In 2020, live streams are more popular than ever. A streamer with a good cheap streaming mic and a basic budget camera can rake in millions of views (or listeners, depending on the platform). That’s why everyone, from gamers and animators to musicians and even political commentators, tends to use this method to express themselves.

However, if you’re interested in this line of work, you’ll need the right equipment. In order to stream properly, you need to have the best audio equipment. With that in mind, here are our top 6 picks for the best mics for streamers. Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned streamer, one of the 6 microphones on this list will definitely work to your benefit.

Best cheap microphone for streaming - Zalman Zm-Mic1 High Sensitivity Headphone Microphone

If you need a budget microphone for streaming, the best option on the market today is the Zalman Zm-Mic1. Few budget options out there will offer the same sound quality as this compact wonder from South Korea.

Now, Zalman might not be a familiar name, but the brand has existed for more than 20 years now. The experts at Zalman have consistently been producing high-quality consumer electronics like cooling systems, computer peripherals, and basic audio equipment. If you’re aiming to buy a good cheap streaming mic, Zalman is your go-to brand.

Since this is a low-tier mic, the Zm-Mic1 is a great tool if you don’t have the money for a set-up that’s a bit more professional. It’s incredibly limited when it comes to options and additional components, but it’s sensitive enough to pick up basic sounds clearly and with limited background noise.

Key Features

  1. Basic microphone with a long cable ending in an old-fashioned microphone jack
  2. Three clips for fastening onto the headset cable
  3. Compact design
  4. High-sensitivity mic

Pros

  1. Clear, distinct sound output
  2. Three clips help avoid any cable entanglement
  3. A good cheap streaming mic for casual streaming

Cons

  1. Not suitable for high-end streaming work
  2. Sound quality subpar when compared to other models on this list
  3. Doesn’t always connect properly to the soundcard or the headset

The verdict

No matter how we slice it, the Zalman Zm-Mic1 is the most basic microphone you can get as a streamer, a good cheap streaming mic that requires little effort when you set it up. It’s far from being the best there is, but it’s definitely the best budget option for beginners.

Best XLR mic for streaming - Shure SM7B Cardioid Dynamic Microphone

The Shure SM7B is an industry-standard XLR mic that some of the biggest streamers and podcasters use. Thanks to its astounding bass roll-off and the wide-range, flat frequency response, it will almost always produce smooth, crisp sounds with next to no interference.

Of course, that’s to be expected from Shure products. A giant in the audio tech industry, this US-based company has been manufacturing high-quality mics, mixers, headphones, earphones, and digital signal processors for nearly a century.

So, why do podcasters love the SM7B? Well, despite being somewhat pricey, it will always provide astounding audio output. The mic contains shock isolation in the form of internal air suspension; to put it simply, it has some of the best noise elimination systems on the market. We will not hear any mechanical noise thanks to this method of suspension.

Key Features

  1. Flat, wide-range frequency response
  2. Mid-range emphasis controls
  3. An extremely effective pop filter
  4. Easy mounting and dismounting for maximum control and flexibility
  5. Sports a classic, cardioid polar microphone pattern

Pros

  1. Breathtakingly clean output with next to no external noise
  2. No booming or popping noises when speaking into it
  3. Easy to set up and maneuver about
  4. Perfect for long-form streaming

Cons

  1. Rather pricey
  2. Works better with equipment that’s sold separately, like mic activators
  3. Slightly bulky and unfit for confined spaces and small rooms

The verdict

If both Joe Rogan and Howard Stern use the Shure SM7B, we guarantee that you have yourself a good XLR mic for streaming on your hands. Yes, it’s far from being a good cheap streaming mic due to how costly it is, but it will definitely be worth it in the long run.

Best USB mic for streaming - Blue Yeti USB Mic for Recording & Streaming

The Yeti is, at the moment, the best USB option to come from Blue. But then again, there hasn’t been a Blue microphone in the past decade that has underperformed in any way. Audio and recording tools have been the bread and butter of the company for 25 years, and Yeti is merely one of many products to reach the very top.

While it’s not exactly cheap, this mic is far from expensive and any streamer can afford it. Moreover, it’s a USB microphone, making it incredibly easy to set up. But unlike a lot of USB options out there, the Yeti performs perfectly. With a frequency response between 20 Hz and 20 kHz and a 120 dB maximum SPL, the Yeti is a beast.

Key Features

  1. 4 polar capture patterns: bidirectional, cardioid, omnidirectional, stereo
  2. 20 Hz-20 kHz frequency response
  3. A 130 mW headphone amplifier at 16 ohms
  4. Easy mounting and dismounting for maximum control and flexibility
  5. 16-bit bitrate

Pros

  1. Capable of recording in any environment clearly
  2. Incredibly easy USB set-up
  3. Comes in 10 different colors
  4. Perfect for both short-form and long-form streaming

Cons

  1. Pricier than other products on the market
  2. The knob feels low-quality and plasticky
  3. Comes with a flimsy generic USB cable

The verdict

With the Yeti, Blue has made a USB mic that can rival some of the best XLR options out there. The product has its flaws, but as far as medium-priced USB microphones go, the Yeti is a definite winner.

