The basics of a good vlog are clear audio and a crisp image.
However, what you need to prioritize first is the audio.
After all, no viewer will be interested in your vid if they really can’t understand what’s in it.
Thus, a quality microphone is a must-have.
You might ask “don’t video cameras already have a built-in microphone to record audio?’
Yes, they do.
But they still need improvement to be able to capture really good audio quality.
In this post, I will give you my top recommendations for the best external microphones for YouTube vlogging.
Just an overview of what you’re about to read:
- A quick dive into why built-in camera microphones are not enough for vlogging.
- A short description of the types of microphones you can use for your vlogs. I will be going over several needs you can have as a vlogger and the suitable type of microphone for those needs.
- My recommended microphones by type. This will make your shopping or selection easier since you get to narrow down your options by microphone type first, and then microphone brand and model second.
I will have all of the technical info in the buyers guide at the bottom of the post – if you'd like to read it first, please scroll down 🙂
Without further ado, I will now be presenting you with my recommended microphones.
I will start with USB mics since they are very popular among content creators as they are most affordable and flexible:
Best USB Microphones For YouTube Vlogging
Any YouTube vlogging start-up will want to spend very little on tools and devices without compromising the quality of their content.
One way to achieve this is through the use of a webcam and a microphone that can both be connected through a USB port.
Many prefer USB-connected devices because they can be directly linked to a PC – where most content creators edit their content.
Down below are my top choices.
In a rush? Here is a quick rundown for you:
Alright, now let's get to the reviews.
I am going to start with this ‘not-exactly’ USB microphone.
You have to connect this mic with an XLR cable to an audio interface – which is the one that has a USB connection.
The reason why I am including this is its superior background noise cancellation.
It is a mic of choice among top podcasters, YouTubers, and voice-over actors.
It is classified as a dynamic unidirectional mic and can capture only the sound coming from the front.
It records at really low decibels to avoid background noises.
This is why a preamp and/or audio interface are necessary – so that you can improve the signal to usable levels.
Consider this a good thing, because you get to completely isolate your voice and make a very clear audio recording.
The final audio will seem like you have your own professional recording studio.
The downside is its price.
It is pricier and requires additional equipment to operate like the preamp and the XLR cable.
But trust me when I say it will give you really good audio quality!
Now here is the top seller among the four I am recommending – the Blue Yeti.
This one is a condenser mic and is the first choice among YouTubers.
It comes with numerous sound-capture modes and the quality of its recording is very good.
You have the option to go for bidirectional, cardioid, omnidirectional, and stereo.
Stereo is similar to omnidirectional but is more selective when it comes to the sound it records.
It is set-up to record sounds from the front as well as the sides to get a surround sound effect.
Cardioid, on the other hand, is the best for vlogging.
It has several buttons that other cameras lack like mute and volume.
Plus, it also has an output for headphones.
The Blue Yeti is already a very good microphone.
Whether you can get a better one than this depends on your budget.
But, if you ask me this is more than enough when you’re just starting.
You can always upgrade to a better one when you have access to more funds.
Considerably cheaper than the Blue Yeti, the Snowball is the best microphone you can get for its price.
If you get this bad boy, then you really don’t have to think of alternatives.
You can personalize too by choosing the color of your choice.
The microphone lets you switch between two modes – cardioid and omnidirectional.
And it's quite affordable – need I say more?
If you cannot find the Snowball, you may also check out the Samson Meteor studio microphone as an alternative.
The most noticeable difference is the audio quality.
It has one studio-quality capsule and several cardioid pickup patterns.
It is good at lessening ambient sound by only picking up the sound in front.
With a smooth, flat frequency response, it is capable of recording more details of your voice.
And it's pretty good for the price, trust me!
Another probable alternative is the Samson Go microphone.
This one is on the slightly cheaper side but with the same omnidirectional and cardioid modes.
A good choice for recording sound from conferences, acoustic instruments, or just about any source.
It has a built-in headphone amplifier as well that allows you to listen to your recording files from the microphone itself.
This is the one you get if the switchable patterns aren’t really your thing.
The AT2020 is a cardioid microphone with a decent background noise suppression feature.
It isn't expensive but only has one feature.
But, its settings are very suitable for vlogging so you really don’t need any tweaks or add-on features.
You also won’t need to get a bidirectional microphone unless your project requires two speakers.
To give you an idea, it’s like getting a cheaper microphone with above-average audio quality but with fewer features.
Some semi-professional mics are at $300 and this one still works better.
There is really no valid reason for you to spend more than the AT2020 except if you want to remove noise.
This condenser microphone is great for podcasting and vlogging, but with a bit of background sound.
If the noise really annoys you and you don’t have the budget for a more expensive microphone or a home studio, consider my first recommendation up top– the Shure SM7B.
Best YouTube Vlogging Microphones
For Mobile Phones
You don't want to spend too much on a mic for a mobile phone, so the microphones below are meant to be the budget solutions for beginner vloggers:
PowerDewise Professional Grade Lavalier
The selling point for this microphone is its value.
