If there are two things we love talking about—well, aside from bourbon, travel, fast cars and good style—it’s DIY projects and podcasts. Give us an opportunity to talk about both in one article and we’ll damn near shoot straight out of our chairs. Luckily, that’s what’s on the menu for today. When it comes to at-home DIY podcasters, USB microphones are the weapons of choice because they make recording booth-quality sound simple without requiring any external accessories. They are, quite literally, plug and play. Whether you’re looking for an upgrade to your existing at-home “booth,” or you’re new to the game and just want a practical and cost-effective way to say what’s on your mind, here are the best USB Microphones to Help Get Your Podcast Off the Ground:


Fifine Plug & Play USB Condenser

Whether you’ve been podcasting for five minutes or five years, this USB rig from Fifine is an excellent option for those who need quality on a budget. Aside from its plug-and-play usability for Mac and PC applications, it also features a distinctive cardioid polar pattern that makes home studio recording, voice-over recording, and podcasting easy, intuitive, and affordable. What more could you want? $30


CAD U37 USB Studio Condenser Recording Microphone

Easily one of the most popularly reviewed USB microphones on Amazon, the U37 USB Studio Condenser from CAD is a larger microphone that features an intuitive cardioid pick-up pattern and an added bass reduction switch in order to make sure the only thing your audience hears is, well, you. It also features a 10dB overload protection switch that automatically limits distortion from random loud sounds like popping, coughing, etc. It’s compatible with both Mac and Windows applications, and will plug into any working USB port. $39


Samson Go Mic Portable USB Condenser Microphone

The Samson Go Mic Portable USB Condensor is another big seller ideal for anyone who needs optimum sound quality in a teeny-tiny package. The portable USB condenser mic plugs into any Mac or PC, requires zero software installation, and features mounts that’ll allow it to either clip onto a laptop screen or sit flat on a desk. It works with most voice recognition software, and packs more than enough juice to deliver professional-quality podcast coverage. It features both omni polar and cardioid pickup patterns, which means you can switch whether you want it to be a source mic for a panel interview, or just keep things clean for a one-man show. $46


Blue Microphones Snowball USB Microphone

Blue Microphones produces some of the highest quality and best selling USB microphones on the planet, and their Snowball is no exception. This tiny spherical condenser mic punches far above its weight class, offering the same 16-bit 44.1kHz sample rate as much larger microphones, both omnidirectional and cardioid polar patterns, and an award-winning dual-capsule and circuit design—all in a tiny 460g package. It comes with a three-prong stand, works with both Mac and PC applications, and for the money, we don’t think it can be beat. $69


Samson Meteor Mic USB Studio Microphone

Listen… We know what you’re thinking, so we’re just going to say it. Does the Meteor Mic USB Studio Microphone by Samson look suspiciously like R2D2? Yes. But damn if it ain’t one of the best mid-level USB mics money can buy. It features a massive 25mm condenser diaphragm (one of the largest in the USB class), a butter-smooth 20Hz to 20kHz frequency response, and 16-bit, 44.1/48kHz resolution. That all comes together to produce true professional audio quality, every time. Oh, and it also includes a neat little 1/8” headphone jack for real-time monitoring. If you’re an experienced podcaster you likely won’t care much for it, but for those self-conscious beginners out there, it’s a real good way to hear yourselves out. $70


Shure MV5 Digital Condenser Microphone

When most brands use the term “plug and play,” they mean just that: Plug it in and fiddle around with it. But when the team at Shure uses the term, they mean plug it in and then get down to work. The MV5 takes hands off to a whole new level, by not only featuring three easy preset modes (for vocals, flat, or instruments), but it also automatically applies EQ, compression, noise limiting and gain for the best possible sound quality. It made this list because it offers noteworthy out-of-the-box performance, a modern desk-worthy design, and because as far as “bang for you buck” is concerned, we think the MV5 is hard to beat. $99


Blue Yeti

If USB microphones were boxing, the Yeti by Blue would be the hands-down undisputed champion of the world. The truth is, aside from being a solid value, it’s also feature-rich, very user-friendly, and truly plug-and-play. It is the gentleman’s microphone. It, too, features a zero-latency headphone output, as well as gain control, three condenser capsules to get spotless results in every kind of condition,  and a beautiful classic design. Not only does it feature cardioid and omnidirectional pickup patterns, but also includes bidirectional and stereo as well. The experts have spoken loud and clear, and we agree: When it comes to USB microphone sound quality, the Yeti by Blue microphones simply can’t be beat. $129


Rode NT-USB USB Condenser Microphone

Rode have been in the business of designing and manufacturing superior quality microphone and audio technology since the mid-1960s, and today, their brand is worldwide—for good reason. Their NT-USB Condenser Microphone is truly a thing of glory. At $169 it’s a little spendy, but we’d wager it’s worth every damn penny. Aside from Rode’s famous internal microphone components, the NT-USB also features on-mic mix control, a headphone jack for zero-latency monitoring, as well as a stand and pop shield. We included the Rode here because it truly is a piece of professional studio hardware with a hobbyist’s price point. If you have the coin, you definitely won’t be disappointed with this purchase. $169

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Unzip your coat and have some mulled wine on the house—you’ve arrived at your final gifting destination: The Holiday Gift Guide. It’s like your friendly neighborhood one-stop holiday shop, except instead of balsa wood ornaments, ours is packed with thoughtful gifts for everyone on your list. Future heirlooms, small-but-significant stocking stuffers, and gear for getting out there (or staying in)—are all right here. There’s no music playing in the background though, so you’ll just have to hum Bing Crosby while you click around instead.

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