USB microphones might not be right for you.
Yes, they are inexpensive and convenient, but they have their drawbacks.
The main disadvantage is quality.
Sure, some USB mics actually produce great sound quality, like the three below. But most do not and even the best don’t come close to an XLR mic.
You’re probably already aware of all of this and are just looking to find the best USB microphone for rapping or singing.
That’s why I’ll get right to it and show you our top choice overall as well as out top budget and high quality vocal mics.
Just in case you’re not completely sure if you want a USB mic or a XLR mic, I’ve explained the differences toward the bottom of this article and you can click here to jump straight down to that section.
Let’s move on to the best USB vocal microphones available in 2019. First, we’ve got a summary of our findings and then we get into a more detailed explanation of why we recommend each one of our choices.
Best USB Microphones For Vocals: Summary Of Recommendations
A lot of readers wrote in saying they didn’t want to read through all the reviews and just wanted me to tell them which mic is best. That’s why I added this short section.
Best Overall USB Mic For Vocals
The best overall USB mic is the Blue Yeti. It is easy to set up and use and delivers a well-rounded sound. It also has some great features like in-mic gain control and a zero-latency headphone monitoring jack, which is something even our top premium mic (see below) does not have.
Best Budget USB Mic For Singing Or Rapping
The Blue Snowball is our favorite budget USB mic. The audio quality obviously lags behind more expensive options and it is not a model I would recommend if you want to make professional-level recordings, but the Snowball is extremely flexible and simple to setup. It does not have a headphone jack.
Best Premium USB Mic For Vocals
The best high-quality USB mic is the Audio-Technica AT2020USBi. It delivers a sound quality far above other USB mics and has some great additional features like in-mic gain control (same as the Yeti). It does not have a headphone jack either, though. See our full comparison in the article Blue Yeti Vs AT2020.
Best USB Microphones For Rapping And Singing
Best USB Microphone For Vocals — Blue Yeti
The Yeti by Blue is our top choice overall. It is easy to set up and use, comes at a reasonable price and makes a wide variety of voices sound good, from hip-hop artists to opera singers (most mics in this price range work well for a specific voice tone and do not sound great with others).
The Yeti comes in four different colors: white, black, platinum and silver. It has controls for headphone volume, pattern selection, instant mute, and microphone gain. This gives you full control even while recording.
One of its best features is a 3.5-millimeter headphone plug that allows you to listen in real-time as your are recording. This means you can hear yourself with no delay. Most microphones in this price range don’t have a headphone output, so you have to plug them into the computer. This results in a slight delay between what you say and what you hear.
Blue Microphone’s Yeti is incredibly simple to use. Just plug it into the Universal Serial Bus port on any computer using the included cable and you’re ready to record. It ships with the aforementioned cable and an adjustable stand and is backed by a two-year limited warranty.
As you would expect from a mic in this price range, the Yeti does have a few drawbacks. Chief among them is the weight. It is on the heavier side, which makes it incompatible with most standard shock mounts.
The base is also a bit complicated to set up and the stand does not fit well with many universal pop filters. The filters made by Blue specifically for their mics are fairly expensive, so you might prefer to get a universal one. There are plenty that work, but you’ll want to make sure before buying one. Alternatively, you could get a clip-on filter like this one.
Overall, the Yeti is the best vocal microphone for computer use via Universal Serial Bus and there is a reason it has been so popular for such a long time, especially for podcasting.
It has every important feature and a great stereo sound quality for a USB mic. And the price is reasonable, especially when Amazon is running a sale.
- Easy setup (just plug in and use)
- Reliable, well-rounded, natural sound
- Zero-latency headphone monitoring jack (no delay over the headphones, so you can match your vocals to the beat)
- In-mic gain control (easy to control volume during recording)
- Weighs 4 pounds with stand
- Complicated stand mount
- Not all universal pop filters fit well and Blue’s own filter is expensive
Best Budget USB Microphone For Rappers And Singers — Blue Snowball
The Snowball microphone by Blue is our favorite budget option. Yes, it is a definite step down in quality from the Yeti, but it also costs a lot less. I would not recommend this microphone if you need to make professional recordings, but for home use, it does a great job.
It ships with a desktop stand and a 6-foot cable. The cable allows you to plug into the Universal Serial Bus port on any computer and begin recording immediately. It is a true plug-and-play microphone.
