Congratulations! You’ve set up your DSLR or camcorder for live streaming, you’ve set up some great lighting to make your stream look crisp, and you’re ready to start broadcasting video through this series of tubes we call the Internet! But you feel like there’s still something missing from your production. Why doesn’t it sound right? What’s the best way to capture great voice tracks for your live stream? Well, you’re in luck because we’re finally looking at the best microphones for live streaming video to get great audio for your live stream!
Audio for live streaming video
We’ve previously covered how important great lighting is for live streaming video, but believe it or not, it’s not the number one component of great video broadcasts. Yes, lighting is crucial for video image quality and having the right camera for your live stream is key, but audio is the number one quality metric of any sort of video, and that includes streaming.
If you want to ensure that people stick around for your streams you are going to absolutely need great audio quality. Nothing turns people away from a video more than poor audio, so make sure you do it right.
Great audio for your live stream (or podcast!) starts with the mic. There are literally thousands of choices out there, so let’s take a look at what you might see when shopping for a new mic along with some of our suggestions for what to look at and what to avoid.
Can I use the on-board mic on my camera for my live stream video?
Yes, you could use the mic on your camera for quick streams, but on-board mics are never great, relatively speaking. You would benefit greatly from an external mic, preferably through a good audio interface.
Long story short, mics on cameras are really meant as a fallback, or for collecting “scratch audio”–an audio track used for reference or syncing up multiple cameras and to a better quality audio recording. They don’t have the highest quality, widest frequency range, and because they’re on the camera itself, they’re further away than they really should be.
You could get away with throwing a mic on the camera similar to one that you might use for vlogging, but it’s really not the best option because of the lack of control you have over the mic along with the aforementioned distance.
So, yes, while it technically will get the job done if you don’t have a mic, you’ll want to upgrade your audio setup as soon as you can.
XLR microphone and audio interface vs standalone USB mic
I get this question a lot, and I almost always suggest a separate XLR microphone running into an audio interface as opposed to a singular USB microphone. While USB mics these days are capable of getting the job done and the Blue Yeti (and its Snowball precursor) have become a staple for the YouTuber community thanks to its simplicity, you end up with much more flexibility and quality by going with a mic and interface.
You may be asking “What are these devices though?”, and that’s reasonable. A USB mic is pretty easy to pick up on: It’s a mic that plugs in to the computer via a USB port. The mic has a digital to analog converter built in, and does the translation to a signal the computer can understand.
An audio interface is basically that same converter, but much more features and it’s separate from the mic. You have gain controls, input and output volume controls, signal pads, and most interfaces allow for multiple mics to be connected, making podcasts and multi-person streams a breeze.
What’s an XLR microphone, then? XLR is an industry-standard mic and audio connection. This is what professional microphones use because of the quality and durability that the connection offers.
The flexibility of using an audio interface with XLR microphones, on the other hand, is immense. You can connect any XLR mic, and be able to choose which mic suits your voice the best without having to worry about picking only from USB mics and you really just have more control over your signal.
With a single USB mic, that’s it. That’s all you’ve got. One mic. One analog to digital converter (or audio interface) If the capsule or the converter dies, you replace the whole thing. Want two mics? You’ll need two USB ports. Want to upgrade mics or get another mic for a different purpose? You’ll need to go with another USB mic.
Should I use a condenser mic or dynamic mic for live streaming?
You may see these two terms a lot, and while they sound mysterious they’re really just describing the type of design that the mic contains for capturing audio. You don’t necessarily need to know the exact mechanical differences between these two designs, but knowing their strengths and weaknesses are key to picking out which mic you should be using for live streaming based on what you’re streaming and what you need to emphasize or avoid.
If you’ve Googled things like “What’s a good vocal microphone?” you’ve probably come across a lot of recommendations for condenser microphones, and for good reason. Condenser mics are very sensitive and detailed, creating an excellent microphone design for vocals, acoustic instruments, and more.
