- The Importance of Audio Quality
- 3 Best Camera Microphones for YouTube and Vlogging
- 3 Best Lavalier Microphones for Vlogging and YouTube
- 3 Best USB Microphones for YouTube
- 3 Recorders for Cameras Without Mic Jack
- YouTube Microphone Buying Guide
- Advantages of Using an External Microphone
For making video content, many argue that audio quality might be even more important that video quality.
You’re going to want a microphone that you can pair with your camera if you plan on making top-quality videos.
There are various types of microphones on the market, and the kind that you use will depend on your needs, so we’ve compiled the top three options in four different categories.
We covered 12 best microphones for YouTubers and vloggers in 4 microphone types:
- Camera Microphones (attached on top of cameras, best for vloggers and YouTubers who film outside)
- Lavalier Microphones (attached on your shirt, very small, compact and cheap)
- USB Microphones (stationary microphones, best for YouTubers who record on their PC)
- Portable Recorders (external recorders that you can put in your pocket and record audio without connecting it to a camera)
The Importance of Audio Quality
Ensuring that your videos have excellent sound quality is a critical consideration and one that is often overlooked by both YouTubers and vloggers.
Far too many people focus on improving their video quality while using the same microphone for years on end or using in-built camera microphone.
Audio quality is as important as video quality.
You can be the most charismatic person in the world, but if you don’t have a mic that can record your voice properly, then nobody will understand you.
Keep in mind that proper audio is about more than just buying the right microphone, as you’ll also need to know how to edit it after it’s been recorded.
3 Best Camera Microphones for YouTube and Vlogging
If you record using a dedicated camera instead of a webcam or another device, you’ll find that a camera microphone will be an excellent choice.
As you would expect from the name, camera mics are meant to be mounted directly to your camera, ensuring that you won’t need a separate mount for it.
Camera microphones are referred to as shotgun mics because of their tubular appearance, and this is for functional reasons.
Shotgun mics are cardioid microphones that will only record what is directly in front of them, rejecting sounds that come from the sides and the back of the camera.
Since your camera will be facing you already, you’ll find that camera mics are ideal for eliminating the ambient noise in your recording studio while maintaining the quality of your voice.
Keep in mind that there are many types of camera microphones, catering to customers of various budgets.
For example, you can find compact shotgun mics available for smaller cameras, but you can also find high-end models that are equipped with their own recorders.
You should also consider the power source of your camera mic, as there are some that will draw phantom power from the camera, while others use batteries.
This type of microphones are best combined with vlogging cameras.
This shotgun mic from TAKSTAR is the most affordable option in its category, but this doesn’t mean that it’s to be underestimated.
You’ll find that this compact model is relatively capable, and it is much more reliable than other affordable shotgun mics, largely due to its excellent build quality.
The microphone itself is a smaller model, meaning that it will be easier to fit into your equipment bag and that it will be suitable for smaller cameras as well as larger models.
Of course, as the design is a bit smaller, it is also less sensitive than more expensive models, though it makes up for it when it comes to rejecting off-axis sounds.
Many affordable shotgun mics feature a cardioid pickup that will still detect a lot of noises to the sides of your target, though this model manages to reject quite a few of them.
While it will have difficulty rejecting louder sounds, the TAKSTAR SGC-598 is an excellent choice of shotgun microphone for anyone looking to save money.
- No battery included
- Difficult to mount
The VideoMic from the Australian audio company Rode is an excellent choice of shotgun microphone because of its combination of impressive features and excellent quality.
As with every Rode shotgun mic, this model is equipped with the Rycote Lyre shock mount which decreases mechanical noise and vibrations.
Unlike other mountings, the Lyre makes this microphone relatively easy to fit to your camera, and it is designed not to sag or lose its shape.
This microphone comes with a 10-year warranty, and that much is clear to see in its build quality, as this microphone is built to last longer than the competition.
The acoustic performance of this model is also highly impressive due to its rejection of many off-axis noises and its remarkable sensitivity.
Even if you’re recording at longer ranges, you’ll find that the VideoMic’s precise nature makes it an excellent choice for environments with too much ambient noise.
