A cheap USB microphone doesn't necessarily mean that it's bad — it just means you need to have appropriate expectations. Luckily, some low-cost USB microphones offer excellent audio like the well-loved Blue Snowball iCE. Blue is known for producing high-quality audio and has brought its expertise to a more affordable price range, making it an excellent choice for gaming or video chats. While there are plenty of great microphone options for your computer out there, why spend a lot of money when you don't need to? Here are the best cheap USB microphones to get you great audio on your computer.
Best Overall: Blue Snowball iCE
Blue Snowball iCE
No reason to be blue at this price
Blue is known for making some of the best affordable microphones for multiple use cases. It has some of the most unique looking options too. The Snowball iCE is no exception, with a retro feel to its spherical shape. This cardioid condenser microphone is perfect for recording almost anything to your computer. It is even Skype and Discord-certified due to its excellent voice pickup.
As a cardioid style microphone, the Snowball iCE has a forward-focused pickup pattern. That's why this style of mic is so great for anything voice focused. When making your video calls, there's a smaller chance for background noises likes kids, dogs, or the air conditioner to be heard by the microphone. Pair this with Blue's custom condenser capsule, and you'll get crystal clear audio, whether it's live or recorded.
With the Blue Snowball iCE, you get an adjustable tripod included, but the attachment point is a standard size ready for several accessories. Utilizing USB 2.0 for data and power transfer, you'll be able to plug this into your PC or Mac without any issues. Speaking of plugging into your computer, you'll need to use settings on your system to control things like mute and gain on the microphone because it's missing the on-device controls.
So the next time you have a full docket of video calls to make, you know that the person on the other end of the chat will hear you loud and clear when you have the Blue Snowball iCE microphone.
Runner-Up: Fifine K669B
Fifine is better than fine
Fifine K669B may have a more traditional look, but it still offers some fantastic features at a great price range. This USB 2.0 condenser microphone works on both PC and Mac without the need for extra software. This makes it simple to get started using it for YouTube, gaming, video chat, or other audio recording needs. Just be sure that your setup allows for the shorter cord that is built into the microphone.
As a condenser mic, it brings exceptional audio pickup to ensure accurate sound reproduction. Even though this is a cardioid polar pattern, the microphone encapsulation style still has a small bit of background pickup. This is due to the design of the microphone casing being open. You do get a tripod and stand that allows you to adjust your microphone to point exactly where you want to avoid background noises better.
There is a built-in volume knob to let you get just the right level when recording or speaking live. The knob also acts as a mute switch to turn off the microphone. When you're ready for your next audio session, just plug and play to get started.
Best Value: CMTECK CMG006
Bring the noise and the lights
This highly adjustable and unique looking microphone brings some handy features along with its style. The CMTECK CMG006 has a small footprint on your desk with a base that has some blue LED lights if that's your thing, and a switch to turn them off if they aren't. The base also has a status light to tell you that you're connected, picking up audio, and muted — which can be done with the built-in switch. You just won't be able to control volume through the microphone.
As a condenser style microphone, you get accurate sound reproduction in a small package. Because this is an omnidirectional style mic, it works great for single audio pickup and for recording multiple people. Omnidirectional microphones can sometimes be seen as a negative because there is a higher chance for background noise to be heard, but that's not the case with the CMTECK CCS2.0 Smart Chip.
This built-in feature brings in noise-canceling technology to help eliminate echos and unwanted noise from being heard in your recordings. However, the noise-canceling isn't perfect and has to work extra hard because the microphone is very sensitive. As a plug-and-play device, it's ready for your Mac or PC audio needs right out of the box.
Best Microphone with an Included Arm: Neewer NW-7000 USB
Neewer NW-7000 USB
The full package
Anyone who is ready to start recording and doesn't want to worry about picking up accessories later should check out this setup from Neewer. It comes with the NW-7000 cardioid pickup pattern condenser style microphone that is great for all types of audio recording. Set that up with everything else in this package, and you are ready to go.
