16 Best Budget Microphones
As the online world continues to grow, especially with work from home spaces increasing during the pandemic, adding microphones to your repertoire is a valuable resource in today’s world of Zooming, podcasting, or gaming. If you want to upgrade from the ear bud with microphone, like I did last year, there are plenty of USB microphones that will fit your needs, especially with the convenience of “plug and play.”
As we look at the best budget USB microphones, all under $100, let’s consider some of the types of microphones you might come across in your own searching. Dynamic versus condenser microphones: dynamic mics have a great ability to avoid picking up background noise, which might be perfect for recording vocals or podcasting, especially with kids in the background or construction happening nearby; while condenser mics provide a more natural sound and pick up sounds easier, which might be helpful in settings where one mic is needed with multiple people at a table.
Additionally, some microphones have the capacity to adjust its pattern, which means it can pick up vocals from different areas of the microphone. Cardioid mics focus on the vocalist, while trying to block out the rear sound of the microphone. Supercardioid has a tighter window at the front, allowing it to drown out more side noise, but it doesn’t reject as much noise from the rear as regular cardioid.
The bidirectional allows pickup from the front and back, which might come in handy for interviews. Omnidirectional allows for sounds to be registered all the way around the microphone, and this might be useful if you are trying to multitask by moving about the room during a call, or if you have multiple people needing to use one mic.
Here’s our Best Budget USB Microphone recommendations.
This is the microphone I settled on after months of research last year. I picked up the “podcasting pack,” which comes with the mic, wind screen, mic stand, and two cables. One of those cables is your USB connector, while the other is an XLR cable that gives you flexibility if you want to upgrade your home office with an audio interface.
The Samson Q2U does come with different bundling options; some include headphones, extension cables, or a boom stand that connects to your desk, allowing for more maneuverabiilty when talking into the microphone. Full disclosure: I wish I had gone with a boom arm, because it would prevent me from stacking books to aid the mic stand in being high enough to prevent slouching.
Dynamic; cardioid pattern
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Before I could buy a mic, the ATR2100, the predecessor of the ATR2011x was discontinued. After reading many articles and watching many videos in my search last year, the ATR2100 seemed like the gold standard for starting out with a solid microphone. When comparing prices last year, the newer model didn’t seem to sway me in spending an extra $30 to make the purchase.
Additionally, after watching the mic stand break with relative ease, over on Pat Flynn’s YouTube channel, it made me pause a little further; though, it’s high rating dictates that the microphone itself still has a high quality. It also comes with both the USB and XLR cables, in addition to the mic stand.
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Razer Seiren Mini
Labeled under the category of “I wish I saw this mic last year,” this microphone seems too good to be true. Although a condenser microphone, which might pick up additional sounds in a non-treated room, this mic sounds good and is rated as the Best Budget Microphone in 2021 over on Alpha Gaming.
This microphone comes with a built-in shockmount, which is a great feature to help absorb any vibrations that might be picked up from bumping the desk or typing on your keyboard. It’s also supplied with a “heavy-duty tilting stand” and that allows some flexibility with the direction of the mic.
Blue Snowball/Snowball iCE
The microphone I heard about most in my searches, as well as friends who use this produce, Blue is a company that has several options at a variety of price points that make it an attractive option. Listening to my friends while chatting, knowing they have a Blue Snowball, lets me know that the vocals sound good.
The differences between the Snowball and the Snowball iCE version might help you decide what would be a better option for you. The Snowball presents an extra pattern, while also having a setting to reduce “mic sensitivity so even the loudest instruments or vocalists come in crystal clear and distortion free.” The iCE is cheaper and listed as “Skype and Discord certified,” which means this mic is setup for the home-office environment.
Condenser; cardioid (Snowball iCE)
Condenser; cardioid and omnidirectional (Snowball)
Blue Yeti/Blue Yeti Nano
If you’re looking for a little more versatility, and are willing to spend a little extra (but still under $100), the Blue Yeti and Blue Yeti Nano are solid options. The Blue Yeti provides four patterns, including stereo, which allows for picking up a variety of sounds from the left and right sides, “ideal for acoustic guitar or choir and immersive experiences like ASMR videos.” Both come with volume control, including a mute button, which will come in handy, especially if you have kids that run into the room unexpectedly.