It is good quality with basic features that are worth more than its retail price.
I sincerely recommend this based on my personal experience.
It has a really well-established technology that processes the recorded sound and turns it into a quality recording.
It is also good at avoiding extraneous noise.
You won’t need any drivers so it’s basically just a plug-and-play device that can be connected to most smartphones.
Rode SmartLav+ Lavalier Microphone
A more expensive microphone also compatible with smartphones is the SmartLav+.
It has an overall better sound quality too.
It is a professional-grade Lavalier microphone with TRRS Jack.
Apart from being an omnidirectional condenser mic, it also has a Kevlar-reinforced cable for a sturdy, high quality, heavy-duty performance.
It is a miniature mic with full-size mic capabilities.
A quick note: this mic requires a downloadable app for iOS mobile devices priced at $5.99.
Best YouTube Vlogging Microphones
For Typical Cameras
If you have a regular DSLR or video camera, the mics below should do a great job:
Giant Squid Omnidirectional Mono Microphone
If your vlogging camera is compact, you will need to buy a lavalier-type microphone like the Giant Squid.
This type of mic is omnidirectional so it can record ambient sound as well.
If you want to lessen the noise, it is also much easier to suppress with software edit.
Your voice will be loud and clear because the mic will be much closer to your mouth.
It is pricey but nothing a starting vlogger can’t handle.
This bad boy is my favorite among lavalier types.
One thing I can suggest for improvement is its short cable.
Vidpro Lavalier Condenser Microphone
This microphone is also a good option for you since it is cheaper and has good enough quality.
It is mainly designed to go with GoPro cameras, but you can readily connect them with others.
Vidpro is wired to the source with a 20-feet cable (much longer than the Giant Squid’s 6-feet one).
It comes with a lapel clip and foam windscreen all packed into one sleek black pouch.
Best YouTube Vlogging Microphones
For Cameras Without a Mic Jack Input
When you get to try several cameras that are great for vlogging, you will also find that most of them have one thing in common – no mic jack.
It can be annoying especially if you’re particular about sound quality.
Compact and mirrorless cameras make up most of this type.
Since you really can’t settle with the camera’s mediocre audio recording capability, you’ll just have to find a way to add external audio input to your camera footage.
The following two recorders will let you:
The more popular choice is the H1 – a recorder with 2 unidirectional microphones facing each other at an angle of 90 degrees.
This is the perfect position to record stereo effect sound.
In terms of quality, it is better than using one omnidirectional mic.
It is not really capable of suppressing ambient sound, thus its best for general videos that don’t focus on, for example, people speaking.
One way you can improve its recording quality is by attaching a lavalier microphone for recording speech.
Zoom H4N Pro
The pricier option you have is the H4N Pro.
It is basically a step higher than the H1 as a professional-grade microphone.
It comes with more advantages like better technology, background noise resistance, and portability.
The microphones are rotatable so you get to adjust the stereo effect as you see fit.
The microphone can record 4 tracks simultaneously and comes with 2 XLR/TRS inputs.
The latter is needed for the majority of studio microphones and professional instruments.
It sounds pretty high spec, but you don’t really need it if you’re just vlogging at home.
Still, it deserves to be in my list of the best microphones for YouTube vlogging.
If your videos rely strongly on audio quality like song covers, this is a mic you should consider.
Best Shotgun Microphones For YouTube Vlogging
This is generally for cameras with a hot shoe, whether they are DSLRs, mirrorless or shooting cameras.
I am not going to recommend you very cheap shotgun mics because frankly, they don’t deserve that label.
Most are typically bad at isolating audio and a lot much noisier.
I’d rather have you use your camera microphone than use a cheap shotgun microphone.
I know 4 that perform well:
Sennheiser MKE 600
The MKE600 was initially created by Sennheiser to work with camcorders and DSLRs.
Building on the company’s experience in sound device technology, this shotgun microphone has high directivity level, compact and good at suppressing ambient noise.
It is set to record sounds from the front to prevent catching other background noise.
It also comes with a foam windshield and lasts up to 150 hours on battery.
Note that this bad boy often requires phantom-powered.
It has an integrated camera shoe and shock mount which is why it belongs to this list.
This mic is a half-inch professional microphone meant to partner with digital cameras.
It comes with a Rycote Lyre mount and a custom windshield specifically designed for shotgun microphones.
Typical cameras nowadays that are used by vloggers are for personal use so they don’t really come with superior audio recording capabilities.
Using the Rode VideoMic will upgrade your audio without emptying your wallet.
It has a metal shoe capsule that prevents vibrations from affecting the quality of your recording.
You also typically don’t need any additional adapters since it also comes with a standard thread for boom sticks.
It has an 80Hz high pass filter that isolates low-end noise due to its polar pattern that focuses on the front.
The custom windbusters it comes with also provides additional double layer protection for the best audio quality – maximum detail and minimum frequency loss.
