Podcasting has become very popular over the last couple of years, and it is estimated that nearly 50 million Americans listen to podcasts every month.
If you want to start a podcast, you’ll likely need some equipment: and the good news is that there are plenty of affordable options out there.
The microphone is one of the most important pieces of kit you will need for your podcast, and XLR podcasting mics are particularly popular.
With so many microphone options to choose from, however, finding the best product can be a real challenge – fortunately, we have put together everything you need to know about choosing the very best XLR podcasting mic, as well as the must-try products in this area.
# 1 Shure SM7B – Best Overall Mic
If you are looking for a respected, trusted, and renowned brand in the world of podcasting microphones, then look no further than Shure – this is a name with a lot of influence in the industry, and a great reputation for producing long-lasting, high-quality products that stand the test of time and offer great results for your podcast.
The Shure SM7B is a model that has been a staple of professional podcasters for years and is a must-have feature in many professional recording studios.
The excellent reputation comes largely from the high-quality sound that is produced and created, including a wide frequency response range that guarantees clean, smooth, and natural sounds with every use.
In addition to great sound quality, this microphone also offers an internal pop filter, eliminating the need for an additional purchase, and reducing plosives to improve the clarity of your audio.
In addition, an A7WS detachable windscreen (see also our guide to mic windscreens) filters out any excess noise when working closer to the mic – once again, this is great for improving sound quality and clarity.
Shure has also worked hard to ensure that any electro-magnetic sounds and broadband interruption is minimized, and this means that you can record your podcast safely in the knowledge that the end result will be crystal clear with every session.
- Durable, long-lasting design
- Offers a full, natural sound
- Cardioid polar pattern is perfect for podcasting
- Built-in pop filter
- Slightly heavier than other options
#2 Audio Technica AT2020
If you are a new podcaster, just starting out in your journey, then this quality model from Audio Technica is right up your street, and offers everything you need at a budget price – without asking you to compromise on quality or durability.
This makes it ideal for beginners, and those who are getting used to using the equipment and kit that comes with creating a great podcast.
One of the main advantages of this microphone is the durability and longevity of the design – and this is perfect if you are looking for an investment that will stand the test of time.
The model is made from high-quality metal, and this means that you can use it day-to-day without worrying about damage, and without having to worry about your mic breaking down after a few uses.
In addition to durability, the Audio Technica AT2020 (see also our guide to AT2020 pop filters) also offers very high-quality audio, and the cardioid polar pattern is one of the best for podcasting.
A large diaphragm means that the quality of the sound is enhanced and emphasized, and you will be able to enjoy a professional-sounding podcast, without having to shell out hundreds in equipment and expensive mics – in this case, the budget option will work just as well.
As an added bonus to the quality and durability, this mic also comes with a mic stand adapter and a leather carrying bag, making it easy to move and transport your mic whenever you need it – great for a little extra flexibility!
- Comes with a handy carrying case for convenience
- Versatile and flexible
- Large-diaphragm increases sound quality
- Cardioid polar pattern is great for podcasting
- Does not come with a shock mount
➡️ Audio-Technica ATR2100x Review For Podcasting
# 3 RODE Procaster
Another popular option amongst professionals and podcasters is the Rode Procaster, and this is a common name within the world of podcasting and audio recording, with a reputation for providing high-quality products.
The Procaster is no exception to this; the quality of the audio is first-class, and this is perfect for ensuring that you have stunning, crystal-clear audio for each and every recording; perfect for providing a high-quality podcast experience for your audience.
A tight polar pattern helps to capture the frequency response range of voices with amazing accuracy and efficiency, and this is part of what makes this model so popular with podcasters; whether you are conducting interviews or simply discussing your specialist topic, your audience will be able to hear each and every word with perfect clarity.
Ambient noise is removed from your voice, and the inclusion of an internal pop-filter is perfect for generating a silky smooth sound every time, reducing the plosive nature of your voice, and reducing the issue of background noise; ideal if you are recording in a space that tends to get a lot of traffic, or where background noise is inevitable.
This helps to make the Rode Procaster a popular choice for pros.
- Tight polar pattern is perfect for podcasting
- Built-in pop filter to reduce explosiveness in your voice
- Background noise is reduced
- Offers crystal-clear audio
- Professional quality results
- A little pricey compared to other models
➡️ Full Rode Procaster review.
# 4 AKG Pro Audio C214
Another option that tends to be popular with the pros is this stunning microphone from AKG; once again, this is a brand with a good name in the business.
