Many of us have now become experts at remote conferencing, using our computers to talk with those we work with, wherever they may be working at the time. During the initial scramble for gear, most of us started out using simple earphones with in-line microphones, while others used gaming headsets and enjoyed a quality audio experience both for themselves, and those listening. But in the conversations that followed, a few popped up that were using a dedicated desktop USB microphone for their audio setup - and the superior audio quality, along with the improved comfort that comes with freedom from a headset - made these people the envy of everyone else in the team chat.
If you’re wanting to improve the audio quality in your video conference calls or games, or record podcasts and voice overs with crystal clarity, a desktop microphone is a fast and easy way to upgrade your sound! Leading audio brands such as Blue and Rode offer high-quality microphones that are ideal for live conferencing, chatting with friends and family, gaming, live streaming, and recording audio - and all it takes is a simple USB connection!
RODE NT-USB Microphone
We're kicking the list off with a microphone from RODE, who are known for producing high-quality camera microphones and desktop microphones! Their NT-USB Desktop Microphone is designed to deliver crystal-clear, professional-sounding audio direct to a computer or tablet and is perfect microphone for gamers, podcasters, musicians, streamers, business professionals and content creators who want to be heard in full definition.
The NT-USB is a cardioid condenser microphone that is capable of capturing audio in up to 16-bit/48kHz resolution. It features a studio-grade headphone amplifier and a high-quality 3.5mm stereo headphone jack that allows for zero-latency monitoring. The on-mic Direct Mix Control allows you to slect between mic input and source input for monitoring. It is incredibly easy to set up and use, with simple controls, an external pop filter and a class-compliant USB output that works seamlessly with computers or tablets, no drivers or software needed. Just plug into your Mac, PC or tablet with the included USB cable.
If you're after a cheaper or more compact option, we'd recommend checking out the NT-USB Mini. It offers the same high-quality audio recording but with some slight differences. The standard NT-USB offers more balanced sound, an external pop filter, and allows you to monitor both on your mic or on a computer.
Blue Yeti USB Microphone
Another very popular brand is BLUE, who offer fantastic desktop microphones that deliver professional audio quality. Thanks to Blue's propietary tri-capsule technolgy, Blue's Yeti Desktop Microphones produce pristine, studio-quality recordings with ease. It features four different pattern settings that offers incredible flexibility so you can optimally record vocals, music, podcasts, audio for videos, interviews, and more, all from one microphone. Cardioid mode produces rich, full-bodied sound - perfect for podcasts, game streaming, vocal performances, voice-overs and instruments. Stereo mode uses both the left and right channels to capture a wide, realistic sound image-ideal for recording acoustic guitar or choir. Omnidirectional mode equally picks up sound from all around the mic - best for capturing the ambience of 'being there' or when you have multiple people present. And finally, birectional mode records from both the front and rear of the microphone-good for recording a duet or a two-person interview.
Additionally, Yeti features studio controls for headphone volume, pattern selection, instant mute and microphone gain - putting you in charge of every level of the recording process. It comes equipped with a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack that allows you to listen to what you're recording in real-time, without latency delays - that means no more hearing a note 3 seconds after you played it. You can also adjust the volume of your headphones using the control on the front of the microphone.
Blue's cheaper option is the Yeti Nano, which offers mostly the same feature set, only with fewer pattern settings. If you're not worried about price and want the best of the Yeti series, go for the Yeti X.
Razer Seiren Mini USB Microphone
If you're looking for a super affordable way to upgrade your audio in video conferences, calls, and livestreams, Razer's Seiren Mini USB Microphone is a great choice! This microphone was made for minimalist or smaller setups and barely takes up any desk space. Its compact form factor makes it nice and discreet on camera so that the focus is always on you; plus, it's super easy to bring along if you need to take your streaming or work elsewhere.
This compact condenser mic is tuned with a tighter pickup angle so it can focus on your voice and have better ambient reduction, ensuring that background sounds like typing and mouse clicks are minimized. It also has a built-in shock mount, so that any accidental knocks and bumps to the mic is dampened. The mic is attached to a stable support that can be angled to find the perfect sweet spot for your voice; and it can also be detached and mounted on a boom arm or mic stand that uses a standard 5/8-inch thread. Using Seiren Mini is super easy and ready to go in seconds! Simply plug it into a USB port and you're good to go! You can set its volume level via the streaming or voice chat software you're using.