Before I begin yammering about the subject, I want to make this as quick as possible for the people out there who just had the “which USB microphone should I buy” question popped into their mind, and want the answer quick.
So here it is – in my own humble opinion if you want the best USB microphone in terms of value for money, something that you’ll feel satisfied with and won’t have the need to replace any time soon, you should buy —
Cool, but why?
Well, first – the mic is super simple. Basically, plug it into your computer, and you’re ready to go. Also, quality, both in terms of build and sound, is amazing. Every single thing that you touch on the mic feels super nice. The sound I would describe as transparent – meaning as true to the actual way the stuff sounds as possible, at least at this level (some manufacturers alter the sound somewhat for mics to sound ‘nicer’, at least in their own minds).
I’d also say that the Rode NT-USB looks super classy and will fit right into any sort of setup. I can see a lawyer making a conference call with it in his fancy office, but I can also totally see a PC gamer yelling at his teammates over Discord for not having any wood in their base to make a Tool Cupboard, while the zerg clan is raiding it (Rust life can be frustrating).
How much does it cost?
Depending on where you buy it, expect to spend somewhere between $150 and $200 for this USB mic (if this is too much, I offer you another, more budget oriented USB mic below). Also, keep an eye for discounts as you’ll often find huge price cuts depending on the store.
For instance, according to camelcamelcamel.com (a prety neat website that shows you the lowest price recorded on Amazon), this mic sold for around $148 in late 2018. To check the price at this very moment, see Rode NT-USB on Amazon.com.
Alright, I dig it. Anything else I should know?
Not really. If you don’t mind the price, I can almost guarantee that whatever your needs are, the Rode NT-USB will fulfill them. At this point, I have just simply decided that it is the best USB microphone on the market, and that’s that. You can set aside half an hour and read the reviews and comments online yourself, but they’ll likely agree on that.
Cool story Dan, but is there something a bit cheaper?
If you reeeeeally have to go cheaper than this (although I would still say just buckle up and save up for a few months), yes, there are options out there. I’d advise staying clear of anything sub-$15-ish, because, at that price point, the microphone is really only made to look nice, attract attention, and as soon as you realize how bad it is, collect dust somewhere on a shelf.
Therefore, if money is tight, or you just don’t want to spend much, I’d say go for —
Samson Meteor Mic
How much is this one?
Again, it all depends on where you buy it, but on average you’ll pay around 1/3 of the price of a Rode NT-USB. There should be a snippet showing the current price on Amazon just below this paragraph, but you can also check it yourself by clicking this – Samson Meteor Mic on Amazon.com.
Wait, so Rode is three times better?
Well, probably, realistically, if I’m being honest here, you don’t get the three-time performance by buying the Rode, which yes, costs three times more.
However, something deep in my heart, perhaps a need for there to exist a perfect thing, an embodiment of everything done without a flaw, wants to believe that the Rode NT-USB is the ‘Holy Grail’. And you simply cannot put a price on something that is flawless.
But yeah, that little weird thing aside, Samson is maybe like 55-60% of what Rode NT-USB is. For most people, it will be all that they need.
How about them Fifines though?
Yes, those Fifine microphones do exist, and yes they are cheap, and yes, they have almost 5 stars on Amazon. Should you buy one of them instead though? I really would argue that Samson, or something like a Blue Snowball iCE, is the lowest you should go. But then again, for some people, Fifine could be exactly what they need.
To be perfectly honest, I haven’t had the chance to extensively test any of the cheaper Fifine mics. I’ve listened to a few briefly, and they don’t bad at all. In comparison to an integrated notebook/laptop mic or a webcam mic, you have to admit they sound amazing.
So, just to give credit where credit is due – because let’s be real, Fifine makes decent budget USB microphones – consider the Fifine K669 USB as an option. The price of this one is about half of the Samson.
In case you’re still here and reading, well, first of all, I would say that you should go out and test a few different mics yourself. Obviously, this is more of a straight to the point best-of list for people who don’t wanna spend too much time on making their minds. If you need to think further, do some real-life tests.
Most stores (at least where I come from) offer some sort of a return policy, so you can get away with ordering a mic, testing it out, and returning it in case you’re not satisfied.
In the $100-$200 range, I would keep an eye out for Blue Yeti, which is probably the most popular USB microphone overall. Besides that one, maybe check out the Audio Technica AT2020USB, and the Shure MV51.
In the below $100 range, most people seem to go for Blue Snowball iCE (which I honestly hate, purely based on the looks), but I’ve also heard good things about Razer Seiren X.
The market of USB microphone is pretty much over-saturated at this point. I remember the first version of this article that I wrote, which I think was back in 2015 – so not even that long ago. But still, there were pretty clear choices back then – two, maybe three microphones that almost everyone bought.
Nowadays, even though I recommend the Rode NT-USB wholeheartedly, I also understand that it’s not that clear-cut anymore. It mostly just comes down to brand loyalty and personal taste.
So, with that thought in mind, perhaps just look out for what you personally like, because, in reality, every single mic that I listed above in $100-$200 range is amazing. The promise that there exists the objectively best USB microphone is a lie.