Finding the best microphone for streaming and gaming can be a daunting prospect. There are loads of high-quality mics available now, and it's also an industry stuffed with jargon.
That's why we've rounded up contenders for the title of best microphone for streaming and gaming - our team is here to point you in the right direction. Are you a Twitch streamer who needs good audio that also blocks out background chatter and keyboard clicks? Would you like to record a podcast with your friends or stream a session with the latest games? We've got you covered. Although you won't find studio-grade XLR mics here, you'll have plenty of choice when it comes to microphones that use USB or 3.5mm jack connections. This makes them great companions for the best capture card and one of the best ring lights can help improve your on-camera presentation too.
Before we begin, it's worth getting you up to speed on the basics. Namely, what the hell is a 'polar pattern'? The answer is more straightforward than you might think - it's how microphones pick up sound. Some mics are better at certain tasks than others because of this, so it's worth figuring out what you need and narrowing down your options as a result.
Here are the main polar patterns to be aware of:
- Cardioid: Captures sound from directly in front of the microphone. Great for gamers who only need themselves to be heard.
- Bidirectional: Picks up audio from two sides: the front and back of the mic. Great for two speakers.
- Omnidirectional: Captures audio in a wide circular radius. Ideal for podcasts with multiple speakers.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the best microphones for streaming and gaming!
Best microphones for streaming 2021
Shure’s certainly got a history of audio excellence behind its name, and its recent SM7B podcasting mic extended the brand’s remit beyond live and studio sound. Then the MV7 came along, with dual XLR and USB inputs and a lower price.
It sounds rich and full of detail out of the box with no need for plugin tinkering, with some subtle refinements to the EQ response that flatter a recorded vocal. But then you knew that because we’re talking about a Shure mic.
What’s more surprising is that the dual-input layout feels genuinely useful. Not everyone has an audio interface with XLR ins, so the USB connection solves that potential pitfall. And for those who do, recording a scratch track via the USB creates a handy failsafe, and can be used as a dry performance track to sit beneath an affected track in your DAW. (You might even nudge one fractionally ahead of the other for an efficient doubled vocal effect.)
All this, along with the usual gain and mute controls, is handled via a touch control at the front of the mic. It looks slightly at odds with the pro audio aesthetic evident throughout the mic, but it works well and prevents the mute ‘pop’ from some mechanical switches. All in this is absolutely one of the best microphones for streaming right now.
Samson’s G-Track Pro is easily one of the best microphones for streaming and gaming that we've tried. Providing excellent sound quality to go with a very sturdy base, it's armed with three polar patterns - cardioid, bidirectional, and omnidirectional - instead of one. That makes it a very flexible, adaptable choice.
Thanks to crystal-clear sound that almost beats more expensive studio mics, the G-Track Pro won't disappoint when you're playing back recordings either. Throw in specific options for instruments or vocals and you've got a very comprehensive piece of kit on your hands.
Perhaps most importantly, it won't break the bank. Even though it's pricier than other recommendations on this list, it beats them all in terms of value for money.
Blue are very well known when it comes to streaming mics, and with good reason - they're masters of the craft. The budget Yeti Nano (the scrappy younger sibling of the Yeti range) is no less impressive.
Hitting hard with great audio and a dual condenser setup, it perfects the Yeti formula while reducing that microphone's price. It's a whole lot smaller and lighter, too; the Nano is half the weight of the original Yeti, making it much more portable than its counterpart. The ease of setting it up certainly helps. Thanks to a plug-and-play USB connection, you can be recording in no time.
Sure, you lose out on some options by going for the cheaper Yeti Nano. However, it won't disappoint and still has a couple of surprises up its sleeve - more specifically, it allows you to swap between cardioid and omnidirectional polar patterns.
There's a lot to love to love about the Rode NT-USB, and it's undoubtedly one of the best microphones for streaming if you can stretch your budget. With studio-quality sound and a very professional air, it's a good call for those who want to go pro.