The Blue Yeti Nano highlights the Blue VO!CE vocal effects. This will give you better control over the Nano’s sound, including noise reduction. The Nano also has a smaller footprint than the original Blue Yeti, so if you’re looking for something a little more compact, this is something else to consider before purchasing. Additionally, if you’re looking for a variety of colors, both offer additional colors than listed below, at a higher price point.
Condenser; cardioid and omnidirectional (Blue Yeti Nano)
Condenser: cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional, and stereo (Blue Yeti)
If you are looking for a straightforward, cheap microphone that’s going to sound good, which you can hear on Tom Buck’s YouTube, this FIFINE K669B is the cheapest model listed here. This mic comes with its own stand, which also allows the mic to be rotated based on how you want to position it. There are multiple color options listed for both the K669B and K670, with a few of them coming at a higher price point (of only $3 currently).
This mic does have a cord attached directly to the mic, which means if it is damaged, the mic would need to be replaced. There is another option available, the K670, which does have a detachable cable, comes with a stand that allows you to adjust its height, and is only $10 more. Both also come with volume control.
Condenser; cardioid (K669)
Condenser; cardioid (K670)
This is a microphone that produces a nice sound, while not breaking the bank; listen to a sample of this mic over on Edward Smith’s channel. Although there isn’t any volume control directly on the mic, this condenser microphone should withstand the test of time with its “Built-Like-a-Tank construction for years of reliability.”
This product does not come with its own mic stand, but it does include a shockmount (that can then attach to a stand) and the necessary USB cable. Shockmounts are an added bonus to prevent additional sounds from getting recorded, so you’ll just have to decide what type of stand to get if you choose this microphone.
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Neat Widget A, B, and C
If you are looking for a cheap option, while branching out with a stylish look, the Neat Widget series includes three unique mics to choose from. This a mic that is ready to go as soon as you open the packaging. This mic, stand, and USB cable are all-in-one. The height of the mic can be adjusted, which is a big plus as the stand is tall in comparison to others; however, its cable is directly connected to the mic and that might be an issue down the road if it becomes damaged.
Samson Go Mic
If you are looking for minimalistic approach, and easily travels in your pocket, the Samson Go Mic is versatile in that regard. It comes with its own portable case, USB cable, clip to attach to your laptop, and it has more than one pattern available.
This microphone includes cardioid and omnidirectional patterns, which makes this small, on-the-go mic useful in several situations, or if you don’t want a lot of space taken up in your office space. It’s even been listed as Best USB Mic Under $50 over on Podcastage, which even included a comparison to the Blue Snowball iCE.
Condenser; cardioid and omnidirectional
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If you are searching for a microphone, and you want to acquire accessories at the same time, the Tonor Q9 might be just right for you. Mentioned as the “best microphone bundle on a budget that you can find on Amazon” by Kagan, this checks all of the boxes when it comes to starting off with a home office setup.
The Tonor Q9 mic bundle comes with boom arm stand (with a desk mount clamp), shockmount, pop filter and wind screen, and the necessary USB cable to get started. The microphone also includes volume control, which will allow you to set it to your preference and then have it set for all future recording sessions.
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Rode NT-USB Mini
Not only does Think Media believe that the Rode NT-USB Mini is a good choice for gamers or teachers, to capture sound when you’re moving a little bit away from the mic, they’re listing this as the “Best USB Microphone for Content Creators in 2021!”
If you are looking to spend closer to $100 for your microphone, while also having the ease of plug and play, this might be your best bet. This mic does come with a low-profile stand, so if you want to have it higher up, perhaps consider investing in a boom stand. This mic does come with an adapter, which allows this mic to easily connect to one of those stands. As for convenience, it’s mentioned “for how easy it is to setup, this is a perfect mic for a beginner creator.”
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Best Budget USB Mic Final Thoughts
For the best budget USB microphones under $100, I would gladly add any one of these microphones to my home office. Remember, the best way to determine the right option for you is by finding out which one you think sounds best. If you don’t want to spend too many weeks or months researching, like I did last year and leading up to this article, check out a number of the videos I linked above. Give them a listen, find the right sound for you, and then land yourself a perfect budget USB mic.