Shure VP83 LensHopper
Another professional-grade microphone is the Shure VP83 LensHopper.
It promises high-def audio with the maximum low-end response.
It is a cardioid or lobar polar microphone that is capable of suppressing ambient sound.
It has superior RF immunity and an integrated Rycote Lyre mounting set-up just like the Rode VideoMic.
However, its design is exclusively made for this particular model.
One AA battery will give you 125 hours of operation time.
All other features are pretty much the same as the other two.
These mics differ mainly in audio recording quality.
When it comes to shotgun microphones, the more you pay, the better quality you get.
This means more expensive models are better at the basic features like ambient sound suppression, audio processing software and voice detail recording.
And then for some, you get more features too.
One more microphone I’d like to mention as a runner up for shotgun mics is this guy.
For less than a quarter of the price of the other three, the SGC-598 gives you comparable audio recording quality and all the basic features you will need for crisp audio vlogging.
It boasts a shock-resistant design to minimize noise, high sensitivity, low-frequency attenuation, and standard universal connectors.
It is not equal in quality to the three but can be good enough especially if you are just starting out as a vlogger.
YouTube Vlogging Microphones Buyer's Guide
Alright, let's go over some of the most commonly asked questions and basics you should have an idea about:
Why Not Use Built-In Camera Mics?
You might be wondering why I’m trying to discredit the built-in camera microphones.
It’s not really that they are low quality (some are, but I’m talking about the decent ones from Sony and Nikon).
Most video cameras were not made for video production projects like vlogging.
What is the main reason people buy cameras – isn’t it for personal use?
So you can record moments and watch them at home with friends or family?
It’s not really the type of camera meant for recording videos for public viewers like those used in movie filming.
Thus, their quality is just enough to record audio for posterity.
High resolution and premium quality sound is not something you really aim for when you’re just trying to record videos for your own consumption.
If you want your viewers to get the best possible experience on your channel, you will need better audio quality.
Most built-in microphones don’t have noise canceling.
Ever notice those large microphones during TV sets that have really thick foam covers called windscreens?
They are to reduce noise caused by the wind hitting the surface of the mic.
Noise-canceling enables you to record clearer audio by eliminating all the unnecessary background noise.
You may get a similar feature from external microphones though.
Built-in microphones are omnidirectional.
It is a type of mic that records everything around it.
Since it does not discriminate or isolate, sometimes the background noise can be much louder than your voice.
Unless you have the camera near you, this is going to be a common scenario if you rely on a built-in mic.
Types of Microphones Suitable for Vlogging
Now, let's take a look at what type of microphone will suit your Youtube vlogging style the best:
I will start with what I think is the best type for vlogging – unidirectional microphones.
Bidirectional mics are okay too.
From their name, it means the device is capable of recording sound from one direction or focus source.
In other words, all the background noise is disregarded.
This is great because your viewers can clearly hear your voice in your videos without being privy to your arguing neighbor’s convo.
The most common subtype for this classification is the cardioid.
They are mics meant to record speech so it is very good for review and story vlogs.
This is what tops my list of the best microphones for YouTube vlogging.
Dynamic microphones are good at cutting background noise.
Thus, they are more suited for live events and shows.
They record the stronger sounds so it is very useful when you are vlogging and explaining something near the mic.
The concept behind this type is electromagnetism and usually comes in two subtypes: moving coil or ribbon.
This type converts acoustic sounds into electronic signals.
Condenser microphones are commonly used to record music, but they work well for speech too.
It is also the type preferred for recordings since they are capable of capturing delicate sounds.
This, however, makes your recordings have a little bit of background noise but faintly.
Let me further classify this type into two that are most suited for vlogging.
The shotgun microphone is the common one between the two subtypes.
It can be connected to a DSLR and generally doesn’t amplify sound.
They are made with a narrow area in the front which is responsible for catching sounds.
It further cancels sound waves from other directions to isolate the main sound to be recorded.
Great for long-distance recording, the shotgun microphone is very sensitive and capable of catching sound waves approaching the microphone’s front end.
The other kind is the lavalier microphones.
They are very small mics that are clipped on clothing or accessories.
You will notice them being worn by some reporters too.
Despite these microphones being omnidirectional, they still avoid recording a lot of noise because of their close proximity to the mouth.
It is very convenient for vlogging in motion and also very light.
However, it does catch sound from the movement of your clothes so the best place to put it is in the outermost layer of your outfit like a collar, a bag sling, etc.
So there you go, my picks for the best microphones for YouTube vlogging.
It can be confusing to see multiple suggestions but all you really need to know is this.
First, unidirectional microphones are the most ideal.
Bidirectional ones come in second and are also good.
Omnidirectional ones are only good if you really want ambient noise to be recorded.
For the purpose of vlogging, the former ones are better since you will most likely be talking a lot.
Check out my recommended models for each type of device or camera so you can have an idea of what kind of microphone to get.
Last update on 2020-12-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API