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Best Podcast Microphones for 2022 (Under $200)

An array of PreSonus PD-70 microphones on a black background

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There really isn’t such a thing as a list of the de facto best podcast microphones; every microphone performs differently for different voices so finding the best podcast podcast microphones for your voice requires a lot of trial and error. I’m a fan of walking into my local Guitar Center (or whatever) and trying out all their microphones to see how I sound, and I would encourage you to explore your microphone options in the same way. However, I realize some people just want lists and directions, so I’ll do my best to compile a list of the best podcast microphones under $150.

The Best Podcast Microphones: USB Options

USB microphones have two major benefits over their XLR counterparts: they come into your computer at “line level” and so do not require a mic preamp. They also pass a digital signal (as opposed to an analogue one) right from the start and so do not require an Audio Interface Device in order to connect to your computer. Audio Interface Devices are both DACs (Digital Audio Converters) and preamps, and an AID that can accept two XLR microphone inputs costs anywhere between $100 and $300 depending on the brand. Since USB microphones require neither of the benefits of an AID, you don’t need to buy one. That means your overall setup with a USB microphone could be a few hundred dollars cheaper than an XLR setup. Here are my picks for the best podcast microphones (USB, under $200):

The Audio-Technica AT2005USB microphone

Audio-Technica is an established, trusted, and sturdy audio gear brand. Their microphones are well-built, well-reviewed, and a fan favorite of budget-conscious podcasters.

The Audio-Technica ATR2100X USB microphone

Practically identical to the AT2040 in terms of performance, the ATR2100X has a warmer tone and the added benefit of offering both USB and XLR connectivity in a single microphone. This is handy if your setup ever matures from USB to XLR – you won’t need to repurchase a microphone.

The Samson Q9U microphone

The Samson Q9U is a relatively new offering (at the time of writing) that has seen a warm reception by fans of the Samson Q2U, and predecessor to the Q9U in terms of usb dynamic cardioid microphones. Where the Q2U fell flat (literally, and that’s an audio nerd joke), the Q9U is a massive upgrade. It’s also about 3x the price, but that additional cost is, in my opinion, well worth it. The Q9U also features dual connectivity options (USB & XLR).

The Best Podcast Microphones (XLR Microphones)

In contrast to USB microphones, XLR microphones do not come in at “line level” and, in fact, cannot come into your computer at all without a DAC (Digital Audio Converter). This means they are quiet and, on their own, incompatible with your standard computer connections. USB Audio Interface Devices (AIDs) are, as I said before, a device which acts as both a microphone preamp and a DAC, so you’ll need one to connect and use your XLR microphone. XLR microphones offer the advantages of higher quality recordings at a lower cost and the ability to connect multiple microphones to a single computer – connecting multiple USB microphones to a single computer is very likely to cause you issues sooner rather than later. Here are my picks for the best podcast microphones (XLR, under $200):

The Shure SM58 Microphone

The SM58 is a mic you’ve likely held before – especially if you’re a fan of karaoke. It is the stereotypical live vocals microphones. It has been around since 1966 and has changed very little since – a credit to its near-perfection. When I opened my first brick and mortar recording studio, I opened it with nothing but SM58s, and I added no additional microphones to my collection for nearly a year.

The Sennheiser e835 microphone

Gunning to be the SM58 of the next century, the Sennheiser e835 features crisp vocals, low-handling noise, and an SPL rating of over 150db – meaning, you can get right up on this mic and not worry about being too loud for the capsule.

The PreSonus PD-70 microphone

PreSonus makes my DAW, and I love their products, but when they came out with a broadcast microphone I was skeptical. Just because you make great plugins, software, and other audio-related products, doesn’t mean you can get microphones right. But PreSonus puts the precision in precision German engineering – the PD-70 slaps. It’s pricy, sure, but it’s worth it. Absolutely a contender to higher priced mics in its category, such as my beloved RE20 or the ever popular SM7b.

So which one will you choose?

For the money, I believe the microphones I’ve listed here are the best podcast microphones currently on the market. They’re affordable without sacrificing quality, they’re well-built, and they’ve been put through their paces by me personally. Choose any of these, and you’ll have chosen wisely.

An image taken from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. A Knight giving the thumbs up with the caption "You have chosen wisely"

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