If you're looking to get into streaming, you need to have the right equipment at your disposal. You need a computer, or at least a smartphone or tablet, and of course a good internet connection. However, one of the most important components of the live streaming setup is your microphone.
It’s not as simple as going out and buying the cheapest microphone on offer though, as instead there are a few key factors you must bear in mind when making the decision on which one is right for you. Below, we'll discuss these factors in more detail, before going through our list of the 5 best microphones for streaming.
Let’s get into it!
The first thing to consider is the polar pattern, or options of polar patterns you’re your microphone comes with. This basically refers to the angles from which the microphone can pick up noise. The three most important polar patterns are cardioid, bidirectional, and omnidirectional.
Cardioid mics pick up sound from the front, while bidirectional polar patterns pick up sound from the back and the front, or the left and right depending on how you set your mic up. Omnidirectional microphones pick up sound from all directions. For streaming, you're probably going to want a cardioid polar pattern as you want your mic to only pick up your voice and not ambient background noise.
The next thing to consider when choosing a microphone for streaming is the connection method. The most common choices are XLR and USB. For XLR mics, you need a mixer or other audio interface, as it doesn’t plug into your PC directly. This gives you extra control over how things sound, but it's a bit more expensive.
USB mics on the other hand are cheaper, but usually you're limited with how much control you have over the sound quality. These mics tend to rely on software rather than hardware controls, but the positive trade-offs are the lower price and ease of use for beginners.
There are some other things you might want to consider when looking at the best microphones for streaming. These include the frequency response of the microphone – ideally between 20Hz and 20,000Hz – and whether or not it comes with a pop filter.
Now that you know what to look for in a microphone for streaming, it's time to look at the top 5 options.
The Shure SM70 microphone is a cardioid XLR microphone that offers great background noise rejection and excellent quality sound. However, you will need to buy an XLR cable and an audio interface, and you’ll probably want to buy a stand as well. It's quite expensive as is, and these extra components can put it out of an absolute beginner’s price range. However, the sound quality is top class, making this a great microphone for streamers that truly want the best for their viewers.
In contrast to the first mic on this list, the Blue Yeti is a very reasonably priced USB microphone, and is one of the most commonly used by beginner streamers and YouTubers. The Blue Yeti is extremely easy to set up and use, and you can start streaming right away as it doesn't need an external stand or any other cables or equipment.
You can choose between cardioid, omnidirectional, and bidirectional polar patterns, and there is also a stereo option too. While it does lack some of the quality XLR microphones can provide, this is a great choice for beginner streamers on a budget.
The Elgato Wave 3 is another USB mic, this time only supporting the cardioid polar pattern. This one is ideal for those that already use other Elgato streaming gear, as it easily integrates into the ecosystem. You also get some decent digital mixing software with this mic, and you get a pop filter too. It's not the most versatile mic as you only get the single polar pattern, but it's a good alternative USB mic to the Blue Yeti.
The HyperX QuadCast is another great USB microphone. The unique selling point of this mic is its cool LED lighting, and its shock mount desk expand. Note that you can’t turn this lighting off, so if you’re not a fan of that this isn’t the microphone for you. The HyperX QuadCast is a multi-pattern mic, with cardioid, omnidirectional, and bidirectional polar patterns available, and it offers clear sound at a low price.
The AT 2020 from Audio-Technica is another XLR mic, which comes in at a reasonably low price for an XLR mic, while still offering brilliant sound quality. It features a cardioid polar pattern, and is designed with durability in mind. This is a good choice for those that want the control offered by an XLR mic, but that don't have the budget for the Shure SM7B.