Some of the classic mics of all time fall into this design, and there are plenty of options. They’re often a bit more pricey than their dynamic counterparts, but they do come with a usually higher measure of quality. Because this quality comes from the more sensitive design, this does mean that they’re more delicate and can’t take the abuse that a dynamic can endure.
Condenser mics, due to their more delicate design, require external power in order to work properly. They can’t produce enough voltage without this power source, and as such require a 48V power source–often referred to as phantom power–either on the pre-amp or mic input on the audio interface/mixer board. Thankfully most interfaces and boards do have phantom power built in, including some bus-powered USB interfaces.
Condenser mics do pick up more ambient and room sounds, but that’s the flip side to their higher detail and quality for voice. If you don’t have to have fans or an air conditioner on, you’re not game streaming with super loud mechanical keyboards, and your desktop tower fans aren’t raging full blast under load a condenser mic will get you superior vocal quality as compared to a dynamic mic.
Dynamic mics are the most widespread type of mics across most audio industries. They’re durable, tough to abuse, and do a pretty damn good job of capturing all sorts of audio sources while avoiding some of the pitfalls of condenser mics and often at a lower price point.
As an example, handheld mics on stage are almost always dynamics. The industry standard stage microphone, the Shure SM58, can be found on almost every stage, every studio, and every PA setup working today. The SM58 is so tough and road-tested, the joke is that you could go out and build a house with it as a hammer in the day, and go on stage with it that night.
As for actual real-world applications of dynamic mics, they take a lot of sound pressure before overloading. Scream all you want, crank a guitar amp up, whatever you give it, it’ll usually take it. The voice coil design in a dynamic mic is not terribly delicate compared to other designs like condenser mics and ribbon microphones.
Unlike condenser mics, they don’t require any sort of external power and can be plugged into any mic input, whether or not it has phantom power on that input. On the flip side, however, they do require a beefier pre-amp to get them operating at a high enough signal level, so you may want to get an interface with higher gain amps or some sort of pre-amp.
For streaming, dynamics make an excellent choice because they aren’t as sensitive as condenser mics. Because of this, they generally do a better job of rejecting noise from behind their pickup patterns as well as general room noise. If you’re a game streamer, you may want to go with a dynamic mic to avoid picking up keyboard sounds as well as your desktop tower fans if it’s not a silent rig.
Ribbon microphones (bonus microphone type!)
Ribbon mics are typically much more expensive than condensers, and are often better for instruments like guitars, drums, and brass instruments, not necessarily for vocals. They’re more delicate than both condensers and dynamics because of the thinness of the ribbon membrane.
The interesting thing about ribbon mics, however, is that they’re actually highly detailed without being as sensitive as condenser mics. They can get very close to an audio source, they reject off-axis and room noise quite well, and modern ribbons can take a pretty high pressure level.
Ribbon mics also very non-linear, meaning that they hear “similar to our ears”–they produce a natural sound. What hits the ribbon is what gets captured; some condenser and dynamic mics will “color” your sound whereas ribbon mics give you exactly what you put into them.
The main downside is that all ribbon mics are bidirectional because both sides of the ribbon pick up sound, creating a figure-8 pickup pattern. This makes them great room mics, but not the best for rejecting keyboard clicks.
Ribbon mics, like dynamic mics, don’t require any sort of external power source as they rely on the velocity of the sound hitting the ribbon in order to create the electrical signal. Phantom power will actually destroy most ribbon mics, so always make sure this is turned off if you’re connecting a ribbon mic to an input.
We almost didn’t include anything about ribbon mics in this guide, but I’ve always had a soft spot for these mics in studio applications and felt they were worth at least a quick mention. We don’t necessarily advocate for their use a streaming environment (especially for gamers), but they’re definitely interesting and may do the trick if no other mic is quite hitting the spot for you.
