Whether you're streaming on Twitch or just trying to be heard in a (virtual) warzone, nothing quite beats a dedicated, standalone microphone. Don't get me wrong — the best gaming headsets have some pretty impressive built-in mics these days, but they're built to multi-task, not to deliver professional-grade, crystal-clear clarity (or to pick up anything other than one person's speaking voice).
A standalone mic will make your voice sound better and clearer to your teammates and viewers, and can be used for other things as well — music recording, for example, or podcasting. Many of the best gaming microphones are already pretty affordable — under $100/£100 — and versatile, making them an even better deal. If you've already upgraded to one of the best gaming keyboards and one of the best gaming mice, it's definitely time to pick up a standalone gaming mic.
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Polar Pattern: The polar pattern describes the area around a mic where it picks up noise. Some gaming mics offer more than one polar pattern.
Cardioid: The most common polar pattern; best suited for recording one person's vocals. Cardioid mics create a narrow cone around one side — the mic only picks up sound from that cone, blocking out the rest. Variations such as supercardioid or the more extreme hypercardioid pick up sound using even narrower cones.
Bidirectional: Has two fields of polarity — one on either side of the mic. This is better for recording two voices simultaneously, though it's always better to use separate mics to record multiple voices, if possible.
Omnidirectional: The opposite of cardioid — this polar pattern picks up sound from all directions, and is best for capturing room noise and ambient sounds such as reverb from a loud instrument. This isn't the best polar pattern for a gaming mic, though it can be used to record multiple voices in close proximity, if you're in a pinch.
USB Mic or Studio Mic: USB-based gaming mics are not the only option for the streamer, competitive gamer, or home recording enthusiast who happens to play some Fortnite on the side. The other option is an XLR-based studio mic, which requires an audio interface. When used properly, studio mics offer higher quality and more versatile recordings.
XLR Mic: These interface via XLR — you will need to connect a sound card or an audio mixer with an XLR jack to your PC. Studio mics vary from affordable (starting at around $100) to extremely high-end ($10,000+) mics seen only in professional recording studios. Because they don't have an ADC or a built-in digital-to-analog converter (DAC), they do not have built-in noise suppression.
Inline Monitoring: Many gaming microphones offer inline monitoring via a built-in headphone jack, which lets you hear the raw audio, lag-free, directly from the mic. Inline monitoring lets you hear exactly how you sound, so you don't end up accidentally shouting to be heard over background noise that's only on your end.
Frequency Response Range: This is an important spec that tells you the lowest- and highest-pitched sounds the microphone membrane is capable of picking up. The baseline range for a decent mic is 20 Hz - 20,000 Hz — the limits of human hearing. Some mics go beyond this — while this may seem unnecessary because you can't hear the extra details they pick up, you can "feel" subharmonics within the low-end frequencies. The same goes for the other end of the spectrum — you can't hear 22,000 Hz unless you're a Pomeranian, but you can "feel" the extra harmonic details in the high-end tones your ear does pick up.
The Best Gaming Microphones You Can Buy Today
Rode’s NT-USB+ retains the sturdy, professional design of its predecessor — the NT-USB — but adds some pretty impressive upgrades, including enhanced circuitry, Rode’s Revolution Preamp technology, and an internal DSP (as well as USB-C connectivity). This condenser microphone produces excellent vocals with a solid low end and very little self noise — giving you broadcast-quality sound in an easy-to-use, plug-and-play package.
The NT-USB+ comes with a 9.8-foot (3m) USB-C to USB-C cable, a plastic tripod desktop stand, a detachable metal mesh pop shield, and a detachable ring mount that can be easily mounted on a boom arm (or a different stand). It features a 3.5mm high-power headphone output for zero-latency monitoring on the mic, as well as two dials to control mix and headphone volume level. It does not have a gain dial or a mute button. The NT-USB+’s internal DSP allows for advanced audio processing, which can be activated using one of Rode’s apps — Rode Central, Rode Connect, or the new Rode X Unify software.
