Best microphone for gaming in 2023

The best microphone for gaming: Two microphones on a grey background with the PC Gamer Recommended badge in the top right.
(Image credit: Future)

The best microphone for streaming and podcasting is a growing necessity for the modern gamer. Whether you aspire to stream your gameplay, engage in intense Discord conversations with friends, or finally record a podcast about Marvel movies, these microphones will make you sound your best. 

The best microphone we recommend right now is the Shure MV7, a hybrid USB/XLR microphone that gives you the best of both USB's convenience and XLR's quality—if you don't mind dropping a bit of coin. But you don't need to spend loads, as our budget pick proves. The Razer Seiren Mini is a fantastic budget microphone for less than $50. It might lack some features, but it makes it up in sound quality and price.

Achieving studio-quality sound with your streaming gear doesn't require an advanced degree in sound engineering. In fact, in most cases, all you need is a USB port and some engaging content to discuss when you go live.

One of the greatest challenges when shopping for the ideal microphone for podcasting or streaming is the uncertainty of its sound quality until you actually use it. To address this, we've gone the extra mile by recording test audio samples of all the microphones we've reviewed so far. This resource should help in narrowing down your options.

Best microphone for streaming

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Hear these microphones for yourself using the Soundcloud embed below.

The best microphone


Polar patterns: Unidirectional Cardioid Polar Pattern
Connectivity: USB, XLR
Recording Sample Rate: 24-bit 48kHz
Frequency response: 20–20,000Hz
Features: Integrated Touch Panel for Mic Controls

Reasons to buy

Excellent vocal clarity
USB/XLR combo
Easy use software

Reasons to avoid

No mic stand included
Uses Micro-USB rather than Type-C

If you're a musician or want your voice to sound the way it's meant to be heard, the MV7 is an easy recommendation. If you don't mind reaching deep into your pocketbook, that is. There is a much more affordable mic on this list, but it is still absolutely true that if you want the best, you will have to pay for it.

You don't really need to be much of a sound person to know Shure makes killer audio gear. Chances are, you've seen some of your favorite musicians rock a Shure microphone on stage or in the studio. Shure has been providing pro-grade microphones for an age, and the MV7 Podcast microphone is its attempt to bring its high-end sound to content creators. 

The USB Type-B Micro/XLR connection will be the big draw for a lot of folks. It gives you the best of both worlds by providing the adaptability of XLR (especially if you use professional audio interfaces) and the versatility of Type-B Micro inputs for recording on the go with laptops and mobile devices.

The Shure MV7 is a great-sounding XLR/USB hybrid microphone that'll give veteran podcasters and streamers a serious upgrade.

Shure's first hybrid XLR/USB microphone manages to provide pro-grade sound with minimal set-up and expertise. While it is more expensive than your average premium mic, its versatility completely justifies the cost. It's hands-down one of the best microphones I've used for recording.

The mic itself does an excellent job of isolating my voice while ignoring the loud hums of my desktop PC, air conditioner, and any other ambient nonsense I have going on in the background. You will notice some pretty loud plosives, so it might be best to invest in a shield to block your breath from the mic, or not having the mic directly in front of you when recording. 

The MV7 takes advantage of the ShurePlus Motiv software, which lets you tweak and fine-tune your sound with relative ease. From here, you can mess with things like adding compression to your voice, adjust your EQ, and add a limiter. One of the more understated features is the Auto Level Mode. We've seen similar features in other mics, such as the Elgato Wave 3, which basically keeps you from hitting the red. That's especially useful if your content involves lots of shouting or singing or both. So now you don't have to worry about bursting your viewers' eardrums when a jump scare gets the better of you in Phasmophobia. Also, nice if you're a bit of an audio novice, and your recording area isn't acoustically sound. 

The Shure MV7 is a great-sounding XLR/USB hybrid microphone that'll give veteran podcasters and streamers a serious upgrade, especially if you're looking for a microphone that'll plug into a USB audio interface at first and later can be useful in upgrading to an all XLR setup down the line. It's for content creators who want to bring their production values to pro-grade levels but don't want to or can't spend that pro-grade money. $250 for a hybrid USB/XLR microphone isn't that big of an ask when you consider the flexibility of the Shure MV7.

Read our full Shure MV7 Podcast Microphone review.