The inclusion of a high-pass filter means that this microphone is even more suited for the task, so if you’re recording in public, this is an excellent choice.
- A little pricey
- Bulkier than comparable models
Why I Like It
- Three gain options
- Improved RF resistance
- Supercardioid design ensures rejection of off-axis sounds
- Rycote Lyre shock mount
Finally, our most impressive shotgun mic is the VP-83 from Shure, which is a pricey option that trades affordability for even better sound quality.
This microphone provides you with lifelike audio for a lower price than many professional shotgun mics, some of which are up to five times its price.
A highly sensitive design means that this microphone is suitable for longer distances, though it is also versatile thanks to the inclusion of a three-option gain setting.
You can choose between -10 dB padding, 0 dB, and a +20 dB boost depending on whether you’re further away or closer to the subject.
This microphone will also resist RF emissions, ensuring that your recording isn’t plagued with interference and other artifacts which can reduce the quality.
Along with its long-range performance, this microphone is capable of eliminating most off-axis sounds.
This model also comes equipped with the Rycote Lyre mount, which is arguably the best shotgun mic mount around thanks to its long-term resilience.
While this microphone is a little larger and more expensive than competing options, it is certainly worth the extra money.
- High price
- Comparatively low battery life
3 Best Lavalier Microphones for Vlogging and YouTube
It is likely that you have seen a lavalier mic before, even if you don’t know what the term means. A lavalier is a small microphone that you clip on to your clothing, usually around your neck, so that you can use it hands-free. These mics are used by news anchors, talk show hosts, musicians, and more.
A lavalier microphone has the advantage when it comes to convenience, as you won’t have to worry about a stand getting in between you and your computer. Since you’ll need both of your hands free when you’re streaming so that you can use the mouse and keyboard, a lavalier mic is particularly useful.
Keep in mind that lavalier mics are much smaller than other models, so they will be less complex and may not come equipped with a wide range of features. The vast majority of lavaliers use an omnidirectional polar pattern because their location may shift due to the angle of your clothing.
These kinds of microphones also have the advantage when it comes to price point, as most lavaliers (even the high-end options) are more affordable than other types of mics. Of course, the single most notable issue with a lavalier mic is the lack of versatility, as it can only really be used to record your own voice, but that is more than enough for a streamer.
Vidpro XM-L Lavalier
Why I Like It
- Compatible with a wide range of devices
- Included accessories
- Long cable allows for versatile positioning
- Sound performance
For such an affordable price, you can’t expect much from the XM-L lavalier mic, but you may be pleasantly surprised by this model. First off, it is compatible with smart devices, computers, and anything else with a 3.5 mm input, ensuring that you won’t need to purchase countless cable splitters and dongles.
Being a lavalier mic, you’ll need to position the XM-L somewhere on your body, and the inclusion of a longer cable makes this much simpler. You won’t have to struggle with your microphone hitching on your clothes or being stretched uncomfortably taut. Unfortunately, this microphone faces some issues when it comes to reliability.
Aside from the less reliable design, this microphone likely provides you with the best value for money out of any lavalier option.
- Quality is as good as it gets for the price
Audio-Technica is one of the more popular audio companies, and their microphones are just as impressive as their headphones and turntables, as is evidenced by the ATR-3350IS. This relatively affordable lavalier mic features superior recording quality when compared to other models in the same price range.
The smartphone splitter that comes included with this lavalier mic means that you can also use it with a smartphone or a smart device, allowing you to listen as you record. As with most Audio-Technica products, this microphone features excellent build quality and a reliable design.
If you’re tired of your lavalier mics repeatedly breaking on you, then you can rely on this model for a long time to come. You’ll also find that this microphone will be able to pick up your voice regardless of the direction in which it is positioned thanks to its omnidirectional pickup pattern.
Unfortunately, there are some minor issues, including the lack of a battery indicator light and the wire being a source of vibration, but these concerns are overshadowed by the mic’s performance.
