Best USB Headset Microphones For Uber-Easy Calls & Podcasting

A good headset microphone can make podcasting easier and less expensive. Check out some of the best headsets around, right here.

A good USB headset microphone is the simplest, easiest way to start recording your voice. From online calls to recording a podcast, a headset can get you up and running in minutes, and requires no stand and little mic technique. Here we look at some of the best USB headset microphones on the market for podcasting, YouTube, or call recording. Our roundup will help you find the one most suited to you, so read on…

When it comes to starting out in Podcasting, I'm a big fan of the ‘start small' approach. Too many people dive in headfirst, spending a whole lot of money on digital recorders, XLR mics and mixers, creating a home studio of their own to boost their podcasting efforts.

While this can result in really excellent audio quality, it also introduces a whole load of complexity. And, to me, complexity gets in the way of ‘just doing it' as our tick-based sporting friends would say.

To a beginner, it puts up barriers, lengthens the recording process and makes it pretty likely you'll never get into the swing of releasing regular content.

building a podcast: best usb headset mics

To this end, I think one of the best ways into Podcasting is to get yourself a good USB headset microphone. To be clear, that means a headset with mic attached via a little arm, so the microphone sits to the side of your mouth. This combined form means they're super easy to use, they're generally pretty inexpensive, and they serve double duty by being great tools for recording a remote call or using Zoom.us.

Even better, USB headset mics generally require little to no extra gear, like a mic stand or extra cables. They even take care of your mic technique for you, since the mic follows your head, no matter where you move.

Overall, they're always connected, and always easy. You can record new episodes in no time, with no barriers. This means you'll be putting out your weekly episode with ease and regularity. Achieving that aim will put you far ahead of those with much better kit, but less regular content.

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9 of the Best USB Headset Microphones for Podcasting

In this article, I'm aiming to review some of the best USB headsets on the market. I want to provide a bit of my own input into what I think of them, and I'll provide an audio sample from each so that you can judge for yourself.

We like to keep these roundups up-to-date, and Matthew has recently tested a few more USB headsets, which have been thrown into the mix below.

What Are We Looking for in a Good Headset Microphone?

the Microsoft lifechat 3000 headset with mic

In this showdown, I'm looking primarily at audio quality. That's the main yardstick by which each podcast headset will be judged, as that's what we're looking to deliver in the final product: our podcast.

Having said that, there are other things that we look for in good headsets. Build quality, for one. There's little point in having a great sounding headset mic if it falls apart after 3 recording sessions. I'll be commenting on how well they're made and the quality of their components, hoping to refine the list down to long-lasting USB headsets.

I'll also be looking at comfort. I've used some pretty uncomfortable headset microphones over the past few years, and it does have an effect on your Podcast quality. When your head's hurting due to badly made earpieces or a hard little headband, then you'll fidget and lose concentration. Neither is great for your Podcast.

Apart from that, I'll mention anything that's unique about the USB headsets, but rest assured, audio quality is first and foremost.

In saying that, there we get a lot of requests for advice on cheap headsets, for folks on a budget. So I'll point out which ones might be a little lower on the quality scale, but are particularly good value.

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Why are these Primarily USB Headset Mics?

I'm almost exclusively looking at USB headset mics in this comparison, and that's because they're far more reliable in terms of sound quality. 3.5mm headset microphones can sound great, but the quality is somewhat dependent on the soundcard within your computer.

If you have a great, expensive soundcard then you could find a 3.5mm headset microphone that will give you great quality.

But on a computer with a cheap soundcard, that same microphone could sound a lot worse. With USB headsets, however, this doesn't come into play. They simply use their own internal hardware to generate the signal which ends up transmitting through your USB port. So, in all, it's more reliable to review USB headsets.

Saying that, I will include one 3.5mm headset in the roundup, just in case you're in a situation that requires one. You'll have to bear in mind that final quality will depend a little on your hardware, though.

