATR2100 will grow with you, even as you add additional microphones or switch to an XLR podcasting setup.

If you've been podcasting for a little while and want to purchase the last microphone you'll ever need, we recommend the Rode Procaster or the Shure SM7B.

Once you've chosen the right microphone for your podcast, you'll want to pick up a few accessories to get the most out of your new mic. Be sure to check out our Best Podcast Accessories buyer's guide to complete your podcast setup and take your podcast to the next level.

Travis Albritton

Travis Albritton

Travis Albritton is the Head of Content for Buzzsprout and host of "How to Start a Podcast."