Besides its excellent cardioid audio, the NT-USB features an advanced interior shock capsule. That allows it to quieten - or avoid - the clacking of keys, thumps on the table, and more. It's a very handy selling point for those who'll be streaming PC games.
The mic's other unexpected bonus is a clip-on pop shield. That helps to avoid those irritating, hard 'p' sounds that can ruin a recording. Because you usually have to pay for a shield separately, getting one in the box is pretty fantastic.
The Yeti X improved upon everything that came before, and the World of Warcraft Edition pushes it even further. Although you might think it's just a reskinned version of the original mic, this is much more than a new lick of paint.
Aside from the WoW-specific design (complete with golden trimmings and runes around the base) the main difference lies in its voice changer. This version of the Yeti X allows you to throw your voice via filters and turn your dulcet tones into those of an orc, demon, and more. In addition, it's stocked up with a vast collection of sound effects you can play at any time. This is perfect for playing the MMO itself, but it's also a real boon for those playing some of the best tabletop RPGs online. If you're a Dungeon Master, being able to quickly use those features to more convincingly voice a gnome NPC is really cool.
Naturally, this all comes with the Yeti X's already-superb performance. It sounds crisp and clear, offers four polar patterns (cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional, and stereo) and an LED-illuminated 'smart knob'. This allows you to make quick adjustments on the fly when needed.
Blue has dominated the microphone business for a long time, yet it's rarely been able to escape the shadow of the Yeti - its original bestseller. Until the Yeti X, that is. This new contender takes everything that was great about its predecessor, improves upon it, and pushes the brand to the next level.
To start with, the X's audio is unquestionably excellent. It sounds great in action, and it also impresses with four polar patterns (cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional, and stereo). That's something lacking in the cheaper Yeti Nano, so it's nice to see this flexibility return with the X. Speaking of which, the X has taken design cues from the Nano to make it lighter and less bulky than the original Yeti. That's a win in our book.
However, the Yeti X's coolest features would have to be the LED-illuminated 'smart knob' and Blue's own Vo!Ce software. The former shows off audio volume in real-time for easy adjustments on the fly, while the latter provides filters, noise reduction, and sound effects. A must-have.
Everyone likes an eccentric, and it only takes a glance at the Torch’s unconventional proportions and lighting to get the sense that this is very much an eccentric entry into the best microphone for streaming market. Thankfully there’s nothing about its idiosyncrasies that hamper it in terms of sound or operation - quite the opposite.
What ROCCAT presents us with here is actually a mini mixer with a dual-capsule condenser mic mounted directly onto it. It can be unscrewed and mounted to a boom arm to eradicate those desk knocks being picked up, although you’ll need to source the thread adapter yourself.
Favouring physical controls over another bloated software suite, the Torch puts it all on the mixer for you, including a wonderfully weighted gain slider we may or may not have pretended to DJ with for extended spells during testing. While this slider’s well insulated against mic pickup, the other controls at the rear of the mixer can cause audible noise when you fiddle with them.
There are more cables involved here than most mics demand. A USB-C to USB-C connects the mic and mixer, then another hooks up the device with your machine. If you plug some headphones into the mini-jack at the back too, you’ve got a challenge keeping things neat and aesthetic. However, good quality sound and some useful light implementation just about bring the whole endeavour together.
Most gamers know Blue primarily as purveyors of fine USB microphones for streaming that made their way into, more or less, every streamer’s setup since the early twenty-teens. But the Logitech subdivision has skin in the studio game too, of which this Blackout Spark SL XLR condenser mic is evidence.
Given the connection type, hooking it up to your setup requires more financial investment than a USB model because it requires phantom power to operate (and obviously an XLR input) which means you need to add an audio interface to the signal chain between mic and PC/Mac.
So although it’s veritably bargainous given the sound quality on offer, it’s not a cheap option on the whole. If you’re putting content out there on highly compressed platforms, you don’t need to spend this much - and likely your audience won’t hear a massive step up in quality if you did.
