(Review) What is the best podcast microphone?

Estimated read time: 4 minutes

Product links are affiliate links, meaning I earn a small cut if you click and buy. Nonetheless, these are my opinions about what is and isn’t the best podcast microphone.

Since around 2012, I have bought and used several podcast microphones, and they all have their advantages and disadvantages. Some are very different, too. Some are better in some situations and not so good in others. I’ve used:

Let’s look at how my podcast microphone usage has evolved and what’s good and not so good about each podcast.

Snowball mic

I started using Snowball mics around 10 years ago, and they worked fine. They work especially well if you sit right in front of them. They are also small enough that you can travel with them.

Nonetheless, I moved on from the Snowball mic as I was traveling more, traveling super light and wanted to conserve space.

Lavalier mics

Then I moved on to lavalier mics. They are more compact for travel and worked well with my iPhone at the time. If you use one, make sure you know how to hook it up to your current iPhone, and please use a case when transporting them.

iPhone mic

I love to record podcasts with my iPhone – like this one and several others when at in-person conferences.

And the iPhone certainly makes it easy. I wondered, though: When not using a headset, where should I be talking into the phone? Where is the mic on my iPhone?

Given that some people use the iPhone as a phone, I assumed the mic was at the bottom – so it’s aligned with somebody’s mouth when they are talking on the phone.

That turned out to be true. The mics are at the bottom end of the iPhone. Out of sight, out of mind.

So does that mean that I shouldn’t speak into what we would have called the mouthpiece on a traditional phone? Do I need to tilt my phone and talk directly into the bottom? There’s a noticeable difference when I spoke into the top – where the camera is.

By default, people are likely speaking into the correct area anyway, but I thought this was good to know as more and more businesses are podcasting and record with their iPhones to share their stories.

Nonetheless, this is also harder to remember than it sounds. I was in Chicago and recorded a podcast with TURF Design.

The setup was like this when we recorded:

Apple AirPods and Earbuds

I’ve been streaming more using Switcher Studio and use my earbuds attached to my iPad for those recordings. It works well and sounds good. Here’s an example from a livestream I did with Pam Didner.

I also used them while recording directly in the Anchor app, and the sounds are great there. I use Anchor for my podcast editing and distribution.

Other times, I’ve used the Apple AirPods – like in this Amazon Live, the audio also sounds excellent.

In this scenario, the AirPods are paired to my iPad, producing the show via Switcher, then distributed to seven channels via Restream.

USB mics

podcast microphone for deskI started doing more livestreams on my computer and wanted to try a mic attached to my desk. So I got this extendable USB mic and tried it. The sound is fantastic. Assembly is easy and quick. The biggest issue I ran into was making sure it’s set as the default device on my laptop.

You can listen to an example on this podcast guest appearance that I made

This mic also has a mute button, so make sure it’s not muted when it’s not working.

How far away should I be from my microphone?

No matter what mic you are using, make sure it’s placed at the right distance from your mouth. The distance does matter and people – especially on video podcasts – have the tendency to move the mic away from them. In reality, I’ve found it to work best when it’s right in front of your face. Maybe around 2 inches or so away. Here’s how that looks for me on my podcast livestreams.

how close to mic

Best podcast microphone wrap

The best podcast mics for you depend on how and when you record your podcasts. When I used to travel and record most on the fly, the iPhone did just fine. Now, I spend my days at my Varidesk in my office, and the mic hooked up to the desk works great. But I’m also not throwing away my AirPods Pro and Apple Earbuds.

I think I will rotate between the USB mic and my AirPod Pros for recordings and livestreams, depending on the situation and setup. The USB mic will stay at my desk, and the AirPods will travel with me once we travel again.

Listen to my podcast