Many of our customers keep asking, USB vs XLR Microphones, which is better? Many people have recently switched to using XLR mics and think they are better than USB mics, although many have mixed opinions. If you’re looking to invest in either of these mics, this is precisely where you’ve come. Here Fidlar has compiled detailed information such as the advantages and disadvantages of each type of mic; we also recommend some outstanding products on the market today.
As you probably already know, a USB microphone is a universal connector to use unique peripherals with your PC.
Your computer keyboard, printer, hard drives, gambling controller, all these things, if they are not yet wireless, connect to a computer through USB.
How Can a USB Cable Work?
USB microphone cables have four wires in them; two power conductors and two signal pathways, which are responsible for the data transport.
If you wish to acquire a comprehensive explanation of how USB microphone cables operate, check this article.
So far as the topic at hand goes, USB microphone cables don’t flip the polarity of this signal, such as XLR cables do, meaning they are prone to disturbance.
One thing to notice is that USB microphones do not come with 15-meter long cables, so interference will generally be that bad of an issue because the longer the cable, the more extended interference, but they will always pick up more sound than an XLR cable.
There is no extra equipment required with a USB mic since you can plug them into your PC. This makes them easier to set up and cheaper for new podcasters since you don’t need a mixer or USB interface.
One major drawback of USB microphones is the fact that it is hard to capture several USB mics at the same time. More often than not, your computer will have trouble differentiating which it is and won’t record multiple your audio quality. There are also fewer options to choose from since microphone USB are comparatively new and skew towards the newcomer’s marketplace.
The 3-pin XLR microphone cable is the most common one, and almost every device in a studio, home studio, and even on-stage links via XLR.
Since the XLR microphone is an analog connector, you’ll need a high-quality audio interface to enter the digital world.
How Does an XLR Cable Work?
XLR microphone cables have three wires in them; two carry the signal, and one takes the ground.
Now, once the microphone feeds the signal to the cable, that signal gets inverted on a few of these wires; this usually means that the two wires are now carrying an out-of-phase sign, canceling each other out.
Once the signal reaches the end of the cable, then it gets inverted back into phase.
Well, cables are famous for picking up interference, notably long ones.
The thing that makes XLR microphone wires so good is that because the signal needs to be reversed back to be in stage, think of what happens to each of the noise picked up by the cable.
The cable selects the hindrance, but it is in phase, and when it gets switched around at the end of the cable, the noise is out of phase, canceling out altogether, while the first sign is now back in stage.
This is why you see exceptionally long cables in live shows, yet there is not that much interference happening.
That is why XLR- or balanced cables generally, are far better for music, and this is also why they’re much better than USB microphone cables, as far as sound quality belongs.
XLR mic gives you a ton of flexibility. You may easily swap arrows, interfaces, cables, and stands to personalize your podcast set to fulfill your requirements completely. Any bit of gear that uses an XLR connection has the potential to be used in your house studio podcast setup.
And because there are more XLR mics on the market to choose from, you are going to wind up getting the high-quality sound as soon as you break the $200 threshold.
The most significant hurdle to using an XLR microphone is that you can’t use it by itself. You will want to pick up a mixer, field recorder, or better quality audio port like the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 to capture your audio quality. And that may be a challenging task if you are only getting started.
XLR microphone setups will also be less convenient to travel with, so if you plan on being out and about, you likely won’t need to be dragging a backpack full of gear with you.
What’s the Difference?
So let’s begin by discussing the key differences between USB microphones and XLR mic.
Both the USB vs Xlr mics can be either condenser microphones or dynamic microphones. That being said, they’re both built the same way, with precisely the very same sorts of diaphragms, capsules, etc., together with the only real difference being that USB microphones are powered differently than XLR mic.
We are aware that USB microphones use a different cable than XLR microphones. Still, the more modern USB mics also changed away from industry-standard on powering the inner electronics.
When Phantom power was invented in 1964, it set a normalized convention for future condenser microphones to follow, so instead of needing your own custom power source, connecting your XLR microphone to a preamplifier with phantom power could charge any condenser mic for years to come.
Of course, a preamplifier is commonly found in a recording studio, radio station, etc. To get a gamer, streamer, YouTuber, anything, it’s just another cost, and frankly, a waste of space in some instances.
USB microphones are supposed to add flexibility and simplicity. Naturally, they finally reached a stage where they could be fully powered by the desktop’s USB microphone port, a massive advantage over the XLR microphones. That being said, USB microphones typically need a lower voltage than XLR microphones.
So now we understand USB microphones are easier to use than XLR microphones. Allowing you to plug in and play, these flexible microphones work with any desktop with a microphone USB port.
Some USB microphones may also connect to your gaming consoles, such as the HyperX Quadcast & the PlayStation 4, a functionality that XLR microphones couldn’t even dream of.
But if you are a skeptic like me, then you’re probably thinking, “if it’s that much easier, why are not all microphones USB?”. That’s a great question. And would Blue Yeti create a Guru Edition that has XLR microphone compatibility, though they’re a significant brand in the USB microphone mike space?
USB vs Xlr microphones Comparison
We have analyzed 10 XLR microphones and 10 USB mics. Half of these were between $100 & $200, while others were over $200 or below $100, and we did direct comparisons using the nearest in cost.
