Updated 13 March 2022
We have tested microphones and name Blue Microphones Yeti as best microphone of 2021. This table microphone has a high sound quality and many functions which makes it suitable for a wide range of uses, for example podcasts, twitch streaming or for the recording studio. The design is user-friendly and it's easy to get started.
Our tests are independently conducted and reflect the test editor's honest and objective opinions. Selection of products and test results are in no way influenced by manufacturers, retailers or other internal or external parties.
We carry out all of our tests ourselves and test all products in real conditions. We tested the microphones in their intended environments. If the microphone is intended for home studios, we have created such an environment. If the microphone is intended to be portable, we have used it in the type of environments it is meant for. All microphones have been connected as stated in the user manual, and have been tested with several different types of technical equipment to ensure that any faults aren't related to aspects such as the computer used in the test.
We have focused on the following aspects.
Sound: How good is the sound quality of the recorded material? Is there any noise? How natural is the sound? How clean is the sound? Is the sound well balanced? How well does the directional sensitivity work when we move around the microphone? How much environmental noise is picked up?
Build quality: How well built is the microphone? Are there parts that give off noises? If there are controls, can they be altered during recording without them giving off noise? Do the controls move smoothly? Is the microphone stable?
Functionality: Are there any functions in addition to the microphone's primary ones? If so, how does it perform? Does it include any software? If so, how user-friendly is it and what possibilities does it provide?
Beyond these factors, we have also taken into account user-friendliness, the manual and guarantee. Finally, we have compared all of these aspects with the price of the test product and allocated a score on the basis of value for money.
High performance table microphone with user-friendly design
Microphone type: Table Response: 20 Hz-20 kHz Sensitivity: 4.5 mV/Pa (1 kHz) Max SPL: 120 dB Polar pattern: 4 (omnidirectional, bidirectional, stereo, cardioid) Connections: USB, 3.5 mm Physical controls: Volume knob, mute button, sensitivity knob, knob for polar recording pattern Miscellaneous: Available in many different colours
The Blue Microphones Yeti is a table microphone that gives you lots of sound and has good build quality for the money, and is therefore our best microphone of 2020. It's well built apart from slightly sluggish controls, and has a stable design. You have access to a decent number of settings. In terms of design, it's quite big, but the rounded shape makes it seem smaller. It's easy to orient. You can fix it in a particular position using the two controls on the side. With the USB cable connected, you can easily get started with recording. This makes the Yeti extremely user-friendly even for those who aren't used to technical products. We like the fact that there's a physical mute button. This is very useful, for example, when you're speaking into the microphone and want to be able to quickly turn off the sound if someone comes into the room.
The Yeti gives you very high quality recording quality given the price tag. In this price class and segment, you can't find a microphone that performs better. You get a very natural soundstage which is clean and clear and with good balance. At the same time, noise is kept to a very low level. Unfortunately it does also pick up a bit of environmental noise regardless of how you set the sensitivity, which impairs the good impression somewhat. For example, a computer with a noisy fan can produce audible noise in your recordings. There's quite a big difference when you rotate the sensitivity knob, so you should experiment with this before starting to record. But even on the lowest level we experience quite a lot of environmental noise. The USB cable is very long, which means you can place yourself a little way from the computer, but this is still a negative point in the test report. However, given the price this is a very good value for money table microphone suitable for those wanting to record podcasts, YouTube films or if you want to stream to Twitch or similar services.
Modern and robust with first-class sound quality
Connection: USB Type A Frequency: 20 Hz-20,000 Hz Sound pressure level: min. gain: 141 dB max. gain: 91 dB Weight: 485 g Sensitivity: min. gain: -61 dBFS (80 dB SPL, 1 kHz), max. gain: -11 dBFS (80 dB SPL, 1 kHz) Noise: min. gain: -117 dBFS (A) max. gain -79 dBFS(A) Sampling: 44.1 – 48 – 88.2 – 96 kHz Bit rate: 16 Bit, 24 Bit.
When the MK4 Analog was first released in 2011, people were hugely impressed with its fantastic sound recording and build quality. However, it took almost 5 years before Sennheiser released a digital version that gave you the opportunity to plug the microphone directly into your Macbook, PC, iPad etc.
