The Best Microphone for All Situations: 21 Winners Under $579

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Buying a new microphone is not a decision that should be taken lightly.

Whether you’re looking for your first ever mic, upgrading from a cheapie, or looking to add something new to your collection, you’ve got a lot to think about.

How much am I willing to spend? Which mic is best for singing? Do I need a condenser or a dynamic mic? XLR or USB?

These are all very important questions which need consideration in determining the best microphone for your needs.

Unfortunately, that business takes a long time, and you’ve got better things to do than spend all weekend learning about different mic types and how they work, right? You just want to know which is the best microphone you can buy in 2020 so you can have it arrive at your door and get to recording.

Well, let’s do it then.

A Quick Note Before You Screw Yourself Over

Not all microphones are made the same. Unfortunately, a lot of people jump in and buy a mic that looks great, without understanding the need for additional equipment to do the job correctly.

If you’ve owned a mic before or are familiar with how recording signal chains work, sorry. We’re not trying to teach you how to suck eggs.

If this is your first mic though, this is a super important point.

Many microphones need an external audio interface in order to record to your computer.

Traditional XLR mics are used in conjunction with a preamp (which boosts the level of the mic) and an analog to digital converter (which converts the signal to a digital form) to connect to a computer.

Modern audio interfaces like the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 pack both of these components into one box.

Then, along came the USB mic. These handy little guys essentially have all of the components of an audio interface inside the mic body itself, so you can literally plug into your computer and get recording.

This list of top mics has both kinds – USB and XLR – so just bear in mind this rule: if it’s not a USB mic, you’ll need an audio interface.

Best Microphone: Shure SM7B

Shure SM7B
If you were trapped on a desert island with only one mic, this would be the one.
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The Best & Best Budget Microphones On The Market

Editor’s PickBrand
Best MicrophoneShure sm7b
Best microphone under $200sE Electronics X1s
Best USB MicrophoneHyperX QuadCast
Best microphone under $100sE Electronics X1
Best USB microphone under $100Samson C01U
Best microphone under $50Zingyou ZY-007
Best USB microphone under $50Samson Go Mic
Best cheap microphoneBehringer Ultravoice Xm8500
Best USB cheap microphoneUSB Lavalier Lapel Microphone
Best usb xlr microphoneSamson Q2U

Best Microphones For Singing

Best Microphone For SingingAvantone CV-12
Best USB Microphone For SingingRode NT-USB
Best microphone for singing at homeShure sm7b

Best Microphone For Podcasting And Vocals (Speech)

Best Microphone For Podcasting And VocalsShure SM7B
Best USB Microphone For PodcastingSamson G-Track Pro

Best Microphone For Rap And Hip Hop

Best Microphone For Rap And Hip HopShure SM7B
Best USB Microphone For Rap And Hip HopHyperX QuadCast

Best Microphone For Gaming And Streaming

Best Microphone For Gaming And StreamingShure SM7B
Best USB Microphone For Gaming And StreamingHyperX Quadcast

Best Microphone For YouTube

Best Microphone For YouTubeShure SM7B
Best USB microphone for YouTubeHyperX Quadcast

Best Microphones For Mobile

Best Microphone For iPhone and iPadShure MV88
Best Microphone For AndroidShure MV88+

Best Musician’s Microphones For Recording

Best Small Diaphragm Microphone For RecordingShure SM81
Best Large Diaphragm Microphone For Recording MusicAKG Pro Audio C214
Best USB Microphone For RecordingRode NT-USB

Best Microphone For Live Vocals

Best Microphone For Live VocalsSennheiser e945
Best Microphone For MacHyperX QuadCast

Best Microphone: Shure SM7B

Shure SM7B
If you were trapped on a desert island with only one mic, this would be the one.
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The title ‘best microphone’ is a pretty massive honor. There are so many different types of mics and different applications that there is really no one microphone to rule them all. But, if there’s one that kills it on pretty much every front, it’s the Shure SM7B.

This mic is just as happy in front of a smooth-talking podcast host as it is in the hands of a screaming metal vocalist. Voice isn’t the only thing this baby shines on though.

Thanks to its large diaphragm and dynamic nature, it is capable of handling the immense sound pressure of a kick or snare drum.

It even makes a great replacement for the famous SM57, which is a go-to for guitars.

YouTubers and content creators working at home will love the SM7B too, for its low background noise and ability to capture a clear and accurate voice recording.