Best studio mic - Røde NT-USB Versatile Studio-Quality USB Cardioid Condenser Microphone

If you require a studio mic for streaming anything from vocals to sound mixing, we suggest giving NT-USB a shot. It’s one of those microphones that works anywhere, whether it’s the studio or your own office.

NT-USB comes to us by courtesy of Røde Microphones, an audio equipment giant from Australia. Røde opted for a USB solution with this product because they were aiming for easy set-ups and universal compatibility. Of course, there’s a lot more to NT-USB than convenience, which is why it has a spot on the list of the best mics for live streaming.

Key Features

  1. Comes with a tripod and a pop-shield
  2. Complete input and source output control
  3. cardioid polar pattern with a 20 Hz – 20 kHz frequency range
  4. 16-bit bitrate
  5. Zero-latency monitoring

Pros

  1. Perfect for streamers who record music
  2. Incredibly easy USB set-up
  3. Crisp, clear audio with no pop sounds
  4. Both the mic and the peripherals are made of high-quality materials
  5. Compatible with both Windows and Mac

Cons

  1. Rather pricey
  2. Not the best solution for video game streamers
  3. Limited choice of colors

The verdict

NT-USB does cost a pretty penny, but it’s more than worth it once you give it a go. With its easy USB set-up and pop-free, noiseless sound output, it’s definitely one of those mics Røde can be proud of.

Condenser mic for streaming - Samson G-Track Pro Professional USB Condenser Microphone

Few microphones on the market can boast that they can do it all, and one of those select few is the Samson G-Track Pro. If you need a tool that will record both the instrument and your voice while you stream your latest musical outing, then this is the condenser mic for you.

Samson’s range of USB microphones doesn’t end with G-Track Pro, however. In fact, as of 2020, they offer no less than 11 USB sound recording devices for various purposes, streaming very much included.

Thanks to its dual 1” condenser capsules and three different pick-up patterns, the G-Track Pro will capture smooth, noise-free sounds. It’s perfect not just for streamers, but also for podcasters, singers, songwriters, and video content creators.

Key Features

  1. Cardioid, bidirectional and omnidirectional polar capture patterns
  2. 50 Hz–20 kHz frequency response
  3. Durable and sturdy thanks to its die-cast base and grip hinges
  4. Front panel mixer that contains instrument level, microphone level, and headphone volume controls
  5. 24-bit bitrate

Pros

  1. Incredibly easy USB set-up
  2. Multidirectional properties
  3. Powerful volume controls help the user set up both instruments and headphones easily
  4. Perfect for any type of streaming

Cons

  1. Rather pricey
  2. Incredibly heavy and bulky
  3. Needs more stable support

The verdict

Singers, gamers, podcasters, and YouTubers alike will get the best possible experience out of the G-Track Pro. It’s definitely on the heavy side and costs a bit more, but it’s incredibly easy to set up and the output we can get is phenomenal on every level.

Modular mic - Antlion Audio ModMic 5

Do you want complete flexibility while streaming your favorite games? If so, you’ll need a flexible modular mic, and the best one on the market in early 2020 has to be Antlion Audio’s ModMic 5.

While Antlion does manufacture all types of audio products, most of their attention is focused on all-purpose modular microphones. These products can be easily attached to your headset and give you some of the best sound quality out there.

Key Features

  1. Features both cardioid Uni noise-canceling and Omni high-fidelity audio
  2. -100 Hz–10 kHz (Uni) and -30 Hz–17.5 kHz (Omni) frequency response
  3. Custom positioning with the flexible boom arm made of steel
  4. Modular cable system with adjustable length
  5. Contains the patented Antlion mute module

Pros

  1. We can use either the noise-canceling or the sound-recording mode at the flick of a switch
  2. Suitable for consoles, PCs, Macs, and Smartphones
  3. We can adjust our own cable length as necessary
  4. Perfect for all modes of audio recording and streaming

Cons

  1. Y-adapter is not included, even though we need it for connecting to various gaming systems
  2. 3.5mm cable might hum when connected
  3. Pricier than some entry-level gaming headsets

The verdict

Antlion Audio ModMic5 offers a lot of options for console game streamers. You might need to buy some additional equipment for it, but overall it performs extremely well and it can work with any platform. In addition, it’s a good cheap streaming mic when compared to some of the other options on this list.

A buyer’s guide to microphones for live streaming

Before choosing one of the mics listed above, you should consider what makes a good microphone and, more specifically, what you need it for. Here’s our list of things streamers need to consider before going microphone shopping.

Decide on your budget

Different microphones will vary greatly when it comes to price. So, before we decide which microphone we want to buy, we need to settle on the price range.

Very broadly speaking, we have two major groups of microphones based on how much they cost. A good cheap streaming mic will cost below $100. Most of these mics have USB connections, but we can easily find a budget XLR option. Nearly everything beyond the $100 price tag is in the high-end model group.

