Surely you agree with me when I say a good YouTube video is one that not only has crisp and bright images throughout its length, but also clear audio quality. After all, nobody can comprehend whatever your video content is when the sound is too muffled and noisy. Video and audio goes hand in hand to create a good vlog. You can’t put all your attention to one while overlooking the other. So, if you’ve already got yourself a good camera for YouTube, it’s time to fetch the right microphone.
Much the same as camera, there’s a different microphone for a different type of video you’ll be filming. If you’re a gaming vlogger who’s seated behind a desk most of the time, it’s best to use a USB condenser mic, like Blue Snowball. On the other hand, if you’re an indie vocalist who produces music videos regularly, you’ll have the best result with studio-grade mic equipped with a cardioid polar pattern, such as Rode NT1-A. Below, I’ve listed 15 top-rated microphones for YouTube that won’t let you down, regardless what video you make.
- Best Microphones for YouTube
- Top Camera-Mounted Shotgun Microphone for YouTube
- Top USB Microphone for YouTube Gaming and Other Desk Application
- Top Studio Condenser Microphone for YouTube Singing / Music Video
- Top Lavalier Microphone
Best Microphones for YouTube
Top Camera-Mounted Shotgun Microphone for YouTube
Compared to other types of microphones, shotgun mic fares the best at rejecting unwanted sound. Any sound coming from the rear and sides of the mic can be muffled easily, emphasizing the main audio source and rendering it crystal clear. As such, it’s preferred by many vloggers, including YouTube’s sensation, Casey Neistat.
Still, there are few things you must keep in mind. First, not all shotgun microphones come with hotshoe mount. Second, some of them are powered with Phantom, instead of the common AA battery. Last but not least, quite a few of them use XLR cable, instead of 3.5mm, for their output. What I’m saying is not all of shotgun microphones are compatible with your vlogging camera; not, unless you buy the necessary connectors, or unless you use a $3000 pro-grade video camera that already has an XLR mic input. To save your time (and money), I’ve listed those that are. The following shotgun microphones are favored by many vloggers, not only because of the audio quality they deliver but also their practicality.
Rode VideoMic Pro
Rode VideoMic Pro is not the quietest microphone coming out of Rode’s shelf (see its studio-grade condenser mic below for lowest self noise of a mere 5dB). However, if you’re looking for the most practical option – and arguably the best audio quality – to pair with your DSLR camera, this is the one for you. Featuring a secure shoe-compatible mount, you can clip it right away on top of your camera. Better yet, the mount is not just a mount. It’s also a shock absorber that helps keep out that common clicking sound as you move the camera around. The built-in cardioid pattern provides an excellent noise rejection, making sure that the sound the mic captures is the one you want to be recorded. For a more flexible use, it’s equipped with a thread that allows you to mount it on a boom pole. In short, it’s easily one of the best microphones for YouTubers.
Shure VP83 LensHopper
Shure VP83 LensHopper may not be as popular as Rode’s mics among YouTubers, but it’s more than just worth a look. It’s an excellent plug-and-play shotgun microphone that’s not only easy to use, but also performs splendidly. Its inner super cardioid polar pattern makes it highly directional, meaning it only picks up sound in front of it, while also muffling any coming from its rear and sides. Like VideoMic Pro by Rode, it’s also integrated with Rycote Lyre mount capable of absorbing vibration. The mic won’t pick up any of those mechanical noises caused by the vibrating steel on the mount connection. To prevent interference from cellular devices, it’s also been made immune – to a high extent, not completely – against such signal. It’s unlikely that it’ll produce audio artifacts when you receive a call, unless you put your handset right next to it. The price is a tad higher, but no doubt it’s going to serve well as an alternative to Rode.
