Don’t you just love the crackle of a bad mic on a Zoom call?
The muffled unintelligible sound of speaker feedback as someone else tries to talk?
What’s that? You don’t?
Yep, us neither.
As great as video conferencing technology is, it can also be hard work sometimes. One of the things that can make it tiring is other people’s poor audio.
The fact is that, although convenient, standard laptop microphones aren’t great. If you’re using a desktop PC, you’ll need an external microphone anyway.
Following on from our piece on the best webcams out there, we’re looking at the best desktop mics you can get at different budgets and different priorities.
THE WIDE WORLD OF MICS
Before we get into some examples of microphones, it’s important to work out what type of microphone works best for you.
Any of the below will be better than your standard laptop microphone but of course they all come at different price points and varying levels of convenience.
Below this we’ll look at a few different options in each of the following categories.
The most common kind of desktop mic for casual users. These plug straight into your USB port so are highly convenient and can often be small and portable.
They’re generally more affordable although the price can vary quite a lot.
The main downsides are that the sound quality isn’t going to be at the same level as traditional microphones and depending on the price may, not have the features you need.
That said, we’ll focus on these the most as they’re probably the most popular option for most day-to-day users.
TRADITIONAL CONDENSER MIC
These will give you best in class audio quality and if you’re doing livestreams, public speaking or recording music/podcasts, this is the route you’ll want to go down.
They’re admittedly more expensive, mainly due to the extra kit you’ll need to make them work. You will need a USB audio interface to use the mic with your computer and you may need other accessories such as a pop filter and arm/stand to hold it.
A set of headphones with a microphone built in is possibly the most convenient and flexible form of mic, plus you get great audio at the same time.
These will come at a wide variety of price points so you can go from call centre employee to pro-gamer, depending on what you’re willing to spend.
The sound they pick up won’t always be the best quality and if you have a lot of video calls, be wary that you’ll have bulky headphones on throughout the call – not the most professional look (not that that matters too much at the moment, we’d imagine!)
Blue Yeti – £119
If you’ve been recommended a microphone before, this has probably been mentioned. It’s a popular option, partly due to its excellent sound quality for the price.
- Easy to set up.
- Great sound.
- Has a headphone jack.
- The look may not be for everyone but some will find the classy vintage feel appealing.
Blue Snowball – £55
This mic, also made by Blue, is a much more affordable option. The snowball is super portable and is more than adequate for most casual users.
- Super easy to set up.
- Ideal for those on a budget.
- Decent sound.
Shure MV5 – £85
Shure are a company with a good reputation for microphones. They are manufacturers of professional recording equipment and their MV7 podcasting mic is widely used. They also make the MV5, a much more affordable desktop mic for everyday use.
The MV5 has a compact body and vintage aesthetic and easily plugs into USB.
- Super compact and portable.
- Use it with USB and iOS.
- Classy look.
Marantz Pro Pod – £43
This microphone comes with an adjustable arm allowing you to attach it to your desk and easily move it around, for optimal audio capture.
For the price, you get a great mic that is good for your everyday video conferencing and any podcasting plans you have.
- Easily to plug in and use.
- Adjustable arm.
- Great budget option.
Behringer C1 Condenser – £26
This is one of the most affordable condenser mics on the market. You get that much clearer condenser sound but at less than £30 it’s a winner for those on a budget, who aren’t planning on going pro any time soon.
AKG P120 – £75
For something that is still pretty affordable, this durable mic will give you great sound. For people who want to capture excellent, clear vocals whether for podcasting or musical pursuits, this is a great option.
SE Electronics X1A – £86
Probably at the top end of what most casual users would be willing to pay but this SE mic will certainly provide great sound. It’s got an integrated windscreen and will pick up acoustics well.
Audio Interfaces, Filters and more
As we mentioned above, the downside with these is that you will require other accessories in order for them to work.
This includes an audio interface, which takes the sound from the mic and sends it to the computer via USB. There are a number of options for this including the very affordable Behringer U-Phoria at £40, but the Focusrite 2i2 is also a popular option and a great bit of kit.
You will probably also need a pop filter, to stop excess noise, and a stand or arm to hold the mic, however a lot of manufacturers will have affordable bundles that include all the above items.
Any Bluetooth headset will do a better job of recording and transmitting audio than your standard laptop mic, so they’re definitely worth having.
Here are a few great options, if you’re looking for something that provides great audio and microphone capabilities.
Sennheiser SC 60 – £26
This small and simple headset is your office standard, headphone and mic combo. It’s going to do a decent job of both for the price but you do get what you pay for. Fine for a couple of meetings a day but won’t be the most comfortable option if you’re using it all day.
Logitech G733 – £189
For more serious gamers, these funky headphones provide great sound and an excellent mic in one comfy package. Ideal if you’re going to be wearing them all day and also happen to be an avid gamer. It’s definitely on the pricier side but we guarantee it will be worth it. Other Logitech products are also a decent bet.
Jabra Evolve2 65 – £136
A slightly more affordable but equally effective option. This Jabra model should provide plenty of comfort but also looks a bit more professional for those working in a corporate environment and less bothered about the gamer aesthetic.
We hope you found our round up of the best desktop microphones for remote working useful.
Of course, there are plenty of other good options that aren’t listed here but the above are all winners, depending on your price point.
The main thing to think about is, what are your requirements and would it make your day less stressful if you could speak normally without worrying about being heard?
If audio isn’t a problem but picture quality is, then be sure to check out our other post on webcams.
For any advice on computing hardware or software, get in touch with our experts.
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