Dynamic microphones for live streaming video
Dynamic microphones will be better for game streamers thanks to their better ability to reject the clicks and clacks of mechanical gaming keyboards. They’re also excellent for not picking up as much room noise like room fans, loud desktop towers, and air conditioning. If these are your concerns, these dynamic microphones will be the best mic for streaming for you.
Keep in mind that dynamic microphones do need a stronger pre-amp to get the same signal level as a comparable condenser mic.
You have probably seen this mic everywhere, and for good reason. With its start as a rock solid broadcast/spoken word mic, The Shure SM7B is now a go-to vocal mic for professional recording studios, having been used all over countless classic albums.
The SM7B provides a warm, rich vocal quality and flatters almost every voice you put in front of it. The mic has has a pop filter to keep out plosives (vocal P’s, B’s, T’s, etc), electromagnetic shielding to ensure there’s no interference from computers and other electronics, and has bass roll-off and midrange emphasis switches.
The SM7B has a sturdy yolk mount which includes the XLR connector, and you connect your cable to the base of the yolk mount. Because of the mount and integrated cable, there isn’t an external shock mount available for the mic, but it does have what Shure calls internal “air suspension” shock isolation so it actually does pretty good about rejecting handling noise and bumps.
The SM7B has a cardioid pickup pattern to ensure that it hears what’s in front of it while rejecting what’s behind it. The mic has a built-in windscreen, but it is a front-address mic meaning that you speak into the end of the mic. You may want to keep this in mind depending on your desk setup and how/where you plan on mounting the mic.
The Electro-Voice RE20 is another classic broadcast microphone. Like the SM7B, the RE20 is a cardioid mic with a smooth, clean frequency response and is shielded to ensure it doesn’t pick up any electronic buzzing and hum.
Like the SM7B, again, it is a front-address mic. There is a very durable built-in pop filter, which means, when combined with the near-immunity to proximity effect (proximity effect means that the closer your are to the mic, the more low end and bass boom you get), you can get right up close to the mic without fear of loud plosives or overwhelming booming bass.
Again in similarity to the SM7B there is an internal shock-mount for the mic component to eliminate physical bumps, but Electro-Voice does sell a full external shock mount for this mic.
In general, the RE20 is one of the more revered broadcast mics out there, with countless streamers, voiceover artists, and podcasters in love with the sound it produces. It flatters pretty much any voice you put in front of it with little to no effort.
RODE is well known across audio and video industries for their quality microphones and recently have been catering to the independent creators more and more. The RODE Procaster is the company’s more affordable answer to the RE20.
The build and design is similar, as it is a cardioid front-address mic with a tight polar pattern and built-in pop filter. You will need to ensure that your interface or mixing board has enough gain in the preamps to get this mic juiced up to a good level, which most modern interfaces shouldn’t have an issue with.
And while it’s very similar in design to the RE20, it doesn’t have the immunity to proximity effect that the RE20 does. On the other side of that, the SM7B does get very warm while getting close to the mic, and the Procaster sits nicely in between the two on how it reacts to proximity of what it’s recording.
The Procaster doesn’t come with any internal shock mount nor does it ship with an external shock mount, but RODE does make one, and you can pick up a bundle with the Procaster, the PSA 1 broadcast boom arm, and the Procaster shock mount.
If you were to ask anyone in sound what one single mic they would want if they could only use one mic the rest of their career and most of those would probably answer with the SM58. This classic mic is found almost anywhere involving sound–from large concert PA sets to small church PA systems to recording studios of all sizes and corporate media departments.
This isn’t by accident. The SM58 is damn near indestructible, sounds great, and can be used for everything from vocals to guitar amps to snare drums and everything in between. I’ve had the same SM58 for about twenty years at this point, through numerous bands, loaned out, beaten around, and it still sounds like it did on day one.
If someone only had $100 to spend on the only mic they’ll likely want to buy in the next five years and needed to know that it will never fail under normal everyday use, this would be the mic we’d suggest. It’s not the most fancy mic in the list, but its value is unmatched and chances are you won’t replace it unless it’s lost or stolen.