The best budget mic


Polar patterns: Supercardioid
Connectivity: USB
Recording sample rate: 48kHz
Frequency response: 20–20,000Hz
Features: Tap-to-mute sensor

Reasons to buy

Pill-shaped design
Great sound

Reasons to avoid

No mute button
Proprietary micro-USB

The Razer Seiren Mini is a $50 budget microphone for streaming that might skimp on features but still delivers top-notch sound. If you're just looking to switch from a headset mic to a better-sounding desktop mic, but don't want to have to mess around setting it up, the Seiren Mini is as plug-and-play as it gets.

The Seiren Mini's adorable pill-shaped design comes in your choice of Black, Mercury White, and Quartz (pink). Out of the budget mics out there, the Seiren Mini's design is the most eye-catching. I was sent a Mercury White microphone, and it's one of my favorite looking pieces of hardware I've gotten this year and pretty darn cute.

Much like the HyperX SoloCast, many features were stripped away from the Seiren Mini to keep the sound quality up and the cost down. There's no volume or gain dial, or even a mute button. It's bare-bones as they come, but for $50 it's to be expected.

The Seiren Mini sounds just as good as Razer's more expensive Seiren offerings.

The proprietary micro-USB cable Razer tends to use on many peripherals is a bit of a pain. It keeps you from using third party cables because they simply wont fit. I can't express enough how much I hate when a hardware company does this. If you lose that cable for whatever reason (which happens), the mic is useless until Razer's replacement arrives.

I would have loved to have seen a  ⅝ to ⅜  thread adapter so it could mount on most boom arms but it doesn't have one, sadly. I like the tilting stand and built-in shock mount (a feature missing from the SoloCast), which is useful if you run a pretty animated stream where accidental bumps are everyday occurrences.

The Seiren Mini sounds just as good as Razer's more expensive Seiren offerings. The Mini's super-cardioid polar pattern does a better job of tapering down background noise to focus on what's in front of it, though it does sound a bit softer than the Seiren Emote at its default gain.

The Seiren Mini is a perfect entry for Razer's already reliable line of microphones. It's ultra-portable size and pricing gives streamers another good option for a budget microphone. The lack of a mute control and some other quality-of-life features will take some getting used to for any more pro folks, but they'll be aiming their sights higher up the product stack anyways. 

The simple fact that the Mini, at just $50, sounds as good as its more expensive brethren will attract users who just want a simple mic that looks elegant and sounds excellent.

Read our full Razer Seiren Mini review.

The best USB microphone and boom arm bundle


Polar patterns: Cardioid
Connectivity: USB
Recording Sample Rate: 24-bit 48kHz
Frequency response: 20–20,000Hz
Features: Boom arm, Mute, Headphone and mix controls

Reasons to buy

Good build quality
Great value
Clean, crisp sound

Reasons to avoid

Lack of desk stand in streaming kit
Cardioid only

I get it; there are so many microphones out there, and quite frankly, many of them are pretty good. So honing in on the right one for you could be challenging. The Sennheiser Profile Streaming Set gives you everything you need to start your podcasting or streaming journey with a great-sounding microphone and sturdy boom arm combo for less than $200.

The Profile comes in two packages; the standalone microphone for $129 or the Streaming Set (which we're testing out here) for $199. The latter includes a microphone and a desk-mounted boom arm. The mic is the same in the package, so does it really come down to whether you need a boom arm or not? I'm on team boom because it clears desk space and prevents any incidental bumps and thumps from being picked up on the mic during recording.

The Profile has a sturdy metal casing and a more flashy design than I would expect from Sennheiser. Don't get me wrong, Sennheiser makes some of the best audio gear in the world, but some of its designs, especially on its headsets, are a little boring.

The Profile is sleek and looks good on camera if you're a streamer, especially when mounted on the boom arm. Overall, it's a good design, and I really like that you have an onboard mix, gain, headphone volume controls, and the mute button on the mic. In a time when microphone makers are scaling back features to keep costs down, it's nice to see that Sennheiser has found a way to do both. 

As you can hear, the Profile has a very warm sound, uh, profile that gives my voice a nice, crisp quality. Perfect if the type of content you create involves much talking or you need to sound like a professional on a work call.  

Sennheiser Profile Streaming Set gives you everything you need to start your podcasting or streaming journey.

On the software front, well, there isn't any. The Profile is a plug-and-play microphone with no accompanying software for tweaking sound. So, if you want to apply filters to your voice or anything fun like that, you'll need to use third-party apps. Since all the controls are on the mic, I'm alright with not having to install another app for my accessories.