- No battery indicator
- Wire causes noise
Why I Like It
- Reinforced cable improved durability
- Professional-grade condenser
- Comes included with a pop filter
- Rode Rec app compatibility
If you’re willing to pay extra for your new lavalier mic, then the smartLav+ from Rode is a high-quality offering that comes with a few helpful features. If you’ve ever gotten your mic’s cable snagged on something and it snapped, then the first thing you’ll appreciate is this model’s kevlar-reinforced wire.
As with most of Rode’s other mics, this product features excellent build quality, with a durable clip that also doubles as a cable manager. The use of a professional-grade condenser on this mic also means that it will be able to record sounds coming from any direction with an excellent degree of fidelity.
The pop filter that comes with this microphone ensures that your pronunciation isn’t too aggressive on the listener’s ears and also doubles as a wind shield. One of the most impressive features is this mic’s compatibility with the Rode Rec app, allowing you to edit your work right after you record it.
While this microphone may be compatible with all iOS devices, it loses points for being unreliable when used with Androids.
- Not compatible with all Android devices
3 Best USB Microphones for YouTube
A microphone that runs on USB may seem like a strange idea to the layperson; why use a USB when there are tons of dedicated audio cables? The simple answer that that question is that the USB is a universally-compatible connector, ensuring that your microphone will work with the widest range of devices.
Anything with a USB port (or anything that accepts a USB adaptor) will be able to use a USB microphone, with the significant benefit of not needing specialized drivers. Since USB microphones don’t need specific drivers, they’ll be compatible with most audio editing programs.
If you’re looking for added compatibility with hardware and software, a USB microphone is an excellent choice. Another advantage is that USB microphones tend to be more affordable than other types, while still coming equipped with a variety of features and high-quality components.
Keep in mind that the USB will also provide power for your microphone, so you won’t need to worry about the batteries dying part way through your shoot. One of the downsides to USB microphones is that they lack portability when compared to smaller variants.
The Blue Snowball iCe model is an affordable USB microphone that is meant to be versatile and reliable, and it succeeds in both of these areas. The spherical design of this microphone means that it is much more durable than comparable models, allowing you to toss it in your bag directly without the need for a separate pouch.
This microphone comes included with a tripod stand, making it ideal for use on your desktop, which is one of the features that makes it more suitable for streamers. The cardioid pattern of this microphone will only pick up your voice, and it will reject sounds coming from behind and around it.
One of the main advantages of the Blue Snowball iCe is that the microphone is incredibly easy to use. If you’re a beginner when it comes to using microphones, you’ll find the plug-and-play functionality of this model refreshing, as it is compatible with all recording software and won’t require drivers.
This model doesn’t come equipped with a shock mount, but one can be purchased separately. Overall, this microphone offers immense value for money.
- No shock mount included
- Bulky design
Why I Like It
- Three condenser capsules ensure fidelity
- Offers a choice of four recording patterns
- Plug-and-play functionality improves user-friendliness
- Adjustable desktop stand
The Blue Yeti is an impressive USB microphone that is as easy to use as most models of this type. All you have to do is plug in this microphone, and it should be ready for use. This is one of the best microphones for YouTube and streamers because of its incredible degree of versatility, allowing for various types of videos.
The Yeti’s versatility is made possible by the inclusion of three separate condenser capsules, all of which are optimized for a certain angle. These condensers allow you to use four different recording patterns, depending on where the sound will be coming from: cardioid, stereo, omnidirectional, and bidirectional.
The desktop stand is another feature that makes this microphone suited for streamers, as you can adjust the Yeti to get the perfect side-address angle. Keep in mind that this microphone is also offered with bundles that are ideal for streamers, including one that comes with XSplit and OvrStream, and others that include games.
Despite the higher price tag, the Yeti’s versatility makes it more than worth the money.
- The dial to switch among the modes is really tough to turn
Why I Like It
- Excellent build quality
- Compatible with the majority of audio programs
- Real-time headphone monitoring jack
- Includes a desktop tripod stand
The NT-USB is a high-end USB mic that is offered by Rode, and the build quality is everything that you would expect from the renowned manufacturer. While the NT-USB is admittedly pricier than many other USB microphones, it is an excellent choice for advanced streamers and beginners alike.