The NT-USB+ improves upon the NT-USB — already an impressive USB microphone — to deliver fantastic-sounding, clean audio with a low noise floor. If you’re looking for a mic that will make you sound great while you’re chatting with teammates or streaming over Twitch, look no further.
Read: Rode NT-USB+ Review
The venerable Blue Yeti was there at the birth of the streaming boom, and it’s still a ubiquitous desktop feature on Twitch. And with good reason. It’s just about the easiest mic to use on the market and really excels when picking up a single vocal signal at a time.
Logitech’s Blue Yeti is built to a very high standard and will stay where you angle it on its weighty stand. The design of that stand, along with the understated, retro aesthetic of the mic capsule itself, makes this the most stylish USB microphone, and that’s important when you’re streaming yourself for an audience of judging eyes. If you really love RGB and want to sync all your peripherals up to the beat of the same light show, though, consider Razer’s Seiren series instead.
The controls couldn’t be easier to use while you’re streaming. A single volume control and a mute button on the front of the mic are all you get, and for the intended purpose that’s all you really need. You’re never going to accidentally hit the wrong thing mid-stream.
The Blue Yeti’s four polar patterns also give it great versatility, so if you venture out into music recording or podcasting, you’re not limited by a single cardioid pickup pattern.
If you’re looking for a mainstream gaming mic that’s a bit more advanced in terms of features than the Blue Yeti USB listed above, then the Elgato Wave:3 is for you. In addition to working with the Elgato Stream Deck (opens in new tab), this mic comes with Elgato’s Clipguard feature, which successfully limited audio volume during testing. Fit for Twitch streaming, YouTube compression and high-res audio recording, the Wave:3’s small build also makes it easily portable.
This mic is similarly priced to the Blue Yeti X that's also on this list; however, Elgato’s streaming mic only has one polar pattern type, making it less versatile than the Blue Yeti X. For a mic that can handle a broader range of situations, the Yeti X is still preferable. We also could use more bass from the Wave:3.
But with its vast software and hardware feature set, like a handy pop shield, the Wave:3 is a highly capable mic for those focused on streaming.
For a cheaper version of this mic, see our Elgato Wave:1 review.
Read: Elgato Wave:3 review
Not everyone needs multiple cardioid patterns and a pile of features. If you’re willing to work with the best budget gaming microphone, the Razer Seiren Mini delivers, and in a variety of colors that’ll add some fun to your setup.
The Seiren Mini is currently just $50 (opens in new tab), and it packs sound quality that rivals its close competitor, the Blue Snowball iCE. But Razer’s best budget gaming mic sounds more dry and flat, which should be pleasing to those who prefer less artificial sounding output. You can’t get better sound quality at this price.
You will, however, be stuck with a supercardioid polar pattern only, while others on this list offer multiple options. Also, features here are almost non-existent. There isn’t even a mute button or headphone jack (for a budget option with mute, consider the HyperX SoloCast).
Still, the Seiren Mini is cute, portable and offers simple, quality audio.
Read: Razer Seiren Mini review
Whether you like to croon some tunes during or after your Twitch stream, this music-centric microphone is a great choice. Beyerdynamic is a respected name in pro audio, and the company’s expertise in the studio carries over beautifully in this compact, no-fuss USB mic.
Unlike the vast majority of its USB interface peers, the FOX offers hi-res 96 KHz/24-bit recording quality, which is an impressive feat for a mic you can simply plug in via USB and hit record on. You might not make use of that extra quality on platforms that compress audio and video, like YouTube or Twitch, but if you’re into podcasting or music production, you’ll be glad for the option to go beyond CD-quality 44 KHz/16-bit.
On the mic itself are controls for mix and volume and a headphone minijack input for inline monitoring. The preamp that outputs this monitoring signal runs a little hot in our experience, distorting well before the mic itself does; however, it’s still a useful feature when the gain’s rolled off.
There’s also a mute button at the top, and a high-low gain toggle (essentially a pad) at the rear of the mic. Beyerdynamic throws in a sturdy metallic pop shield that clips on without the need to unscrew anything, and you can angle the mic on its stand.