The only real problem with the Profile is that it lacks some versatility by only having one polar pattern. Unlike other microphones, such as the Quadcast, I can't plop this down on a table and do an interview on location because a cardioid mic is really only suitable for one person. Anyway, it's not like you could set this on a table because the Profile Streaming Set doesn't come with a desktop stand. In other words, it's a very specific single-person use case and not for moving around with.  

I find it strange that the Streaming Set doesn't include some sort of a desk stand. You're relegated to using your boom arm, though you could buy the stand on its own for $29. On the other hand, the stand-alone Profile does include a stand, so keep that in mind if you're choosing between just the microphone or the boom arm combo.

Unsurprisingly, Sennheiser makes a quality boom arm that's easy to set up. A decent boom could cost well over $100, so getting one for an essential $70 with 3-point locking and a cable guide is a helluva deal and worth picking up if you don't plan on taking your mic anywhere. It should accommodate most desks, too. 

This excellent boom arm will probably last longer than your podcasting career, honestly, and the Sennheiser Profile does everything a good mic for streamers' needs. It's easy to use, and the onboard controls give you much control over your sound.

Read our full Sennheiser Profile Streaming Set review.

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The best XLR microphone and interface bundle


Polar patterns: Cardioid
Recording Sample Rate: 24-bit 192kHz
Connectivity: USB Type-C
Frequency response: 50–20,000Hz
Features: Scarlett CM25 MkIII Microphone, Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen interface,Scarlett HP60 MkIII

Reasons to buy

Fantastic mic quality
Everything you need for XLR
Great for streaming
Easy to use
Makes mixing easy

Reasons to avoid

No microphone stand included
Headphones feel cheaper than the rest of the bundle

Think of the Scarlett Solo Studio 3rd Gen bundle as the perfect XLR microphone starter kit for under $300. The bundle includes Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen Interface, a CM25 MkIII condenser microphone, HP60 MkIII closed-back headphones, one XLR cable, and a Type-C to Type-A USB cable to connect it to your PC. Everything you need to start podcasting or streaming. 

XLR mics are known for their sound quality but require a USB interface like the Solo Studio, which could be a bit pricey. The $280 is an incredibly great price for all of that.

Focusrite isn't some recording nobody, either. It's a well-respected brand in professional audio with a legacy of quality products. From the products I've experienced in the past, I can see why: they're simple to operate yet technically effective for high-grade audio production.

That still holds true for the 3rd generation 2i2 included in the Studio bundle, which now runs entirely on a single USB Type-C to Type-A cable, even power. Its interface is brighter, cleaner, and more easily navigated than previous models.

As much a great condenser microphone as you could want from a setup at this price.

The 2i2 is a twin-preamp design, meaning you can run two microphones through this single interface for an easy podcast setup. Each input offers individual gain control, which is handy if you have a loud friend on the other end of the mic, but also great if you want to hook up an instrument on one input and record your silky voice box on the other. There's an INST switch for each input, which tweaks a couple of key specs for use with instruments, though what might be of greater interest to streamers and podcasters is the AIR switch. 

The AIR switch, once enabled, bolsters the high frequencies by recreating the ISA 110 mic preamp found on the Focusrite Studio Console. That might not mean much to you, but the end result is it helps your voice pop just that little bit more. I also find it helps with clarity in the final recording.

Regarding microphone quality, the CM25 MkIII is as much a great condenser microphone as you could want from a setup at this price. It's functional and straightforward, and its all-metal construction gives me a lot of faith in its longevity. The tone is balanced and crisp, though you will need to be closer to the mic than you might otherwise with some popular USB microphones to get the tone you're looking for. That might suit you well if you're competing with ambient noise, though you might have to boost the gain a little higher than you'd like if you need to keep the mic further away from your face.

The 2i2's twin-preamp design lets you run two microphones through a single interface. This has always been a pain point for anyone who tried to plug more than one USB mic into a PC. That value alone is worth the price of admission, but there's a lot more to the 2i2 that we love.

Read our full Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Studio Bundle review.

The best microphone with RGB lighting


Polar patterns: Cardioid, Bidirectional, Omnidirectional, Stereo
Connectivity: USB
Recording sample rate: 16-bit 48kHz
Frequency response: 20–20,000Hz
Features: Built-in Shockmount

Reasons to buy

Easy to set use
Touch-sensitive mute button
Built-in Shockmount
Cool RGB lighting

Reasons to avoid

RGB is not for everyone...
... and costly

The gamer-centric HyperX Quadcast S is an excellent microphone for the gamer or streamer looking for an easy-to-use, clear-sounding mic. While it doesn't quite match up to the Yeti X in terms of sound quality, the Quadcast S makes up for it in design and feature set.