This microphone can be used by such a wide range of Youtubers and streamers because it uses a USB connection, improving its compatibility with hardware and software. The cardioid design of the capsule results in the elimination of sounds behind and around the microphone, leading to a precise pickup pattern.
The inclusion of a tripod stand made for desktop use also makes this microphone a more attractive option for streamers, and the included pop filter improves the quality of your consonants. There is even a no-latency headphone jack that allows you to monitor your voice as you record.
Unfortunately, this product may not be ideal if you’re looking for a smaller microphone, as the NT-USB and the attached pop filter will take up quite a bit of space on your desk. Apart from the bulkiness, there are few notable downsides to this microphone.
- Bulky design made larger by the pop filter
3 Recorders for Cameras Without Mic Jack
The last type of microphone that we’ll be covering is unique in that it is a standalone device that can record audio without the aid of another device.
Recorders have been around for a long time, and this kind of microphone is essentially a modernized version of an old-fashioned tape recorder.
The benefit of a recorder is that it can be used alongside a camera that doesn’t come equipped with an audio input jack. If you’re unable to connect your microphone to your camera, you’re going to need to record the audio and the video separately and then edit the audio track into the visuals in post.
Recorders tend to be compact and portable, ensuring that they won’t take up too much space on your desk while you stream. Keep in mind that a recorder will often feature inferior audio quality when compared to a dedicated microphone of the same price, mainly due to the added complexity of the recorder.
Some recorders are even equipped with their own LCD screens that you can use to navigate menus and adjust settings. Keep in mind that many recorders will be fitted with both line-in and line-out jacks, allowing them to be used as traditional microphones if the need arises.
Zoom ZH1 H1
Why I Like It
- Lightweight and compact design
- Stereo microphones
- Included MicroSD card
- 10-hour battery life
- Can be used as a USB microphone
The ZH1 H1 from Zoom is the most affordable recorder-type microphone, though it is still relatively pricey compared to the low-end options in the other categories. Regardless, this model comes included with a wide range of features that help make it approachable for beginner streamers and functional for veteran Youtubers.
The first thing you’re likely to notice is how small, and lightweight this microphone with a recorder is. If you’re on the go, you won’t have a problem slipping this microphone into your pocket. While it may seem like this model is made for portable use, you’ll find that it is quite versatile.
While the ZH1 H1 features a 10-hour battery life, you can also plug it into an in-line power source like a camera or another device so that it can run for a longer time. With this model, you aren’t restricted to using it is a standalone product, as it has both input and output jacks.
This microphone even comes included with a 2 GB MicroSD card, but if you’re doing serious recording, you’ll prefer a little bit more space. Overall, this product is well worth the money.
- Buttons feel loose
- Needs a pop filter
Why I Like It
- LCD screen simplifies operation
- Battery life of 20 hours
- Features four different recording modes
- Variable pitch, playback speed, looping, and more
The H2n from Zoom is a little more expensive than the ZH1 H1, but it is also a lot more capable, coming equipped with five microphones. Along with the expected X/Y stereo microphones, you’ll find that this model also comes equipped with a forward-facing condenser, and two that face sideways, all mounted on top of each other.
The inclusion of all of these microphones means that the Zoom H2n has four different recording modes which can be used for all kinds of different scenarios: MS stereo, X/Y stereo, 2-channel, or 4-channel. There are also quite a few controls on the recorder so that you can adjust your recordings.
For example, you’ll be able to change the pitch or playback speed, add effects, normalize, divide, and so much more. Couple this with a battery life of 20 hours, and you’ll be able to record the sound for an entire stream without having to use a separate device.
While this microphone comes equipped with an LCD screen, it is still somewhat complicated, and you may require some experience if you’re planning on getting the most out of it.
- High price
- Not very beginner-friendly
Zoom H4N PRO
Why I Like It
- Back-lit LCD improves functionality
- Rubberized housing is ergonomic and damage-resistant
- Locking XLS connectors
- High-quality X/Y microphones
The H4N PRO from Zoom is a high end handy recorder that allows you to record top-quality sound wherever you are. While this device’s portability won’t be that much of a benefit to streamers, it offers exceptional sound quality for a product of its size, and its build quality is unmatched.