The Candidates: Best USB Headsets for Podcasting in 2021

Here are the headset microphones I've covered. Click the links if you want to jump straight to the review.

A quick heads up, too, that we use affiliate links in this roundup. If you were to buy through any of them, we may earn a small commission – though at absolutely no extra cost to yourself!

Sennheiser PC 7 USB Headset

Around £25/$30 | Click here to buy

Sennheiser PC 7 Headset with mic

Build

  • Small unit and light
  • One-ear only design, leaving an ear free to monitor your own voice
  • Not quite as solid as the larger Senheiser but this feels like it's designed to be a light, quick on-and-off headset for taking calls easily
  • Very light and comfortable

Audio

  • Very nice quality, quite balanced to my ear, as you'd expect from top brand Sennheiser
  • Very steady levels and safe from plosives, etc.
  • One of the best options as a budget headset microphone, in my opinion.

Mpow 071 USB PC Headset

Around £23/$33 | Click here to buy

Mpow PC Headset

Build

  • Solid and sleek build
  • Comfortable ear cushions
  • Flexible mic boom with optional pop shield
  • Works as USB or TRRS, so you can use it with your smartphone too
  • Nice big in-line control, with volume and mute buttons

Audio

  • A little background noise present in sound sample
  • However, picks up the voice really well
  • Adjustable mic arm means you can really optimise it to suit your own mouth and voice

Sennheiser PC8.2 CHAT

Around £50/$70 | Click here to buy

Build

Sennheiser PC8.2 CHAT
  • Solid build
  • Padded headband
  • Sits snugly on head
  • In-line controls
  • Not the most adjustable of mic boom arms

Audio

  • Minimal background signal noise
  • Does a decent enough job picking up the voice
  • Though arguably not as good as the PC8 itself, despite being more expensive
  • Quite prone to plosives due to limited mic positions

Jabra Evolve 20 UC Stereo Wired Headset 

Around £29/$50 | Click here to buy

Build

Jabra evolve headset
  • Slightly flimsy
  • No padding on headband
  • Limited mic boom flexibility
  • In-line control with volume and mute buttons

Audio

  • Sounds a bit phone-like, unfortunately. Difficult to make a case for choosing this one above some of the other options listed here.

Logitech H390

Around £33/$40 | Click here to buy

Logitech H390

Build

  • Quality build
  • Comfortable with headband padding and ear cushions
  • Limited mic boom arm flexibility

Audio

  • Not the best – a bit “tinny”. Likewise, it's difficult to make a case for choosing this one above some of the other options listed here.

Jabra UC MS Voice 550 Noise Cancelling USB Duo Headset

Around £35/$50 | Click here to buy

Jabra UC MS Voice 550 Noise Cancelling podcast Headset

Build

  • A mixed build – nice add-ons, such as padding, but other parts feel flimsy, such as the mic arm
  • Mic is not very easily adjusted – too springy and unresponsive

Audio

  • After a few tests I was still getting a lot of plosive effects – I perhaps could have spent more time on position, but the recording shows the results I received after far more fiddling than any of the others

Logitech H540 USB Headset

Around £30/$45 | Click here to buy

Logitech H540 USB Headset with mic

Build

  • Very high build quality of the group – big and chunky
  • Padded headphones and headband
  • The microphone arm is solid, easily adjusted and kept to the side of your mouth
  • Volume/mute buttons on the headset itself – causes noise in use and hard to find

Audio

  • Sounds a little bassy, and just a touch muffled to me, but decent quality. Again, good brand, Logitech, so reliable quality.
  • Despite the reliable mic arm, I found the volume increased/decreased a fair bit with movement

Sennheiser PC 8 USB Internet Telephony On-Ear Headset

Around £30/$40 | Click here to buy

Sennheiser PC 8 podcast headset microphone

Build

  • Good, solid build quality
  • Mic arm is very simple, very nice – easy to adjust
  • No padding on the head-band, but a wide area to keep it comfortable
  • Feels quite secure on the head