The Snowball features an award-winning dual-capsule and circuit design that ensures feedback-free and distortion-free recording. It also has a one-of-a-kind pattern switch with three different settings: one to record sound directly in front only, a second for recording a louder source directly in front and a third that picks up sounds from all directions. This means you can either cut out all background noise or let it in, depending on your needs.
The biggest problem with the Blue Snowball Ice is the tripod stand. The mic and stand combined are about 10 inches tall, with most of the weight at the top. It is a top-heavy setup and while the stand is pretty good overall, the three short legs make it easier to tip over than we’d like.
Another potential problem is the lack of a headphone jack. If you want to listen to yourself while recording, you are much better off with a mic that has an built-in jack. Without one, you have to plug the headphones into your computer and you run into latency issues. There will be a slight delay between your voice and what you hear in the headphones.
The Blue Snowball is an excellent USB microphone for the price, but I would only recommend it to a hobby vocalist on a strict budget. If you are serious about rapping and singing, you’re going to want to spend more and get the Yeti. Or better yet, get an XLR mic, not one with just a USB connection.
- Easy setup — just plug it in and use it
- Dual-capsule and circuit design — eliminates feedback and distortion
- 3 recording modes make this a flexible mic for many uses
- Low price
- Flimsy stand — top-heavy mic tips over easily
- No headphone jack
Highest-Quality USB Microphone For Vocals — Audio-Technica AT2020USBi
The AT2020USBi Cardioid Condenser microphone by Audio-Technica is the highest-quality USB microphone on the market, at least among those that sell for a reasonable price.
It is a condenser microphone with a cardioid pattern and the USB version of the critically acclaimed AT2020. It also works with Lightning cables and one of those is included, along with a USB cable, a stand mount, a tripod desk stand and a soft protective pouch.
The AT2020USBi has a built-in gain control that lets you adjust the input level directly on the microphone during recording. It features a high-quality A/D converter with 24-bit/96 kHz sampling rate and the result is the best sound quality you will get from a USB mic.
The biggest downside is the lack of a headphone input (which the cheaper Audio-Technica 2020USB and AT2020USB+ both have). This means you have to plug headphones into the computer and deal with a delay between the voice input and the output in the headphones. This is only a problem if you use headphones, but if you do, it is a deal-breaker. Get the Blue Yeti instead.
- High-quality sound
- Can use both USB and Lightning cables
- In-mic gain control — easy to control volume during recording
- Cardidoid pattern is the most useful polar pattern
- No headphone jack
- Higher price than other mics on this list
Why Should I Get A USB Microphone For Vocal Recording?
The short answer is: there is a good chance you shouldn’t. If you are serious about recording your singing or rap vocals, you will be better served with an XLR mic.
So, what’s the difference?
The difference is in the connection. A USB microphone connects to a computer using a standard Universal Serial Bus cable, while an XLR microphone needs a special (and costly) XLR cable. It also needs to be plugged into a preamp or mixer, which a USB mic does not.
Universal Serial Bus microphones are thus much more convenient and easier to use. They are also cheaper. But the quality just isn’t there and none of the choices here are omnidirectional, if that is what you are looking for.
If you don’t absolutely need professional quality, you’ll have to decide for yourself if the trade-off is worth it. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of Universal Serial Bus microphones to help you decide.
Advantages of USB Microphones for Vocals
- Plug and play — you don’t need any additional equipment, apart from a computer with a Universal Serial Bus slot; just plug in the mic and start recording
- Budget friendly — they cost far less than XLR mics, plus you do not need to purchase any additional equipment, like a preamp
Disadvantages of USB Mics for Rapping And Singing
- Lower quality — some have decent audio quality, but most are pretty bad; none can match the recording quality of an XLR mic
- Drivers becoming obsolete — because they connect directly to a computer, they need the right driver (a computer file) to work properly; for any new mic, you can always just download the right driver if it is not already installed on your computer, but when the mic gets a few years old, the driver may no longer be updated for new computer systems
It really all comes down to your needs. If you just want to record some tracks for fun and don’t want to spend a lot of money or deal with a complicated setup, USB microphones are perfect for singing or rapping. You can also add things like a pop filter, to help improve the audio a bit.
But if you want to create studio-quality recordings, they won’t cut it and you need to spend more to get an XLR microphone (we reviewed the best here).