The design of the mic is sleek, elegant, and sophisticated – adding an instant professional upgrade to your podcasting set-up – while the large diaphragm is perfect for picking up a wide range of sound frequencies and ranges.
The cardioid pattern is also perfect for podcasting, as softer background sounds and noises are reduced or eliminated.
As an added bonus, the whole unit is very easy to set up, allowing you to get up and running with your podcast in no time, and with minimal fuss, and the kit comes with everything you need to get started, including a hardy carry case, a shock mount and a windscreen- this means that you are ready to start recording right out of the box, and is super convenient, as well as offering great value for money.
Overall, this is a quality microphone that offers amazing versatility and offers incredible audio quality for a very reasonable price.
- Offers professional quality sound
- Cardioid pattern is perfect for podcasting
- Has all you need to get started
- Very versatile
- Sleek, sophisticated appearance
- Sound can sometimes get boosted on voices
#5 MXL 90
Another great option for those on a lower budget, the MXL 90 benefits from a classic, clean design that is sure to appeal to those who incorporate some serious style into their podcasting – this mic offers an old-school vibe that is a major appeal.
Despite the vintage design, however, the internal elements of the mic are first-class, and this is a model that comes with everything that you need to record a first-class podcast.
One of the main appeals comes from the reduction in background noise – this is perfect if you are recording in a space where you cannot guarantee a silent background, and allows you to enjoy crisp, clear sound that is easy for your listeners to enjoy.
Another major advantage of the MXL 90 is the included shock mount (see also ‘Best Mic Shock Mount‘) – this is great at eliminating any vibrations or interference that may arise from you accidentally touching the mic stand; without a shock mount, these unexpected noises have the potential to totally disrupt your podcast, so this is a real advantage that helps this model to stand out from the crowd.
- Comes with a useful mic stand adaptor and carrying pouch for convenience
- Shock mount is great for reducing vibrations and interference
- Crisp, clear sound with every recording
- Vintage design
- Reduces background noise
- May struggle with high SPL sources
Now that we have taken a look at the best XLR microphones on the market, it is time to discuss the main considerations that you need to bear in mind when making your purchase – read on for all you need to know!
What Is An XLR Microphone?
An XLR microphone is an electret condenser microphone (ECM) that uses a transformer to convert the signal into a low-impedance output.
These types of microphones are used in professional studios, broadcast applications, and live events, and are generally regarded as being superior to other types of microphones.
XLR stands for “extra-low-resistance” – the resistance of the cable connecting the microphone to its preamp/mixer is very low, meaning that the impedance of the circuit is extremely low, which allows the microphone to handle high levels of power without distorting.
XLRs are designed to operate from a phantom power supply, which means that they require
no battery or external power source.
There are two different types of XLR connectors:
- Neutrik Connector- A neutrik connector is a standard three-pin XLR connector and is commonly found on consumer-level microphones. It is easy to connect and disconnect and is suitable for home recording.
- 3 Pin SMPTE Connector- SMPTE stands for Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers and refers to the type of connector used on professional studio equipment.
These connectors have a larger diameter than the neutrik connector and are usually only found on professional-grade microphones.
Choosing A Microphone
When purchasing your XLR microphone, there are a number of specifications to consider:
Perhaps the most important factor is the frequency response of the mic – this will determine how much bass, mid, and treble you can expect from the mic, and should be considered before buying.
This is because the higher the frequency response, the more detail you will be able to capture, but the lower the frequency response, the less detail you will be able to hear.
The ideal range for a microphone is between 20Hz and 20kHz, although many mics come with a wider range than this, which is why it is always worth checking the specs before buying.
Dynamic VS Condenser
This is another key consideration and one that often determines whether you go for a dynamic or condenser microphone.
A dynamic microphone has a diaphragm that moves up and down as air passes over it, allowing it to pick up sounds from a wide range of frequencies.
The downside of a dynamic mic is that they tend to be rather noisy, so they are not recommended for use in environments where you want to keep things quiet.
Condenser mics work by using a capacitor to store electrical charge, and then releasing it when needed. As such, they do not move up and down like dynamic mics but instead, remain stationary while capturing audio.
They also tend to produce a clearer sound than dynamic mics and are therefore preferred for situations where you want to get the clearest possible sound quality.
Another important consideration is your budget, and there are mics available at a wide range of budget options and price points.