The biggest draw of the Quadcast S is that it's loaded with built-in features that usually end up being pricey add-ons for other streaming microphones. The built-in shock mount prevents the mic from picking up any accidental bumps that happen during a contentious Warzone match or overly active Discord chat. The built-in pop filter is also a nice touch considering I always have issues trying to find the optimal position and distance for my rink-a-dink $7 pop-shield, and it never quite stays where it's supposed to when mounted.

The touch-sensitive mute button at the top of the microphone is excellent, too. Often mute buttons and switches make a loud click when recording. This doesn't. The Quadcast S hits the sweet spot of price, sound, and features if you're looking to add something to your live stream.

It looks like you're speaking into a lava lamp.

Specs-wise, the S is more or less identical to the Quadcast, offering the same frequency response of 20Hz-20kHz, bit-rate of 16-bit, and three 14mm condensers, and lets you choose between four polar patterns. Though my plosives tended to sound a little more blown out than I'd like, the quality of my voice sounded good. During conference calls, I can be heard clearly by numerous colleagues commenting on how much louder I was than anyone else, which is an easy fix by bringing down the gain.

On the software side of things, the HyperX Quadcast S uses its proprietary Ngenuity software to handle all things RGB, and that's pretty much it. I mean, you can adjust things such as the mic level and get a description of each polar pattern. But other than that, it's pretty light in options when compared to the Elgato Wave: 3, which comes with a digital audio mixer or Blue Yeti X's Blu! Voice software that lets you apply audio filters.

It still retains its sports-talk radio broadcast mic look, which isn't for everyone, but I think it has a certain charm. I love the dynamic RGB lighting, anyways. It looks like you're speaking into a lava lamp. 

While the RGB is impressive and fun, it doesn't merit an upgrade for existing Quadcast owners since the microphone is the same as last year except for the light show. But if you choose between the Quadcast and Quadcast S, the dynamic RGB is neat and loud, which could always deter anyone after something more low-key. If that's the case, the Quadcast is probably more your style (and you'll save around $20).

Read our full HyperX Quadcast S review

The best microphone on a headset


Polar patterns: Unidirectional
Connectivity: USB
Recording sample rate: 44.1/48/88.2/96 kHz (USB), 16-/24-bit (USB)
Frequency response: 50–20,000Hz
Features: Comes attached to a good headset

Reasons to buy

The best mic on a headset
Excellent audio
Plug and play

Reasons to avoid

Expensive for a wired headset
A discrete mic has its benefits

You might be wondering why there's a gaming headset in our best microphones guide, and the reason is it comes with a microphone that's genuinely up to the grade of a discrete one. That's not something I say lightly, as we've come to expect decent, but not amazing, mics on most gaming headsets. The ATH-M50xSTS StreamSet bumps that trend.

Most creators of content are having to fork out for two devices nowdays: a gaming headset and a microphone. Audio Technica's new ATH-M50xSTS StreamSet headset says hell no to that, spend all that money on me instead.

Wow, does it actually have a good mic.

The ATH-M50xSTS StreamSet isn't exactly a budget headset, but in no way is that the aim. Its aim is to deliver that high quality microphone in a singular package, and, wow, does it actually have a good mic.

Audio Technica has packed a cardioid condenser into this attached boom mic. It's based on the brand's 20 Series microphones and gosh it does sound like it.

The StreamSet mic is comparable to using a desktop mic only a whole lot easier. I used it during several streaming sessions and am convinced it's less hassle and maybe even a better solution than my desktop mic setup.

The headset mic sits on a flexible arm, allowing you to position it right where you need, and it has a flip to mute function. You don't have to worry about moving too far from the mic mid stream or setting up a secondary device. I didn't even need to enable any software like Nvidia's Noise Removal to clean up background noise, like I would otherwise have to do. The ease of monitoring your voice with the press of a button also encouraged me to check on it more, but tended to only let me know I was sounding fantastic.

If you need proof of its quality, go check out the Soundcloud test clips at the top of the article and hear for yourself.

It makes that high price a lot more palatable when you consider you're getting a great quality set of cans and an excellent microphone all in the one package.

