January 27, 2022

What Are the Best Microphones for Podcasting in 2022?

Tae Haahr

Podcasting is an audio-first medium.

It’s true that video is becoming more popular in the space, but audio is where your show can really shine. There’s a low barrier for entry when it comes to podcasts, they’re easy and inexpensive to start. But audiences need quality audio to really commit to a show.

Bad audio is a big turn-off for a lot of listeners. Some even go so far as to say that without good audio quality, turning your podcast into a business is going to be a real challenge. It’s hard to make money off a sub-par product. 

Now, there are a number of factors that contribute to your audio quality but your microphone is the biggest. A good microphone will make it sound like you’re not using one at all — but with a mediocre one, you can hear everything from the echo in the room to an annoying, unclear crackle.

Bad podcast audio can truly ruin a show, but there’s a mic out there that can help you put together quality sound regardless of your budget. 

Which one is it? We’ve compiled a list of our favorites for you to check out.

Heads up! We use affiliate links for products and services we think you’ll find interesting. We may earn a small commission should you choose to buy through them, though never at any extra cost to you. 

But do I really need a microphone?

Yes, you absolutely do.

I am not one to encourage spending any amount of money lightly. I firmly believe that shiny object syndrome is a serious issue in creative fields like podcasting. Most of the latest and greatest things you don’t actually need to get your podcast off the ground. A microphone is not one of those things. 

Podcasting is an audio-first medium, and if your audio sucks you’ll have serious issues growing. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to break open your childhood piggy bank to get one. It simply means that you need something that isn’t your laptop’s built-in option or the microphone that’s in your headphones.

Everything else can wait in podcasting, just not the mic. 

So, what are the best podcast microphones?

The best microphone for you is the one you’re comfortable with and know how to use. Most microphones are capable of creating decent audio for your podcast, so there’s not really a right or wrong answer. 

That means the good news is you don’t have to break the bank to start podcasting. There’s a good choice for your budget, whatever it is. The problem is, there are a lot to choose from.

Microphones for under $100

1. Pyle Dynamic Studio Microphone 

Pyle 3 Piece Professional Dynamic Microphone Kit

As a podcast microphone, this guy is wholly unimpressive. It’s missing the cool 1950s radio mic vibe, there aren’t any top-rated YouTube review videos on it, and nobody’s rushing out to buy it because everyone else has it. 

But we picked a pair of these up at the beginning of our podcast journey some five years ago for less than $30 a piece (Canadian, that is), and they’re still going strong. While the sound quality isn’t comparable to Tom Hanks recording the final tracks of Toy Story 4 in the Pixar studio, it does have a nice, clean professional-sounding tone. There’s no awkward buzzing, it’s not hard to use, and it will still work if you drop it on the floor once (or a half-dozen times). 

This is not the podcasting tool of anyone’s dreams, but it and a dozen other standard dynamic mics can be found on Amazon for under $50. No one at NPR is going to approach you for sound tips using one of these babies, but it’ll help you get your podcast off the ground and you won’t have to take out a second mortgage on your home to do it. 

I should note that finding one of these with the USB cord can sometimes be challenging — I know because we added another one to our set later on and had to dig around for it. But you can get a cord that has a USB plug to replace whatever comes with it, and it’ll probably only add a few dollars onto your order — while you’re at it, throw a pop filter in your cart too!

For those of you that are genuinely itching for something vintage-style, Pyle does have a classic radio microphone that you can grab for under $50. While I can’t personally confirm whether or not it’s worth the cost, your Instagram photos will probably turn out killer. 

Get the Pyle Dynamic Studio Mic on Amazon

2. Samson Q2U

Samson Technologies Q2U USB/XLR Dynamic Microphone

For those of you with money burning a hole in your pocket, if a $30 microphone is too cheap for your bones but you don’t mind the boring, traditional look, then the Samson Q2U is for you. This microphone still looks like something you’d perform karaoke with, but it has stellar reviews from podcasters around the world.

