USB vs XLR Microphones

For musicians and audiophiles around the world, the debate between XLR and USB microphone is edgy. While the former has a three-tier connection system involving the interface (example a mixer) and then the computer, whereas the latter requires only a direct connection to the computer. 

Now, the question arises what the technical difference between using these two is? To answer this, we will look at some examples of both XLR and USB microphones first!

XLR MICROPHONES

In brief:  XLR microphones are highly efficient in limiting internal noise and can also have the advantage of replaceable parts. In almost all professional settings, XLRs are used as they are great for making high-quality recordings and amplifying sounds during live performances. 

Top 5 XLR MICROPHONES

1. Electrovoice RE20

Electrovoice RE20

Product Features:

  • A cardioid dynamic microphone by nature, the Electro-Voice RE20 is reliable, with low-noise performance, and has exceptional clarity and definition.
  • The black matte SSM-BC10 Microphone Suspension Shockmount from Auray is designed to keep your front-address microphone free from vibrations and noise. The Auray BA-2EN Two-Section Broadcast Arm is designed to help keep your workspace clean, eliminating the clutter of microphone stands and cables. 
  • It is a good cable of studio-quality, which is apt for connecting mics to mixers, preamps, and audio interfaces and recorders. 
  • Package Contents Electro-Voice RE20 – Cardioid Variable-D Dynamic Voiceover Microphone (81715) Stand Adapter Plastic Foam-Lined Case Limited 2-Year Warranty Auray SSM-BC10 Microphone Suspension Shockmount (Black Matte) Limited 1-Year Warranty Auray BA-2EN Two-Section Broadcast Arm Heavy Duty C-Clamp Mount Surface Mount Limited 1-Year Warranty Kopul Studio Elite 4000 Series XLR M to XLR F Microphone Cable – 10′ (3.0 m), 3-Year Limited Warranty.
  • User Review on Amazon: 4.5/5
  • Price: $499.00

Takeaway:

If you are looking for a good value for money XLR product high on sturdiness and sound quality, this is it.

2. Audio-Technica AT2020

Audio-Technica AT2020

Product Features:

  • The Audio-Technica AT2020 is a standard side-address condenser microphone, which comes with a good price: performance ratio. 
  • This is a product for home-based studio setups and projects. 
  • The noise level is around 20 dB SPL.
  • High SPL handling and wide dynamic range provide unmatched versatility.
  • Custom engineered low mass diaphragm provides extended frequency response and superior transient response
  • Cardioid polar pattern reduces pickup of sounds from the sides and rear, improving isolation of desired sound source. Output connector:integral 3 pin XLRM type
  • Black speckles on the mic are the finish of the item. Audio Technica case style: R7
  • User Review on Amazon: 4.5/5
  • Price: $99.00

Takeaway:

This is a standard microphone with side-address studio condenser microphone technology, making it ideal for project/home-studio applications. It comes with unmatched versatility, due to high-SPL handling and wide dynamic range.

3. AKG P420

AKG P420

Product Features:

  • This is a one-inch dual-diaphragm microphone with three selectable polar patterns for the perfect setting.
  • Low noise electronics and a transformerless output for high dynamic range.
  • It has a switchable attenuation pad for high SPL applications up to 155 dB SPL.
  • User Review on Amazon: 4.6/5
  • Price: $199.00

Takeaway:

This is a great budget product, with good sound quality apt for recording vocals and voiceover.

4. Rode NT1-A

Rode NT1-A

Product Features:

  • It has a large-diaphragm Cardioid Condenser Mic with Shockmount.
  • It is equipped with a Pop Shield.
  • Dust Cove is present.
  • It comes along with XLR Cable.
  • Price: $229.00

Takeaway:

The Rode NT1-A comes with an internal capsule shock-mount system and creates little internal noise. With an accurate reproducibility of sound, it is an excellent choice for vocal mics.

