As technology continues to grow, USB-friendly musical instruments are steadily taking the market by storm. One of the first “USB” types of gear was indeed the microphone. Back in the day, we remember buying one of those “stick mics” that hooked up to USB and we were in awe — how easy was it to merely plug-in a mic into a computer, not have to load any drivers and get to recording or playing games with friends? Today we decided to constrain your search to only USB microphones priced at under $100 or lower. Let’s see what we found.
What is a USB microphone and it’s benefits?
To brush up on the topic, a USB microphone is one of the most popular types of microphones for computers — they’re a handy recording device designed for hooking up to units like laptops/computers or gadgets to be plugged in and played. Using a USB port, the microphone is powered from the gadget’s battery or electricity and can be integrated with other devices like a camera or headphones. Some popular uses of USB mics include gaming, Skype calls, podcasting, recording music in a home studio, or merely any other application that entails recording onto a computer, laptop or smart device.
You’re probably well aware of the benefits of USB mics, which include quite a few factors — for one, they’re relatively budget-friendly (especially in this article for under $100), they don’t need any phantom power (as stated previously, they use whatever they’re plugged into in order attain their power), and very convenient to not only fit on your desk but take on the road with you if you’re traveling. Although they aren’t necessarily a condenser or dynamic microphone, nowadays with the advancement in technology, come with some very clear near studio-grade audio quality.
How to choose your USB mic under $100
- Exact budget – Although we’ve gotten down to USB mics under $100, there is still a difference between a model for just $100 and another around $20. How much are you willing to invest?
- Extra features? Some have a small gain (volume\power) boost, others volume control on the unit itself, etc. They aren’t necessarily musts — so which feature(s) are important to you?
- Needed accessories – We don’t want to bombard you with too much to think about, but when it comes to using microphones, there are a few accessories you may need to enhance your experience. A lot of these are included in the package (are typically priced higher because of this), while others you’ll need to buy separately. These include: pop filters, mic stands, USB cables, carrying cases, and more. Think about your uses now as well as the future — what are you going to need?
We love SweetWater’s USB microphone guide for some more info on buying this type of microphone.
The best USB microphones for under $100
Blue Microphones Snowball Ice
Every time we hear about a USB microphone, a Blue Microphones model is coming up in the conversation. To start off our list and if we were to give you an immediate answer on the best USB microphone under $100, this would be it. This model is designed to record or communicate voices with high quality and can be used on both a Mac or PC without using any software. The colors that are available are white and black. You get a sample rate of 44.1 kHz/16 bit and a cardioid polar pattern to give it a nice condenser microphone feel with USB connectivity. It obviously isn’t a professional microphone for a major studio, but we’d even recommend this if you’re recording some tunes in a home studio. The price is not too expensive, and it is easy to use with a unique design that creates surprisingly high-quality sounds at a budget-friendly price. It also comes with that little tripod if you were looking for a stand.
Samson Go Mic
The Go Mic by Samson is one of most reviewed and highest rated budget-friendly USB mics in the market by far. As expected, it is easy to use with its USB plug-and-play connectivity – you just need to plug the USB in to a Mac or PC. The complete package of the Samson Go Mic includes a USB cable and stand mic. The frequency resolution is 16-bit/44.1 kHz so you’re getting the standard quality for most of these USB microphones for under one hundred bucks. On the design, the Samson Go Mic is a little tinier but still heavy enough to have a decent construction. It’s not too expensive for the quality because the Samson Go Mic is really useful for what we need to make a suitable produced sound in most mic applications. There will be no regret in choosing this great product with many exciting functions, especially if you plan on traveling a lot since it comes with that folding wallet looking stand that can fit in most laptop bags.
We’re huge Audio-Technica fans, and the ATR2500 is recommended for those who are looking for a USB microphone priced just under $100 with some of the best audio quality among the list. It has the same functions as many other USB microphones for recording, podcasting, live recording, or even field recording.. Like the others, there is no need for any software to plug and transfer sound to your computer or smart device. The frequency resolution used by the ATR2500 is 44.1 kHz -48 kHz / 16-bit which is a tad bit higher than competitors in the category. The design of the mic is classy but heavy, resembling a typical professional microphone. The ATR2500 is worth it for its price because it is easy to use and although we recommend condenser mics for recording in a studio, is considered a helpful tool for those who need to make great quality sounds in lower-tier recording studios.
Here’s our top pick for the budget-friendly USB microphone. It has that same look as the previous A-T model listed in terms of resembling a traditional mic. With the simple and user-friendly design, the CAD U37 is also able to perform out of the box since its extended frequency response can result in smooth vocals for your singing, instruments, speech, desktop recordings or podcasts. The cardioid polar pattern and ‘Bass Reduction’ feature are very useful to reduce feedback and background noise. You can also reach the best sound quality by switching to the -10 dB setting. This USB connected microphone is also compatible with any Windows or Mac computers. We love the extra few features this one has, and the user reviews back this up to give you confidence in the purchase.
Here’s another Samson USB microphone under $100 to take a look at. It can even get along right with your iPad (with Apple’s USB connector). Although this might not produce the top-notch studio quality, we undoubtedly include it as one of our choices since this microphone is able to give you quality audio results for it has one of the largest condenser diaphragms with a 25 mm size. This mic offers great audio results not only for recording but also when doing Skype or iChat. Highlighting the classic design, the Meteor Mic has folding legs which are capable to provide you with the ideal positioning every time you’re doing recordings or if you plan on traveling with the device. It comes in a few color options, too.
Blue Microphones Snowball
Last but not least, we have yet another Blue model. The snowball has a nifty little design — It offers decent audio quality and you can set the microphone to any position you like with its adjustable tripod. It’s very easy to set up, of course, either with Windows or Mac. You’re ready to record by just plugging this microphone directly into any computer without complicated drivers to operate. The Snowball built-in tech ensures that your recordings are free from background noise, echo, feedback or distortion. You have the option of using this microphone’s cardioid pick up or omni-directional mode so if you’re looking for some versatility this may be your choice.