Recording serious audio through a microphone tends to require a bounty of equipment: XLR cables, preamps, audio interfaces, and more. Luckily, there are several USB microphones on the market that can capture high-quality audio without all the fuss. Just plug them directly into your computer via USB and you’re in business. Record podcasts and hit songs. Talk trash to your gamer competitors. Facetime with perfect audio clarity. There are many ways to have fun with one of these mics.

Most versatile: Blue Yeti x Professional Condenser USB Microphone

In A League Of Its Own

Records with four different pickup techniques. Amazon

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This USB mic is aesthetically pleasing, easy to use, and does some high-end recording. The smart knob helps you adjust input levels, which are reflected in the customizable LED-meter just underneath. This knob also controls gain level, mute function, and headphone volume. The Yeti can record in four different modes: cardioid, omni, bidirectional, and stereo. These modes are essentially defined by where the audio sources are in relation to the mic. This is an advanced feature and the standout function of the Yeti. You can also download audio effects and EQ software made specifically for this mic to enhance the audio you record.

Best for musicians: Shure MV51 Digital Large-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone

Make Your Masterpiece

Awesome for recording vocals, guitar, or full jam sessions. Amazon

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Shure is one of the most trusted names in microphones, with many of their products considered industry standards in live and recorded music. This mic offers that pedigree, but is way easier to use than classic Shure mics. It works automatically with any Apple iOS devices (meaning it doesn’t require additional software) via USB and has five preset recording modes (Speech, Singing, Acoustic Instrument, Flat, and Loud). It has a convenient kickstand for sitting on your desktop but can also be attached to any traditional mic stand. You can switch between modes and also control headphone volume, gain, and muting on the easy-to-use front panel. The MV51 also automatically changes compression levels and EQ settings to optimally suit the sound. This mic is useful especially for recording quick demos and jam sessions but serious enough to record your musical masterpiece.

Budget pick: Razer Seiren X USB Streaming Microphone

Podcast Your Days Away

Well-suited for speech recording. Amazon

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This USB mic does super-cardioid recording, meaning that it records the sound coming from directly in front of the mic while working to block other sounds out. This input style is best for speech recording, making the Seiren a great fit for streamers and podcasters. It also does zero-latency monitoring, which is an indispensable feature for live streamers. The built-in shock absorber stand also helps avoid any distracting stray noises. All in all, this mic is a solid option if you’re looking for clarity in speech recording. It is also small and portable, so you can easily take your recording rig on the road.