Rode VideoMic Go
Rode VideoMic Go is the cheaper version of the VideoMic Pro above. Design-wise, it’s roughly the same length with the Pro looking a bit fatter. It’s less quiet than its higher-end counterpart, but still very much usable to handle the audio capture in an interview video or typical selfie-vlogging footage. The cardioid pattern on the inside as well as proprietary Rycote Lyre shock-absorbing mount will help suppress any rumbling and other background noises, though you could still benefit from the wind shield (sold separately) if you film your video outdoor. Its rear panel hosts various controls and also a dedicated output port for a headphone. Its normal working frequency range is 40Hz-20kHz, but there’s a high-pass filter switch that you can engage to limit it to 80Hz; useful when you’re shooting in a room with intense hiss and fuzz from the road traffic nearby or the room’s air conditioner. All in all, it’s a great inexpensive microphone for YouTube videos.
Sennheiser MKE 440
Here is a premium entry from a premium mic maker, Sennheiser MKE 440. If you’ve been doing your research, you’ll know that Sennheiser distinguishes itself by selling pricey mics. Their move seems to work well as people in general tend to think their microphones are of professional quality, and that’s not too far wrong. The Sennheiser MKE 440, for example, is not your usual camera-mounted shotgun mic. Instead of one cardioid capsule, it gives you two and instead of mono, it captures stereo sound. It feels solid and robust at hand, thanks to all-metal chassis underneath. It packs some weight too, though, which is a thing to consider if you’re going to shoot using a handheld stabilizer. As with its competition, the MKE 440 offers a high-pass filter that can effectively exclude any low noises in the scene. You can also adjust its sensitivity using the three-step gain control at the back. I’d choose this mic over any others for my YouTube vlogging project if not for the high price.
Top USB Microphone for YouTube Gaming and Other Desk Application
For voiceover work, it’s best to use a USB mic. They’re cheaper in general, yet still deliver outstanding sound quality (most USB microphones today feature a condenser, just like those mics used in a studio). Gaming vlogger or computer geek that makes video tutorial can benefit a lot from this type of microphone. It’s easy to set up – Just plug it into your laptop / desktop, and turn on your recording software. Not need to get messy with so many cables. You can also use it for interviews behind a desk, too – though if the condition is less than ideal, shotgun mic works better. Here are some top-rated USB microphones for YouTube
Blue Yeti is hands-down the best USB microphone for YouTubers who do frequent voice-over works, podcasts, conferences. To begin with, it sports a rather unique internal construction in a way that it’s integrated with not just one but three condenser capsules. That alone is enough to make it worth the price, for such configuration allows the mic to pick up sound in any situations with utmost clarity. Additionally, it provides you with four different patterns to suite various recording purposes (stereo, cardioid, omnidirectional, and bidirectional). For all of those goodies, however, I don’t think it’s enough to make it the right gear for vocal and instrumental recording. You’ll get much better result with true studio-grade condenser microphone with large diaphragm (see below). Still , as far as desk applications are concerned, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any other USB mic that works better than Blue Yeti. It’s a marvelous piece of work and very easy to use.
Rode has firmly established itself as a prominent microphone manufacturer. As such, I understand very well that some of you just can’t get over it. Well, no worries. Rode apparently has also designed a highly capable USB microphone to suit your vlogging needs. Rode NT-USB is a slick looking mic featuring side-address condenser capsule, perfect for various spoken applications such as podcasts and voice-overs. Integrated with robust stand mount of 3/8-inch thread, you can attach the mic to a studio boom arm for more versatile usage. On-mic controls are available for easy and quick adjustment over the mic’s input and output. Yes, while it doesn’t offer multiple pattern selections like Blue Yeti, it does provide an output 3.5mm port for headphone, so you can tell if everything is as you want it to be. It’s pricier too, unfortunately, but for the extra bucks it charges you, it gives you a nice mini-tripod stand and functional pop-up filter.
