When I used to mange a record label I always recommended that the artists I managed bought a cheap USB microphone kit to record vocals over sample beats from wherever they were in the world. Thanks to advances in recording technology, many of these microphones ranging from £35 – £150 actually sound great with a little bit of editing.
In this post I just wanted to share with you my recommendations on which USB microphones are the most cost effective and best sounding within a limited budget.
Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone – £72.00
Number 1 on my list is the Yeti (and Yeti Pro) USB mic from Blue. What I really like about this microphone is that you can select between four different ‘polar patterns’ allowing you to create different sounds of recordings, including ‘omni-directional’ which records in all directions and creates a sound similar to being their (great for recording live events), and bidirectional (great for interviews), and cardioid, which is the standard polar pattern for recording singing, podcasts, and instrument recordings.
Samson CO1U USB Condensor Microphone – £68.99
Call me crazy but I love this microphone. It may not have the ‘Rode’ or ‘Blue’ logo stamped on it, but this mic does everything it needs to, it sounds good out of the box and it’s easy to use. The Samson CO1U claims to be the first USB condenser microphone, and it even comes with free basic recording software (Cubase I believe), which means you can start recording straight out of the box. I had two artists who uses this and both of them had great experiences getting it to sound brilliant without too much editing.
Rode Podcaster – £149.00
Rode have a great reputation in the recording industry for producing robust high quality microphones, and this one is no exception. Although slightly bigger and heavier than you may expect, it’s a great choice for vocal recording, interviews, or podcasting. I used to own three main condenser microphones in my home studio (a SE Electronics SE2200, A Behringer B1, and Rode NT3). My experience with the Rode was really good and it was certainly built better than the other two and had a very ‘warm’ tone. I’d strongly recommend this one to vocalists and acoustic guitarists.
Behringer C-1 Condensor Microphone – £34.19
Again, it may seem crazy, but the Behringer C-1 is a really cost effective microphone. It costs £35 and sounds good enough to use in demo / semi-professional recordings. As I mentioned above, I used to use a Behringer B1 in my home studio and I loved it, I have to admit it wasn’t the most ‘honest’ sounding microphone i.e. the sound was coloured to a slightly warmer / darker tone, but it’s a great little investment if you’re on a budget.
Blue Microphones Snowball – £57.51
Similar to the Blue Yeti microphone, the Snowball has multiple polar patterns, and is a great all around microphone to use for recording vocals, podcasts, interviews, live events, and even Skype calls. The innovative design and circuitry makes this one of a kind, and the simplicity of this microphone is great – no drivers to install, just plug in and go!
If you looking to record vocals or podcasts from home there’s a few things you want to consider adding to your home studio rig. First of all is a pop shield, headphones and microphone stand, all of which can be found on Amazon for less than £10 each. You will also need recording software – most of the USB microphones listed above come with a CD Rom that includes free basic recording software, but if you’re looking to make professional sounding recordings you may want software like Cubase, Pro Tools, or Logic.
Finally, if you’re looking to improve the tonal qualities of your recordings, you may want to purchase some plugins or hardware that have compression, equalisation, and basic effects.
You can get all of these important bits of pieces individually, or in a pack like the one below (there are packs for most of the microphones above, too.
Image Credit: Rusty Sheriff