Key Features of the Shure SM7B:

  • Bass roll-off switch
  • Presence boost switch
  • Large-diaphragm dynamic mic
  • Two levels of pop filter included
  • Flat, wide-range frequency response
  • Integral broadcast-style swivel mount
  • Industry-standard on vocals and voice recording
  • Internal shock isolation for a clean signal and reduced mechanical noise

Best Microphone Under $200: sE Electronics X1s

sE Electronics X1S
$200 gets you pretty far these days, especially if you're spending it with sE Electronics.
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This UK company has been doing some big things lately, including partnering up with Rupert Neve himself on a mic design.

This isn’t that one, but boy does it do a great job for under $200. The X1s is the upgraded version of the X1 condenser mic (I’m going to guess the S stands for superior, sexy, or seriously good), and has pretty much all of the buttons and switches you’re after in a quality microphone.

Being one of the best condenser microphones, it’s bright and airy and perfect in front of a singer, and will offer great sound to your singing, podcast or YouTube channel. The X1s is also great in front of an acoustic guitar, or dangling above a drum kit.

And, at this price, you can afford to get two for a seriously sexy-sounding stereo setup.

Key Features of the sE Electronics X1s:

  • All-metal housing
  • Hand-crafted capsule
  • 80Hz or 160Hz low cut filters
  • -10 dB and -20 dB pad switches
  • High dynamic range and SPL handling
  • Large diaphragm condenser microphone

Best USB Microphone: HyperX QuadCast

HyperX QuadCast
We don't know how HyperX manages to pack so much into one tidy little package, but we're not complaining!
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USB microphones are incredibly popular these days, whether you’re making YouTube videos, hosting a podcast, or recording vocals and other instruments.

The reason? They keep things easy.

HyperX’s QuadCast does just that, but throws in a few sick features that makes this our top pick for a USB mic.

Firstly, it has a whopping four polar patterns on offer. That might not be a big deal if you’re only recording one thing (e.g. you’re a rapper and you’re just looking to lay down some bars), but if you’re really getting into music recording with microphones, then it’s going to be incredibly helpful.

You get the standard cardioid pattern, which cuts out sound from the rear, which is generally what you’d use for vocals. The omni pattern picks up everything from all directions, so it’s great as a room mic when recording a drum kit, for example.

It gets better though. There’s a bi-directional (figure 8) pattern, ideal for a two-person interview setup, and it even has a stereo mode.

It’s not often you find a quality USB mic that offers stereo recording; usually, you have to buy two mics.

This means the HyperX QuadCast would be a great pick for recording acoustic guitars, or even above a drum set as overheads.

Key Features of the HyperX QuadCast:

  • 4 polar patterns
  • Glowing red LEDs
  • Integral shock mount
  • Dedicated headphone output
  • Condenser mic with a wide frequency range
  • One-touch mute button – perfect for streaming

Best Microphone Under $100: sE Electronics X1

sE Electronics X1
It's hard to come across a decent condenser mic for less than $100, but, somehow, sE Electronics ticks both boxes with the X1.
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The main difference between this and the X1s (other than the price), is that the standard X1 has only one pad and one low-cut filter option.

A pretty reasonable sacrifice we say, considering you’re still getting a bloody brilliant recording microphone with essentially the same great sound. The capsule is exactly the same, so you get that same clean, crisp audio which will add another layer of complexity and professionalism to your tracks.

Pulling it out of the box, you know this is a quality piece of equipment. It’s got a decent bit of weight behind it, and the premium finish and all-metal housing make you question the fact you barely paid $100 for it.

One of the great things about the standard X1 is that it has a built-in pop filter, literally inside the mic grille. This keeps it safe from plosive sounds, making it one of the best mics you can get for recording vocals. Plus, it costs less than a hundred bucks, what’s not to love?

Key Features of the sE Electronics X1:

  • Cardioid polar pattern
  • Low self-noise
  • -20dB switchable pad
  • Rugged all-metal body
  • Required 48v phantom power
  • 100Hz low cut filter at 6 dB/oct
  • Wide frequency range with smooth upper mid-range bump

Best USB Microphone Under $100: Samson C01U

Samson C01U
The C01U is a solid USB recording microphone, that manages to balance affordability, audio quality, and ease of use, without compromising on build quality.
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Keeping things under $100 is tough. Even if you find a decent mic at that price point, you’re still usually faced with shelling out for an XLR cable and audio interface.

