Choosing the Right Microphone for Your Podcast

Whether you’re just starting out or looking to take your podcast to the next level, finding the right microphone is one of the most important gear decisions you’ll make. Your mic determines how your voice sounds, and good audio quality is essential for engaging listeners and conveying your message effectively.

There are tons of options out there though, ranging from inexpensive entry-level microphones to high-end professional models. With so many choices, it can get overwhelming trying to select the right mic for your needs and budget.

In this ultimate guide, we’re breaking down our picks for the top 5 mics for professional-quality podcasting. We’ll cover what to look for when choosing a mic, spotlight key features of each model, and give you insider tips for getting the best sound. Let’s dive in!

What to Consider When Buying a Podcasting Microphone

Before we get to the top recommendations, here are some key factors to keep in mind while shopping for a pro podcasting mic:

  • Frequency response – A good mic should have at least a 40Hz-15kHz response to accurately capture the entire vocal range with no distortion or muddy tones.
  • Polar patterns – Cardioid mics focus directly on the sound source and minimize background noise, ideal for voice.
  • Output level – Make sure the mic’s output signal is strong enough to avoid the need for extreme boosting in post.
  • Durability – Look for solid all-metal construction for longevity, especially if traveling.
  • Connectivity – XLR cables allow connecting to professional interfaces, while USB mics plug right into your computer.
  • Voice clarity – A presence boost around 4-5kHz helps vocals cut through a mix clearly and articulately.
  • Noise isolation – Features like shock mounting and pop filters reduce unwanted rumble and plosives.

Keeping these parameters in mind, let’s look at 5 of the best podcasting microphones on the market right now in a range of budgets and styles.

1. Shure SM7B – The Best Microphone for Podcasting Overall

When it comes to podcasting, the Shure SM7B is easily the most popular professional-grade microphone out there. You can spot it in studios everywhere from NPR to Joe Rogan’s iconic podcast setup. So what makes it such an industry leader?

For starters, the SM7B features a smooth, flat frequency response from 50Hz to 20kHz, custom-tuned to bring out clear, highly articulate vocal reproduction. It requires no boosting across the range thanks to its high output level. The SM7B utilizes a cardioid polar pattern to isolate the voice while minimizing background noise.

Some of its signature highlights giving it such a warm, polished, radio-ready sound include:

  • Built-in presence boost centered at 4-5kHz for enhancing voice clarity and intelligibility.
  • Roll-off switch for cutting low-end rumble.
  • Internal air suspension shock mounting to inhibit mechanical noise transmission.

Constructed from premium components, the SM7B boasts an all-metal design, steel top ring, rugged strain relief, and very durable finish. A quality pop filter also comes integrated into the mic design.

With its authoritative tone and specially contoured profile, the SM7B requires almost no EQ and sounds fantastic for podcasts right out of the box. It has become a gold standard for on-air broadcasting and podcasting alike.

The main downsides of the SM7B are its slightly darker tonality compared to condensers (though this is also why it excels for radio) and relatively low output requiring additional gain for some users. Using it with a cloudlifter or mic activator can help in some cases.

All said, for a dynamic microphone with studio-grade performance at a reasonable price around $400, the Shure SM7B earns its place as our number one podcasting mic pick. The warm, precise sound it delivers will take any podcast to the next level.

2. Electro-Voice RE20 – A Leading Broadcast Microphone

Up next we have the Electro-Voice RE20, another dynamic mic purpose-built for broadcast vocal applications. Huge radio networks like the BBC and CBC as well as stations around the world rely on the RE20 as their daily driver mic.

Like the SM7B, the RE20 features excellent noise isolation thanks to its variable-D design that minimizes unwanted off-axis sounds. The ultra-flat frequency response ensures pure, natural reproduction across bass, mids, and highs.

Key attributes that make it a favorite for radio include:

  • Bass roll-off switch for reduction of proximity effect.
  • Vocal clarity enhancing presence boost from 3.5-7.5kHz range.
  • Durable steel case and humbucking coil for eliminating electromagnetic interference.

The RE20’s smooth, unhyped sound allows it to handle a wide range of sources exceptionally, from interviews to voiceovers to commercial production. It’s equally at home in the recording studio capturing pristine instrumentals and vocals.

Dynamically the RE20 has very low distortion even at high SPLs. Thanks to its rugged construction and tight polar pattern, it consistently provides clean, focused results. Just be prepared to position it carefully to take advantage of its sweet spot.

With a higher price tag around $450, the Electro-Voice RE20 requires more of an investment but delivers professional studio-quality results. For these reasons it takes the silver medal as our podcast mic runner up.

3. Audio-Technica ATR2100x – Best Budget Podcasting Microphone

You don’t need to spend big bucks though for pro level podcast productions. Case in point – the Audio-Technica ATR2100x offers killer value at less than $100. Don’t let the low price fool you, this mic sounds great for all sorts of recording situations beyond just voice work.