The MK4 Digital gives you the freedom to be more mobile with your music, podcasts and so on. You don’t have to lug a lot of extra equipment or cables, which makes it both easy and fun to record music or other sound when you're on the go.
The exterior hasn’t changed. But that isn’t a negative statement, as the MK4 Digital both feels and looks robust while the design is minimalist. The build quality is high, and the microphone really feels like a premium model.
High quality often comes via materials that weigh a little more than ordinary plastics. So for those of you who have to carry this in your bag every day, it’s going to feel a bit heavy. Nor is this a microphone you’re going to want hold in your hand for a very long time.
The sound recording is impressive. For acoustic music, such as guitar, recording with the MK4 Digital is sharp, clear and has a wonderful depth. You get a real feeling of authenticity.
The microphone also does a good job at reducing background noise whilst focusing on those sounds which are up close. And you can basically eliminate all background noise with a few keystrokes using many free programs.
Overall, everything about the MK4 Digital, such as design, sound recording, reduction of background noise and the fact that it’s so easy to connect, makes this an excellent purchase. The big question you need to ask yourself is whether you want to spend the extra money on a Digital MK4 or settle for the analogue version. Bear in mind, however, that with the latter you’ll need some extra equipment to be able to connect it to your computer, so if you don’t already have the gear, then maybe the price evens out in the end.
A really good microphone
Frequency response: 20 Hz-20 kHz Sensitivity: 25 mV/Pa Max SPL: 140 dB Polar patterns: 1 (cardioid) Connections: XLR Physical controls: None
The Sennheiser MK4 is an analogue cardioid condenser microphone with extremely good sound quality given the price. If you're going to stream with as low a noise level as possible, it's a great option. The same applies if you're looking to record your own music in your home studio without breaking the bank. For example, acoustic music sounds incredibly good.
Voices come through crystal clear. It also evens out peaks well so that the sound doesn’t become shrill. The sound is airy and well-balanced. If we were to complain about anything, it would be that we'd have liked a little more oomph in the bass notes. But overall this is one of the best microphones we've tested, particularly given its price class.
It also does a good job of not picking up unnecessary environmental noise – for example it reduces keyboard sound very well.
The build quality is high. The metal body makes the microphone quite heavy, but it's intended to be installed in a housing, so in practice this doesn’t matter – in fact it gives a premium feel.
One genuine disadvantage of the MK4 is that you have very few outputs to play with. The only one on the microphone itself is XLR, and this normally means you have to buy an external sound card if you don't already have one. But there’s a digital variant of the MK4 where you can connect and adapter, and can then link it directly to your mobile phone, for example. This analogue version doesn’t have this option, for obvious reasons.
Nor is there an XLR cable in the package, which we feel is a bit stingy. In other words, if you don't already have the other equipment you need, this means it’ll cost you a couple of hundred quid more to use the MK4.
But you do get what you pay for, and the price for the actual microphone isn't really that high given how good the quality is.
Microphone type: Attachable boom microphone Response: 100 Hz-10 kHz Polar pattern: 1 (cardioid) Connections: 3.5 mm Physical controls: Mute button Miscellaneous: Includes several different attachment types
The Antlion Audio Modmic 4 is a discreet, small external boom microphone that can be attached to your normal headphones and which delivers good sound quality. The microphone is connected to the computer's microphone input and then positioned in a suitable place. It includes a number of plastic clasps and adhesive pads that you can use to attach the microphone. For example, you can use an adhesive pad to attach it directly to your desk. If your headphones are wired, you can instead use a plastic clasp to attach the microphone there. Another exciting solution is to attach it directly to the headphones with an adhesive pad. We like the length of this boom microphone as well as the fact that you can angle it with a small screw. This gives you even better positioning options. The Modmic 4 gets still more points for its discreet travelling case and the mute button on the cable.
