When looking for microphones for a recording studio or live sound reinforcement, you should first determine whether you would rather work with XLR or USB connectors.
For more than six decades, the XLR connector has served as the audio sector’s standard.
The USB connector is a rather recent innovation that enables the microphone to be connected directly to all kinds of electronic devices, like computers, that have USB ports.
In this article, we will provide you with the information one should have so as to choose the best budget mics for your recording studio or live shows.
Let’s look more closely at each one of these mics before deciding. The first will be XLR microphones. Let’s get started!
Microphones With XLR Connectors
XLRs are among the most widely used microphones, and among the oldest ones too. Some people love them, while others find them extremely restrictive. That’s how we feel about them.
Here are our lists of advantages and disadvantages of using an XLR microphone:
- Since the 1950s, the XLR microphone cable standard has been widely used and is universally compatible with the majority of specialist audio systems and devices.
- A locking feature ensures that the cable remains attached to the microphone.
- XLR microphones are capable of transmitting the phantom power required by condenser microphones.
- XLR cables connect quickly and safely with one another to lengthen the cable.
- An XLR cable’s fabrication is extremely tough.
- XLR mic cables are costlier than USB cables. A 10-foot USB cable will cost you approximately half the amount of what a 10-foot XLR cable would.
- An XLR microphone cannot be connected directly to a computer without the use of an adaptor, which only appears to work when using a dynamic microphone that does not necessitate phantom power to operate.
- XLR condenser microphones necessitate the use of an audio interface device, which can range in price from a few hundred bucks to thousands of dollars for a high-end unit.
- To supply sufficient power to an XLR microphone system, a further piece of gear known as a microphone activator may be required.
- An XLR microphone system requires more equipment to transport than a USB mic system.
And, of course, how can you use it if you don’t set it up? Someone somewhere might even dislike XLR microphones simply because they do not understand how to properly set them up.
Microphones With USB Connectors
Microphones with USB interfaces are relatively new, yet they have already cemented their place in the professional audio industry.
Here are the advantages and disadvantages of using a USB podcasting microphone:
- No additional equipment is required to attach to a computer.
- Reduced price.
- Lightweight for the required equipment.
- It is extremely simple to set up.
- Excellent for podcasts and videos.
- A USB microphone is more difficult to connect to XLR-based sound devices.
- Because there are no separate units, upgrading is difficult.
- Without an audio interface, you have significantly less control over the audio.
What Are The Primary Distinctions Between XLR And USB Microphones?
Below are a few observations on the distinctions and their potential to actually impact your recording and live-show options:
- XLR microphones are significantly more popular in specialist audio recording sessions.
- XLR microphones are typically of greater quality than USB microphones.
- XLR microphones are really just one part of a three-part setup (mic, pre-amp, analog-to-digital converter). It is less difficult to upgrade elements.
- USB microphones combine the microphone, pre-amp, and an analog-to-digital converter into a single system, rendering it impossible to upgrade any of the parts.
- Numerous USB condenser microphones share microphone components with their XLR counterparts. The audio quality is almost the same. The only distinction is how the microphone attaches to some other device.
Why Use An XLR Microphone?
Microphones with XLR connectors are best suited for live shows, particularly when the entertainers keep moving around, whereby an XLR wireless microphone system can adapt much better.
An XLR system is in general preferable for more versatile applications.
XLR microphones are designed to be long-lasting and to be utilized for live shows.
They must endure physical abuse, like that they get when they are, for example, being dropped. Because of their sturdy construction, they should last for many years.
Why Use A USB Microphone?
USB microphones are better suited for podcasting and creating YouTube videos.
A USB microphone is typically plug-and-play, making setup simple.
Link it to your computer or some other device using the USB connection, ensure your phone or laptop identifies the linkage, and then utilize the microphone with your favorite audio recording apps.
USB microphones are less pricey than XLR microphone systems. As there are many designs that are very appealing, when the mic is visible in your videos online, the appearance of the microphone might be an important aspect too.
Although XLR microphones are designed for use by touring acts, a USB system is much more portable and lightweight because it requires less equipment (see also ‘Windscreen Vs Pop Filter‘) (see also ‘Windscreen Vs Pop Filter‘).
You can easily record or live stream nearly everywhere with a USB microphone and a tablet or iPad device.
If you wish to produce a globe-trotting tv program with live broadcasts from around the world, you’ll need a USB microphone and a laptop. You don’t want to move from one place to the next with a clunky mixer and audio interface.
The Bottom Line
We hope that this article will help you decide which microphone(s) to utilize for specific tasks. Most specialist audio recording technicians have a variety of microphones and employ each one for its intended purpose.
Both XLR and USB microphones appeal to us, and that is why we use both of these different types of microphones so that we can always have the ideal microphone to use for the ideal recording purposes.
Therefore, the best thing you can do is figure out what you want to use your microphone for, set your budget, and go buy the one that suits you best. If you can buy them both, that’s even better!