What's the Best Microphone for YouTube? At-a-Glance:
- It depends on what kind of videos you plan on doing.
- If you'll be in front of the computer, the Samson Q2U is superb value for money.
- You can use two of them if need be, via a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB interface.
- If you want to record outdoor, or on-the-go, the Rode Wireless Go might be the option for you.
- Read on to get the lowdown on each setup…
YouTube videos are a visual medium. But that doesn't mean audio quality should take a back seat. Far from it; the quality of your audio is one of the most important factors in how well your content is going to perform on there.
So, what are the best microphone options for YouTube content? That's what we'll be helping you decide in this article. If it's the Best Podcast Microphones on the Market you're looking for instead, then you'll find our dedicated roundup, linked to there.
Can I Just Use My Camera or Laptop Mic for YouTube?
As you're already reading this article, you've probably answered your own question already.
To be honest though, you can use whatever you like. It's your content. There are a couple of key points to consider here though.
- Your competitors on YouTube will have the edge on you if they're putting out stuff that sounds good.
- Buying a quality microphone for YouTube is probably a lot cheaper than you think.
With that all said, you should also avoid procrastination because you don't have the perfect setup just yet.
Get out there and create content with whatever you have to hand. Learn about the process. Review how it all looks and sounds. Figure out where you can make improvements.
If you're using a built-in mic, then the audio's going to jump out as something that can be improved upon. So what can you buy to improve it?
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What Kind of Content Are You Creating?
Before deciding on a mic, we need to decide what that mic is actually for.
There are different kinds of YouTube vids out there. How will yours look?
Will you be doing a direct face-to-camera? Or, would you like the freedom to get out and record on-the-go?
If you'll be sitting in front of the computer each time you record, then we'll run you through the best USB microphones for YouTube. This option will be ideal whether you're talking directly to the viewer, or talking to guests or co-hosts who are recording elsewhere, remotely.
You might want to record an interviewee or co-host who's in the same room as you. This'll require a slightly different approach, so we'll be sure to cover that too.
And finally, we'll look at the options for folks who want to record outdoor or on-location content.
Best Microphone for YouTube: Solo or Remote Guest/Co-Host
If you just need a mic for yourself, then here are a few options to weigh up.
The Samson Q2U is, in my opinion, the best value for money mic on the planet. You can usually pick one up brand new for under $60.
Here's our full Samson Q2U review.
The Q2U sounds great, and it works as both a USB mic AND an XLR mic. This means you can plug it into things like mixers, interfaces, or digital recorders too.
To set it up, you can mount the Q2U on a boom arm, or use the little desk stand that comes in the box.
The Q2U falls very much into the “affordable” bracket. If your mic budget stretches into the three figures, and you're looking for the absolute premium in USB sound quality, then it's worth checking out the AKG Lyra, Samson Satellite, and Rode Podcaster, too. You'll find reviews of these mics in the links, and they cost between $99 and $225.
The Satellite is the cheapest here, at $99. What edges it ahead of the others is that it can be plugged directly into your iPhone. Again, check out the mic's full review, linked above, to get the lowdown.
Finally, you'll find an excellent headset-style option in the form of the AntLion ModMic USB. This little $70 kit attaches to your favourite pair of headphones to turn them into a quality sounding headset mic. It's an option that'll suit a more animated presenter ,who doesn't want to fix a mic in place on a boom arm or stand.
Best Microphone for YouTube: With Local Guest or Co-Host
Want to record another person sitting alongside you? In this instance, I'd opt for a handy USB interface known as the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. Plug two Samson Q2U mics ($60 each) into this, and you're ready to go.
The Scarlett 2i2 will set you back around $160, but they're well worth the money. I've had mine for nearly 10 years, and I still use it on a weekly basis.
If your budget extends up to the four figures, and you're looking for the ultimate all-in-one audio device, then check out the Rode Rodecaster. It's a $600 bit of gear, but there's very little it can't do. Check out our full review, linked above, to find out more.
You can plug any XLR mic into the Rodecaster. The optimal choice for it is the similarly named Rode Procaster. Those cost around $225 each.
This Rode setup is huge overkill for the vast majority of folks, though. On an audio quality front, most people would struggle to hear a difference between the two setups mentioned here. What you're paying for, really, is all the additional bells, whistles, flexibility, and features.
Best Microphone for YouTube: Recording Outdoors or On-Location
Don't plan on sitting in front of a computer? The first option that jumps out in this category is the Rode Wireless Go. This costs about $200 to pick up brand new. This handy mic is wireless in every sense of the word. You can use it to record videos where you're doing almost anything.
Check out our full review of the Rode Wireless Go, for more on that.
There's also a couple of great options here from Samson. The first being the Samson Go Mic Mobile. This is another wireless kit that works directly into your smartphone. It also costs around the $200 mark.
Check out our Best Wireless Microphones roundup for even more options on this front.
The Samson Satellite ($99) is a USB mic that also plugs directly into the iPhone. This would be more of a face-to-camera option, but with the added flexibility of not being bound to your laptop or computer.
Finally, heading back to Rode-based kit, you might also consider the Rode Smartlav+. Pin one of these onto your jersey, plug the other end into your phone, and you're ready to go. You can even run two of them into your phone, if you want to record co-hosted or interview videos.
Here's how to record with the Rode Smartlav+. A word of caution with this setup, though. The Smartlav+ plugs into phones via the 3.5mm (headphone) port. Some newer models of iPhone have done away with these, so make sure you can actually use it, before choosing this option!
Summary: What's the Best Microphone for YouTube?
Obviously, the “best” option for you depends on your budget, and how you plan to use it. Here's our full roundup of the Best Podcast Microphones on the Market right now, if you'd like to shop around some more. Otherwise, here are some recommendations…
If you're going to be recording directly into the computer, I'd go with the excellent value Samson Q2U. If you're recording another person alongside you, get 2 – then run them into a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2.
Don't like the look or sound of the Q2U? Check out the AKG Lyra, Samson Satellite, or Rode Podcaster. And if you're really particular about how your mic looks, as well as sounds, we even have a Best Looking Mics roundup.
Finally, if you're recording stuff outdoor or on-the-go, then you can't go wrong with the Rode Wireless Go.
All set? Be sure to check out our series on Content Stacking, which will show you how to easily combine YouTube, podcasting, and blogging to get the maximum results from all three. And on top of that, here's our guide to putting your podcast on YouTube!