Every streamer knows that stream quality is one of the most crucial factors of success. However, the stream quality is more than just an HQ image and fancy overlays. When it comes to professional streams, audio plays a huge role, if not the biggest. Many viewers prefer listening to streams, rather than actually watching them. Therefore, your live streaming career might not live up to expectations without a little investment in the audio quality.

That’s why we want to talk specifically about streaming microphones and help you pick the best one for your live streams. There are tons of good audio companies producing great mics, but all of them have pros and cons. We are covering all important technical characteristics (parameters) of microphones, as well as which ones matter the most. But first, let’s quickly describe the basic streamer equipment for the beginners out there.

👀 What do I need to start streaming?

The short answer to this question would be something like your PC, Mac, or smartphone, and a stable internet connection. However, there are many more nuances you can stumble upon when starting live streaming. The essential equipment for streamers can be divided into two components: physical and mental. Both of these are equally important, where the lack of one leads to an absolute disaster.

As for the physical component for live streaming, you need a rather powerful machine able to transfer your live content, especially if you are planning to start streaming video games. You should, at the very list, have a decent webcam and microphone. Another important factor you should keep in mind is the upload speed. You should aim for around 5.6 Mbps and higher to have top-notch video quality.

The mental side of the streaming setup includes your streaming goals and ways to monetize your streams, as well as your personal attributes, like charisma and determination. You need a strong foundation to be able to grow as a streamer. Therefore, the more you know and understand about the world of live streaming, the better your chances are.

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🤔 How to choose a streaming microphone

Now, let’s move closer to this article’s topic and describe the main parameters you should look at when choosing a microphone for live streaming. These are frequency response, polar pattern, connection method, and pop filter. However, if you are an audiophile, most likely you are already familiar with these terms.

Frequency response

The term frequency response means the range of voice frequencies your microphone can pick up. It is measured in Hz and kHz from the lowest frequencies to the highest. Typically, the golden standard for frequency response is from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. Anything lower or higher than these spectrum extremes is pretty much useless, as the human voice simply cannot produce such frequencies.

Polar pattern

A polar pattern, also known as directional property, is the inherent sensitivity to the direction of audio waves. Simply put, a polar pattern means the ability of a microphone to pick up your voice from different angles. The three polar patterns you need to know are cardioid, omnidirectional, and bidirectional.

  • Cardioid polar pattern. A classic cardioid microphone picks up the sound from the front. Cardioid microphones isolate unwanted ambient sound, as well as any other unwanted sounds from the back of the microphone. Such microphones are the most common choice for live streaming, as they block the surrounding noise, for instance, from a loud fan or the clatter of your mechanical keyboard.

    Cardioid subtypes, super-cardioid and hyper-cardioid, have narrower sound sensibility angles and a greater ability to reject ambient sound. However, it is harder to place and aim such microphones accurately.
  • Omnidirectional polar pattern. Omnidirectional microphones are equally sensitive to the sound from every direction. This means they evenly pick up the sound 360 degrees. The bright side is that you don’t need to aim an omnidirectional microphone to the source of sound. However, keep in mind, it will pick up all undesired sounds along with your speech.
  • Bidirectional polar pattern. Bidirectional microphones have a so-called Figure of Eight sound capture type. This means a bidirectional microphone will pick up any sound from two sides: the front of the microphone and its back. Such a microphone is especially useful for live streaming interviews, as it can pick up both your speech and the interlocutor.
Microphone Polar Patterns: Omnidirectional, Cardioid, Bidirectional

Connection method

Two of the most common connection methods for streaming, XLR and USB, have some substantial differences. Firstly, you cannot connect XLR directly to your PC. You would need to buy a mixer or audio interface to plug in an XLR microphone. Therefore, you can get more control over the sound — thus a better overall sound quality — thanks to these additional investments.

Another key difference is that XLR cables are more robust and durable than USB. This basically guarantees that an XLR microphone will live long enough to see two or three of his USB brothers die. This, however, is included in the price, making XLR-based microphones the most expensive on the market.

Lastly, we shouldn’t forget that TS/TRS/TRRS-based microphones exist. This connection method is pretty much designed to plug your microphone into mobile phones, tablets, and laptops. The sound quality of such microphones is usually worse than in the XLR-based. Basically, such microphones are best suited for mobile streamers.

Pop filter

Okay, now we’ve come to the most overrated feature in the world of live streaming — a pop filter, also called a pop screen or pop shield. This noise-protection filter serves one function, which is to eliminate any popping sounds that occurs when the airflow bumps into the microphone. The result of applying a pop filter to your microphone is the somewhat-clearer sound of your voice on the viewer’s end.

But why are pop filters overrated? Well, the answer is hidden in their original field of application. Pop filters are most often used in recording studios. The airflow, which vocalists produce during the recording, can be quite intense, which may result in sound distortion or clipping. Pop filters can minimize the mechanical impact of the airflow and prevent such issues. Therefore, you should consider a pop filter an important factor if you are prone to producing high-pressure, loud sounds on your streams.