How much you pay for this microphone usually depends on where you pick it up, but you should be able to snag one of these bad boys for under $75. This is another microphone that comes with both USB and non-USB cords, so you’ll probably want to keep an eye out for one that does if you’re going to be recording on your laptop.

These old school church-choir microphones are a good pick for the newbie podcaster because they’re almost indestructible — though please don’t run it over with your car and come complain to me that it broke — and incredibly easy to use. You simply set it up, plug it in, and make sure the computer you have is picking up the external microphone (Macbooks tend to call it some variation of “external USB” device). And just like that, you’re ready to go!

Get the Samson Q2U on Amazon

3. Rode Smartlav+

Rode SmartLav+ Lavalier Microphon

For those of you that plan to take your show on the road, you might want to consider a lavalier microphone. I personally own two (one of which is the Rode Smartlav model from way back in 2009) and while they can be a little more challenging to get the hang of, they are convenient to grab and go.

A lavalier microphone — also called a “lapel” or “tie clip” microphone — is an itty bitty device that clips onto your shirt or lapel and is most often paired with an external recorder. Note that just because it’s referred to as a tie clip mic, doesn’t mean that’s necessarily the best place to pin it, unless you’re remaining seated and have a well-knotted tie, opt for the collar around the collarbone area.

If your main recording tool is going to be your phone, then the Rode Smartlav+ will probably be your best friend. This tiny little microphone is compact enough to toss in your bag (carefully though) but powerful enough to record solid audio, and it plugs right into a typical headphone jack (3.5mm, though you can add an adapter if you have a lightning jack). 

There are three main things that I love about the Rode Smartlav compared to other lavaliers on the market:

  1. It can easily be used with a modern device like your phone if you download the Rode app, but also works with native apps like Voice Recorder. This is not always the case, and using your lavalier microphone with a laptop or notebook takes a little work to set up. In my experience, not all lav mics are a plug-in-and-go deal with your phone either.
  2. It doesn’t require its own battery. The second lavalier microphone that I own (designed by Nexttech) requires a watch battery to function. While it records good sound, you need to watch the batteries carefully because there’s no indicator to let you know if they’re running low.
  3. It will not break the bank. Lavs can get quite expensive, I suspect because building a solid product that small is a more challenging feat. But the Smartlav shouldn’t run you more than $65.

While all of that sounds stellar, I will caution you that a lavalier is primarily a solo podcaster’s tool. If you plan to record an in-person podcast with a guest or co-host, this is probably not going to be the microphone for you. Most of the time using two lavs will mean two recording devices, unless you’re willing to shell out for a portable recording device — an expense you really don’t need this early in your podcasting career.

I tend to use mine when I’m recording a solo episode (or video) at a location that isn’t my desk. If that sounds like you and you’re looking for low cost, low maintenance, and low interruption, this is the mic for you. Your Instagram pictures won’t be as podcasty, but you’ll be able to take them from the beach!

Get the Rode Smartlav+ on Amazon

Microphones for under $200

You can definitely snag an affordable podcasting microphone for under $100. But if you’ve stashed away your Christmas cash for a rainy day and that rainy day is now, there are a few higher priced but still affordable choices for you:

1. Blue Yeti

Blue Yeti USB Mic

I would be remiss to not mention the Blue Yeti microphone somewhere on this list. Before someone calls me out on this — you can technically find a Blue Yeti for under $100. And by “under” I mean by a cent, so considering taxes, I believe it belongs here. To be clear, this is not the microphone I would recommend — but there are a lot of podcasters out there that would, so I feel it’s only fair to bring it in as an option. 

Now, I don’t know who runs Blue Yeti’s marketing team, but I’m a firm believer that they should get a raise. There was a time (not so long ago) where every podcaster, their mom, and their dog, had to have one of these. With that in mind, I would like to clearly point out that you don’t have to have one to be a podcaster.