Audio

  • A great quality podcast headset microphone, very low noise, and conveys a decent richness of voice.
  • By far the most reliable recording with regards plosives & sibbilants

Plantronics .Audio 995 Wireless USB

Around £46/$60 | Click here to buy

Plantronics .Audio 995 Wireless podcast headset microphone

Build

  • Fully wireless unit so a great deal of freedom
  • Feels very expensive, robust
  • Very comfortable and well padded
  • Very big unit, though, perhaps a little heavy
  • Solid mic arm, just up and down, kept off to the side
  • Some controls on the side of the unit

Audio

  • Disappointing quality compared to the other headsets – possibly due to the wireless trasmission and bit-rate restrictions
  • Low noise, however, and very steady volume
  • Not prone to plosives at all

MXL 990 Condenser Microphone (a non-headset option)

£65 or $99 | Click here to buy

Now, this is obviously pretty unfair, given the disparity of kit required, but I wanted to include the comparison with one normal, day-to-day microphone. This is one of my favourite XLR condenser mics, connected through a Berhinger 1204 mixer. It may sound better, although it does depend on your tastes. It's certainly more rich and bassy, but, in a way, some of the headset microphones are actually a little clearer.

What's the Best Headset Microphone on the Test?

I have to admit, for the most part, the quality of the headset mics on test were amazingly high considering how much they cost. It's not entirely surprising, though, since I did a bit of research around good headsets before ordering in the competitors above.

There are only two that I'd recommend you avoid as a podcast headset microphone: that's the Plantronics 995 and the Jabra 550. Both are certainly not cheap headsets and I found they each showed disappointing audio quality, particularly the Plantronics headset. I suspect that's simply because of the wireless connection, but I also know most of us would happily be tethered to our computer if it meant a much higher audio quality.

Following Matthew's update with some additional models, it's hard to make a case for buying the Jabra Evolve 20 or the Logitech H390 above any of the others, too. Both are well built enough, but they almost sound like phone quality. For the average price of headsets in this roundup, you can definitely get a better sound. To my ear, I'd pick out the Sennheiser PC 8 headset microphone as the winner.

Best USB Headset Mic

Sennheiser PC 8 USB Headset

2nd Best Headset Mic

Logitech 540 USB Headset

Each of the Sennheiser headset mics performed nearly identically in terms of audio quality. The PC 7 is pretty useful if you prefer to have one ear free to monitor your own voice, which is a definite plus to many.  It's also a good example of the best cheap headsets around, coming in at a lower price than the PC8.

But, the PC8 is my pick for the best headset microphone here, because I prefer the comfort of listening to my interviewees with both ears and the steadiness that comes with being planted well on both sides of my head.

I also really like the build style which is a mix between good quality and minimalist. The mic arm is nice and easy to adjust, while the earphones are very comfortable and don't block out too much sound.

If you're looking to get started in podcasting in a quick and easy way, but still pump out great audio quality episode after episode, then I'd heartily recommend the Sennheiser PC 8 headset.

A word of caution that both the Sennheiser PC 8 and the Logitech 540 have been around a few years, and they're not always easy to find, depending on where you are in the world. If you're struggling with availability, consider the Mpow 071 USB PC Headset or Sennheiser PC8.2 CHAT, instead. Remember you'll find sound samples in the main part of the roundup, above. So have a listen and see what you think!

Bonus Resource: Free Online Mic Test

If You Need a 3.5mm Headset

As a short addendum, I've had some questions about 3.5mm alternatives. This is mainly so that the headset can be used with devices other than computers, such as a smartphone. For that purpose I'd recommend the Mpow 071 USB PC Headset, which we talked about in the roundup section, above. It's one of the cheapest models on the market, picks up the voice pretty well, and you can plug it in either via USB or 3.5mm TRRS!

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Looking for Other Options?

