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Recording vocals is not just about hooking the next available mic to your computer and passionately belting out! You need a microphone that can deliver the highest audio quality – something that gives you the sound that truly represents the feel and energy you want. Your budget also plays a huge part in your buying decision, but first, finding what meets your needs – that conveys the right tone – is most crucial.
Figuring out the best microphone for recording vocals on a computer can be challenging. There seem to be a plethora of available gimmicks and picking the right one is not quite easy. After an extensive search, we’ve carefully narrowed our list to include 10 fantastic microphones that can deliver great sounds and come at a decent price range.
You can rest assured that our recommendations take both overall sound quality and price into consideration. But first, here’s something you need to understand about microphones for recording vocals.
Types of Vocal Microphones
Okay, we don’t enjoy long, drawn-out lectures too, but this piece of information is necessary, especially if you are new to microphones. For the complete novice, vocal microphones are all the same, but nothing can be farther from the truth.
If you don’t know the different types of vocal mics, you may end up buying a studio mic because it is usually more powerful and has all the physical appearance of a microphone. However, you may be disappointed because your newly acquired sophisticated mic cannot connect to your computer! What? It doesn’t even have a USB connector!
Here’s the thing, your computer cannot sufficiently power a standard studio mic that is even if the microphone can connect to your computer. You will need to buy an additional audio interface, a preamp, phantom power, or some external power source. If you don’t know this, you are likely to be disappointed with your purchase.
Quickly, vocal microphones are grouped into three main categories.
- Condenser Microphones: When it comes to recording vocals, condenser microphones are a great choice because of their sensitivity and detail. Their internal build and polar patterns make it possible to record only the sounds in front of them while isolating other sounds. This makes them the excellent and most popular option for recording vocals.
- Tube Microphones: Vintage recording comes to mind when you consider tube mics. Technically, tubes can pass as condensers, but they have a different internal build. Instead of having transistors as is found in typical condensers, tube mics use tubes for audios. It can be argued that the difference in the sound quality of a tube against a condenser is subjective. Even so, you should listen to a tube microphone and decide whether to go with the refined old-school tube sound or go with the digitally-mastered new-school condenser sound.
- USB Microphones: Technically, USB mics are also condenser microphones (at least almost all of them are), so they are not really a category. However, it makes sense to classify them separately for a couple of reasons. First, they are more affordable than most professional condenser mics. Also, they are relatively easy to use and are considered most suitable for beginner vocalists. All you need to do is plug the USB mic into your computer, and you are good to go! There is no need to worry about powering or setting them up. But be aware that they don’t yield top-notch sounds the way standard condenser mics do. And since they are mainly plug-and-play devices, they mostly don’t offer the option of plugging into other audio interfaces besides a computer.
The first two categories are mostly used in studios. They are not your typical plug-and-play mics, and as such, they may not be compatible with your computer regardless of how powerful or sophisticated they are.
When considering the best microphone for recording vocals on the computer, first, you need to decide the category or type of mic you want. When you have figured out what type of mic suites you most, your next logical step is to find a way to adjust your budget to that choice.
Remember that what you genuinely want is great sound quality and not just some piece of equipment with poor output. Now, let us dive right into our list of recommendations for the best microphones for recording vocals on the computer.
1. Blue Yeti Pro
This list will be incomplete without this simple but powerful piece of recording tool, so we may as well kick off with it. This is our all-time favorite microphone – the Blue Yeti Pro. This mic produces 24-bit/192 kHz digital recordings, making it an equal contender with some of the standard studio condenser microphones available. But it is not just a USB mic – it also features an XLR to give you the flexibility of hooking up the mic to your setup in more than one way.
The sound and build of this mic are simply amazing, which is why it is listed among almost all best USB microphone reviews on the web. Indeed, if you want to buy a reliable and all-round USB mic for recording vocals on your computer, consider getting the Blue Yeti, particularly the Pro version. This is, perhaps, the closest any USB mic has come to traditional condenser mics.
Okay, here’s one mic that can easily pass for a handheld vocal microphone for live performing. The Audio Technica ATR2100 is not just your everyday USB mic. Like the Blue Yeti Pro, this cardioid dynamic microphone combines XLR and USB inputs, making it an excellent mic for both studio and on-stage recording.
It is not surprising that this handheld mic makes our list of best microphone for recording vocals on the computer because of its great features. It is equipped with polar patterns for blocking unwanted sounds coming from the rear or sides. It is well-suited for home studio recording, voiceover, on-stage use, podcasting, and field recording.
Do you remember earlier when we mentioned that a large percentage of USB microphones are condensers? Well, here’s the thing: condensers don’t do a great job at delivering high-quality sounds without acoustic treatment. And guess who has little to no acoustic treatment – most of the people who use USB mics! A home studio setup usually lacks what it takes to produce first-rate sounds with a condenser mic. So your best bet is a dynamic USB microphone.