As it’s a handheld mic, there’s no shock mount included, but Shure does sell the A55M Shock-Stopper for the SM58 and other similar mics from Shure and others.
There’s not many mics we’d suggest below the price point and value proposition that the SM58 offers, but if you really need to get something at a lower cost, the ATR2100-USB is a good option in a very crowded segment of the market.
This is actually a really interesting mic. Not only does it have an XLR output, there is a mini-USB port, allowing you to connect this mic directly to your PC or Mac without an audio interface. The USB interface definitely isn’t as high quality as the XLR output, but it’s better than nothing if you forget your interface somewhere.
This actually can substitute as a full audio interface and mic setup in an emergency, as in addition to the USB output there is also a volume dial and 3.5mm headphone output. With these features, the ATR2100-USB makes a really great emergency backup for podcasters and others.
The ATR2100-USB is a popular inexpensive mic with some extras that you might not need, but it does sound clean, rejects noise well enough, and is a great backup in case of emergencies in a travel podcasting kit.
Again, there is no shock mount included with this mic, and as it’s a larger mic than most other in this form factor, you’ll have to be sure to check which third party shock mounts work for this mic.
Condenser microphones for live streaming video
Condenser microphones are the popular choice for vocals in the studio, and as such they make an excellent mic for live streaming video. They don’t require as strong a pre-amp as many dynamic mics due to their higher sensitivity, but this also means they pick up much more background and room sound than their dynamic counterparts.
Condenser mics also require 48v phantom power, which most audio interfaces and sound boards do provide. Condenser mics are better for streamers who aren’t typing away during gaming streams even if they have the same cardioid (or even hyper-cardioid) pickup patterns.
We’re just jumping into things with a classic. The RODE NTK is a premium tube condenser mic and is a favorite in many broadcast booths and studios alike. The NTK is a very detailed mic and is incredibly clean and warm.
The NTK does stand out a bit from other mics in this list in that it does come with a power supply for reliable, clean power to the mic. This definitely helps keep the mic signal clean from noise, but does require finding a place in your setup for an extra box.
While the NTK does have internal shock handling, it’s still highly recommended to pick up an external shock mount with this mic as it is highly sensitive to bumps through the mic stand.
All in all, however, the RODE NTK is one of the best condenser mics you can get for your setup. While it’s not exactly “budget friendly”, it’s a steal compared to many other mics in its price range and higher.
Let’s be honest. This mic is only here just for fun. The Neumann U 87Ai is the literal definition of “overkill” for any live streamer, and is by far the most expensive mic on this list at least three times over (most people have owned used cars that cost less than this mic).
It’s also one of the most coveted mics on the planet. Ask any small recording studio owner what their dream mic is and they’ll almost always answer with a Neumann U 87.
The U 87Ai is the third version of the classic U87, with some enhancements to the electronics. Most engineers do prefer the U87 classic, but at this point, finding them is tough.
There is a shock mount available for the U 87, but not all retail packages come with the mount. The box set does seem to ship with the shock mount and cable, however.
But yeah. If you have an unlimited budget and like to show off, this is the mic for you. Again, it’s ultimate overkill for streaming, but good god does this mic sound nice!
Coming back down (closer) to reality, and we have the Neumann TLM 103. This is a modern take on the previously mentioned classic, with a capsule based on that of the U87. It’s also a third of the price. Still overkill for most live streamers, but it’s one of the best vocal mics in production today.
The TLM 103 is a very low noise, very clear, detailed, and warm mic for many voice types. It handles high sound pressure levels (SPLs) easily, making this mic very resistant to distortion. The TLM 103 does thankfully come with a shock mount, ensuring that you have everything you need right out of the box (minus the cable).
If you require a very high quality mic for a multitude of professional uses, you really can’t go wrong with the TLM 103. At a price, of course.