There are whole lot of great microphone options if you're looking to upgrade from a headset. Check out our flagship mic article here, for the best podcast microphones of every type.

If you're keen to keep things simple in the recording stages, then, chances are, you'd like to totally simplify the editing and production, too?

If that's the case, be sure to check out our ‘Podcast Maker' tool Alitu, which automates the heavy lifting and polishes up your episodes without the slightest need for any technical know-how. You can even publish your episodes from within the app!

Alitu: the podcast maker

And if you still need help with your podcasting setup (or anything else podcast-related) then we’d love to work with you too.

Check out The Podcast Host Academy, where run weekly live Q&A sessions. On top of that, you'll find all of our courses, checklists, templates, and downloadable resources. Basically, everything you'll ever need to plan and build a fantastic podcast!

47 thoughts on “Best USB Headset Microphones For Uber-Easy Calls & Podcasting

    1. Not at all Mormo, many a good video has been created that way. Create great content and noone will care what’s on your head!

      If you’re very concious about it, though, then get yourself a lapel mic and it’ll be well out of shot.

  1. Hi! I’m doing a podcast club with 3rd-4th graders. You think these would be best? No video involved, just using Audacity.

    Our IT rep gave us a stand-alone microphone, but we are going to have to use others to get the podcasts complete.

    What do you think?

    1. Hi Leesa, yes, as I mentioned on my reply to your other message, I think headsets would be a good solution in this context. Much easier to use than a stand-mounted microphone and a bit less easy to damage!

      Thanks,
      Colin

  2. Thanks for the interesting article.

    I do screen-share podcasts, and I’m looking for a headset. I don’t have a recording studio. Just a fairly quiet room and a computer. Sometimes I may need to broadcast from a hotel room. In other words, the environment is quiet, but there might still occasionally be car noise or other unwanted sounds. Therefore, I was thinking that a cardioid microphone would be best because it would be more directional. And noise canceling too, perhaps.

    Have you come across that kind of headset microphone in your research?

    Thanks!

    1. Hey Max, good question.

      Yes, there are a few more pro-level headset microphones out there, but I’m afraid I haven’t tried any of them out. The reason being that as soon as you’re up to spending £100 or so on a microphone I’d always prefer a ‘proper’ mic. Saying that, there’s always context, and if you do a lot of on-the-road recording, then it could well be worth it. This is the one I’ve been tempted by in the past: http://www.amazon.co.uk/SHURE-WH20XLR-Wired-microphones-Headsets/dp/B0001DBZNM/

      Shure always do good kit, and it’s not a ridiculous price at £100/$150, so I think it’d be worth a bet…

      Hope that helps!
      Colin

  3. Thank you for this interesting article.
    I wonder though, how does it work with USB-headsets if I want to use two of them in my podcast (doing interviews and such). Will I need a mixer? Is there a mixer for USB-ports?
    I plan on using Audacity, since most podcasters seem to recommend it.
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Clara,

      I’m afraid you can’t tend to connect two USB headsets without a bit of hacking, so it’s not something you can plan for. If you want to record someone else, in person, then you really need a more traditional mic which can be plugged into a mixer. Or, the simple version, get a digital recorder that can take two inputs, such as a Zoom H4n. That’s not a small budget though. The really budget version is a digital recorder, a splitter, and two low-cost lac microphones, which I’ve covered here: Recording Face to face interviews.

      Hope that helps!
      Colin

  4. Great reviews on the headsets! Do you have experience running multiple headsets into a mixer? (I’m trying to figure out how to mic 4 or 5 people at the same time)

  5. Hi Colin,

    This might be out of your remit in terms of help, but I take part in a fortnightly podcast, using an Android tablet and up to now have been using in-ear headphones and in-line mic, although I sound a bit distant and not at all bassy.

    I’ve bought an audio splitter which opens me up to the entire 3.5mm PC headset market, but my budget is $30 and under. Is there one you would recommend above the rest?

