Aspiring podcasters need one essential piece of equipment to get started: a good microphone. While those who plan to do video as well should check out our webcam roundup, a really solid mic and the good audio quality that comes along with it are non-negotiable.
The standard pick in this sphere for years has been the Blue Yeti, and we’re sticking with it even after the company’s sale to Logitech. But if you can’t afford a Yeti, or you want something more elaborate for audio equipment more suited to music or a mobile setup, we’ve got you covered there, too. Lastly we have a few recommendations for ancillary equipment to really bring your audio quality up to its best possible level.
The Best Standard Podcasting Mic: Blue Yeti ($125)
Blue’s Yeti microphone is the F-150 of the podcasting world: ubiquitous, reliable, and pretty much the first thing that anyone thinks of when they hear “podcasting mic.” It’s earned its sterling reputation: with fantastic audio quality, super-simple setup via a standard USB interface, and controls that even novices can quickly grasp, it’s a favorite of beginners and podcasting veterans alike.
The Blue Yeti comes in a variety of colors (including, yes, blue) and is often offered with accessory and game bundles, but the standard version usually retails around $125. If you need something a little more compact (and want to save a few bucks), the newer Yeti Nano offers a smaller body that skims on some of the more advanced recording modes.
Blue Yeti USB Microphone for PC, Mac, Gaming, Recording, Streaming, Podcasting, Studio and Computer Condenser Mic with Blue VO!CE effects, 4 Pickup Patterns, Plug and Play – Silver
The Best Advanced Podcasting Mic: Blue Ember ($100)
If you’re used to recording audio and have the hardware to support a standard XLR microphone instead of USB… well, then you probably already have an XLR mic. But if you’re looking for one specifically for podcasting, Blue’s Ember makes an excellent upgrade. This new design includes a built-in pop filter, fantastic audio quality, and the standard XLR connector compatible with most live music equipment on the market. At $100, it’s also a pretty great value to boot.
Logitech for Creators Blue Ember XLR Condensor Microphone for Studio, Recording, Podcast, Streaming Mic
The Best Budget Podcasting Mic: Samson Q2U ($60)
For those on a budget or simply not ready to invest in huge amounts of equipment, the Samson Q2U is an excellent entry point into quality USB microphones. Not just USB, in fact: this budget option includes both XLR and USB interfaces, making it an audio jack of all trades.
The standard kit also includes a small desktop tripod, adapters for most microphone mounts and stands, and a pop filter. For sixty bucks, it’s everything you need to get started, and if you should expand your setup later you’ll still be able to use it with more advanced equipment.
Samson Technologies Q2U USB/XLR Dynamic Microphone Recording and Podcasting Pack (Includes Mic Clip, Desktop Stand, Windscreen and Cables), silver
The Best Podcasting Mic for Traveling: Samson Go ($37)
Podcasters on the go can have a hard time getting things set up for a quality recording session. Samson has solved that problem with the Go, a design that crams all of the essential elements of a quality mic into a package about the size of a deck of cards.
It connects via standard USB, and the built-in stand can even clip onto a laptop for easy recording directly into your audio production program. It doesn’t hurt that the thing can be had for under forty bucks, making it a nice upgrade to your laptop’s (almost certainly awful) built-in webcam mic.
Useful Accessories: Pop Filters, Mounts, and More
There are a few things you should probably get along with your fancy new podcasting microphone. If it doesn’t include one, you’ll want a windscreen or pop filter, which softens out some of the hard consonant sounds on recording. This one’s great for the Blue Yeti, but a universal clip-on design will work with anything.
For ideal, placement (read: about a foot from your mouth), you’ll also want to grab a desk-mounted microphone arm. Finally, if you often record while you’re using your computer or anything else on your desk at the same time, a shock-absorbing mount can minimize the sound of typing, clicking, and other things a sensitive mic can pick up in the background.