Sound is one of the most important aspects of a YouTube Video, after video quality of course. Sound helps viewers to understand and follow along the video, without good sound quality it may be like listening to a potato. As YouTubers we understand that its can be hard to find the perfect Mic for all your video needs such as vlogging, we have put a list together of the top 13 best microphones in different categories such as USB Microphones, Lavalier microphones and camera microphones and where you can use them.
Blue Yeti USB
AudioTechnika ATR 6550
Before I get into this review here are a few terms I will be using in the review, if you havent researched external microphones in detail before these might be helpful to understand!
Omni-Directional means the microphone records from angles like a typical laptop or the standard microphone thats built into your camera. Obviously a external mic will be of better quality such as a lavalier which is also omni-directional.
Unidirectional means that it only records sounds coming from a certain angle or direction. These are most commonly shotgun microphones which record only what is coming from straight in front of them. Some condenser microphones such as Blue Yeti/Snowball also have these features such as Cardioid.
Cardioid is a polar pattern, which represents a sidewards peach or a heart shape. It will capture all sounds within this patten. Typically, cardoid is best when used in vlogs since they record only whats in front of them and dismiss any other noises coming from other directions.
Best USB Condenser Microphones
USB Microphones are great for Gaming Youtubers or YouTubers who voice over their videos. We all know that the sound quality of a laptop microphone just make the cut as it captures all ambient noises. USB Microphones are easily set up, attach to your PC or Mac and simply record while making the video or in the editing or voice over stage of the video. There are many popular USB Microphones that you will see used by many YouTubers such as the BLUE Microphones.
1. Focusrite Scarlett Studio Pack
This has to be our favourite all in one pack. You may have seen come commentary YouTubers use this setup as it produces some of the best quality audio we have heard to date. This is mostly because of the scarlett 2i2 audio interface processor which vastly improves the quality of the audio without any of the hissing and buzzing you sometimes may hear in audio samples.
This ultimate pack isnt just for sound, it contains a pair of headphones obviously for listening to the audio during playback and editing of your video or commentary, the audio interface and the condenser microphone for recording of audio.
For YouTubers, its probably best for those who do video commentaries for games or interviews regularly. While it is a bit expensive, its probably the best out there in terms of audio due to the audio interface thats included. It works on both mac and PC flawlessly as its plug and play like other microphones.
- Amazing audio quality
- Contains everything you need for a great audio setup
- Works on all setups of PC & Mac
- Quite Expensive
2. Blue Yeti
The Blue Yeti is a longtime favourite of YouTubers and a best seller globally in the USB Mircrophone category and for good reason! This USB condenser microphone has great sound quality and a lot of features such as Tri-Capsule array which mens it produces a clear and more pristine sound quality, which is one of the main reasons why so many people love it.
The microphone has Multiple pattern selection which features cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional & stereo options. As you’ve read above its important to have cardoid and bi-directional options when recording for YouTube Videos.
This Blue Yeti is perfect for Vlogging, Voice Overs Gaming with cardioid mode and bi-directional mode for Interviews & Video Podcasts. Its also compatible with both PC and Mac and doesn't require setup just plug it in and its ready to go!
- Superb audio quality for voice overs or podcasts
- 4 Different unidirectional patterns
- Plug and Play, minimal setup
None that we found!
3. Shure MV5 Condenser Microphone
The shure MV5 is another condenser microphone that many youtubers have started to use, it may not be as popular as the snowball but it does have features and a price point that rivals it! The MV5 while it looks like the snowball, comes with 3 modes one for vocals which is perfect for voice overs & vlogging and the two others Flat and Instrument. While it comes with 3 modes, it is a cardioid only microphone,
View Mic Tech Specs Here
The MV5 has a unique feature for YouTubers who use their iPhones or iPad to record video or sound, this microphone features a lightning cable to directly connect the microphone to your apple devices. It is compatible with both iOS and Android as the USB cables are interchangeable and two different types come in the package.
