What is the Best Microphone for Recording YouTube Videos?

Choosing The Perfect Mic

YouTube and vlogging continues to grow in popularity, with many newcomers ready to thrown down for a nice camera and get in on the fun and potential income. However, many soon-to-be YouTube stars focus almost entirely on the quality of the optics, and completely forget about sound.

It’s important to have a quality microphone, as those built into most cameras are quite inferior. You might not see it in their videos, but most top YouTube stars supplement with camera with a great microphone. But just like choosing a camera, determining the microphone for you can be a real headache, with endless options and features. Here, we narrow down the top microphones on the market so you can get focused on your bourgeoning YouTube fame.

Top Pick

Blue Yeti

  • Four polarity patterns
  • Includes headphone amp
  • Includes microphone stand

How To Choose A Microphone for Recording YouTube Videos

There are several key considerations to contemplate when choosing the best microphone for you, and they will depend on your unique situation.

First of all, you should consider your budget. Quality recording equipment is notoriously expensive and cost-prohibitive, but  there are plenty of low-cost options that still sound very good. It might be wise to get passable quality audio that still makes you look professional, and invest your leftover funds in other equipment or marketing for your YouTube channel.

Secondly, you should consider whether you need a USB connection. USB is easier, but a classic XLR connection provides better quality sound. If you choose XLR, you will also need to purchase an XLR cable, which is cheap, and an audio interface or preamp, which is not.

This leads into the third and final consideration: what kind of versatility do you need? A USB microphone will require a computer (or at least some USB device), whereas an XLR is a sort of audio standard. Generally, XLR microphones and the use of audio interfaces introduces a range of options that can go far beyond recording YouTube videos. If you would prefer a mic that can record music, excels in a range of recording setups, and so on, then an XLR is probably the best choice.

FAQs about Microphones

Why are polarity patterns important?

If you’re not coming from a music background, you might be confused about polarity. Put simply, more polarity patterns means more recording options, as each pattern allows the microphone to pick up sound from different directions. For example, a stereo pattern picks up sound separately on the left and right side of the microphone, so that when you listen to your recording, you can hear where the sound is coming from. Other polarity patterns are a variation of this basic idea.

If you are only going to sit in front of a mic by yourself and talk into it, you can safely ignore polarity. However, if you intend to talk with groups, even if it’s one other person, polarity options can ensure that one person isn’t quieter or more muffled than another. For more advanced applications where you’ll need to determine where all noise is spatially, it’s a must.

Do I need a preamp?

If you get a USB microphone, you won’t need a preamp. A preamp powers the signal, whereas a USB connection does it for you. If you get an XLR microphone, you will need a preamp or an audio interface with a preamp built in.

Do I need an audio interface?

As with a preamp, you probably won’t need an audio interface with a USB microphone, as the main purpose is powering the signal. However, audio interfaces do much more than that, and can help you separate signals and control gain. So, if you intend to record more than one thing at once or gain control of your signal chain, an audio interface would still be a wise investment.

On the other hand, if you’ve purchased an XLR microphone, you’ll need at least a preamp to power the signal. You’ll probably want an audio interface, too (or better yet, an audio interface with a preamp built in, which most do offer), because you’ll want some way to get that signal to another external source, probably your computer. You technically don’t need an audio interface, but unless you intend to record your audio to old analog tape rather than a computer, you should get one.

The 10 Top-Rated Microphones for Recording YouTube Videos

Blue Yeti

  • Four polarity patterns
  • Includes headphone amp
  • Includes microphone stand

Chances are, you’ve already heard of the Blue Yeti. Yeti produces quality, popular microphones, and the Blue Yeti made a huge splash upon its recent debut. While Yeti doesn’t make the cheapest microphones, they’re substantially cheaper than typical studio-quality microphones, and provide excellent sound for the price.

Equipped with 16-bit/48 kHz resolution and four polar patterns (stereo, omnidirectional, cardioid, or bi-directional), the Blue Yeti is a powerful little mic with great versatility. The four patterns will allow you to record yourself solo, or with a group in various configurations without the need for additional microphones.

Additionally, Yeti has included a built-in headphone amplifier so you can monitor recordings without latency. Mute and gain controls are easily accessible on the front of the microphone itself. Lastly, it comes with a convenient microphone stand.

The Blue Yeti is a solid microphone that has earned a reputation for a good reason—it has great sound quality, excellent features, and comes at a great price point for what you get.

 

Apogee MiC Plus

  • Excellent recording quality
  • Includes preamp and A/D converter
  • Well constructed for the price point

Whereas Yeti has built its reputation on the current generation of social media vloggers and podcasters, Apogee has a decades-old reputation with studio recording professionals in the music industry. Indeed, while this is not designed to be a studio mic for recording vocals, it has been known to occasionally appear in the recording engineer’s toolkit.

Not only does it provide a nowadays-standard USB connection, but also a 3.5mm connection, for easy integration with just about any device. It utilizes a standard cardioid polar pattern and up to 96 kHz/24-bit HD recording via a proprietary “PureDIGITAL connection,” which is beyond excellent quality for YouTube videos.

Additionally, it includes the microphone, a microphone preamp, and a handy A/D converter in a single device. The construction is not as solid as studio microphones, but it is very ruggedly made nonetheless and designed to work reliably for years for novices while still carrying the weight of the Apogee name.

 

Rode NT1-A

  • Studio quality recording
  • Good audio range
  • Very low hiss potential
  • Requires preamp or audio interface

If you’re looking for a microphone that’s a bit more professional and reminscent of what you would find in a recording studio, the Rode NT1-A is something of a gatekeeper between amateur recording and high-end audio. Those looking to capture the absolute best quality audio on a budget should strongly consider this microphone.