Not everybody can / wants to pay well over $100 for a USB microphone and that’s totally fine. If you’re one of those people, then I’m absolutely sure that you’ll find Blue Snowball an appealing alternative. Less than half the price of Blue Yeti, the Snowball reproduces surprisingly clear and bright audio. Its internal cardioid pattern doesn’t work as well as premium microphones. However, it does allow the mic to better focus on the sound source on its front, reducing any ambient noise that will otherwise render your voice muddy. It really is just that; no flashy bells and whistles. No multi-capsule configuration, no headphone port, and no different recording modes, obviously. If you look for an inexpensive USB microphone for YouTube that gets the job done nicely, Blue Snowball is for you. I recommend at least getting a pop filter too, to help eliminate plosives that can make your video sound cheap and poorly produced.
Audio-Technica AT2020 USB+
I can hardly find anything to complain about on Audio-Technica AT2020 USB+. It’s the newer version of the original AT2020, which has been discontinued for good. Interestingly, there is no big jump in price, despite the better components and functionality put into the mic. It sends absolutely clear audio straight to your computer – thanks to the new cardioid pickup pattern that effectively rejects off-axis noise. You can also plug in a headphone to it to better keep tabs on what you record. On-board controls are kept to a minimum – there are only two dials: one for mixing the mic with pre-recorded audio and the other for adjusting the headset volume – but then other USB mics never provide more than two buttons as well. As good as it is, it’s best that you limit its usage for spoken recordings and voice-overs on gaming and computer tutorial videos. You can record a YouTube music video with it, of course, but then the quality will be subpar compared to if you record it using a dedicated studio condenser mic below.
Top Studio Condenser Microphone for YouTube Singing / Music Video
The best thing about YouTube is you can be a star without even bothering to audition for one of those idol shows. If you’ve got the talent as a musician or even a singer, all you need is to show it to the world through YouTube. To complement your talent, you could use a highly capable microphone that can capture your voice at best quality. The following studio-grade condenser microphones are great to kickstart your YouTube singing channel. They’re solidly built and exhibits very low noise (almost no hiss at all!) Most don’t come with an audio interface, though. So, if you haven’t had one already, Focusrite Scarlet 2I2 is the best one you can get for your buck. It’s been used by many singers and musicians who have carved a career path for some time now on YouTube.
Whether you’re a vocalist or play an instrument, Audio-Technica AT2035 will perform equally well in your semi-professional home studio, which is the reason many musicians favor it as their microphone for YouTube. Compared to other microphones manufactured by the company, the AT2035 has the largest diaphragm construction; at least, largest in its price range. Thanks to that, it accurately picks up of the sound source coming from its front and delivers it with exceptional warmth and clarity. The mic itself is very low in noise, which allows your vocal characters and details to be preserved. As a side note, though, it’s more on the sensitive side. The tendency for it to pick up background noise is rather high; something to consider if you haven’t set up your own quiet room (a microphone isolation shield helps a lot in keeping out the ambient noise). That said, it still comes with a pop filter, shock mount and even an XLR cable; great value there for an affordable-ish microphone for YouTube.
If it wasn’t for its tad higher pricing, I’d put the Rode NT1-A before the AT2035. This microphone is downright unbelievable. It blows any higher-end microphone that can easily cost you twice as much. The sound clarity it reproduces is exceptional, thanks to the ultra-low self-noise that never goes any further than 5dB. Featuring extended dynamic range, YouTube vocalists with unique vocal characteristics can certainly appreciate to find that every bit of the specialty in their voice is not altered by the mic. This also means that the NT1-A is also ideal recording any string instruments and percussions. Still, just because it’s used largely by musicians doesn’t mean you can’t use it for other purposes. This mic will also work spectacularly for podcasts and voice acting. Just get yourself a USB audio interface/ mixer, plug the mic into it, and connect the mixer to your computer. As with any condenser microphone, however, it requires an isolated and quiet room to work optimally.
For a more serious YouTube artist, I can’t better recommend AKG Pro Audio C214. This mic’s got a classic look and surprisingly solid build to it. It’s more expensive than the previous two condenser microphones, but once you learn the price of the mics used by professional studios and artists, it can be easily overlooked. That’s especially after you spend some time with it and know what it’s capable of. First things first, its outstanding 156dB dynamic range can handle close-up recording from a real loud sound source. This is important if your home-studio is kind of small and you like to bang the heck out of your vocal. It’s also got a attenuation pad and bass-cut filter that you can switch on and off to reduce the continuous rumble that’s apparent when you put the mic close to your instruments. Overall, the C214 by AKG outweighs its cost by a good deal; a perfect microphone for YouTube singing and music videos.