Enter the Samson C01U. A quality large diaphragm condenser that you can use without an interface, thanks to its USB connectivity. That means you can literally plug-and-play.

Samson has been in the budget audio gear game for a while, which is important when you’re trying to achieve decent audio quality without spending too much. It’s worth investing in a name you know and trust.

This mic is fantastic for podcasting and YouTube content creation, thanks to its clear sound quality and included desktop tripod stand. It’s also a solid option for VOIP communication when used in conjunction with Samson’s Sound Deck software.

It’s well-built, so you know it will go the distance, though I probably wouldn’t take it touring. It’s not really about that live sound life anyway.

This is definitely a studio/home microphone.

Just like all USB microphones, the C01U is instantly compatible with any Mac or PC device, and you should be able to use it easily with most DAWs.

Key Features of the Samson C01U:

  • Plug-and-play recording
  • 16-bit, 48kHz resolution
  • Hypercardioid pickup pattern
  • Flat frequency response of 20Hz–18kHz
  • Included stand mount, tripod stand, and USB cable
  • Solid, die-cast construction with heavy gauge mesh grill
  • Large diaphragm condenser mic – great for studio and home use

Best Microphone Under $50: Zingyou ZY-007

ZINGYOU Condenser Microphone Bundle, ZY-007
A tight little package for those on a tight budget, the Zingyou ZY-007 offers incredible bang for the buck.
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If you’re really tight on budget, the Zingyou ZY-007 is one of the few mics that you can get for less than $50 that offers a reasonably good sound quality.

Now, it’s probably not going to compete with, say, the Shure SM7B, but considering you could buy 10 of these babies for the same price, we aren’t complaining.

What gives this mic insane value for the money is that you don’t just get a mic, you get an entire recording pack.

You get a shock mount for keeping the Zingyou ZY-007 isolated from acoustic noise, two types of pop filters to remove plosives and mouth noises, and a hand scissor arm stand.

There aren’t many microphones out there that include this kind of stand, and these are perfect for creating YouTube videos, or basically for any time where you need the mic in front of your face while you’re at your computer.

A desktop tripod stand can do the trick, but it often doesn’t acoustically isolate the mic, which can be a pain if you’re using the keyboard (such as when gaming and streaming).

Not only that, the Zingyou ZY-007 is a standard XLR mic, but comes with a USB adaptor cable. That means you can use it with your own preamps or interface, or simply chuck in the adaptor and connect to a USB port on your computer!

Key Features of the Zingyou ZY-007

  • Use as a USB mic or an XLR
  • Available in blue, red, or black
  • Reasonable sound quality for the price
  • Great for vocals, instruments, or podcasting
  • Includes so much more – two pop filters, scissor arm stand, a shock mount, and USB adaptor

Best USB Microphone Under $50: Samson Go Mic

Behringer Ultravoice XM8500
Superior build quality, excellent sound output, and an intuitive design make the Ultravoice Xm8500 the perfect option when searching for a cheap mic.
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Ever since Behringer’s parent company bought out Midas in 2009, their pro-audio game has skyrocketed. They now offer a series of widely used mixing desks, speakers, and microphones. The Xm8500 is their entry-level handheld vocal mic, and it’s dirt cheap. But, don’t let that make you think it’s a piece of crap. Far from it.

Despite its price point, the Xm8500 holds its own against the big guns in the handheld dynamic market, such as the industry-standard Shure SM58.

It’s perhaps a little muddier in the low end than a 58, but it does have a more pronounced upper-mid boost which is great for voice clarity. For that reason, this would be a fantastic cheap microphone for recording voiceovers and podcast audio.

It doesn’t have anything in the way of fancy switches or lights, but what can you expect for just over 20 bucks?

Plus, you don’t really need them.

The cardioid polar pattern keeps things focused on your voice (or other sound source), and the internal two-stage pop filter keeps the mic capsule isolated from plosives and wind noise for a clean signal.

