When you need to ensure your voice is heard on the battlefield, nothing quite beats a dedicated, standalone USB microphone. As much as mics on the best gaming headset have improved over the years, they still can’t hold a candle to the wind when it comes to a plug-in, full-sized microphone. Better yet, you can now get some of the best gaming microphones -- or at least a fairly serious one -- for well below $100/£100. And if you've already outfitted yourself with one of the best gaming keyboards and the best gaming mouse, opting for an superior mic is a logical next step in tricking out your battlestation.
Mics aren't just about gaming either. There's no time like the present for focusing on hobbies or even turning those interests into a career. Whether you want to venture into the world of podcasting, music recording or streaming or are just a gamer who needs their teammates to hear every direction barked at them, you'll find the best gaming microphone to tick all of your particular boxes below.
Best Gaming Microphones at a glance
1. Best Gaming Microphone Overall: HyperX Quadcast
2. Best Streaming Microphone: Blue Yeti USB
3. Best Gaming Microphone for High-End Streaming: Elgato Wave:3
4. Best Budget Gaming Microphone: Razer Seiren Mini
5. Best Gaming Microphone for Recording Music: Beyerdynamic FOX
6. Best Gaming Microphone for Podcasting: Audio-Technica AT2020USB+
7. Best High-End Gaming Microphone: Blue Yeti X
8. Best Stylish Mic for Streaming: NZXT Capsule Mic
Quick Shopping Tips
Which polar pattern?
A microphone’s polar pattern describes the area around it where it picks up noise. Some gaming mics offer numerous polar patterns, while others may only have one.
- Cardioid: This is the most common polar pattern because it’s the best suited for recording one vocal. Cardiod mics create a narrow cone around one side of it, so the mic is only listening to a really selective area and blocking out the rest.
Variations -- like supercardioid or the more extreme hypercardioid -- narrow the polar pattern down even more, picking up audio from a narrow area.
- Bidirectional or figure-8: As the name implies, these mics create two fields of polarity, one on each side of the mic. Think of it like taping two hypercardioid mics together and having them face opposite ways. It's ideal for recording two vocals simultaneously, one on either side of the mic. If possible, it's always better to use separate mics to to record multiple voices.
- Omnidirectional: These live on the opposite end of the spectrum from hypercardiod mics and listen in all directions, from every angle around it, front and back. Its best use is capturing room noise and ambient sounds, like crowd chatter or reverb from a loud instrument or drumkit. It’s less helpful in a gaming environment, but in a pinch you can use an omnidirectional mic to record more than one vocal in close proximity.
USB gaming mic or studio mic?
As great as USB-based gaming mics are, they are but one of two options for the streamer, competitive gamer or home recording enthusiast who happens to play a some PUBG on the side. The other is XLR-based studio mics, and they require an audio interface. When used properly, such mics can offer higher quality and more versatile recordings.
- USB gaming mics: These interface with your PC via a USB port and, thus, feature an integrated analog-to-digital converter (ADC) that changes the analog mic signal to digital data. They’re very easy to set up, usually don’t require specific drivers and often have automatic noise suppression.
- Studio mics: A studio mic interfaces via XLR, meaning you’ll need some form of sound card with XLR input jacks connected to your PC. Studio mics vary from affordable $100 models to prestigious high-end ones worth tens of thousands that are only attainable recording studios. Since they don’t feature an ADC or digital-to-analog converter (DAC), they don’t have noise suppression baked in like gaming mics.
Hearing the direct input signal while recording can be very handy. Numerous gaming mics offer this option via a headphone jack on the mic, so when you plug in you’ll hear the raw audio lag-free, minus any compression or effects applied to the track.
Frequency response range
In short, then: the wider, the better. This is an important point on the spec sheet that tells you the lowest and highest pitched sounds the mic membrane is capable of picking up. The baseline range is 20 Hz-20 KHz because those extremes are also the limits of human hearing.
Some mics go beyond that gamut. That may seem unnecessary since you can’t hear the extra detail they pick up per se, but you can ‘feel’ subharmonics within the low-end frequencies. The same goes for the other end of the frequency response range: you can’t hear 22 KHz unless you’re a Dalmatian, but you can feel the extra harmonic detail it adds to the high-end tones your ear does pick up.
The Best Gaming Microphones You Can Buy Today
HyperX's Quadcast provided the best gaming performance out of any USB microphone we've ever tested. With impressive vocal warmth and clarity, the HyperX Quadcast is the best gaming microphone for most players.
Not only does it have the sound quality, the Quadcast has a well-pronounced gaming aesthetic too. Behind the cradle, lives a strikingly dramatic red light that illuminates when the mic’s on. You can mute yourself instantly by tapping the top of the microphone, at which point the light will handily turn off too.
HyperX also equipped the QuadCast with a very sturdy shock mount. That means you can relax and get your game face on without much worry about knocking the stand over and deafening your Discord friends.
The name Quadcast refers, oddly enough, to a unique, three-diaphragm design that allows for four polar patterns, including an unconventional stereo arrangement. In reality, this is best used outside of gaming and for a wide sound source or for two different sources, (as you might find in a home or live recording environment). But the Quadcast still sounds nice and warm and with a welcome touch of roominess when used in this manner.
Want the same audio quality but a flashier look? Check out our review of the HyperX QuadCast S, which adds RGB.
Read: HyperX Quadcast 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 though and want to sync all your peripherals up to the beat of the same light show, 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, 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 also on this list; however, Elgato’s streaming mic only has one polar pattern type, making it less diverse 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 with sound quality that rivals its close competitor, the Blue Snowball iCE. But Razer’s best budget gaming mic sounds more dry and flat, pleasing with 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. 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
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.
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, 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 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
Savings on the Best Gaming Microphones
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