    Thanks!

  6. Thanks for writing this Colin – it’s put my mind at ease with some of the equipment I have for audio recording (and stopped me dropping a heap of cash on stuff I don’t really need).

    And it was a nice surprise to hear a Scottish accent!

    All the best.

    1. No worries Chris, glad to help! Are you a fellow Scot? There aren’t enough up here Podcasting, so if you’re looking to start, let me know. Would love to make contact.

      1. Hi Colin – sorry for the late reply! I am indeed a fellow Scot, based in Fife so not far from you.

        I’m not looking to podcast per se, but was looking for decent microphones for doing video voiceovers. I used to podcast a looong time ago but kind of fell out of the habit. Maybe I should get back into it.

  7. Thanks for this article. Even though a year old now, it is still my “go to” article when students and faculty ask about using a headset for lecture capture and podcasting. Headsets help ease the microphone equivalent of “stage fright” when looking a large microphone for the first time.

    For the question about multiple USB microphones, it is possible with any Mac computer and a USB hub using Applications->Utilities->Audio Midi Setup. Windows requires serious hacking and it’s best to just go with a mixer and XLR microphones.

  8. Thanks for this article–the audio samples were a great touch and really help me evaluate these options. I’m a university professor looking to generate videos quickly for my students (video assignments, lectures, etc.), and a headset looks to be the way to go.

  9. THANK YOU for doing this. I’ve just spent over an hour searching for a podcasting headset microphone review smackdown. I know I want a headset microphone, and I know I want it to sound good. Everybody in the world is suggesting the blue yeti or the audio technica 2100. And all of the video reviews of headset mics on youtube have…no actual audio recordings!

    And finally I find this. Thanks again!

  10. Hi and thanks for the article.
    Question: I have a voice-over recording setup in my home studio with a Shure mic, Focusrite preamp and Audition. I want to start podcasting and most of my planned shows feature a guest for an interview sequence. I am trying to figure out how to best mic the guest in my studio so I can use my mic and each of us has our own audio track. Would a headphone mic be best or a small mic with a desktop stand such as a Blue Yeti? For remote interviews, I was thinking of using two headset mics with an audio recorder rather than going back and forth with a handheld for 20 minutes. Any opinion on this as well?
    Thanks for any help!

  11. Based on some reviews, I don’t think it included yours though, I also bought the Logitech that you gave a second place. But I am not really happy with it, mainly because of the noise which in my opinion is quite high. I appreciated your test audio sample that was the same for all the models although you could have left a little more silent portions in it to compare the mic noise. In your recordings I can barely hear the noise and was wondering if I am just being too critical about it?

  12. So this is my second comment and it comes with a decent amount of meat about why the Logitech is not a good choice after all!
    I did a frequency analysis in Audacity on these same recordings and it became clear that the Logitech records no sound above around 9500Hz, while the Sennheisers go to almost double that. You can view the plots in this quick blog I put together based on these tests: http://www.paulnaude.com/2017/07/02/evaluating-headsets-with-microphones-for-speech-recording/

    1. Paul, thanks for the feedback, really appreciate it!

      You’ve put together a great technical review of the mic there, I enjoyed reading through it. You’re right, there’s a bit of noise on the Logitech, absolutely agree there. We’re never going to get the same audio quality on a headset mic at this price range. You’re right though, saying it’s very noisy might be over-critical at this price range (I don’t think it’s awful), but it’s definitely not top quality, and the Sennheiser, to me, is significantly better. Did you go ahead and get yourself a PC7 or PC8 in the end? Would love to hear whether it suited your setup better!

      Colin

  13. Hi Colin, great article thanks.

    Just wondering if this sort of setup with multiple PC7/8’s would be appropriate for recording 2-4 people, interview style podcasts face to face?