Key Features of the Behringer Ultravoice Xm8500:

  • XLR output
  • Cardioid polar pattern
  • Handheld dynamic mic
  • 50 Hz to 15 kHz frequency response
  • Internal shock mount system and pop filter

Best USB Cheap Microphone: USB Lavalier Lapel Microphone

USB Lavalier Lapel Microphone
Recording vocals almost always means a big old mic in front of your face. Audio engineers have been getting around that for a while now with lavalier mics, but not many of them have a USB output. Enter the Fifine USB lav mic.
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Fifine has a number of mics in the cheap mic market, and though many of them lose out to other competitors, their USB lavalier mic comes out on top.

It’s pretty uncommon to see a USB lav mic, to be honest.

Most of them need to be plugged into a transmitter pack, with a receiver on the other end that connects to some form of recording device. That makes recording with a lapel mic generally pretty expensive, mainly due to the fact that you’ve got to buy several components.

This baby, however, makes life a whole lot easier.

It’s a cardioid mic, so you’ll want to make sure it’s positioned well when you clip it on, and it’s important to note that the cable is only about 6.5ft long.

That means you’ll need your computer pretty close to whoever the mic is attached to.

So it’s probably not the kind of lapel mic you’d use for an interview up on stage. However, if you’re creating YouTube videos and don’t want a huge mic in front of your face showing up on camera, then the Fifine USB lav mic is a fantastic option.

Key Features of the USB Lavalier Lapel Microphone:

  • 2m cable
  • 1-year warranty
  • Cardioid polar pattern
  • Frequency response: 50Hz to 16000 Hz
  • USB connectivity with headphone output

Best USB XLR Microphone: Samson Q2U

Samson Q2U
We love microphones that shake things up and refuse to adhere to the norm, and the Samson Q2U does just that.
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Microphones for recording are typically either one or the other, USB or XLR. For many, this works just fine, but it ultimately doesn’t offer a lot of flexibility.

What happens when you want to take your USB mic out to a live gig? There aren’t many live sound setups out there that will support that, so you need an XLR output if you’re planning on getting on stage.

Enter the Samson Q2U, which, as you’ve probably guessed, manages to tick both boxes.

Like we said before, Samson has been in the low-cost audio game for a while, so this mic is no gimmick. And it would be easy to make that assumption, as all too often products that try to do a bit of everything, end up sucking at all of it. That’s not the case here.

This microphone sounds great as an XLR and as a USB mic, and the in-built headphone output is great for monitoring what you’re recording in real-time.

Thanks to the shape of the mic, it’s great as a handheld vocal mic. However, the Samson Q2U also comes with a standard mic stand clip, and a tripod desk stand. So yeah, it’s pretty damn versatile.

Key Features of the Samson Q2U:

  • Handheld dynamic mic
  • Includes desktop tripod stand
  • Headphone output with dedicated level control
  • XLR and USB cables included, and even a foam pop shield
  • On/off switch can function as an instant mic mute solution for streamers and gamers

Best Microphones For Singing

Best Microphone For Singing: Avantone CV-12

Avantone CV-12
One of the best sounding mics on the market, the Avantone CV-12 is the king of recording vocals if you're after that smooth and silky tube sound.
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Avantone is one of those brands that doesn’t have a huge name in project studio and at-home use, but they damn well deserve to. Their microphones are excellent.

The CV-12 is their flagship tube condenser mic, and it’s a multipattern large-diaphragm unit, meaning it has a number of polar patterns.

That’s probably raised a few questions. First of all, what the hell is a tube mic?

Though the CV-12 is tubular in appearance, that’s not what we’re talking about. It means the microphone has one of those vacuum tubes (valves for our British friends) that are typically found in high-end guitar amp heads and other pro-audio gear. The bottom line? A rich, gooey, and sort of vintage tone which is gorgeous on vocals and absolutely shines on acoustic guitars.

Tube mics need a special power unit to run their electronics, they can’t run on phantom power, so the CV-12 comes with a big old box that supplies power to the mic. That’s where you’ll choose one of the microphone’s 9 polar patterns. Yes, nine.

Okay, to be honest, the whole nine polar patterns thing is a bit of a gimmick, but it’s still pretty cool. In reality, you have the four usual suspects: omni, cardioid, hyper-cardioid, and figure-8. The other five options sit somewhere in the middle of each of these four.

Are all nine patterns really that useful? Not sure. Does this microphone’s recording capability blow its competitors out of the water and make this our favorite condenser for recording vocals? Hell yes.