On the complete opposite side of things we have the Audio-Technica AT2020. This is one of the lowest cost mics in the list, but has been a broadcast, voice-over, and studio staple for decades.
While the AT2020 has lost a lot of its popularity over the past ten or so years thanks to higher competition in the price point of this mic, it’s still an incredibly reliable and high quality mic. Audio-Technica even found it significant enough to make a USB version of it, but we strongly advise sticking with the classic XLR version.
I like to refer to this mic as the condenser mic version of the SM58. For about $100, you can get an extremely solid and reliable large diaphragm mic for vocals, instruments, and more, and not have to worry about it sounding necessarily bad. As the price point would indicate, however, this mic does not ship with a shock mount.
It’s not the most fancy (like the SM58), but it’s a good straight down the middle mic for many purposes, and is a good addition to anyone’s setup or mic closet at a price low enough to pick one up as a backup or secondary mic if needed at some point.
AKG has been making great equipment for a very long time, and the C414 XLII is one of the more versatile mics in their lineup. Once again we’re in the price range of the TLM103, but this mic stands out with its versatility.
While this is absolutely unnecessary for live streamers and podcasters, the C414 XLII (and its instrument-focused sibling C414 XLS) has nine different polarity pattern settings. This allows for a unidirectional, cardioid, wide cardioid, hyper-cardioid, and bi-directional figure-8 pickup pattern with options to blend in between the five.
For streaming you’d usually only use cardioid or super-cardioid. There are also three switchable bass-cut filters to attenuate really boomy, bassy voices or room noise from air conditioners, for example.
What the C414 XLII excels in is low background noise, highly detailed sound, and a neutral, accurate capture of what it hears. It does come in a hard road case with a shock mount, windscreen and pop filter, ensuring that you’re ready to counter any sort of noise that may interfere with your stream.
To be honest, this mic is only listed because it’s PewDiePie’s current mic of choice in his setup as of this year. Even he says it’s completely unnecessary for almost everyone. And for live streaming, that’s absolutely right. Yes, it sounds amazing. Is it worth the cost for most people? Probably not. But there’s no contesting the sheer quality of this mic.
Really, you’re better off going with something else unless you’re just filthy rich. If you’re set on the sound and/or look of the C414 XLII, we’d recommend the AKG C214. This mic is very similar to the C414 minus all the insane polar pattern options.
With the C214 you get a cardioid pickup pattern and a switchable 20dB attenuator and bass-cut filter to reduce low end boom and AC/room noise. Like the C414 XLII it comes with a hard road case, shock mount, and windscreen.
It’s really all the sound quality of the C414 without the extra engineering at less than half the price with all the legacy of the original classic C12 from the 50’s that lives through all these mics.
Firmly back in the realm of affordable mics, we have the RODE NT1 and RODE NT1-A. Both are affordable mics and are extremely similar with a few minor differences while being extremely high quality mics. Both mics come with a shock mount and pop filter, making these excellent full kits for anyone looking to get up and running out of the box.
The NT1 (often listed as the model number NT1KIT as it ships in a bundle) is newer, and has a frequency response closer to a flat, neutral mic like a U 87. It’s also a bit bigger, heavier, and a tad more expensive.
You’ll get a very neutral, accurate reference recording with the NT1 with little bass roll-off. If you want to record as accurate a recording as possible, the NT1 is the choice and is a good warm mic that caters to male vocals. Also of note, this was the mic of choice for PewDiePie for a long while before switching up to the AKG C414 XLII.
Meanwhile, the NT1-A is a classic mic for emphasizing and deemphasizing certain elements of the frequency spectrum. It’s a good deal brighter in the higher frequencies with a stronger bass roll-off starting at about 100Hz, making it a good choice for female voices as it’s not quite as warm a mic, especially in the lower frequencies. It may be a bit harsh for some voices though, coming off as “fizzy” to some.
Both are excellent mics, however, and you can’t go wrong with either one. Make a judgement based on how your voice sounds to you, and go from there.