    Most of these podcasts will be recorded in our company office which is a medium sized flat walled room. Experiements with Blue Yeti’s on Omni have resulted in a lot of echo noise. I was wondering if it’s possible to link 2-4 of the headsets through a USB hub & record into Garage Band/similar? Or if you’d have another recording solution you’d suggest?

    Putting up condenser mics with booms etc is problematic as the office gets used by the staff every day and it’ll need to be set up and taken down after each podcast, perhaps the headsets would be a quicker setup process?

    Thanks in advance, love the resource,
    Cheers,
    Chris

    1. There can be an issue with Macs when plugging multiple USB devices of the same type in at once, as MacOS cannot tell them apart (For instance, you cannot plug in two Blue Yetis without sending one back to the manufacturer to have its USB ID reprogrammed.)

      It would be great to know whether Sennheiser PC8s have this problem?

      Or whether there is a good way to provide the required 5V power to a 3.5mm headset, so multiple headsets can be plugged into a Focusrite interface (which doesn’t provide that power, unlike a PC or Mac)

  14. Hi! Do you have any opinion on the RODE SmartLav+ lapel mic? Considering that versus the mic you rated #1 in this article. Also is it possible to just use recorder (have Zoom) or the mic is always the best route to go? I will be recording in my home with the guest on phone call in another country. Thank you.

  15. It is much more expensive than the ones you noted, but have you heard anything about the “Audio-Technica BPHS1 Broadcast Stereo Headset w/ Dynamic Boom Mic” – it is one I have been looking at but I don’t know if the added price adds much value. Thanks

  16. My main problem with any microphone, is that my breathing is very audible. It may not bother other people, but when I listen to my own recordings, it kind of jumps right out at me.
    I listened to your audio samples, and it seems to me the logitech you reviewed is pretty good at handling this issue.
    What do you suggest?

  17. Thank you for your evaluation of these different headset mics. I really appreciated getting to hear what they sounded like. That was a great idea! I am using my headset mic as a dual purpose device. 1) for recording audio for short how-to screen capture videos and 2) talking to corporate clients on Skype. It was more important to me that the mic performed well than anything else. Your article helped me make an informed decision.

    I have a Rode Podcaster that I use for other types of narration projects from technical narration to recording audio books for audible – just didn’t need to change my studio configuration to accommodate using the big rode for these how-tos. I am looking forward to hearing how the Sennheiser 8 performs with my voice.

  18. Not a podcaster, but I needed to replace an faulty Logitech wireless that I use to talk to clients over the computer. The audio samples were extremely helpful in narrowing down the sound quality. Thank you!

  19. hi guys.i need to record tutorials in home with pc and need quality sound and dont need any other voice that dont near microphone.can you help me?

  20. Thank you for compiling this list and audio clips are definitely helpful. Do you have any more 3.5 mm jack headphone with mic suggestions? PC131 is over my budget. Thanks again!

    1. On the cheap, nearly any headset will get you recorded sound, but as you move into less expensive models, you’re often dealing with lower quality componenets. So a less expensive headset like a Senheisser PC3 (https://amzn.to/2O5f0gL) would work, but you should expect a loss in audio quality comparatively.

  21. Hi. Hello there.

    Thank you for your very informative article. I am a complete newbie with an ambition to podcast and most I think would be done in the hoof as it were, walking about a bit. So the sennheiser PC 8 would seem to be a sensible purchase.

    The next question, the important one for me. I do not wish to chase around the place with a PC under my arm and will, sensibly, I hope, look to purchasing a digital recorder that would fit a USB connection from the PC8. Could you please suggest something appropriate with good sound quality and reasonably affordable.

    I thank you in anticipation of your reply.

    Best wishes from a very soggy Wales tonight.

    Wil

  22. Exactly the guidance I was looking for. Brilliant. And I hope you’re getting a little spiff on my clickthrough purchase. Really appreciate that you offered multiple, inexpensive options. I’m drop-shipping them to podcast guests and using Squadcast for really excellent audio that sounds like we’re in the same room.
    Thank you

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