Key Features of the Avantone CV-12:

  • 9 pickup patterns
  • Tube condenser mic for the smooth, vintage sound
  • Wide frequency response with a smooth and silky tonal palette
  • Gorgeous red livery with a silver metal grille makes this a classy looking mic
  • Included power supply, shock mount, and wooden case, plus a carry case for the whole lot

Best USB Microphone For Singing: Rode NT-USB

Rode NT-USB
Pro-quality sound, an included pop shield and tripod stand, and some sweet vocal recording features. What's more to want? Nothing, that's what.
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The nature of making music is that sometimes an idea just hits you, and you’ve got to lay it down straight away.

Having to faff around with cables and interfaces and all of the stuff that’s associated with recording a vocal track can often get in the way of that.

It’s easy to lose inspiration.

That’s why so many of us love the simplicity of a USB mic, you can just plug it and get to work. Often, though, they aren’t really designed to be a vocal recording microphone.

Recording singing is different from recording your voice when you speak. If you’re recording a podcast or YouTube audio, as long as your sound is clear and not distorted, you’re good to go. With singing, you want something a bit sexier.

That something is the Rode NT-USB.

The NT-USB delivers that smooth, natural sound quality we’ve come to know and love from Rode, but they’ve thrown in a couple of extra features too.

First up is the pop shield, which mounts neatly on the mic itself. If you’ve ever tried to line up an external pop shield, you’ll know this can be a bit of a pain in the ass.

You’ve also got a dedicated headphone output for zero-latency monitoring, and you can not only control the level in your headphones, but you can create a mix between your voice, and audio coming back through from your computer.

This makes it brilliant for recording vocal tracks, where you want to hear yourself as you sing but also hear the song you’re recording to.

Key Features of the Rode NT-USB:

  • Cardioid condenser mic
  • Wide frequency response
  • Top-notch sound at an affordable price
  • You’ll be happy to use this to record instruments also
  • Headphone monitoring with the ability to mix in audio from your computer
  • One of the best microphones for recording vocals, and definitely the best USB mic

Best Microphone For Singing At Home: Shure SM7B

Shure SM7B
If you were trapped on a desert island with only one mic, this would be the one.
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Best Microphone For Podcasting And Vocals (Speech)

Best Microphone For Podcasting and Vocals: Shure SM7B

Shure SM7B
If you were trapped on a desert island with only one mic, this would be the one.
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Best USB Microphone For Podcasting: Samson G-Track Pro

​Samson G-Track Pro USB Condenser Microphone
Podcasters have a pretty specific need in their microphones, and Samson has answered to that need directly with the G-Track Pro.
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The G-Track Pro looks smart, and is designed even smarter. It pretty much packs in everything you’d want in a mic and audio interface into one little black package.

As far as the microphone itself goes, the Samson G-Track Pro does pretty much what you’d expect. It’s got a large-diaphragm condenser element, so it’s great at delivering a clear voice recording with a decent bass response.

You can even use the figure-8 pickup pattern for a dual-host podcast set up, or for your guest to sit opposite you.

The mic has a headphone output, as you’d expect, but where the G-Track Pro really shakes things up is it’s 1/4″ instrument input jack. You could potentially use this for connecting another mic, though it’s really designed for plugging in an instrument like a guitar.

Because it has two inputs, the mic can record in mono or in 2-track mode, with each input (mic and instrument) recording to a separate track in your DAW.

Key Features of the Samson G-Track Pro:

  • 24-bit, 96kHz resolution audio recording
  • Cardioid, omni, and figure-8 polar patterns
  • Ability to record voice and instrument simultaneously
  • One of the few mics that can record in mono or 2-track mode
  • Front panel mixer with gain control, instrument level and headphone volume

Best Microphone For Rap And Hip Hop

Best Microphone For Rap And Hip Hop: Shure SM7B

Shure SM7B
If you were trapped on a desert island with only one mic, this would be the one.
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Best USB Microphone For Rap And Hip Hop: HyperX QuadCast

HyperX QuadCast
We don't know how HyperX manages to pack so much into one tidy little package, but we're not complaining!
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Best USB Microphone For Rap And Hip Hop: HyperX QuadCast

HyperX QuadCast
We don't know how HyperX manages to pack so much into one tidy little package, but we're not complaining!
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Best Microphone For Gaming And Streaming

Best Microphone For Gaming And Streaming: Shure SM7B

Shure SM7B
If you were trapped on a desert island with only one mic, this would be the one.
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Best USB Microphone For Gaming And Streaming: HyperX Quadcast