MV5 v Blue SnowBall
The MV5 we found has a richer warmer sound than the Snowball which may be due to the fact that the recording quality is a tad higher on the MV5. The downside of the MV5 is that it only has a singe polar pattern whereas the blue snowball has 3 (Cardioid, omnidirectional and cardioid with -10dB pad).
- Impeccable Sound Quality
- Compatible with PC and Mobile
- 3 Different Modes
- Single Polar Pattern
4. Blue Snowball iCE
While cheaper than its blue Yeti counterpart, the snowball is an absolutely must buy if you’re looking to buy on a budget. This mid range microphone is great and used by a ton of YouTubers!
The Blue Snowball has amazing sound quality capabilities like the Yeti with two modes Cardioid mode and omnidirectional. This microphone would be best used for voice overs and vlogging. What we like about the snowball is its really affordable price point for a microphone of this quality and its style. Its comes in a variety of different colours to suit your setup!
View Blue Snowball Tech Specs Here
You may be wondering whats the difference between the snowball and the yeti? The Snowball only has 2 modes or Cardioid or omnidirectional, whereas the more expensive Yeti model has 3 Cardioid, omni-directional and bi-directional. Bi-directional is mainly used in a conversation of two people where its best used for videos where you’re going to be in a room talking or interviewing someone for a podcast or interview.
Again like the Yeti, its simple to set up, easy to use and works on both Mac and PC
- Fantastic sound quality
- Value for money
- Easy to setup and use
- Sound quality isn't as clear as more high end microphones
Best Shotgun Microphones
What is a shotgun microphone?
Shotgun microphones are probably the most used type of microphone you see most YouTubers using. They are easily connected to a DSLR and normally capture sound really efficently. They work by capturing sound through a narrow area in the front and cancelling any sound coming from other directions which ensures clear sound quality from the subject you’re trying to capture. We would recommend the shotgun microphones for Vlogs, Documentary and General video use due to their sound capture capabilities to capture sound from long distances.
1. Rode VMGO Shotgun Mic
The Rode VMGO is one of my persona favourite shotgun mics. This shotgun mic is one of the top rated on amazon and a favourite of many YouTubers due to the superior sound quality. The rode has an extremely lightweight design and works with DSLR and compact cameras such as the G7X.
Unlike most shotgun microphones you may have to put in an external battery, this rode mic uses the power source of the camera which is really useful so you dont have to carry spare batteries around incase the microphone turns off mid recording.
The VMGO has clear, directional (since its a shotgun mic) sound quality. Its also very rugged and features a shock mount that isolates your microphone from bumps and vibrations that could otherwise interfere with the sound. This is especially useful for vloggers who walk and vlog with their compact camera or DSLR.
- Amazing sound quality
- Lightweight and rugged
- Doesnt need an external battery
- Can be quite expensive
2. Audio-Technica ATR-6550 Video Camera Condenser Shotgun
This is another Shotgun mic that has been used by many YouTubers, This cardioid mic from AudioTechnica is an absolutely great microphone for the price. While it may not be as lightweight as the rode mic, it has an amazing buid quality.
The sound on the ATR-6550 is fantastic, it features 2 settings normal which in my opinion should be used for vlogging and the tele setting, which is perfect for long distance setups if you were making a sketch or a video far away from the camera. We really noticed that the ATR filtered out any echo and ambient noises in the room which was really impressive from a mic in this price range.
The mic comes with everything you need for your camera such as a camera mount, a windscreen and an AA battery to power the microphone. This mic has a 3.5 mm jack to connect to your camera so make sure your camera has this before buying!
- Great sound quality
- Filters out echoes really well
- Two modes
- Comes with everything you need to setup the mic
- Uses an external battery
3. TAKSTAR SGC-598 Microphone
The TAKSTAR is a entry range shotgun microphone for Nikon and Canon DSLRS. When we tried out this microphone we were honestly surprised at the results it gave us. The microphone performed pretty well for such a cheap price, clearly outdoing the built in audio but also having a nice middle ground with more expensive shotgun microphones.