Believe it or not, the Snowball and Yeti aren’t the mics that kicked off Blue’s popularity. The company started out making high-end studio mics for discerning recording studios and didn’t get into the consumer game until a push from Apple led to the design and release of the Snowball as a low-cost USB mic for use with Macs and PCs.
While their flagship Bottle mic is a whopping $3999, the much more affordable Baby Bottle is their most popular mic. The Baby Bottle is their “classic warmth and presence”, carrying on the tonal qualities of the Bottle. The Spark SL is the second version of the Spark, their more natural and transparent mic
This leads to the Bluebird SL which is, again, their new version of the Bluebird. The Bluebird is an interesting mic, as it gives a quite bright, super clear sound. I’ve owned one for several years now and it shines on vocals and acoustic guitars among other sources.
The SL version adds 100Hz high-pass and -20dB pad switches that don’t exist on the non-SL version (all SL versions add these where they weren’t there previously). All of the Essentials series (SL mics) do come with a custom shock mount that the mics thread in to at the base of the mic.
Yes, the Baby Bottle and Spark SL may be more “natural” or “traditional” sounding mics, we wanted to focus on the Bluebird as we feel it’s a bit of an underrated mic. It fills a need that many of these other mics can’t, and that’s providing enhanced top end “air” to a wide range of voices that other mics may not provide without sounding harsh.
If other mics don’t provide the top end sheen to your live stream voice tracks, give the Bluebird SL a shot, it’s a very fun mic as long as it suits your voice.
The Blue Ember is a well-reviewed small diaphragm condenser mic that’s designed with modern content creators in mind. It has a less colored sound than any of the Essentials (SL) line, and costs a great deal less.
The Ember is a side-address condenser like the other Blue mics and in a smaller, sleeker form factor. It fits well in many setups where a larger mic may have difficulty and doesn’t block your face more than necessary.
Where the Ember really stands out as a condenser mic is its polar pattern. The pickup pattern is tighter and more front-focused, meaning it can reject background noise more than most condenser microphones out there. It provides a good compromise of detail and clarity of a condenser with room rejection of a dynamic.
Unfortunately it does not come with a shock mount, so you’ll need to purchase the S3 Shock (or a third party shock mount) separately, which we do highly suggest. This is actually the same shock mount used for the Essentials mics like the Bluebird SL mentioned above.
If you’re looking for something smaller, a bit more discreet, with great off-axis rejection and detailed and wide sound, give this mic a chance.
Home recordists on a budget for decades will be familiar with this one. MXL says that the phrase most often used to describe the sound of the V67G is “old school tube mellow”, and it’s actually a pretty accurate description. As long as you take into consideration just how inexpensive this mic is.
Home and project studios have been rocking the V67G for a very long time because back in the day this was pretty much the only inexpensive option worth its salt even a little. It’s another side-address cardioid mic with a mostly smooth frequency response save for a few dips and peaks in strategic places.
You would definitely want to pick up a shock mount for the V67G, as it doesn’t ship with one which makes sense at this price point.
This mic will give you a really warm sound resembling that of much more expensive tube-based mics. There are many more options out these days, but if you’re on a strict budget and other mics feel a bit too harsh for your liking, the V67G is your mic.
MXL has a ton of budget mics throughout the years, but the 770 is one of their most popular, along with the aforementioned V67G. It’s a tad more expensive, but has a more modern look and a few extra niceties. Unlike the V67G, the 770 does actually come with a shock mount, however.
First, you’ll get a -10dB pad switch to compensate for louder voices/sources, and a built-in high-pass filter at 150Hz to help cut room hum and wind noise. Second, this mic excels with more husky mail voices thanks to how it treats the low end. There’s a substantial high end boost that will give some air and crispness to the top end of a voice, and also flatters female voices as well.
This is a go-to budget mic for rappers/hip hop artists and podcasters alike. If you want something a little less “vintage warm” like the V67G and instead a bit of a more “modern warm”, it’s a great budget solution.