HyperX QuadCast
We don't know how HyperX manages to pack so much into one tidy little package, but we're not complaining!
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Best Microphone For YouTube

Best Microphone For YouTube: Shure SM7B

Shure SM7B
If you were trapped on a desert island with only one mic, this would be the one.
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Best USB microphone for YouTube: HyperX QuadCast

HyperX QuadCast
We don't know how HyperX manages to pack so much into one tidy little package, but we're not complaining!
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Best Microphones For Mobile

Best Microphone For iPhone and iPad: Shure MV88

Shure MV88 iOS Stereo Condenser Microphone
Many mics are just too difficult to take on the go, but not the MV88. This hand little guy fits in the palm of your hand and plugs directly into the charging port on your iPad or iPhone.
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Recording on the go can be a real pain in the ass sometimes, especially if you’ve got a big setup. Even bringing a laptop and USB mic out in the wild can prove difficult.

That’s why we’re in love with the Shure MV88, which is a discreet little condenser unit that plugs directly into your iOS device to provide premium quality audio.

Travel bloggers and content creators will love these little mics for the fact that you can literally fit them in your pocket, so there won’t be much weight or space taken up in your luggage.

The mic capsule is on a neat little adjustable swivel so you can get the recording angle perfect, and, surprisingly, it’s a stereo mic.

Stereo mics are great for capturing ambient sounds in the wild (like at the beach), but they can also be a great solution for recording a two-person interview, where one capsule is aimed at each participant.

You can even use one of these mics in windy or noisy environments thanks to the included windshield, making them the perfect audio recording buddy for iPhone and iPad. The price isn’t half bad as well.

Key Features of the Shure MV88:

  • Headphone output
  • Stereo condenser mic
  • 2 included recording apps
  • Rotatable up to 90 degrees
  • iOS compatible via Lightning connector
  • Comes with protective carrying pouch and foam windshield

Best Microphone For Android: Shure MV88+

Shure MV88+
When you need to be mobile, but only the best will do, the Shure MV88+ is one of the only mics you want in your kit.
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It doesn’t take a lot to figure out that this is the upgraded version of the MV88. So what’s different?

To start, it comes with a compact Manfrotto PIXI tripod as well as a mount for both a smartphone and the mic, which is actually super cool as it basically means you have everything within arms reach.

The MV88+ mics also throw in some advanced audio capabilities such as live audio streaming, multi-track recording to Garageband, improved sound quality, and real-time headphone monitoring.

Plus you can charge your phone while using it, something you aren’t able to achieve with the standard MV88.

This baby is also compatible with USB-C and mini-USB devices, so it makes for a good choice if you’re an Android user. Apple geeks, don’t worry. You can use these mics as well with a Lightning cable.

Also, the MV88+ can record to a laptop, so you’re not bound to your phone or tablet. This makes it a much more versatile unit than the MV88 which can really only be used with an iPad or iPhone.

Key Features of the Shure MV88+

  • Included Manfrotto PIXI tripod
  • Real-time headphone monitoring</li
  • Still comes with a foam windshield</li
  • Android, iOS, and laptop-compatible</li
  • Charge your device while using this mic

Best Musician’s Microphones For Recording

Best Small Diaphragm Microphone For Recording: Shure SM81

Shure sm81
A highly-versatile condenser mic with a wide, accurate response and superior transient handling, the Shure SM81 is perfect as an overhead mic or for use in front of an acoustic guitar.
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Small diaphragm condenser mics don’t really get the same kind of clout as their bigger brothers, especially in the content creation world. That’s because they tend to be better suited to instrument recording.

It’s not that they don’t do a decent job on voice, but due to the nature of their diaphragm, these mics really excel at picking up intricate high frequencies. It’s for that reason they are often used on cymbals, pianos, and acoustic guitars.

The Shure SM81 is a pretty simple SDC with two levels of bass roll-off switch, and a -10dB pad for controlling loud sound sources. Other than that, it’s pretty much a case of point and shoot.

And that makes it a seriously easy to use mic. The sound output is super clear, crisp, and refined, thanks to the wide, flat frequency response these mics offer.

Small diaphragm condensers can often be pretty delicate, but the SM81 is a solidly built mic with a rugged steel body.