Unlike those designed for amateurs, it has a solid metal construction like you’d find on any professional microphone, which not only improves stability and durability, but improves sound quality as well by preventing excess sound pickup. A condenser microphone with a one-inch capsule, it makes use of a cardioid polarity pattern for a very hearty and full-range audio signal.

Boasting only 5 dB of self-noise, it is excellent for recording as this means it will minimize the hiss you’ll get with lower-end microphones, which further allows for clear audio on a crisp and warm spectrum.

The downside, although this is true of professional quality microphones, is that there is no built-in preamp, as professionals prefer to customize their setup.

Focusrite Scarlett Studio Pack

  • Includes audio interface
  • Includes monitor headphones
  • Includes XLR audio cable

If you want to approximate studio quality but balk at the idea of having to purchase additional components, such as a preamp or audio interface, the Scarlett Studio Pack might be for you.

It comes with the Scarlett 2i2 audio interface, which you’ll need to power the microphone in the absence of USB power. This interface is already a great item sold separately, offering the basic features you’ll need and then some—the power for the audio signal, several channels for extra audio input and output, and knobs to control each. Additionally, Focusrite has included a decent pair monitor headphones that aren’t going to win any awards, but they’re comfortable and provide a clear picture of the sound. Finally, you get a microphone cable for good measure.

The microphone itself is a condenser mic and while better than anything on offer for amateurs—and better than what most people on YouTube are likely using—is not the best of studio quality. But if you’re looking to get an all-in-one solution that will still make your audio stand out as professional, this is a great bet.

 

Razer Seiren Pro Elite

  • Excellent sound quality
  • Four polarity patterns
  • Includes stand
  • Built-in headphone preamp
  • Might be excessive for some

You might know Razer from their videogame peripherals as a solid manufacturer of media devices, and the Razer Sieren Pro Elite lives up to the reputation. Offering three 14 mm condenser capsules for four polarity patterns (cardoid, stereo, bidrectional, and omnidirectional), this microphone is exceptionally versatile. You will be able to use each polarity pattern for a different purpose, such as recording groups or for picking up a more robust sound when aiming to capture nuance in a three-dimensional space.

This makes the Razer Seiren Pro Elite a great choice for musicians looking to upload demos or other recordings to YouTube, as it will perform wonderfully at picking up sounds coming from multiple parts of an instrument, such as the body and neck of an acoustic guitar.

Of course, it will do just fine for regular users as well, although it might be excessive. Those looking to capture a great sound picture with the added versatility of an XLR output will enjoy the combination of a studio-quality mic with an included stand. Lastly, it features a built-in headphone amplifier, which is not standard for studio microphones and provides incredibly low latency.

 

Rode NT-USB

  • Best sound in a USB microphone
  • Incredibly robust package of included items
  • Sound quality is inferior to Rode NT

Looking for a more complete solution? The Rode NT-USB gives you a tremendous amount of value, featuring a mic mount, a desk stand, a pop filter, a pouch for safe storage, and a USB cable.

The front of the unit features a 3.5 mm stereo headphone output for zero latency monitoring, and a mix control both from the mic itself and the source. Combined with everything in the package, this truly allows you to have a lot of control without the need to buy extra items.

The microphone itself, while USB, provides a frequency range of 20 Hz up to 20,000 Hz and produces a shocking level of quality for a USB microphone. While USB microphones will by their very design limit the signal and produce limited sound quality compared to XLR connections, this is probably the best sound you will ever get from a USB microphone.

That’s not surprising, given that Rode is one of the most famous brands in music production. The Rode name itself is a solid reason to consider this microphone if you must have a USB microphone but don’t want to sacrifice on quality.

 

Samson Go Mic

  • Portable
  • Two polarity patterns

If quality is less of a concern for you than portability, Samson’s Go Mic offers a unique solution. Traditionally, recording on the go is a hassle, and microphone and recording technology has been a bit sluggish in this area in keeping up with the rise of portable devices like tablets, which are able to produce incredible quality sound from apps. The Go Mic is a solid entry to this category with very little competition.

Able to fold into the size and shape of roughly an index card, it is highly portable, but nonetheless provides 20 Hz to 18,000 Hz and 16-bit resolution. While you’re obviously not going to get studio quality recordings out of this mic, that’s still pretty darn good considering it’s portable.

Not only that, it offers two recording polarities, omnidirectional and cardioid, which is a smart feature, since this mic will appeal heavily to those who want to use it for a variety of uses. If you find yourself traveling often and needing to record in a number of situations, this microphone will not only remove the headaches of on-the-go recording, but provide you some flexibility to capture the best sound within reason.

 

 

Buyer’s Tips

Audio equipment is expensive, and it can be tempting to cut corners to save what may end up being a few hundred dollars or more. However, you should keep in mind that purchasing used equipment, or purchasing from dubious sellers, will likely leave you with inferior hardware that won’t last as long. And you certainly want a warranty on your expensive new device.

Unfortunately, music equipment is often counterfeit or sold used by people who haven’t taken the best care of their equipment. Was the last owner a chain smoking home producer that couldn’t care less about the long-term durability of his or her microphone? Was it thrashed around in the studio, thrown into trunks of touring vans?

Avoid these nightmare scenarios by purchasing from certified sellers and ensuring your gear has a warranty. You’ve worked hard for your money, and nothing should stand in the way of your success on YouTube. Choose one of the excellent options on our list, and buy with confidence from a reputable seller.