Here are some standout features packed into the ATR2100x:

  • Dual capsule design with cardioid polar pickup pattern.
  • Smooth, extended frequency response optimized for audio clarity.
  • High max SPL handling capabilities.
  • USB and XLR outputs for flexibility.
  • Durable design and construction.

For podcasting from the home studio, the ATR2100x really excels. It’s a no-brainer for live streaming setups as well. The crisp, clean audio rivals that of mics 3-4x the cost.

The main limitations of the ATR2100x are that the audio quality isn’t perfect, with a bit of background hiss and thinner tone compared to more expensive condenser mics. However, for the price and versatility on offer, the ATR2100x gives you an awful lot of bang for your buck.

If you’re looking for one affordable microphone that can do it all – music recording, voice work, podcasting and more – the ATR2100x is easily the top choice. It’s our pick for best value podcasting microphone that will take you far.

4. Rode Wireless GO II – Best Wireless Microphone for Podcasting

One big frustration that podcast hosts often face is feeling tethered to their desk and microphone during recording. Enter the Rode Wireless GO II, which solves this issue brilliantly.

The Wireless GO II can be easily clipped onto a shirt or blazer with the tiny transmitter connected to a lavalier microphone. You can move freely around a large space while recording studio quality audio seamlessly to the pocket receiver.

Some stellar features that give it professional grade wireless performance:

  • Improved range up to 200+ feet from the receiver.
  • Superior RF signal stability as it hops between frequencies.
  • Dual channel receiver allowing two transmitters to be paired.
  • Onboard recording, currently 96kHz/24bit uncompressed WAV audio.
  • An array of handy accessories like lanyards and windshields.

With up to 7 hours of battery life, the Rode Wireless GO II keeps going as long as your podcast. And weighing just over one ounce, the transmitters are comically small and light. Yet the build quality is solid metal throughout, not plastic.

Compared to similar wireless systems costing 2-3x more, the Wireless GO II is a steal at around $300. Of course, you do sacrifice some signal strength and audio fidelity compared to costly NPR-grade RF units, but for most podcasters’ needs the GO II more than delivers.

If you want next level flexibility and mobility for your podcast or web broadcasts, nothing beats going wireless. The Rode Wireless GO II is an affordable pro-quality option.

5. Neumann TLM 103 – Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone

Finally if you’re ready to make a serious investment in your podcast production quality, check out broadcast leader Neumann and their acclaimed TLM 103 large diaphragm condenser mic.

First off, the TLM 103 captures audio with breathtaking detail. That’s thanks to its ultra-transparent circuitry and incredible build precision as you’d expect from storied German engineering.

Some of its top-tier specs:

  • Exceptionally low self-noise of under 7dB for clean gain.
  • Extraordinarily flat frequency response out beyond 10kHz.
  • Incredibly linear over 120dB dynamic range.
  • Class A, transformerless circuitry.
  • Premium construction with nickel-plated brass body.

With its pristine accuracy, transient response and tight cardioid pattern, the TLM 103 also excels on a wide range of acoustic instruments and vocals. It’s a staple of recording studios globally.

For spoken word, the TLM 103 grants your voice nuance, intimacy and presence that instills authority. Just speak into it clearly and your podcast will instantly have a more professional polish.

Now, you do pay a premium price for all that quality – around $1000 currently. And given its ultra-sensitive capsule, the TLM 103 requires proper positioning and mic technique. But in skilled hands, it unlocks podcast sound rivaling a high-end radio studio.

If you’re ready to step up to elite-tier broadcast audio quality, the Neumann TLM 103 large diaphragm condenser is the mic that will take you there. The sound you achieve will be worth the investment.

Choosing the Right Microphone for You

Obviously countless factors like budget, recording needs, and voice all play into choosing your ideal podcasting microphone. There are so many great options out there as we’ve covered, ranging from the Shure SM7B and Electro-Voice RE20 to budget all-rounders like the ATR2100x or wireless systems like the Rode Wireless GO II.

Here are a few closing recommendations as you shop for your next podcasting mic:

  • Consider what you’re willing to spend – Cost and quality tend to align, though value for money differs. Our picks range from under $100 to over $1000.
  • Prioritize sound quality – Ultimately what matters most is how engaging your mic audio turns out. A better mic can make all the difference.
  • Think about versatility – Opt for mics like the ATR2100x that pull double duty for instruments and podcasting alike.
  • Factor in room dynamics – Mics like the SM7B sound great even in noisy, untreated rooms. Condensers require acoustic isolation.
  • Get the positioning right – Good mic technique and positioning is crucial. Having an adjustable boom arm helps.

Great podcasts start with great audio content. And collectively, the right microphone, positioning, and post-processing will enable you to find your best possible voice. Thanks for listening and I wish you the best on your podcasting journey! Let me know if you have any other questions.

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