5. Shure SM58

Shure SM58

Product Features:

  • The frequency response is tailored for midrange and bass, vocals, roll-off to control proximity effect.
  • Cardioid Dynamic Vocal Microphone.
  • The uniform cardioid pickup pattern sets the way for maximum gain before feedback and excellent rejection of off-axis sound. Moreover, the uniform cardioid pickup pattern isolates the primary sound source and minimizes background noise.
  • Tailored frequency response specially designed for bass roll-off
  •  vocals, with brightened midrange and to control the effect for proximity.
  • It is equipped with an advanced pneumatic shock mount system that minimizes the transmission of mechanical noise and vibration.
  • Effective built-in spherical wind and pop filter. Frequency response: 50 to 15,000 Hz.
  • The pneumatic shock-mount system also cuts down the handling of noise.
  • It comes furnished with a zippered storage bag and also a break-resistant stand adapter.
  • Extremely durable under the heaviest use; assured quality, ruggedness, and reliability.
  • User Review on Amazon: 4.8/5
  • Price: $99.00

Takeaway:

This is a unidirectional (cardioid) dynamic vocal microphone used for professional vocal use in sound reinforcement and studio recordings. It has a highly effective, built-in, spherical filter that minimizes wind and breath noise. A cardioid pickup pattern isolates the primary sound source while minimizing unwanted background noise. So, if you are looking for an easy-to-use, good quality, durable, value for money product, you can go for this.

USB MICROPHONES

In Brief: USB microphones are cheaper and much easier to set up than XLRs. They can be connected directly to the computer without the need for any other interface. Let’s take a look at some of the best USBs to choose from.

Top 5 Best USB MICROPHONES

1. Blue Yeti

Blue Yeti

Product Features:

  • It is a four-capsule array – capture legendary Blue broadcast sound, which has higher focus and clarity than ever, especially for professional-level gaming, Twitch streaming, podcasting, and YouTube Productions.
  • It uses a high-resolution LED metering – that lets you visualize your voice level with an 11-segment LED meter of the Yeti X Microphone. Also, at any instance, you can check whether your voice level is becoming too high or too low and then adjust it accordingly.
  • The multi-function smart knob allows you to quickly adjust mic gain, mute, and headphone volume, and blend the microphone signal with the computer sound within your headphones.
  • Blue Voice broadcast vocal effects – You can download the Logitech G HUB or Blue Sherpa (for PC and Mac) and then gain instant access to a suite of Blue Voice broadcast effects that lets you achieve Professional on-stream sound quality.
  • Customizable LED lighting – personalize the color of Yeti X’s LED lights to match your on-stream aesthetic.
  • User Review on Amazon: 4.4/5
  • Price: $169.99

Takeaway:

It is an excellent value for money product, with voice recognition, impressive sound quality, and suitable for gaming.

2. Samson Meteor

Samson Meteor

Product Feature:

  • Professional USB microphone with 1″ Studio-quality Capsule.
  • Fold-back legs provide optimal mic positioning and fold up for easy transport.
  • The microphone features a 1/8″ headphone output for zero-latency monitoring of the sound captured by the microphone and the audio from your computer.
  • Cardioid pickup pattern captures the audio in front of the microphone, minimizing ambient sound from entering the recording.
  • The smooth, flat frequency response of 20hz–20khz captures the detail of your voice or instrument.
  • Zinc die-cast construction with chrome-plated finish.
  • It has a large, diaphragm of 25mm with a proper USB studio-standard condenser microphone.
  • It works seamlessly with an iPad using the Lightning USB Camera Adapter from Apple or Camera Connection Kit (30-pin).
  • 16-bit, 44.1/48kHz resolution.
  • The stereo 1/8″ headphone jack has no latency monitoring.
  • User review on Amazon: 4.4/5
  • Price: $119.69

Takeaway:

Meteor Microphone is ideal as a portable USB studio condenser microphone ideal for recording, podcasting, Skype, gaming, music recording, or even live streaming. Moreover,  Meteor Mic, you can make incredible recordings that are out of this world. Producing rich audio recording for any application, Meteor Mic has one of the largest condenser diaphragms of any USB mic. Its cardioid pickup pattern, smooth frequency response, and 16-bit, 44.1/48kHz resolution give you professional audio results no matter what you’re recording.