Yes. Monoprice. The cheap cable people. Believe it or not, this is actually a really great mic.
Why? Because it’s essentially a rebadged MXL 770 (or MXL 990, its switchless counterpart). Same switches, same circuit board, same capsule.
So why include it in this list? So you can keep an eye out for deals on either mic, of course! So, yeah, not much else to say other than that.
Podcasters, broadcasters, and live streamers everywhere love the RODE Broadcaster. It’s similar to the other RODE mics on the list, but built specifically for broadcast purposes.
The Broadcaster is an end-address mic known for its full sound and an emphasis on proximity effect to create some very rich, low end tightness for voices of all types. There is a 75Hz high-pass switch to help eliminate room and air conditioner noise, and of course an internal pop filter like many RODE mics have.
If you’re using an external broadcast sound board with a Channel On/Mute function, this mic actually has an “On Air” indicator, letting you know whether your mic is hot or not. Definitely helpful in multi-person podcasts and other broadcast situations. And like the Procaster mentioned before, it doesn’t come with a shock mount, but one is available.
Yes, it’s a bit more pricey than the likes of the NT1, but it delivers some incredibly polished audio as long as you’re close enough to make use of the proximity effect.
Are USB microphones good for live streaming video?
Long story short, not in our opinion. Yes, you’ve got popular classics like the Blue Yeti and Blue Snowball along with newer entries like the Yeti Nano or AT2020USB, but honestly, we can’t suggest them.
The main weakness is the analog-to-digital converters built in to these mics. They’re not nearly as good as an external USB audio interface with XLR inputs, quality pre-amps, and just better digital signal conversion in general.
They’ll do in a pinch, and if it’s the only thing you have don’t let it ever stop you from creating. But if you’re looking for a better quality, more future proof solution, using an XLR mic with a proper audio interface is by far the better way to go.
Best microphone broadcast boom arms for live streaming video
Now that you’ve picked out your mic of choice, you need some way to support it. You could use a regular mic stand with a straight boom arm, but that quickly gets awkward around the desk and isn’t necessarily the ideal setup for a permanently mounted mic that you’ll be using often.
You also don’t want to get a desktop stand as it will not only get in the way of your peripherals, but it will also pick up taps and bumps even from typing. It’s fine for temporary use, but again not ideal.
The best option is to get a broadcast boom arm that you can mount to the edge of your desk and swing in the mic when using it, and swing it back out when not needed. Boom arms offer high levels of fine adjustment along with further dampening any bumps on the desk.
Even if you have a shock mount for your mic (which you absolutely should), the boom arm will absorb major bumps before it even gets to the shock mount. That said, definitely pick up a shock mount regardless of which boom arm or stand you get.
One thing of note, however, is you don’t want to get the cheapest boom arm out there, as low quality boom arms will often be squeaky when moving around, and may not even hold the position you want, sagging or dropping after being positioned.
You’ll also want to pay attention to the maximum weight the arm can support. Make sure that it easily covers the weight of the mic, the shock mount, and any extra weight from the cable hanging. This will be crucial to ensuring the boom arm does what it’s supposed to.
If you’re spending decent money on a mic, spend decent money on a boom arm. With that said, here are some of our favorite boom arms.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that the first broadcast boom arm on the list is from RODE. This is also probably the most popular option as it’s incredibly solid and supports up to 4.4 lbs of microphone.
The PSA 1 offers a huge reach of 32.5″ horizontally and 33″ vertically while being able to swivel a full 360 degrees. There are two desk mounting options, a desk insert so you can drill through the desk and a clamp so you don’t need to modify your desk.
The tensions springs are all internal and looks pretty sleep compared to most external spring designs. There are cable wraps to manage your mic cable and keep things organized and out of sight.
This is probably the best option available for around $100 and there’s not many people for which this wouldn’t be an excellent choice.