Thanks to the inclusion of high end X/Y stereo microphones, this product can register an impressive sound range, all the way up to 140 dB. You also have the choice between four-channel recording or stereo, depending on the kind of experience you would like to give your viewers.
Moving on to matters of convenience and user-friendliness, this model features a rubberized housing that has to functions: making the device more comfortable, and improving its durability. Equipped with a back-lit LCD, you won’t have to worry about trying to navigate this mic’s menus in the dark.
Unfortunately, this model suffers from a short battery life that ranges from six to ten hours depending on the quality of audio you’re recording. If you’re willing to carry around some extra batteries, there aren’t many mics with built-in recorders that can match this one.
- Short battery life
YouTube Microphone Buying Guide
In this part of the guide, we’re going to cover the things you should know so that you can find the best microphone for Youtube and vlogging.
We’ll take a look at some of the most crucial features to search for in high-quality microphones, and we’ll also go over polar patterns so that you can get a better understanding of them.
When looking for the right microphone, the first thing that you’ll always want to do is ensure that it will be compatible with your devices.
Depending on your streaming setup, you may find that you need a particular type of microphone, or maybe the model that you’re looking at simply doesn’t work on your computer.
The most compatible microphones tend to be USB models, but you’ll also find that those with 3.5 mm audio jacks will work with most devices.
You should also ensure that the microphone you’re looking at will work with the audio software that you use for editing.
There are a few different accessories that can come included with microphones, and some of them may end up being a necessity.
For example, a pop filter will clear up your plosive consonants so that your viewers don’t have to hear a little explosion every time you pronounce a “p” or a “b.”
You should also consider the stand that comes included with your microphone, as streamers will need a way to position it conveniently so that it doesn’t block the camera or their view of the screen.
Other accessories include carry cases, remote controls, splitters for smartphones, and more.
Explanation of Microphone Polar Patterns
A term that you may often hear when it comes to microphones is the polar pattern of a particular model, so let’s briefly go over what they are and the kinds of patterns you’ll encounter.
The polar pattern of a microphone, put into simple terms, is the direction in which it registers sounds.
Polar patterns are defined from a top-down perspective, and they are often named after the shape they make when looking at them from this angle.
To give you an idea, the graph for an omnidirectional polar pattern will look like a circle, because it will record sound equally from all directions.
Omnidirectional microphones are usually used when you want to give the audience the feeling that they are immersed in the video.
On the other hand, a cardioid (coming from the Greek word for heart) polar pattern will be in the shape of a heart, as it will record less sensitive audio from the sides and none from the back.
There are also figure-eight polar patterns, which are also known as bidirectional microphones, best known for their use in interviews.
There are many other polar patterns out there, and there are even specialized subtypes like supercardioids and hypercardioids, and finding the right one is the key to eliminating unwanted ambient noise.
Advantages of Using an External Microphone
You may be wondering why you should use an external microphone instead of the one that comes included with your camera.
While built-in camera microphones may be sufficient for amateur recording and family videos, you’ll need a dedicated mic if you plan on recording and publishing videos.
There are many disadvantages to the built-in microphones that you’ll find on the vast majority of cameras.
While it is true that some cameras feature built-in microphones that are passable, the difference between one and a dedicated microphone is night and day.
Another advantage of external microphones is that you can use accessories with them.
If you want to eliminate the popping sound every time you pronounce a plosive consonant, all you’re going to need is a pop filter.
You’ll also be able to choose a microphone with the right polar pattern for your needs, as most inbuilt options are omnidirectional mics.
Isolating the microphone from your camera is another advantage, as the mechanisms inside of it can transmit vibrations to the microphone, resulting in unwanted sounds. Most dedicated microphones will feature a shock mount that is resistant to these vibrations.
We have covered shotgun mics, lavaliers, USB microphones, and recorders in the hope that you can find at least one product which is suitable for your needs.
Sound quality is a crucial matter and you can take advantage of this by choosing the best microphone for YouTube vlogging.