Best USB microphone for Mac iMore 2021
Whether you're video chatting with friends and family or signing into a remote work meeting, you can never go wrong with one of the best Mac USB microphones. Just plug one into your Mac, and just like that, you'll sound better and clearer than ever before. The best option when it comes to versatility and convenience is the Blue Yeti. Not only can it record in four different modes, but its 16bit/48kHz recording sample rate always comes out sounding loud and clear.
- Best overall: Blue Yeti USB Mic for Recording & Streaming
- Excellent sound isolation: Rode NT-USB Mini
- Smaller Yeti: Blue Yeti Nano Professional Condenser USB Microphone
- Great for singer/songwriters: Audio-Technica AT2020USB
- Best for iPhone: Shure MV5
- Budget option: Samson Meteor
Best overall: Blue Yeti
The four different recording modes are where the Blue Yeti really shines because there's practically nothing you can't record with the Blue Yeti if it's set in the right mode. If you have a new MacBook that only has USB-C ports, you will need one of the best USB-C Hubs for MacBook Pro to plug it in. Once you do, you won't be disappointed.
I'm not the only one that loves the Blue Yeti, Rene Ritchie has been using his for years, and he loves how easy the Blue Yeti is to use.
"Blue Yeti is still my pick for best USB microphone — not just for the Mac but for anyone starting out doing anything, including podcasts, audiobooks, live streams, videos, and more. It plugs right into your device, no audio interface needed, sounds great out of the box, and has a few simple options if you need to adjust for particular circumstances, like two people sharing one mic. Of course, it can't beat a high-end XLR mic and interface, but at a tenth or less the price, it sounds so good you'll probably think twice, hard, before considering those higher-end purchases. It's the mic I used for years, still, travel with today, and always recommend to anyone who asks." — Rene Ritchie, 10-year podcast veteran and host of iMore show, MacBreak Weekly, and VECTOR.
Its basic cardioid mode is fantastic for capturing a single voice or instrument in front of the mic, making it perfect for game streaming, video calls, or vocals.
The omnidirectional mode allows the Blue Yeti to pick up sounds from all around it, meaning you can put it in the middle of a table and have multiple people speaking, and it won't miss a single word. This mode is great for podcasting with multiple hosts and guests or for capturing the noise around you.
Bidirectional mode allows the Blue Yeti to be an interview microphone with minimal setup. Just put the microphone between you and the other person speaking and never touch it again.
Lastly, stereo recording mode allows the Blue Yeti to use the left and right channels to record in stereo and give your recordings a more realistic soundstage when there is more than one sound source in front of the microphone.
- Headphone jack for live monitoring
- Manually gain adjustment
- Four record modes
- Great price
Excellent sound isolation: Rode NT-USB Mini
Rode has been an excellent producer of microphones for years now, and although the Rode NT-USB Mini may look unassuming, it's a handy little USB microphone. With a magnetic stand that can easily attach to mic stands, an AUX input for live monitoring, and a built-in pop filter, the Rode NT-USB Mini is a great compact option for recording voices.
The 24-bit at 48Khz sample rate offers excellent audio quality, and the sound isolation that the unidirectional microphone gets out of such a small device is pretty impressive.
- Compact design
- USB-C powered
- Built-in pop filter
- Only one recording pattern
Smaller Yeti: Blue Yeti Nano
Blue's newest USB microphone takes a lot of what people love about the Blue Yeti and shrinks it down (both in size and price) into a pretty compelling product. Both its cardioid and omnidirectional pickup patterns support sample rates up to 24-bit at 48Khz, and its included stand keeps it stable while recording so you don't get any noise from the microphone moving around.
- Less expensive than Yeti
- No manual gain control
- Only two recording patterns
Great for singer/songwriters: Audio-Technica AT2020 USB
Functioning much like a traditional XLR microphone, the Audio-Technica AT2020USB is ideal for the singer/songwriter in you who loves to record digitally. Being a cardioid microphone, the AT2020 USB performs best when recording sound from a single source located in front of the microphone. What makes the AT2020 USB so great for musicians is its ability to easily fit into shock mounts and mic booms, allowing you to position the microphone perfectly in your space.
- Shock mount compatible
- Live monitoring with the headphone jack
- No gain control
- Flimsy stand
Best for iPhone: Shure MV5
The mic comes with connections for both USB and Lightning ports. However, it is Apple MFi certified, which means it's designed to directly connect to iOS devices like your iPad or iPhone. It won't need any special adapters or connection kits to make it work. So if you're looking for a super-fast way to record your voice and dictate some notes on your iPhone, this is a great way to do it.
Of course, just because it's designed to work well with iOS devices doesn't mean it won't work well with others. It can connect via USB and do all the same jobs with access to all the same features. Use this mic for vlogging, streaming, or just collecting your thoughts for whatever project you happen to be working on.
The MV5 comes with three digital signal processing modes for vocals, instruments, or flat recording. That makes it great for recording music in addition to your own vocals. It also automatically applies certain things like gain, EQ, and compression to get you optimal results out the gate, and you'll find you have the ability to really get the sound exactly the way you want it every time. There's even built-in headphones output for real-time monitoring. The mic's custom-tuned capsule provides the best audio.
- Compatible with iPhone and Mac
- Sturdy Design
- No gain control
Budget option: Samson Meteor
Although the Meteor is only meant to capture a single sound source, it does record all of its audio at a 16 bit, 48kHz sample rate, which means you're getting great-sounding audio every time you sit in front of it. It's lightweight and quite compact, allowing you to transport the Meteor anywhere you need to go, so you never have to worry about sounding bad when you're on the road. It's probably the best Mac USB microphone for people who are constantly on the go because it's so incredibly portable.
- Super compact and portable
- Poor sound isolation
- Only one recording pattern
Much like Rene has said, the Blue Yeti is the best Mac USB microphone for most people. Its four recording modes offer an incredible amount of versatility, meaning regardless of what you're trying to record, you should be able to get a high-quality recording.
I have personally used my Blue Yeti to record podcasts with multiple guests, record guitar and vocals on a musical track, and every day for multiple Skype and other video chat services, and I have never been disappointed. Plus, the Blue Yeti is one of the easiest ways to make so you sound as good as possible on the Google Hangouts group calls you may need to have for work.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Luke Filipowicz is an iMore staff writer who has been using microphones to record podcasts and even his band on his Mac.
Lory Gil is the Former Managing Editor of iMore and knows her way around a microphone, as she records multiple podcasts every week.
Rene Ritchie is the foremost authority on all things Apple and has insider knowledge about the goings-on at the biggest tech company in the world. He uses microphones with his Mac every day to record videos, interviews, podcasts, and much more!
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