Read our full Audio-Technica ATH-M50xSTS StreamSet review.

Best microphone FAQ

What is a polar pattern and which do I need for gaming?

A polar pattern determines how much and from which direction an audio signal will be picked up by a microphone. For gaming, you'll mostly want a pattern that picks up sound directly in front of the microphone (you) and not much else from anywhere else (the environment).

These are the most common polar patterns: 

Cardioid: Records in front of the microphone. Perfect for voice-over, vocals, and streaming.

Bidirectional: Captures audio in front of and behind the mic. Ideal for one-on-one interviews.

Omnidirectional: Picks up sound from every direction. Perfect for round-table interviews, but not so much for gaming or streaming.

Stereo: Perfect for ASMR recordings. YouTube 'ASMR' if you want the best example because I couldn't do it just justice.

Do I need a microphone boom arm, shock mount, or pop filter?

Everyone’s desk and setup requirements are different, so a mic must perform well under a handful of different scenarios. Suppose a microphone sounds better than all the rest combined but only when it’s on a suspended mic stand with a shock mount positioned precisely six inches away from your mouth. In that case, it’s not necessarily a reliable option to recommend. 

Saying that, however, there are some valuable bits you might want to pick up if you're looking to clear away clutter or build a more professional setup.

A boom arm certainly helps achieve both of those things. These almost always clip onto the side of your desk and are super handy to keep your mic close to hand while off your desk, saving precious real estate. 

While a pop filter will help reduce plosives, the sound of air escaping violently from your mouth and towards the mic, from making their way over to airwaves to your listeners' unfortunate ear holes. It'll also stop your microphone from getting grubby when you're up-close and sounding sibilants.

A shock mount is perhaps the least necessary of the lot, at least for gaming. These prevent vibrations from traveling through your microphone stand or boom arm and into the microphone, which can come through as rustle, thuds, or otherwise unwanted noise. Certainly a must-have for music studios, unless you are one to slam your way through a match of Apex Legends, you might be okay without.

What's is a good sample and bit rate for a microphone?

Sample rate is the number of samples of audio recorded every second. 48kHz is the most common sample rate you'll see on many microphones, and you shouldn't be any lower than that. 

Bit rate is the speed at which a digital and audio file gets encoded. Without trekking too much into audiophile territory, 16 bit and above is considered a good bit rate.

What connector do I need? XLR or USB?

USB microphones are among the most prevalent for gaming and streaming fare, but you'll sometimes see the more widely used professional connection standard, XLR, make its way into high-end units. Hybrid USB/XLR can offer you the best of both worlds but tend to be more expensive. 

USB is the simpler of the two, and if you're looking for plug-and-play ease, then it's your best bet. However, that simplicity comes at a cost. It's difficult to record more than one USB microphone simultaneously, and monitoring and adjusting the mix will be done digitally. 

With the added complexity of XLR comes a great deal of flexibility that you otherwise wouldn't be able to access without even more complex digital mixing software on a USB mic. You can mix, adjust, and monitor an XLR mic before it ever touches your PC, and that's a massive boon if you're looking for a more complex setup.

The downside to XLR is that they will require additional equipment to connect to your PC. It is nothing wild, just something to interface between the mic and PC, such as the many devices by that name, which often comes with mixing functionality built-in.

How much should I spend on a microphone?

And as PC gamers, we will, of course, always try to get the best we can for less. It’s easy to get lost in the deep dark woods that are the world of audio and even easier to spend a ludicrous amount of time and money chasing the best possible setup. But we don’t need studio-ready equipment, so the price is essential when looking at how good a particular mic is. 

Think about your use case; if you're only using a microphone to chat with your teammates, chances are, you don't need a microphone with half a dozen polar patterns and have a podcast studio level of quality. Don't spend money on features you don't need or use. Some $50 or fewer microphones are more than adequate and great for gaming. We picked out the best budget microphones that we have tested this year if you need some guidance. 

Jorge Jimenez
Hardware writer, Human Pop-Tart

Jorge is a hardware writer from the enchanted lands of New Jersey. When he's not filling the office with the smell of Pop-Tarts, he's reviewing all sorts of gaming hardware, from laptops with the latest mobile GPUs to gaming chairs with built-in back massagers. He's been covering games and tech for over ten years and has written for Dualshockers, WCCFtech, Tom's Guide, and a bunch of other places on the world wide web.