Long story short, the Rode Podcaster is the best dynamic USB mic available. It comes with a built-in zero-latency headphone jack. Check it out here for more details and current price.
4. Apogee MiC 96k
Apogee designed the MiC 96k USB mic with mobility in mind. There’s no doubt that recording vocals don’t really require any special recording equipment these days. But this cute USB microphone goes a bit further – you don’t even need a computer to use the Apogee MiC 96k! You could be away from your desktop or laptop, but still, record your vocal using your smartphone or tablet.
One more thing: this unique USB mic records up to 96 kHz/24-bit as against the other USB mics that record at 44.1 kHz/16-bit.
Here is another great mic from Apogee. This version from the Apogee brand has a significantly improved audio quality with more flexibility than the Mic 96k version, even though the USB version is a great mic, too!
Apogee had made a mark with their models right from when USB microphones started to hit the market, and the Mic Plus is no exception. With a 24-bit/96 kHz resolution, this vocal mic delivers high-quality output.
Some of its features include input gain adjustment/mute control, input level and blend mode indicator, 3-color LED status, and headphone out control. Another cool thing about the Apogee Mic Plus is its size and weight. It is tiny compared to other mics on this list and has a weight of about half a pound.
The Apogee Mic Plus compares favorably with the Blue Yeti Pro in specs and price-point, even though the Blue Yeti Pro can go as high as 192 kHz. However, if you want to record your vocals with a purely USB mic, the Apogee Mic Plus is what you should be considering. But if you want the flexibility of connecting your mic via USB or XLR, consider getting a Blue Yeti Pro.
6. Blue Yeti USB
For those who will like to record some musical instruments along with vocals, the Blue Yeti USB is what you should be considering. A regular USB microphone does not have the capacity to record vocals and instruments at the same time. Even in studios, you will need two mics with different configurations to record in stereo. But, as you would have guessed by now, the Blue Yeti USB is built to do just that!
This is possible because, apart from recording in Cardioid, Figure-8, and Omni-directional patterns, the Blue Yeti USB mic has a built-in Tri-Capsule Array designed to record in stereo. There are hardly any USB microphones that can perform this feat. And for this reason, we have included it in our list of best microphones for recording vocals on the computer. Whichever version you choose – Blue Yeti USB or Blue Yeti Pro – you will be pleased with your purchase.
7. Rode NT USB
There’s no need to fluff things up when it comes to Rode – it is a well-established brand as far as microphones go. The Rode NT USB is not in the class of what you’ll call a gimmick. This is a unique vocal microphone that compares favorably with standard studio mics, plus it comes with the extra convenience of a USB connector.
One unique feature of the Rode NT USB is the mix control for the headphone jack. You can fine-tune the backing and live tracks by simply turning a knob. This is a rare characteristic among mics, particularly USB microphones.
8. CAD U37
Anyone asking, “What is the best microphone for recording vocals on the computer?” will probably not look at this vocal USB mic twice. First, it doesn’t look as appealing as other USB mics, and quite frankly, the price is somewhat on the low side. So, why did we include it in our pick? Simple. The CAD U37 is an excellent example of the phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover!”
At first blush, the CAD U37 mic can easily be brushed aside as cheap, low-quality, and just not good enough, especially if you compare CAD brands with other professional-level brands. But you will be amazed by what this deceptively simple microphone can do. Just take a look at the massive positive reviews from satisfied users.
It comes with a bass-reduction switch to minimize room noise and a 10 dB overload-protection switch that reduces any type of distortions from loud sound sources. It is compatible with Windows and Mac. You don’t have to install any software on your computer to use this mic. Simply plug it to your computer, and you are all set!
9. Samson Q2U
The Samson Q2U is a high-quality dynamic mic with both USB and XLR connectors for digital and analog vocal recording. This handheld microphone gives you the chance to sound your best without ever having to step into a studio! With its cardioid pickup pattern, only sounds in front of it are captured.
So, you don’t have to worry too much about ambient sounds or other noises from your room during a recording. And if you want to use the Samson Q2U in live performances, you can be sure that any feedback is significantly minimized.
It ships with an extended desktop stand, pop-filter, mic clip, and USB and XLR cables. You can check out the current price here.
10. Blue Snowflake
Our last, but certainly not the least, mic to make this list, is something that looks more like a gimmick. All the other microphones we’ve recommended so far have the physical appearance of normal mics, but not this cute little mobile mic.
We’ve included the Blue Snowflake in our list of best microphones for recording vocals on the computer for one simple reason: mobility. You don’t have to worry about weight, casing, or packaging. You can carry this USB vocal mic inside your pocket. Now that’s cool, right?
The Blue Snowflake mic has its unique casing that houses the USB cable. You can unfold the case and attach the mic to a desktop or simply clip it to a laptop, and record all you want! Click here to see the current price.