3. Rode Podcaster

Rode Podcaster

Product Feature:

  • This is a product that features a tight polar pattern that is a tailored-for-voice frequency-based response.
  • It is perfect for every application where a great sounding, rugged microphone with superior ambient noise.
  • Equipped with an internal shock mounting of the capsule for handling low handling noise.
  • The internal pop-filter is designed to reduce plosives.
  • It includes a stand mount, a 3/8 inch adaptor, and a zip pouch.
  • User review on Amazon: 4.7/5
  • Price: $229.00

Takeaway:

The RODE Procaster is a very good broadcast-quality microphone specially designed to offer uncompromised performance for voice-based applications that, too, in the broadcasting environment. It features a tight polar pattern and is tailored-for-voice based frequency response. It also features an internal pop filter to minimize plosive sounds that overload the microphone capsule and distort it. It has a high output dynamic capsule that is balanced with low impedance output making it an ideal broadcast and voice over microphone. 

4. FIFINE Studio Condenser USB Microphone

FIFINE Studio Condenser USB Microphone

Product Features

  • USB Output: It enables a simple setup. The USB Microphone Kit provides a straightforward, along with a convenient plug-and-play connection to Mac and Windows computers without the need for any additional hardware for recording podcasts, vocals, and Skype. 
  • It has an excellent Sound Quality: With rugged construction for durable performance, the vocal microphone offers a comprehensive frequency response and handles high SPLs with ease. Ideal for project/home-studio applications. The cardioid condenser capsule provides very clear audio for creating, communicating, and recording. It comes ready to go with a desktop mic stand and a 2.5M USB cable, that guarantees impressive results.
  • Durable Arm Set: This studio-quality microphone comes with a versatile and sturdy broadcast suspension boom scissor arm that gives you a great tool for capturing your voice in a podcast or a voiceover. The Double Pop Filter also provides you with two layers of dissipation. This makes it an excellent choice for the studio as well as for home.
  • Easy to Attach: This streaming microphone adjustable boom studio scissor Arm Stand features a heavy-duty combo mount that makes it easy to attach. It consists of a detachable desktop mount and also a rigid C-clamp with a 13″ fixed horizontal arm. It also offers a further 30″ reach. The low-profile,table-hugging design allows on-air talent to perform without facial obstruction to record podcasts, make dubbing sounds for videos, use voice chat in online games, or do business on Skype.
  • The Accessory Package Include: The scissor arm stand is made out of all-steel construction, sturdy and durable. A studio-grade shock mount, a double pop filter, premium 8.2′ USB cable, a bonus tripod stand, a microphone for podcast recording, a user manual, and Free Technical Support. One Year Warranty to 2-year extended warranty with online registration.
  • User Review on Amazon: 4.5/5
  • Price: $75.99

Takeaway

A budget microphone with good noise cancellation, comprehensive frequency response, and excellent signal-to-noise ratio. It gives quiet, noise-free output while maintaining maximum signal gain, and is also easy to attach. 

5. Blue Snowball USB Microphone

Blue Snowball USB Microphone

Product Feature

  • This is a hassle-free Plug and plays design microphone, which requires no software required.
  • This is a professional studio-quality performance — record both vocals and instruments.
  • It is compatible with Mac and PC.
  • Blue’s renowned circuit and unique two-capsule design.
  • It is switchable mic patterns for a variety of recording applications.
  • User Review on Amazon: 4.5/5
  • Price: $76.90

Takeaway

This is a classic studio-quality USB microphone for recording, streaming, and podcasting. With a dual-capsule and circuit design, the Snowball allows you to produce crisp, clean records free of feedback and distortion.

XLR vs. USB: Pros and Cons at a Glance

XLR vs. USB: Pros and Cons at a Glance

Verdict:

To be precise, it all depends on what kind of utility you are looking for. If it is professional level audio recording XLR might be a better option, however many USB microphones also provide quality output at a much lower cost. Moreover keep in mind that they are much more easily transportable than XLRs, although have limited customization options. So depending on the purpose, whether live performance or home studio recording,  you need to select the best fit.

Concluding Remarks:

Research thoroughly and go through product reviews properly. Also, make sure that your shortlist contains the proper criteria of selection depending on the type of recording you intend to do. Choose wisely and enjoy flawless output with your purchase!

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