It would do well in the studio, but if you want to take this guy out on the road for recording drum kits, I wouldn’t be concerned in the slightest. You might want to get a case for it though.

Key Features of the Shure SM81:

  • Cardioid polar pattern
  • 20 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response
  • 0 dB/10 dB lockable attenuator switch
  • Flat response curve for accurate reproduction of sound sources
  • Selectable low-frequency response: flat, 6 or 18 dB/octave roll-off

Best Large Diaphragm Microphone For Recording Music: AKG Pro Audio C214

AKG Pro Audio C214
If you've ever watched any YouTube videos of studio recordings, you've probably seen an AKG mic or four. The C214 borrows from the company's flagship C414 mic, and it sounds just as good.
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Perhaps one of the most famous large-diaphragm condenser mics used in studio recordings is AKG’s C414. You can think of the C214 as the 414’s less distinguished, but far more affordable, younger brother. It’s just about as good though.

The C214 is a cardioid condenser mic, pretty much the most widely used type of microphone there is, and it sounds AMAZING, especially on vocals.

It has a nice little dip in the mid-range which deals with nasal vocal tones and perks up quite a bit in the upper mids to give clarity and sparkle to strings and guitars.

If you want, you can filter out low frequencies with the low-cut filter, which is always a good choice when recording vocals up close as cardioid mics tend to suffer from proximity effect.

One of the things we love about the C214 is that it comes with a really high-quality shock mount.

Many low-cost condenser mics come with shock mounts, but it doesn’t take long before the bands lose their tension and they start to fall apart.

The design of the C214 shock mount pretty much guarantees you won’t come up against this issue, plus it makes it super simple to get the mic in and out.

The microphone also comes with a windshield and a really sturdy carry case, which fits the mic and all of its little extras.

Key Features of the AKG C214:

  • Bass roll-off switch
  • Switchable -20dB pad
  • Cardioid condenser microphone
  • Studio-quality recording without the price tag
  • Included shock mount, windshield and carry case

Best USB Microphone For Recording: Rode NT-USB

Rode NT-USB
Pro-quality sound, an included pop shield and tripod stand, and some sweet vocal recording features. What's more to want? Nothing, that's what.
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Best Microphone For Live Vocals

Best Microphone For Live Vocals: Sennheiser e945

Sennheiser e945
Rugged design, clear sound quality, and a feedback-resistant design make the Sennheiser e945 our favorite microphone for live vocals.
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If you’re looking for a quality live vocal mic, there are three key areas you’ll be looking at.

First up is durability. Live vocal mics tend to get treated like absolute crap.

They’re thrown around, dropped, chucked into the crowd, spit and dribbled on, and used as a hammer to nail down the loose floorboard on the stage.

Though we wouldn’t vouch for the e945’s durability as a hammer, it’s up to any of the other jobs, thanks to its rugged metal construction. Plus, it’s got a 10-year warranty, so you know this mic will serve you for the long term.

The second concern you’ll have is if the mic is able to gain control of feedback easily, as that’s one thing that can easily ruin a live performance. The e945 uses a super-cardioid polar pattern, which means it’s super sensitive to sounds coming from the front, but not from the sides and rear.

Lastly, you want a mic that’s not going to be noisy in the hands of an active singer. Not all mics live up to that task, but the e945’s capsule is internally shock-mounted, which isolates it from an acoustic vibration when being used as a handheld mic.

The perfect mic for live vocals then? We think so.

Key Features of the Sennheiser e945:

  • 10-year warranty
  • Super-cardioid polar pattern
  • Shock-mounted mic capsule
  • Low-noise and feedback resistant
  • Remains stable regardless of climate
  • Metal construction: Rugged and reliable

Best Microphone For Mac: HyperX QuadCast

HyperX QuadCast
We don't know how HyperX manages to pack so much into one tidy little package, but we're not complaining!
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Conclusion

So, there you have it. The 21 best mics money can buy in 2020. Well, at least for 579 moneys.

Whether you’re recording a full band, laying down some vocal tracks at home, or running a YouTube channel and creating content on the go, there’s something in here for you.

Our advice: don’t get bogged down in the details.

Research is important, of course. You don’t want to end up with the wrong mic for your purpose.

However, there are so many options out there it can be easy to get lost and never end up making a decision, which is inevitably going to prevent you from doing what you wanted to do in the first place!

Got another mic you love under $579? Comment below and let us know what you’re rocking.