I am not a big fan of the Blue Yeti, especially for new podcasters, because it’s a microphone that's a bit complex to work with. That’s not to say that it’s not a good podcasting tool, but it’s not a right-out-of-the-box, plug-and-play option. This you can tell by the amount of “how to get good sound from your Blue Yeti” videos there are floating around out there.

If you are someone experienced in working with and recording sound, the Blue Yeti could be the perfect microphone for you. It features four different recording patterns, and depending on the model you get, could also feature a gain or volume control. This allows for considerable customization, but if you’re brand new to audio recording those options could be a real roadblock.

However, my biggest issue with the Blue Yeti is that when I tried one out, I simply didn’t enjoy the experience. I found it to be heavy, clunky, and in my way. Plus, all of the ones that I’ve seen come with preset stands, which means that changing the height of your microphone isn’t possible, unless you have a large stack of books. 

Get the Blue Yeti on Amazon

2. Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB

Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB Dynamic Microphone

We can drop the Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB in the not-impressive-to-look-at-on-Instagram but produces quality audio on an affordable budget category. You can score one of these USB podcast microphones for just over $100. Technically it’s a USB-C, but it still counts. 

This is a versatile and portable microphone (though not quite as portable as a lavalier). You can connect this directly to your computer, or another capture device. It also isn’t strictly for USB-related use, it also has an XLR connection which you can use at the same time if you’re getting real fancy.

It also comes fit with a stand — which isn’t a huge deal because you can pick one up for fairly cheap, but does matter if you’re planning on a right-out-of-the-box experience. Otherwise, you could be waiting for a second Amazon package to arrive.

Get the ATR2100 on Amazon

Over $201

I could go all day with the “under $X” label, but $201+ is going to be a stretch for most new podcasters, and experienced podcasters looking for a new microphone in a higher price range probably already have something in mind.

If you’re a new podcaster looking to spend more, I’d encourage you to instead invest that money towards a tool that makes your podcasting experience easier — my recommendation would be something in the editing space. But, alas, I’m not your mother, so here’s what you can get your hands on:

1. Shure SM7B

Shure SM7B Dynamic Microphone

Alright moneybags, if you fancy yourself the next Marc Maron you might as well use his microphone. The Shure SM7B is a gorgeous podcasting microphone that will (probably) make all the other posters around you jealous. There are plenty of podcast royalty that call the Shure SM7B their favorite microphone, and for almost $399 it better be.

Now, I make fun, but this is legitimately a stellar podcasting tool that will give you studio-quality sound considering this is a studio microphone. It features on-mic controls, so you can adjust on the fly (though you’ll want to do it before you hit record). It has a built-in shock-mount (if it gets lightly bumped during the recording the microphone shouldn’t catch it), and pop filter.

This is a true broadcast microphone. The downside to it — besides the hefty price tag — is that it requires phantom power. Which means, simply put, it needs a special, external power source that will increase your bill by a couple hundred.

Get the Shure SM7B on Amazon

2. Electro Voice RE-20

Electro-Voice RE20 Broadcast Microphone

The Electro Voice RE-20 is another studio-level microphone that isn’t travel friendly and needs some extra add-ons (like a stand of some sort). You can’t just plug this bad boy into your computer and hit record, it requires a separate audio interface.

While it has an internal pop filter, it’s recommended that you pair it with a windscreen which will help protect it — and for over $500, you’ll want to protect it. The sound it collects is crisp, clean, and incomparable with our favorite USB microphones. If you are looking for a truly professional sound and can afford it, sound professionals swear by this microphone.

Get the Electro Voice RE-20 on Amazon

Which microphone is right for you?

Choosing a microphone is a personal choice, and so long as it works for podcasting and you enjoy using it, there probably isn’t a right or wrong answer. However, I do believe the biggest determining factor should be your budget. You do not need an expensive podcasting microphone to get off the ground.

If you’re just starting your podcast journey and you have no idea what you’re doing (we’ve all been there), Alitu offers a pretty stellar 7-day Bootcamp that can help you get pointed in the right direction.


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