The TAKSTAR microphone is 9V battery powered, therefore you have to have battery in order to record audio for your video. This is such a common problem amongst youtubers, forgetting to turn on the microphone or forgetting to replace the battery.
In comparison to the rode & audiotechnica mic we have tried here is a clear difference in the sound quality but none the less its a must buy if you’re on a budget and want to improve your sound quality.
- Good Quality Mic For Entry Level Vloggers
- Good build quality
- Requires a battery
- Mic is lower quality with less features than others reviewed above.
Best Portable Microphones For Cameras
1. Zoom H1
I'm only going to recommend one portable mic and thats the Zoom H1. The Zoom H1 is without a doubt one of the best portable mics currently available. Many YouTubers such as Meekakitty have started using these microphones instead of traditional Shotgun Microphones due to the portability and high quality output they have.
The H1 features 2 unidirectional microphones set at a 90 degree angle to capture the sound precisely. You can use this microphone with your camera without a jack and transfer the audio by USB or SD card when editing. If your camera also has a jack you can place it on the hot shoe and connect directly to the camera or import to editing software using USB.
The price point for the Zoom H1 is very reasonable and is a definite worthwhile investment as a replacement for your existing internal recorder or replacement for your DSLR Shotgun Mic due to the wide variety of features and quality the H1 has over a traditional shotgun mic.
- Unidirectional Microphone
- Extremely high quality
- A ton of features such as USB, SD, Jack Etc.
- Price point
- A bit more editing skill required to add to track
Best Lavalier Microphones
Lavalier microphones are microphones that you see on news anchors or interviewers, they're commonly known as a wire. They’re small microphones that can be attached to your clothing or hidden inside of your clothing like a wire, but this isn't advised as when you move it will cause the microphone to pick up the noise of your clothing. If you’re a YouTuber who carries out interviews, talks to the public or just wants a microphone that is small compact and wearable the lavalier microphone may be the best option for you. You do need to take note though that lavalier microphones are omnidirectional meaning they will take sound from all around them.
1. RØDE SmartLav+
The Rode SmartLav+ is probably one of the best lavalier mics that we have tried. The quality of the sound is superb for a lavalier mic and has a great build quality unlike some of the other lavalier mics we’ve tried.
The smartlav+ is a bit more expensive than others but very worth it. It is broadcast grade with a omni-directional condenser capsule which means it picks up sound equally from all around the microphone. In terms of build quality lavaliers can break quite quickly with usage of the mic if the cable is weak. but this rode lavalier is particularly strong with a kevlar re-enforced cable which enhances its durability and product life. We found it wasn't as flimsy as others we tested.
There also isnt a battery needed for this which is perfect, its just plug and play into your iPhone, Android, DSLR or Compact camera. If you’re recording on your phone Rode as has a very useful application that pairs with the SmartLav+ that features a lot of equalisation presets for a variety of situations such as outdoors, indoors and the ability to upload the content to dropbox or soundcloud from the app itself!
The one downside we found of this mic was the price. The price is quite expensive for a lavalier but if you want the best we would recommend to save up for it!
- Great quality sound for a lavalier
- Plug and Play
- Works with Mobile devices and cameras
- Comes with a SmartLav+ Application
- Very Good Build Quality
- Pretty expensive for a lavalier
2. Movo LV20
This Movo LV20 Lavalier microphone is an omni-directional microphone that clips onto your clothes pretty easily, to be honest its really easy to use just simply connect to your camera and connect the lavalier to your clothes using the clip.
The mic although may be a omni-directional mic it has a battery boosted sensitivity so the quality of your voice will be clear when its outputted onto the camera. It also has a long extension of 6 meters so you can be far away while recording.
The downsides of this microphone is that the sound is omnidirectional and can capture other sounds while you're talking but with the battery boosted sensitivity and editing software you shouldn't have any problems. Also the need to change battery which is a minor downside but for the price this lavalier mic is totally worth it!
- Good sound quality
- Battery boosted sensitivity
- Easy to clip onto clothes and use. Discreet
- Doesnt need a battery
- build quality doesn't compare to the SmartLav+