Three Things to Consider Before Buying a USB Microphone

For gaming or recording voiceover, adding a USB mic to your setup can make a huge difference.

I hate to break it to you, but the built-in microphone in your computer sounds awful. Do you enjoy listening to people talk through a filter of last week’s garbage? That’s what it sounds like. It’s not your fault. All built-in mics sound like that. They’re too small, too close to your keyboard, and too far from your face. This is why if you’re into gaming, live-streaming, or making videos with voiceover, you need an external mic. They’ll even make your next Zoom meeting sound a lot better.

Sturdy Construction

This budget-friendly cardioid condenser mic features a six-foot cable and a built-in headphone amp for more volume and clarity. Cardioid Condenser

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Different types of microphones have different “pickup patterns,” which you might think of as a bubble around the mic where sound is picked up best. Cardioid condenser mics are the best for voice, as they feature a close-in pickup pattern that’s right in front of the mic. That means it helps isolate your voice from the background, and even from sounds behind your mic (like your computer fan).

Blends Beautifully

This solid mic features 16 bit, 48kiloHertz recording capabilities, plus a high-output headphone amp, and more manual controls. Audio-Technica

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While audio quality isn’t determined by numbers alone, better mics will typically boast 16 bit recording at 44.1kiloHertz, or greater. That means more information is being recorded and stored, and it gives you more flexibility in editing, should you want to do so. This will be especially important for those who need more nuance, such as singers, but it will also give your videos and streams a more professional sounding edge.

Bonus Items

This excellent mic comes with a scissor arm stand, so you can quickly adjust your angle, and it has a shock mount, so table bumps don’t ruin your sound. FIFINE

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Mic drops aren’t always intentional. Sometimes you accidentally knock them over. You want a mic that’s well built, usually with a metal body. But if you’re serious about streaming games, you might want to look at a kit that has an adjustable arm and a shock mount. This will keep the mic out of your way and will insulate it from the sounds of banging on the keyboard, mouse, or desk.