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Best microphones for streaming: From Twitch to podcasts

What is the best streaming mic? The Blue Yeti mic is our top choice. We compared mic features including price, connectivity, compatibility, pickup pattern, pickup array, usability, live mic monitoring, audio quality, and more to find the best streaming mic for you.
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Written by Taylor Clemons, Staff Writer on

Whether you're a podcast veteran or just starting out on Twitch, a dedicated microphone for streaming can elevate your audio for a more professional broadcast. 

There are two main types of microphones: USB and XLR. This refers to how they connect to your computer, with USB microphones working like other wired peripherals and XLR models requiring special modules, power sources, and adapters to work with your computer or interface. Many streaming microphones feature multiple pickup patterns and on-board dials for switching between them on-the-fly.

Below are some of the best microphones for streaming from top brands like Blue, Shure, and Razer. Check out the listed features to help you decide which is best for your skill level and broadcast needs.

Also: Best gaming PC: From HP to MSI, the top rigs compared

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Blue Microphones

Connectivity: USB | Compatibility: Windows, Mac, ChromeOS | Pickup pattern: Cardioid, omnidirectional, bidirectional, stereo | Pickup array: Dynamic capsule | Mic monitoring: Yes

The Blue Yeti is one of the most popular choices among podcasters and streamers. It features USB connectivity and plug-and-play compatibility with Windows, Mac, and ChromeOS devices. The on-board controls let you quickly and easily switch between the four pickup patterns, so you can transition from solo let's play streams to podcast interviews in a snap. 

It also has a dedicated mute button, volume knob, and headphone jack for live monitoring. And if you download the Blue VO!CE software, you can create vocal effects to add more flair to your streams and recordings.

Pros:

  • USB
  • Plug-and-play for Windows, Mac, and ChromeOS
  • Live mic monitoring

Cons:

  • Boom arm mounting requires special adapter
  • Top-down pickup is lacking
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Shure

Connectivity: XLR | Compatibility: Windows, Mac | Pickup pattern: Cardioid | Pickup array: Dynamic capsule | Mic monitoring: No

If you're a professional streamer or podcaster, you'll want to invest in the Shure SM7B. This XLR microphone is built for broadcast quality audio to give you clean, crisp sound for live audiences or pre-recorded content. T

he dynamic capsule cartridge is designed for close-capture, front-end input, so all your audience hears is you instead of annoying background noise. It also has electromagnetic shielding to prevent interference from your computer, monitors, and other streaming equipment as well as an internal shock mount to protect against bumps and vibrations that can distort your audio. 

Pros:

  • Excellent audio quality
  • Internal shock mount and shielding
  • Boom arm mountable

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Requires preamp
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Elgato

Connectivity: USB-C | Compatibility: Windows, Mac | Pickup pattern: Cardioid | Pickup array: Condenser capsule | Mic monitoring: Yes

The Elgato Wave:3 is the perfect microphone for streamers and podcasters who like to live mix their audio for more dynamic broadcasts. The Wave Link app works with both Windows and Mac computers, giving you control over almost every aspect of your sound -- from input and output sources to game and chat balance. 

You can also use the Wave:3 with thousands of vocal effect plug-ins and map them to your Elgato Stream Deck to change your voice on-the-fly. And you won't have to worry about clipping your chat audio with the built-in Clipguard feature that automatically adjusts input settings to prevent distortion and dead air.

Pros:

  • Tons of audio input and output control
  • Vocal effects
  • Stream Deck compatible

Cons:

  • Boom arm mounting requires special adapter
  • Mixing app doesn't support multiple microphones yet
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HyperX

Connectivity: USB | Compatibility: Windows, Mac | Pickup pattern: Cardioid, omnidirectional, bidirectional, stereo | Pickup array: Condenser capsule | Mic monitoring: Yes

A USB microphone is an affordable, beginner-friendly way to get started on Twitch or YouTube Gaming, and the HyperX QuadCast is one of the best available. It connects to your Windows or Mac computer with a regular USB cable, which means you don't have to be an audio expert to set up your new mic. It also gets both power and audio transfer data through the USB connection, so you don't have to invest in expensive preamps, phantom power units, or mixing boards. 

It features a built-in shock mount to protect against bumps and vibrations as well as four pickup patterns to suit your streaming or recording setup. The QuadCast has a headphone jack for live monitoring, so you can catch issues before they ruin your broadcast; the intuitive gain control also makes it easy to change mic sensitivity on-the-fly. And if you want to add a bit more personal flair to your setup, you can always opt for the RGB-enabled QuadCast S to configure custom color schemes and lighting effects.

Pros:

  • Plug-and-play
  • Intuitive pattern and gain controls
  • One-touch mute

Cons:

  • Boom arm mounting requires special adapter 
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Razer

Connectivity: USB | Compatibility: Windows, Mac | Pickup pattern: Supercardioid | Pickup array: Condenser capsule | Mic monitoring: Yes

If you're just starting out as a streamer, you don't have to spend a fortune in order to get a great mic. And the Razer Seiren Mini is an affordable microphone that doesn't skimp out on quality. The ultra-compact design is great for smaller setups, and you can either use the included base or mount the mic on a boom arm for optimal placement. 

It's built with a 14mm supercardioid condenser capsule that is best for close-mic recording and streaming, so your audience hears you and not your PC fans. It also has an internal shock mount to protect your sound from distortion caused by bumps and vibrations.

Pros:

  • Great price
  • Plug-and-play
  • Compact design is great for small spaces

Cons:

  • Only one pickup pattern
  • No audio mixing app 

How did we choose these streaming mics?

Aside from price, we chose microphones that suit all skill levels and setups. We picked out both USB and XLR models so that both beginners and streaming vets can find the perfect microphone for their livestreams and recordings.

What is the best streaming mic?

The Blue Yeti is the best streaming mic. We compared mic features including price, connectivity, compatibility, pickup pattern, pickup array, usability, live mic monitoring, audio quality, and more to find the best overall streaming mic.

Which streaming mic is right for you?

That mostly depends on your skill level. If you're just starting out or don't have a ton of experience with streaming and recording, you'll want a USB mic with plug-and-play connectivity. If you're an old pro, an XLR mic with fancy preamps, phantom power units, and mixing boards will be more your speed.

What type of mic is best for streaming?

It all depends on your experience level. If you're just starting out, you don't need an expensive, ultra-involved setup to get good audio. A plug-and-play USB mic with a decent condenser capsule and cardioid pickup pattern is more than enough to get started -- especially since most of the audio quality depends on what filters you have for compression. 

Microphones with XLR connections are not only much more expensive, but they need more equipment to make them work. So not only will you be spending $300 or more on the microphone alone, you'll need to buy a preamp, a phantom power module, and maybe a mixing board to get the most out of your mic. The advantage XLR mics have over USB models is that they are better at isolating your voice from background noise for cleaner broadcasts.

Can you just use a headset?

You absolutely could, and there are headsets out there with really good microphones (like the HyperX Cloud Alpha S). The downside is that even the best headsets still won't give you the level of audio quality and control that a dedicated microphone will.

What's the difference between USB and XLR?

They are two different connection types, with USB being the most affordable and easiest to use. It works like any other wired USB peripheral. An XLR microphone has a special 3 to 7 pin connector that plugs into a power source or preamp module in order to be functional. Microphones with XLR connections are more commonly found in professional recording studios and radio stations, though there are plenty of models out there available to regular shoppers.

Are there alternative streaming mics worth considering?

There are tons of options, but here's a short list of other microphones that would be great choices:

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