Again, not surprising that the next entrant is from Blue. The Compas is a premium tube-style broadcast boom arm, meaning that it’s not using the multiple piece arm design that most traditional external-spring designs utilize. This also means that this is, by far, the best looking boom arm on the list.
All the springs are internal and tension is maintained by a tension knob to get the right resistance for your mic, allowing precise positioning while maintaining a solid suspension of your mic. There is also a hidden cable channel to ensure that your mic cable is clean and as invisible as possible.
While this is designed for the Yeti, it does work for most other mics, although you will want to use a shock mount with this arm, just like with any other stand. The Compass does not come with a desk-insert style mount, so the included c-clamp is the only mounting method that ships with this arm.
This is a great option for many mics, with a supported weight of up to 2.4lbs including shock mount with a 32″ maximum reach. It’s not as solid as the RODE PSA 1, but it’s definitely a looker and will get the job done depending on your choice of mic.
Rounding out the list is the Samson MBA38. This is another two-piece arm design but again with internal springs. And again, like the RODE PSA 1, it does come with both a c-clamp mount and a desk-insert style flange mount.
The MBA38 does offer a longer 38″ maximum arm reach, making it the longest reach in the list as well as the most weight capacity at 5lbs.
Most people absolutely rave about this broadcast boom arm, citing its solid build and ability to keep a mic where you put it. Whereas the PSA 1 does act a bit iffy with very light mics, this isn’t an issue with the MBA38. There are some inconsistent results with mics with a Yeti-like mount, making it a bit more difficult for use with the thread on these designs but aren’t an issue if you’re using a shock mount. Some users also report the need to break in the swivel mount a bit, but after a few days things seem to smooth out.
Overall, despite being from a brand known for their budget microphones and gear, this is an absolute deal at half the price of the competition for these features and quality, and might even be a better option if you need the extra reach and weight support.
What is a shock mount?
We’ve been throwing this term around a bit and just realized we haven’t necessarily covered it. A shock mount is a mount for a microphone that absorbs physical shocks to the mic. Clever name, right?
Basically, if a mic is mounted directly in a solid plastic mic holder or threaded directly onto a mic stand or broadcast boom arm, any bumps to the stand/arm will get transferred to the mic, creating a loud thump in your recording. This also extends to bumps and taps on whatever surface the mic stand/arm is directly connected to or sitting on.
A shock mount has a collar that the mic slips into, which is then suspended in the middle of a larger collar with rubber bands, basically. These bands absorb all of the physical jostling that occurs from the outer collar, preventing them from transferring to the inner collar. Tap or bump your boom arm all you want, you’ll get little to no transference to your mic.
Having a shock mount is crucial to a clean, professional mic setup, as you don’t want these extremely loud thumps to come through your live stream, especially for your headphone-wearing viewers.
Many mics do come with their own shock mount, and those that don’t usually have one available from the manufacturer or even a third party. We’re not going to list any here because they’re very mic-specific at times. Yes, some mics are somewhat universal in diameter, and some shock mounts are adjustable, but in general it’s not feasible to list every shock mount for every mic here.
Just make note of whether the mic of your choice comes with one, and if not, budget in the extra to buy one separately. You’ll be regretting not picking one up pretty quickly; I definitely speak from experience here.
The world of audio is incredibly expansive. There are thousands of mics out there across all price points with their individual strengths and weaknesses. There are those mics that are definitive go-to choices for some people, while others swear by another (perhaps even very similar) mic. It can get overwhelming.
We hope that we’ve provided a good solid glimpse into the mics that are the no-contest champions along with a few that deserve a bit of extra love as they’re off the beaten path when it comes to most people.
But really, when it comes down to it, a mic is just a tool. It’s not going to make or break your live stream, but the right mic for the right user can definitely help tighten up your production.
Do you have any questions about anything we’ve covered here? Is there a mic you love that should be included on this list? Leave a comment down below and let us know! Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram for more cool stuff coming in the future!