Even if the Modmic 4 generally has high sound quality, in some cases it can pick up static sound when you use an analogue connection. There are ways around this, but you should check whether this problem occurs with your particular sound card - and if so how to resolve it - before buying. For example, one solution is to use an external USB sound card. But this doesn't happen with all computers and out of the four we tested, we only had the issue with one. The microphone has no problems picking up sound at distance, so it works very well if you want to position it on your desk. However, you shouldn't place it too close to the computer as it then risks picking up sound from the keyboard and fan. Overall, it does a good job to reduce environmental noise and simultaneously pick up your voice. In summary, the Modmic 4 is an excellent option if you already have a pair of headphones that you like and which you want to supplement with a good microphone. It's ideal for anyone playing games in a group, both on a LAN and at home - and also for playing games online.
Minimalistic microphone with good sound quality
Connection: USB Frequency: 70–20,000 Hz Weight: With stand 596 g, Without stand 247 g Sensitivity: -25 dB Sampling: 48 kHz
Elgato Wave:3 is a microphone intended for gamers and people who record podcasts and the like. It worked excellently from the moment we took it out of the box and connected it. It doesn't require much adjustment of the settings for it to sound really good.
However, for being a premium microphone, it comes with very few accessories, e.g. it lacks a pop-filter. Only stand and microphone are included.
It is basically also a fairly simple microphone. On the microphone body you have a headphone jack, USB-C, a control that allows you to choose between three different settings, and you can raise and lower the gains. You also have access to fast mute. It is minimalistic, but also quite standard for this type of microphone.
A clear advantage is that if you have a stand, you can easily unscrew the bottom plate.
You're primarily paying for the sound quality. This microphone has really good sound pick-up, your voice comes through noise-free and sounds clear and crisp. It is possible that the microphone is a little weak on the lower frequencies, but this is marginal in terms of price.
As with most microphones, it picks up some sound from the background but, by adjusting the settings a little, it works excellently. If you sit in a quiet environment and stream, it’s clean.
Elgato Wave:3 is ideal if you are looking for a microphone with really good sound quality. It doesn't have many adornments or extra accessories, so we think it could perhaps be a little overpriced. That said, it’s still a really good microphone.
Visually challenging but functional
Connection: USB Frequency: 20-20,000 Hz Weight: With stand 646 g, Without stand 254 g Sensitivity: -36 dB Sampling: 48 kHz Bitrate: 16 bit
The QuadCast S is a USB-based RGB microphone from HyperX. Guaranteed to attract attention, this RGB microphone is mostly aimed at the gaming and streaming community where you usually use a webcam. But of course it can also be used for podcasts and so on.
The Quadcast S is actually really attractive, and ideal for those who want to stand out. It's supposed to be an upgraded version of HyperX's QuadCast, but what sets them apart? The biggest difference, as previously mentioned, is the RGB lighting. But the QuadCast S also has USB-C on the microphone. Those things aside, they consist of the same components.
With the HyperX Ingenuity app, you can customise the colours to your personal taste.
And just as with the QuadCast, the Quadcast S has good sound recording given its price tag. The voice is crisp and clear, and the basic settings are set in a way that allows you to more or less just unpack the microphone and get started. During the test, we adjusted the ability of the QuadCast S to pick up background noise, as it’s quite sensitive and picks up things such as keyboard clicking. But it’s easy to adjust.
And the QuadCast S is also easy to install. You just plug the cable into the USB socket at one end and the computer at the other and you’re up and running.
On the back of the QuadCast S you’ll find four different modes where you can choose which setting you prefer.
Stereo – best when it comes to conversation and instruments. Omnidirectional – ideal for podcasts or conferences where several people are involved. Cardioid – best for podcasts, streaming and things like voiceovers. Bidirectional – the ideal setting for interviews where two people sit on either side of the microphone.
You can also rotate the bottom of the microphone where you have the Gain function, which is very convenient. But the most functional thing about this microphone is actually the mute button. It sits conveniently on top of the microphone and a simple touch is enough to turn capture on or off.
The HyperX QuadCast S is recommended for streaming, gaming and so on, where you want to liven up the broadcast with a more sophisticated microphone. It has good sound pick up and all the basic features you’ll need. What you have to decide is whether RGB lighting and USB-C are worth the price difference compared to the (about 30%) cheaper QuadCast.