However, if you record music or spoken word vocals and want to achieve the highest possible standard without having to pop down to Abbey Road, the Blackout Spark SL gets you there. A -20dB pad lends some versatility to the sources it can handle, from softly spoken vocals to drums being absolutely wailed on, Dave Grohl-style. Meanwhile a low cut filter brings out the more pleasing frequencies from a vocal and saves on EQ-shaving in production.
There’s simply nothing to fault about this mic, other than its rather more involved setup than dedicated streamer models.
Aesthetes rejoice: peddlers of upmarket Danish audio gear EPOS just released its first streamer mic. The B20 boasts four polar patterns for different recording setups, a brushed aluminium finish, and a stand that wouldn’t look out of place in a B&O showroom. But it’s priced only slightly under the $200/£200 point, and that puts it right in the fight with the best USB mics out there.
Sadly it’s not the new reigning champ in terms of sheer recording quality, but with a studio standard 48KHz/16-bit it’s certainly more than capable of delivering your dulcet tones to the masses over a stream, a podcast, or a Discord chat with particularly high production values.
A few small design tweaks are needed to elevate the B20 among the ranks of the very best, chiefly markers on its volume and gain dials, which rotate forever and keep those perfectly tweaked level settings a mystery. That’s an easy fix with either a new model or some Tippex, though - your move, EPOS.
This is one for the streamers who don’t mind shelling out for a grown-up aesthetic, and with podcasters and music producers with an eye on those additional polar patterns beyond the cardioid mode.
Alright, the ZM-Mic1 isn’t awe-inspiring. All the same, it's basically guaranteed to outdo any mic built into your headset. That's a bargain at such a low cost.
What makes it special, then? For starters, the ZM uses very little power and is lightweight enough to clip on almost anywhere. This is perfect for streamers who want to keep their head in the game without being distracted by a dirty great mic planted in front of them. Furthermore, the quality of the audio is on par with many more expensive microphones. That's no mean feat, especially considering the price of this one.
Even though it does pick up a few background noises here and there, it's pretty good otherwise - it generally doesn't register the sound of the wearer's breath, for example. As such, it's an excellent purchase for those wanting to dip a toe into streaming or recording without spending lots of cash.
Some mics take up loads of real-estate, but not the Razer Seiren X. It perches atop your desk like an alien obelisk from a sci-fi movie, and it's not much bigger than a can of soda. That makes it ideal for streaming on the likes of Twitch, where you want viewers to be able to see you as well as the gameplay.
As you'd expect from Razer, there are a few big selling points to speak of. First up is the built-in shock mount, designed to dampen vibrations (when you accidentally knock the table, for instance). Next up is the 'super-cardioid' polar pattern, a feature that purportedly reduces background noise and hones in on your voice. While it's not 100% effective, it's still a solid effort.
Finally, it's good value considering its price. There are more expensive versions out there like the Seiren Elite or the Seiren Emote (the latter has an 8-bit LED screen to show emoticons and the like), but this is still our favorite.
Why aren’t we all using XLR studio contenders for best microphone for streaming in our livestreams and podcasts? Probably because they need an audio interface. The Blue Yeti stormed the market in no small part due to its USB cable and the ease of use thereof, so it’s interesting to see the Avermedia Live Streamer Mic 330 pop up with that three-pronged connection dangling from the end.
If you invest in the required audio interface and boom arm or stand, you’re rewarded with a rich sound despite the 330’s relatively narrow frequency response range of 50Hz-18KHz, and solid metal construction that makes most gaming market mics feel flimsy by comparison. With a single mute control on the underside of the capsule, you couldn’t call it fiddly or complex to use, but for a mic with ‘Streamer’ in its name it’s hard to discern where the concessions are to that intended purpose. Most streamers will find a USB mic setup a better solution for its sheer simplicity, but those who also have music projects and low-latency tracking on the mind are served a happy medium here by Avermedia.