For the most part, we’ve discovered subtle high-quality variations, more so about the low-end versions. The 100 USB mics needed a slight fall in quality compared to XLR microphones, which we had been anticipating.
On the other hand, the attributes out of our USB mics permit us to cut some of the excess sounds. That’s a triumph in favor of USB mics, just since $100 condenser microphones could be somewhat noisy generally.
However, because we begin to scale the cost ladder, there is no doubt that the XLR microphones start to glow on quality. Interestingly, however, we expected to observe a significant difference comparing the Blue Yeti Guru and all the USB mic cables vs. the Blue Yeti Guru together with all the XLR microphone cables. However, it was pretty minimal.
In general, I have found the gaps to be a bit more subtle than I anticipated, but there is no doubt that the more significant conclusion XLR microphones are more studio-grade compared to their USB mic counterparts.
XLR Microphones we recommend
The Rode PodMic was created with podcasting in your mind and comes with different features generally reserved for higher-end microphones.
The PodMic comes with an integrated shock mount and pop filter. The shock bracket helps prevent accidental bumps and vibrations from changing your sound recording, along with the soda filter cuts back on your plosives (those pesky de’s and so that cut through your songs and divert your listeners).
The Rode PodMic includes a brighter high-quality quality, which ought to assist your podcast in seeming fresher and less muted, but only if you exercise appropriate mic technique.
The Rode Procaster is a professional air quality dynamic microphone that provides studio microphones a run for their money. Its cardioid polar pattern and tailored-for-voice frequency response make it perfect for recording your voice and dismissing any ambient background sound.
The Procaster comes with an inner pop filter that’s passable but not excellent. Therefore we recommend picking up a soda filter, windscreen, or polyurethane cover to cut back on plosives.
Perhaps it doesn’t receive the identical publicity as some of the additional microphones on this listing. Still, the Rode Procaster is possibly the top “bang-for-your-buck” podcasting mic available in the industry.
The mic is among the most well-known microphones on Earth. It had been the mic Michael Jackson used to capture the hit song “Thriller” and has been popularized in the podcasting space by hosts such as Joe Rogan.
The SM7B is a very versatile mic, holding its voice recording and instrument recording. However, the SM7B stands out above the rest when utilized in a well-treated recording atmosphere. The SM7B will often pick up more ambient background sound than Rode Procaster along with the Rode PodMic, which means you will want to invest in the specific high-end audio interfaces or set up audio therapy on your recording room to get the maximum from it.
The SM7B can also be a very “silent” mic, which means that you’ll possibly need a powerful preamp such as the Scarlett 2i2 to need an audio interface or obtain boosting apparatus such as a Cloudlifter to catch a high-quality recording.
If you’re trying to find a no-brainer, no-risk recommendation that’s guaranteed to make you seem just like a professional, the Shure SM7B is your very best option. There’s a reason so many podcasters urge this, and you will not be let down if you chose to splurge on a few of the most excellent microphones money can purchase.
USB Microphones we recommend
The Audio-Technica ATR2100 is your microphone; we urge the majority of new podcasters. In blind audio evaluations, the ATR2100 contrasts favorably to more expensive microphones and can be a fantastic all-around mic for podcasting and voiceover work.
One thing which makes the Audio-Technica ATR2100 (along with also the second mic on the record ) so hot is its flexibility. It’s both USB vs xlr mic connections, so it will get the job done as well with a sound mixer since it will plug directly into your PC.
The ATR2100 also comes with an integrated headphone jack, which means you can track your songs straight from the mic and adjust the headset volume using easy-to-use controls onto the mike base.
The ATR2100 includes different essential accessories from the box. In addition to the mic, you also receive a mic stand, USB cable, along XLR mic cable so that you can begin without needing to purchase anything else.
The ATR2100 can be used with both Mac and Windows computers and operates with almost any podcast recording applications (including online recording options, including Skype and Zoom).
Such as the ATR2100, the Samson Q2U is an excellent all-around mic that catches your voice and reduces ambient background sound. Such as the ATR2100, the Samson Q2U include both USB vs xlr connections and contain an integrated headset jack for zero-latency tracking (no delay).
The Q2U also includes an XLR mic cable, a USB mic cable, an easy mic stand, and a memory card cover to offer you whatever you want to begin recording your podcast. The Samson Q2U can be used with both Mac and Windows computers also works with almost any podcast recording program.
The Samson Q2U will give your voice a much deeper, fuller audio interface in comparison with your Audio-Technica ATR2100, but you could decide that you prefer the tonal quality of the Q2U within the ATR2100. Listen to sound samples of USB vs xlr microphones to determine which one you prefer.
The Samson Q2U is a powerhouse of a mic at a price point that makes podcasting affordable to anybody.
If you are a solo podcaster searching for a pro-level USB mic, we advocate the Procaster’s brother – the Rode Podcaster.
The Podcaster features precisely the same inner elements and frequency response as the Procaster, together with the ease of a USB connection.
USB and Xlr Conclusion
You have just reviewed the features and the advantages and disadvantages of each type of mic, and the answer to the question of which is the best? It depends on what you’re looking for in a mic. However, there is no denying that USB microphones may lack some of the qualities of XLR microphones, but they are generally easier to transport and a lot cheaper.