HYPERX QuadCast S USB Microphone - Black
HYPERX QuadCast S USB Microphone - Black
HyperX QuadCast S – RGB USB Condenser Microphone for PC, PS4 and Mac, Anti-Vibration Shock Mount, Pop Filter, Gaming, Streaming, Podcasts, Twitch, YouTube, Discord, Black
Great for beginners
Microphone type: Table Frequency response: 20-20000 Hz Polar pattern: Cardioid Sensitivity: -6dBFS (1 kHz) Max SPL: 120 dB Connections: USB-C Physical controls: mute button
When it comes to budget microphones, there’s not a lot to choose from, at least not if you want a quality product with good sound. The SoloCast is a Hyper X budget model that tries to fill that gap. It’s aimed at people who want to become streamers but who don’t want to spend hundreds of pounds before they’ve made a name for themselves. So the question is whether the SoloCast is up to the job?
The HyperX SoloCast is a very small microphone when compared to the competition, but that’s not a negative as microphones often have a tendency to get in the way, especially if you’re live streaming and visible in the picture. In that case, what you really want is a small microphone with good pick up – and that's exactly what this is.
On top of the SoloCast you’ll find the only button. It’s a mute button, which is often the most important button for anyone a streamer or someone on Discord. And it’s great that it’s so readily accessible.
The SoloCast is a cardioid microphone, which means it mostly picks up sound from objects in front of it. Sounds coming from the side or behind have lower priority. That makes this microphone suitable for anyone who intends to use it alone, not for doing interviews (podcasts) and the like.
The SoloCast's sound recording is pretty good, and the sound has a natural clarity straight out of the box. However, the SoloCast easily picks up background noise too, such as keyboard sounds. By adjusting the noise-gate/noise-reduction in your audio program, that background noise is significantly reduced. But this is something you need to sit down and adjust yourself before you start.
This microphone is perfect for beginner streamers, or people who just don’t want to spend a fortune on a mike. The SoloCast is a functional microphone that will make lots of people happy. The low price is also very inviting. At the same time, competitors offer better sound quality and more functionality for not a lot more in terms of price, so if you're serious about your work, it might be better to invest in one of them. But if you just want to give it a try, or have a decent microphone to talk to your friends, this is an ideal choice.
High quality microphone with intelligent functions
Microphone type: Table Response: 15 Hz-22 kHz Sensitivity: 12.5 mV/Pa (1 kHz) Max SPL: 120 dB Polar pattern: 4 (omnidirectional, bidirectional, stereo, cardioid) Connections: USB, 5-pin XLR, 3.5 mm Physical controls: Volume knob, sensitivity knob, knob for polar recording pattern Miscellaneous: OLED display, high-pass filter
The Razer Seiren Pro is a microphone with really good sound quality and a user-friendly OLED screen that provides information about the volume etc. The microphone is very easy to understand and start using. The controls are clear and exude high quality when you rotate them. The actual microphone is stable and you essentially only have to plug it in to start using it. The sound quality is exemplary, with good sound balance and hardly any noise. But we have still identified a couple of shortcomings. The first is that the bass is a little exaggerated and thus not entirely natural. The second is that the microphone easily picks up environmental noise and so should only be used in silent surroundings. We would have liked to see it being possible to control the sensitivity more, given the price tag. The available controls don't make a sufficiently noticeable difference. In some cases, background noise can add to a recording, but it shouldn't take over as it tends to with this unit. Another disadvantage with the Seiren Pro is the price. You may get an OLED screen into the bargain, but in terms of sound quality you can find equivalent products for a significantly lower price. So if you have no need to make exact adjustments directly on the microphone, this isn't good value for money. But if you're prepared to pay extra for this functionality and have a silent recording environment, the Razer Seiren Pro is an excellent choice.
You can find microphones as both freestanding units and built into products within a number of different use areas - everything from hearing aids to surveillance cameras. The microphone was invented in 1877 by Emile Berliner, the same person who invented the gramophone. But it was only when Alexander Bell got involved that a truly usable model was developed.