So, which ones should we as customers buy? Well, it all depends on what type of live streaming we plan to do. For example, we might want to do regular streams that include gaming, coding, mixing music, etc. If we plan on doing it daily, we will definitely need a mic that can handle the workload. Therefore, we suggest a high-end product.

However, a good cheap streaming mic will be more than enough if we only want to stream for fun every once in a while. A device below $100 can handle most one-off workloads just fine. It’s also a good option if we stream outside or perform a dangerous activity that might harm our equipment. Should we break a low-grade mic, we can easily replace it at minimal cost.

XLR or USB?

In general, there are two types of microphones out there based on their connection type. An XLR mic, for instance, has a cylindrical connection with three prongs. There is no direct XLR connection available with most commercial PCs or Macs. That’s why you’ll need to connect the mic to an interface first, i.e., a mixer.

With USB mics, the process is a lot easier. As their name suggests, they have a basic USB connection, so all you have to do is hook them up to an available USB port.

Up-and-coming streamers usually pose the same question online: “should I use an XLR or a USB microphone for streaming?” Most people will swear by the XLR mics, and with good reason. They are usually stable and more expensive than USB mics, so professional streamers gravitate towards them. However, if you’re a beginner, you will definitely make do with a good cheap streaming mic with a USB connection. It’s easy to hook up and doesn’t cost as much as an average XLR option.

In short, we suggest starting off with a USB mic, then upgrading to an XLR later. Also, make sure not to get rid of the USB mic once you switch over. You never know if (or when) your XLR might break down and make you unable to stream until you replace it. Moreover, a good cheap streaming mic with a USB connection is great if you plan on recording while on the move (for example, if you’re camping outdoors or driving).

Condenser, dynamic, modular

Buying audio equipment is not as simple as choosing a good cheap streaming mic with the right connectivity. In fact, we also need to know what exactly we will use it for. That way, we can more easily pinpoint the exact type we need.

With that in mind, let’s quickly cover the three basic drum options for streamers: condenser, dynamic, and modular mics.

Dynamic Mics

Dynamic microphones usually contain large diaphragms with magnets. The output is generally smaller than that of a condenser mic, but a dynamic mic is already capturing an extremely strong signal. Broadly speaking, dynamic mics are perfect for recording loud vocals, brass instruments, keyboards, etc. They are durable, low-maintenance, and easy to use.

Condenser Mics

All condenser mics have a small diaphragm. But instead of a magnet, the sound reaches two sheets, one of them being a diaphragm, the other a backplate. These sheets need electricity from an outside source in order to generate static. That’s why all condenser mics come with an external power source, like a battery or a pre-amp. Condenser mics are sensitive and capture delicate sounds at high frequencies.

###Modular Mics

Typically, modular microphones provide you with different cable lengths, an instant mute module, and an option to pick between different microphone modes. In other words, they are “modular” in more ways than one.

So, regarding condenser vs dynamic for streaming purposes, which one should you choose? Is a modular set-up maybe the way to go? In the end, it depends on what you plan on streaming and for how long.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where should I put a microphone for streaming?

When streaming, you need to make sure to cover two basic microphone positioning rules. First, place the microphone stand where you can easily reach it. Second, make sure the stand doesn’t obstruct your camera. In addition, it’s important that the distance between the mic and your face is “just right.” Therefore, make sure you can extend or contract the stand easily whenever you need to.

How Can I Make My Mic Sound Better?

There are a few ways you can make even a good cheap streaming mic sound clearer than it usually is. Here’s our handy list of suggestions; test them all out and see which one works for you best:

  1. Come closer to the mic (stay roughly 2–3 inches away from it)
  2. Enhance the quality through equalization (try using the EMI 78 pre-set equalization curve)
  3. Use compression
  4. Normalize the audio

The best microphone for live streaming — Conclusion

In order to get the top-rated mic, you have to balance everything out. It should provide you with high-quality output, an easy set-up, lots of different modes and settings, and high-quality supplementary items. In addition, you ought to think about the budget. A good cheap streaming mic will work, but it shouldn’t be a low-tier product with zero features. After all, you want your stream to have a crisp, clear sound with no humming or popping.

Out of the 6 options above, by far the best product is the Blue Yeti. Not only does it produce some of the finest sounds out there, but it’s easy to mount, easy to use, and relatively inexpensive. In short, it’s the perfect option for any type of streaming out there and we can’t recommend it enough.

However, if you disagree with our top pick, don’t hesitate to check out the other products we listed.

  1. Zalman Zm-Mic1: A good cheap streaming mic for beginners
  2. Shure SM7B: The best XLR mic for professional streamers and podcast hosts
  3. Røde NT-USB: A splendid studio mic for sound mixing and singing
  4. Samson G-Track Pro: An All-In-One condenser mic option for different types of streaming
  5. Antlion Audio ModMic 5: Spectacular modular gaming mic that connects to various devices