Top Lavalier Microphone
Some of the best camera for vlogging come in a compact body that has no room for a 3.5mm microphone jack. Using the camera’s built-in mic may work, but in most cases, the resulting audio will be of poor quality. This is where lavalier microphone comes in. Although it’s omnidirectional (it picks up main sound source as well as ambient sound from any direction), your voice will be highlighted over any other sounds because it’s mounted close to your mouth. You can use your smartphone as the recorder, but if you have extra budget, you may want to grab a dedicated recording device too (like the awesome Zoom H4N), to improve the audio clarity even further. Connect the lavalier mic to it and record a separate audio to be synced later with your video. Anyhow, here are some of the best lavalier microphones that I know of.
Honestly, I don’t think it’s possible to find a lavalier mic that performs better than Rode SmartLav+. Many are cheaper, but they do next to nothing in transforming your voice into digital signal loud enough for your recording software to take in. Unlike those dinky lapel-mounted mics, its quality build ensures you can depend on it on long term, paying off the investment you afford upfront. Its omnidirectional capsule will not only pick up your voice, but also the person close to you. Its tiny discreet form factor makes it ideal for recording candid videos like pranks or any of those social experiments. It’ll also serve well for interview videos. One thing to note, Rode SmartLav+ comes with a TRRS output cable. It’s compatible with iPhone and some select Android handsets, but you’ll need an adapter to connect it to a recording device. Other than that, it’s a well-made microphone for YouTubers.
A more budget-friendly alternative to Rode’s mic is Audio-Technica ATR-3350. For half the price, you get a lavalier mic already equipped with 3.5mm output. So you don’t need to buy any connector to hook it into your recording device, or maybe even a DSLR camera. It does come with an adapter, though, to address those who use newer smartphone to handle the recording. The adapter also houses a port to plug in a headphone, so you can monitor the sound capture with ease. All you need to buy is some spare batteries. If you’re an instructor – either fitness, dance, or academic one – and have only a compact point-and-shoot camera to film your YouTube video, this can be the microphone you’re looking for. Just be wary when you use it because like many other inexpensive mics, it feels rather fragile, especially the windscreen and power button.
Sennheiser ME 2
Sennheiser ME 2 is originally part of the company’s body pack transmitter, but now sold separately. That’s why its 3.5mm jack is equipped with threaded locking nut, to strengthen the connection with the provided port on the transmitter, so it won’t come undone when the users move around. Now, some people are worried that the said locking nut prevents the mic from being jacked into any common 3.5mm port, that they can’t use it with their recording device. Well, it works. I know people using it with the likes of Zoom H4N, Zoom H5, even the outdated Zoom H1. And in terms of audio quality it delivers, it’s just as excellent as you can expect from a Sennheiser microphone. Still, I think it’s not enough to justify its steep pricing. If you ask me, I’d still go with Rode SmartLav+ above. It functions the same as well, and significantly less expensive.
Movo WMIC50 is more than just a simple lapel mic. It’s a complete pack coming with a transmitter, receiver and even two earphones. The receiver is equipped with an adapter that allows you to mount it on your camera’s hotshoe. You can then connect it to the camera’s 3.5mm mic port using the provided cable. With such setting, you don’t need a dedicated audio recorder because the sound that the mic captures will be transmitted and recorded directly by your camera. What’s even better is the transmitter has a working range up to 164 feet. All of that for the price of less than 100 bucks is a total steal. Anyway, the microphone works pretty well, though it emits more self-noise than other mics listed previously. Also, don’t expect it to survive the same level of wear and tear. The build quality is not poor, but I don’t think it’s meant to last for long.