The Beyerdynamic FOX is loaded with features, but ultimately it’s the sheer recording quality and usability that wins out and makes the FOX our pick for home studios.
Read: Beyerdynamic FOX review (opens in new tab)
Like Beyerdynamic, Audio-Technica is a hugely respected name in the pro audio industry. It brings decades of expertise to the table with the AT2020USB+. This is a medium-diaphragm condenser with just a cardioid polar pattern available, which makes it somewhat specialized to lone vocal recording, but luckily it’s brilliant at that very thing.
In a straight shootout with the Beyerdynamic FOX, the AT2020UBS+ comes incredibly close to matching the FOX's warmth and detail but falls slightly short. Yet, the particular characteristics of the Audio-Technica -- a breathiness and really pleasant high end -- make it perfect for spoken vocals.
We recommend a couple of additional purchases for this mic, though: a pop shield and a boom arm. We’re surprised not to see the former included, but they’re inexpensive to pick up on their own. As for that boom arm, the tripod design felt a little wobbly during our testing, so we preferred mounting it up above us on a nice sturdy boom before hitting the record button. That way, we were able to relax and not spend our session worrying about knocking into the desk and picking up bumps and scratches on the waveform.
Read: Audio-Technica AT2020USB review (opens in new tab)
While the Blue Yeti above is the best gaming microphone for streamers, the Yeti X kicks things up a notch in terms of performance, features and price. Those who already own a Yeti don’t have a pressing need to upgrade; however, if you’re in the market for a new desktop microphone and have the budget, the Yeti X is a versatile option with fantastic audio performance. Although it somewhat comes at a premium, the Yeti X is still a lot cheaper than most multi-polar pattern studio mics.
A greater number of condenser capsules brings smoother sound with better sensitivity compared to the standard Yeti. Beyond the specs, we also noticed an improvement in recording quality when compared to the Yeti. Our testing found that the Yeti X could articulate a wider dynamic range that sounded a bit fuller.
Another nifty upgrade the Yeti X provides is a dial that swaps between cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional and stereo polar patterns. The joy here is this dial is just plain easy to turn and much more so than the Yeti. However, we wished the Yeti X’s dials felt more premium for this price.
If you're willing to spend a little extra, there's also the Blue Yeti X World of Warcraft Edition. Currently going for $50 extra (opens in new tab), It brings a new look, plus voice modulation to make you sound like characters from the Warcraft games, including Shadowlands.
Read: Blue Yeti X review
Some of us have faces for radio and don’t need to worry about our mics showing up on screen. But some of us are streamers. And for those streamers, style matters just as much as quality. Lucky for them that NZXT’s Capsule Mic has a great minimal cylindrical style that also pushes out high quality audio and has just the right amount of RGB.
This is NZXT’s first mic in a while, and the company’s coming in swinging here. Yeah, there’s only one pickup pattern, but cardioid is all a lot of people will need. And NZXT’s cardioid knocks it out of the park. Audio is crisp, and the microphone didn’t pick up background noise like trains when our reviewer used it to stream. It also works well in high-ceiling rooms.
The software can be a little finicky, and you can’t tweak your gain in it, but the knob is notched to help with that.
Overall, this mic provides a great plug-and-play experience for streamers without costing an arm and a leg.
Read: NZXT Capsule review
The Immerse GV60 is MSI’s first ever stand-alone desktop microphone, and while it makes a few missteps concerning its target audience, its 96 kHz sample rate and wide bevy of polar patterns makes it perfect for pre-recorded content.
It’s a bit strange to see such a gaming-centric company miss the mark when it comes to livestreamers, who will be least served by this microphone. That’s because most streaming platforms aren’t positioned to make great use of the high sample rate here, nor are streamers likely to get much use out of the non-Cardioid polar patterns. The microphone still works fine when ignoring these features, although it might not be worth the price if you intend to do that.
But if you record music or podcasts or even video, this is a great starter mic. All the options here will really help you customize your sound, plus it comes with a built-in pop filter. Just know that you might have to buy a separate adapter if you plan to mount the GV60 in a boom arm.
Read: MSI Immerse GV60 review
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