Microphones transform sound waves into electrical signals. How they do this varies. Many of the more expensive microphones on sale today are condenser type mikes. This means that they have two electrical conductive condenser plates, one of which is mobile. Between these, an electrical field builds, making the mobile plate vibrate, and depending on the length of the sound waves, the distance between the plates varies. This distance is then transformed into electrical signals that turn into the digital sound that you hear. Because this technology is quite expensive, condenser type microphones are also relatively expensive compared to other microphone types. For example, they are suitable as studio mikes because of their high quality. There are also other types of microphone. An electret microphone is a cheaper variant of the condenser microphone, and is similar in design. The difference is that the electret mike has material with a permanent electrical charge instead of an externally supplied charge. This type of microphone is also used often in a studio context. Other examples of microphone technologies are dynamic and ribbon.
When you buy a microphone, it's important that you choose the right type on the basis of what you intend to use it for. If you're recording songs in a studio, you need one type of construction, while if you only intend to use it for voice calls via your computer you can get away with something cheaper. This affects both the technology inside and the visual design. Some examples of microphone types:
Microphones can also capture sound in a number of different patterns, known as the polar pattern. With a cardioid microphone, the polar pattern is heart-shaped and the sound capture area is only focused on the area in front of the microphone. This is a useful pattern when recording songs or during conversations, because you don't capture as much environmental noise. It's also useful for avoiding feedback. But if you instead want to capture environmental noise, an omnidirectional microphone is better. Here, the microphone picks up sound from all directions. If you instead want to interview someone and want your questions to be captured so that you don't have to move the microphone, you should choose a bidirectional, or "figure 8", microphone, as this picks up sound from both in front and behind the top of the microphone so that you and the person you're interviewing can be heard equally well. However, this type doesn't pick up sound from the sides. Some microphones have support for a number of different polar patterns and have controls allowing you to choose the pattern you want. Others are developed for one particular type of need and therefore only have one polar pattern.
As mentioned above, there are a number of different types of microphone, all built in different ways, and it's important that you choose the right sort depending on what you intend to use it for. But instead of reading about the technology involved, it's often easiest to assume that the well-known manufacturers have chosen the right microphone technology for the type of task it's intended for. Many manufacturers only have one type in their product range. For example, microphones from Razer and Blue are often the type that you connect to a computer, while Shure more often make microphones for singers. There are also manufacturers that target different areas equally. For example, there are Röde microphones for podcast recording, home music studios and other segments.
You should also remember that all microphones have a certain level of inherent noise. Naturally, you want to buy one that produces as little noise as possible, but still within your budget.
Remember too that if you buy a microphone with a built-in amplifier, it has to get power somehow. This often applies to condenser microphones. Some microphones come with a space for built-in batteries, while in others the power is supplied via the cable (known as phantom power). This means that the appliance you connect the microphone to, such as the amplifier, must be able to handle phantom power with the right voltage.
Depending on the type of microphone you have purchased, it will be connected in various different ways. If you have purchased a microphone for your computer, it is normally connected via USB. Examples of this type of microphone are podcast mikes and microphones intended for gaming. But it's also very common for microphones to be connected with an XLR connector. This is above all common in a studio context, but USB mikes also sometimes have an XLR connector.
Another, simpler type of connection - also for computers - is via the 3.5 mm input.
Many microphones sold today can also be connected wirelessly.
There are also microphone manufacturers who make mikes that can be connected to your mobile phone, tablet or camera. There are equally manufacturers who make manufacturer-specific mikes for their video cameras, such as Sony's ECM microphones.
Microphones sometimes also have a 3.5 mm headphone output so that you can directly listen to what is being recorded without the sound being picked up.
If you intend to use your microphone for recording conversation, it's a good idea to buy a pop filter for it. This prevents the popping noise caused by plosives (such as the first p in the word "popping"), and also reduces the amount of moisture reaching the microphone from the breath.
If you're recording outdoors, a windscreen is also a useful accessory to consider.
Another accessory appreciated by many users is some form of stand. This keeps your hands free as you record. Microphone stands are available both as freestanding models, table stands and those that you can attach directly to furniture, shelving etc. Remember that the stand should ideally absorb vibration to prevent the creation of additional noise.