What is a USB Condenser Microphone?
In many ways, it isn’t much different from a traditional microphone. It has all of the same components, like the diaphragm and the capsule. However, it comes with a few additions that make
it stand apart.
There are two new circuits on the USB mics; a preamp and an A/D converter (analog to digital). The preamp means that it is not necessary for the USB mic to be connected to a mixer or an external preamp, which makes it more compact and complete in some regards.
The fact that it comes with A/D tech means that you can plug it into a laptop and computer and have recording software read it.
USB condenser mics are, in many ways, much more convenient than traditional ones.
What Makes a Good USB Microphone?
The first thing I like to look for is iOS compatibility, but that’s because I am an iPhone user. There are quite a few models out there that only work with Android, so you need to keep a sharp eye out for this to avoid being disappointed when it arrives.
A mic with multiple settings can be pretty handy, especially if you are using it for a range of purposes. Things like both a stereo and cardioid mode are beneficial for changing things up, and making your device more versatile.
For example, stereo mode is perfect for capturing the acoustic
guitar and realistic sounds, while cardioid is suited to podcasts and streaming games. Having the choice between omnidirectional and bidirectional is also nice, because this is another aspect that offers flexibility.
Omnidirectional settings allow the mic to pick up sound from every
direction, which is great for ambience and a live band feel. Bidirectional records both front and rear, suited for recording interviews or duets.
You need something that is good quality and reliable so that you know it is going to last, but also toensure that you get clear and detailed sounds out of it.
Your best bet is to go with a brand you trust, and put a little extra research in if you are left feeling unsure. Otherwise, all of the features below are part of what makes a good USB microphone.
What are you going to be using the mic for? Will you be recording acoustic sounds and mixing them up on your computer, or are you going to be streaming video games and recording podcasts?
The intended use plays a pretty massive part in which mic you should get, and the section above details some of the differences in use. For example, a stereo mic is perfect for acoustic sounds, and a
cardioid mic is best for streaming.
Difference Between USB and XLR Mics
The XLR mic is the traditional model that professionals will tell you is better than the USB counterparts. Is this really true, though? I would say no, as there are plenty of quality USB mics on the market that do an incredible job.
They even tend to use the same condensers as XLR models. What’s the difference though? Find out below:
- The USB mic only needs to be hooked up to your computer; the XLR has a three-pronged connection that is a little more complicated.
- XLR mics are usually a lot more expensive than the USB ones.
- XLR mics usually have more features and better quality than the USB models, but this is not always the case.
- The USB mics are way more portable than XLR ones, but they are also less customisable.
- If a USB mic breaks the whole thing needs to be replaced, you cannot change individual parts
like an XLR model.
How to Use Your USB Microphone
Using it is actually really simple, although it will vary according to who makes it. However, there are some basic steps you can follow for getting started with your mic:
- Plug it into your computer or laptop using the USB cord provided
- Allow it to be used as the primary sound source on your computer
- Follow any on-screen instructions from the manufacturer
- Link it up to any software that you use for sound and recording
It’s that easy, and it doesn’t take much time to get started with using your mic. It’s one of the nice things about them, that they remain simple and without too much complication to use.
This is also known as the pickup pattern, and there are several different types in microphones. I’ll be going through the main three so that you have a clear idea of what there is to choose from:
- Cardioid. These have a heart-shaped pickup pattern, and they collect sounds from the front, with reduced pickup from the sides. You can even get semi-cardioids that have an even
- Omnidirectional. These really capture the sound of the room, as well as the source of the primary sound. It’s also great for recording multiple voices or instruments because it picks
up sound from multiple directions.
- Multi-pattern. These are fantastic because they allow you to switch between cardioid and omnidirectional as needed. This makes them versatile, as well as suited to a whole range of
scenarios. Certainly one of my top choices.
What you have to spend is as important an aspect as any, because your budget shouldn’t be overspent just because the mic you think you need is the most expensive on the market.
In actual fact, there are loads of fantastic quality mics out there for really affordable prices; you just need to know where to look. Right here, actually, since I have collected a whole range of affordable, reliable, and high-quality mics that will definitely suit your needs. Take a look without worrying about overspending.