🎙 Best microphones for streaming

Now that we’ve got the technical part all covered, let’s look at some good examples of microphones suited for live streaming. Here are several options for you to consider, depending on your streaming needs and budget.

1. Shure SM7B

Shure SM7B

First of all, Shure is a legendary audio company that specializes in high-quality microphones. Secondly, the Shure SM7B is considered a professional microphone for vocalists, which makes it an excellent choice for ASMR streams. As evidence, lots of top streamers are using it, including Shroud, Tfue, and Sodapoppin. Here are the main specs of the Shure SM7B:

  • Frequency response: 50 Hz - 20,000 Hz
  • Polar pattern: Cardioid
  • Connection method: XLR (no cable included)
  • Pop filter: Included


➕ High rejection of background noise

➕ Great durability

➕ High-quality sound


➖ High price

➖ Requires an XLR cable, audio interface (or mixer), and a stand

2. Audio-Technica AT2020+

Audio-Technica AT2020+

Now, this one is probably the most popular series of professional microphones for streaming on the list. The Audio-Technica AT2020 and higher models combine amazing sound quality and a balanced price, which makes them some of the best microphones for streaming in 2021. Top streamers like Ninja, Pokimane, Yassuo, and Dr. DisRespect are using these microphones. Let’s look at the specs:

  • Frequency response: 20 Hz - 20,000 Hz
  • Polar pattern: Cardioid
  • Connection method: XLR (no cable included) or USB
  • Pop filter: Included


➕ Balanced price

➕ Great durability

➕ USB option


➖ No XLR cable included

➖ USB version requires a pre-amp (an amplifier that converts the weak signal from the microphone into a stronger one to prevent distortion and background noise)

3. Blue Yeti USB

Blue Yeti USB

Another great option for live streaming, Blue Yeti, allows you to have superior sound quality to other USB microphones. Streamers like DrLupo and Myth are using the Blue Yeti UBS. The mic is easy to use since it doesn’t require a stand and other cables. Moreover, you can switch between all polar patterns: from cardioid to omnidirectional. Here are the specs:

  • Frequency response: 20 Hz - 20,000 Hz
  • Polar pattern: Multipattern (Cardioid, Bidirectional, and Omnidirectional on your choice)
  • Connection method: USB
  • Pop filter: Included


➕ Relatively cheap

➕ Easy to connect

➕ Polar pattern switcher


➖ Has to be kept strictly upright

➖ USB sound quality

4. Electro Voice RE-20

Electro Voice RE-20

The incredibly clear Electro Voice RE-20 is a great option for professional recording (similarly to the Shure SM7B) but might not be that great for live streaming because of its price. The microphone has a built-in pop filter, element shock mount, and windscreen to eliminate most if not any unwanted noise. Streamers like Imaqtpie and Comikaze are using the Electro Voice RE-20. Let’s look at its specs:

  • Frequency response: 45 Hz - 18,000 Hz
  • Polar pattern: Cardioid
  • Connection method: XLR (no cable included)
  • Pop filter: Built-in


➕ A built-in pop shield, shock mount, and windscreen

➕ Clear, high-quality sound

➕ High durability


➖ Very high price

➖ Requires an audio interface and XLR cable

5. HyperX QuadCast

HyperX QuadCast

In case you are a fan of fancy gamer gear, the HyperX QuadCast might be your choice. It has a USB connection type, as well as a built-in pop filter. This microphone has a cool red LED lighting, and a desk stand provides a shock mount. Unfortunately, you can’t turn the lighting off, which is surely a minus. Here are the specs:

  • Frequency response: 20 Hz - 20,000 Hz
  • Polar pattern: Multipattern (Cardioid, Bidirectional, and Omnidirectional on your choice)
  • Connection method: USB
  • Pop filter: Built-in


➕ A built-in pop shield

➕ Clear sound

➕ LED lighting

➕ Low price


➖ Boosts sibilant sounds (f, s, sh, etc.) a bit

➖ Can’t turn the LED lighting off

👉 Bonus tip

On some occasions, a bulky microphone simply might not be a good option. Webinars, live-streamed stage performances, live fitness streams, or any other form of live content you move around a lot require a more elegant solution — a lavalier microphone, also known as a lapel microphone, clip-on microphone, or simply a lav mic. You can learn more in our article about lavalier microphones.

🤩 Let’s recap everything

When it comes to technical parameters of microphones for streaming, you should be looking at frequency response, polar pattern, and connection method. Typically, the best streaming microphones have a 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz frequency response, a cardioid polar pattern, and an XLR type of connection. The latter one, though, requires an additional audio interface or mixer to be able to connect the microphone.

Depending on your streaming needs and available budget, we’ve got five great microphones for you. The best microphones for streaming in 2021 include:

  1. Shure SM7B — classic, yet expensive
  2. Audio-Technica AT2020+ series — overall well-balanced
  3. Blue Yeti USB — versatile and easy-to-use
  4. Electro Voice RE-20 — elite and high-priced
  5. HyperX QuadCast — trendy and cheap  Hopefully, you can now choose your companion much easier.

For more useful information on live streaming, you are always welcome on our blog!