For those recording sessions when you want to get a bit of space between you and your computer setup, the NW-35 adjustable arm is there. This allows you to extend, swivel, raise, or lower the microphone to wherever you desire in a snap. It's worth noting though that when mounted on the arm the cord is relatively short so you can't get too far from your computer. The included shock mount will keep any random vibrations from affecting your recordings. Toss on the anti-wind foam cap and pop filter and your voice calls, gaming sessions, guitar-shredding nights are all set to sound crystal clear.
This USB-powered microphone is plug-and-play ready for your Mac or PC. It has a relatively limited pickup range and no built-in adjustments for volume or even to mute. However, as a budget-focused microphone in a great accessory kit, it should do excellent for most basic needs.
Best Complete Microphone Kit: TONOR TC30
No pop here
For a desk setup that gets you a great set of accessories in addition to a solid cardioid condenser microphone, the TONORO TC30 is an excellent place to start. The microphone is a USB 2.0 model that's ready to go right out of the box with its USB-A to USB-C cable — hallelujah, no micro-USB. Using its cardioid pickup pattern that faces forward and a bit upward focused, it does a good job avoiding any unwanted noise.
You also get a well-built tripod that connects directly to the included shock mount. This helps to avoid vibrational sound pickup from a shaky desk or other small, unexpected bumps to the microphone. The lower microphone sensitivity could be part of the reason it doesn't pick up a lot of background noise, so you'll want to be intentional with your recording moments. To help aid in sound clarity, there is also a pop filter included that attaches via a solid steel arm to ensure proper placement.
This setup is fantastic for all sorts of vocal audio needs. From games on Twitch to Zoom calls for work, you'll get great audio here. However, without built-in volume, mute, or gain controls, it may not work well for something like recording a full band as that requires a more comprehensive frequency response range.
Best Compact Microphone: Samson Go Mic
Samson Go Mic
For the road warrior
Whether you like to record on the go or just want to have less clutter in your desk space, the Samson Go Mic is an excellent choice. This small microphone has a built-in stand that can also clip to the top of your monitor to get entirely out of the way. Be aware that the stand is a bit small and if not perfectly set could fall over when using it, but the clip feature is wonderful. When you are done with your recording, you can fold it up and pack it away in a pocket.
This versatile condenser microphone lets you change between an omnidirectional microphone for group recordings or a cardioid pattern for a more direct audio capture moment. There's also the option to plug it in via USB to your Mac or PC as well as a 3.5mm jack for direct audio.
Of course, due to its compact design, there are going to be some concessions. There's no onboard controls like mute or gain control, and its audio frequency response will have a smaller range. However, as an improved microphone over a computer's built-in option, it's a great choice.
Audio, live or recorded, through a computer is becoming extremely common these days. Whether it is for your podcast, YouTube channel, or simply for those daily video conferences, you want to be sure that you are clearly heard — and this starts with a good quality microphone.
Thankfully you don't have to spend a lot of money to have the level of recording you deserve. To get that professional level sound at an entry-level price look no further than the Blue Snowball iCE. Blue is well-known for producing some of the best microphones around and is used by podcasters and YouTubers around the world. It has brought its expertise used on the high-end mics to the Snowball iCE and kept only the essentials to ensure you get great audio. To make it a sweeter deal, you don't even need to have any special software to use the microphone. Just plug the USB cord into your computer and start your recording software of choice.
Sounding great when recording on your computer doesn't have to break the bank, so if you want to come in loud and clear on your next recording while saving some money, pick up one of these great choices.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Chris Wedel is a fan of all things tech and gadgets. Living in rural Kansas with his wife and two young boys makes finding ways to get and stay online tricky. By utilizing his years of experience with the tech and mobile communications industries — success is assured. When not conquering connectivity challenges and testing new gadgets, Chris enjoys cruising a gravel road in his UTV with some good tunes.
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