USB vs XLR & Dynamic vs Condenser: Choosing the Microphone that is best for your podcast

In this post, we will take a look at the differences between an XLR vs USB Microphone and share with you reasons why you might purchase one over the other to record your podcast.  For more information, please tweet to us @PodcastingToday or read our Ultimate Guide to Podcasting.

Are you searching for your next podcasting microphone?

If so, you have come to the right place.

Today, we are going to look at some of the many options that you have when choosing the best microphone for your next podcast.

You might think this is an easy decision … you join a Facebook Group and ask the question (like everyone else before you) “Hey, what's the best microphone for my podcast?” You are then met with dozens upon dozens of podcasters happy to talk about the microphones they are using, or have used in the past.  You then leave even more confused than you were before you joined the group.

Today, we are going to take a look at two of the most common choices you have when it comes to selecting your next podcasting microphone and also receive my recommendations on microphones that I have purchased and still use today.

Do You Need a Microphone To Make A Podcast?

This is, of course, the first question that you might have.  Do you really even NEED a microphone?  Well, this is a yes/no question

  • No: If you are working with your classroom to create simple audio projects then I would say you do NOT need a microphone.  You can simply get by with the built-in microphone in your phone, tablet, or desktop computer.
  • Yes: If you are looking to take your recordings to the next level in a way that you would like to be a publisher in the podcasting space then … YES, you certainly want to take a look at a few microphones.

Where Should I Start Looking For Microphones?

2 Great Microphones for Classroom or Home Studios

A long time ago, about 8 years to be exact, I began my podcasting “career” using a simple USB microphone called a Blue Yeti.

The Yeti, is a popular microphone, even today, for beginning podcasters and classroom teachers.  You can get one for reasonably a decent price and because they are USB powered, you can use them on a variety of devices.

If you are looking for something similar to the Yeti, then you might look at the popular Blue Snowball Microphone which, like the Yeti is USB powered, but gives you a few advantages over its big brother.

The first advantage that the Snowball has over the Yeti is its power consumption and how it interacts with tablet devices.  Both the Yeti and Snowball are able to connect into your iPad using the (extra) USB dongle, however, when using a Yeti, you must first plug it in using a powered USB hub.  This is because the Yeti requires a little bit extra power that the iPad alone can't provide.  The Snowball, however, has no problem connecting directly into the iPad.  (Think about this when planning your budget for your school)

The second advantage that the Snowball has over the Yeti is that it is a little bit more durable when working with young children (trust me).

2 Great Microphones for the Broadcasting Studio or Semi-Serious Podcaster

After a few years of using the Yeti, I decided to upgrade my equipment.  The Yeti is a fantastic device, however, the problem that many have with the microphone is that you are traditionally sitting several feet away from the recording source that it's difficult to get a quality sound.  Additionally, because so many podcasters have their microphones on their desks, every mouse click, keyboard button push, or finger tap is picked up on the recording.  Something must be better.  This is where a little extra equipment might be helpful.

If you happen to take a look at any professional studio, you will see that microphones are often suspended from the table using what is known as a “Boom Arm.” These are metal arms that clamp to the desk holding the microphone in the air very close to your mouth.   This then allows you to get a microphone a little bit smaller and a bit better in quality than the Yeti or Snowball.

Audio Technica 2005 USB or Autio Technica 2100

Popular amongst many podcasters, the AT2005USB and AT2100, are extremely sturdy and versatile microphones.  Extremely reasonable in price, each of these comes complete with a microphone stand and cables.  These two microphones are both USB and XLR which means that you can plug them directly into the computer, but also plug them into a Mixer.

Blue Raspberry Microphone

Another great microphone that is gaining popularity amongst podcasters is the Blue Raspberry microphone.  Coming in at about $200 and available at most retail stores, the Raspberry not only is a great USB microphone but also comes with a lighting cable to connect it directly to your iPhone or iPad.  This has been my go-to microphone when I do conventions and conferences because it's very lightweight and easy to throw in my recording bag.

USB vs XLR: What's The Difference?

The one thing that all of the microphones above have in common is that they are USB microphones. This means that they can connect directly into your computer … where they get their power. But many microphones are XLR meaning that they are able to be plugged into a mixer.  Mixers are important to podcasters because they:

  • Give you the ability to use several microphones … each with their own individual controls
  • Allow you to bring additional sounds into your computer
  • Look cool on your studio desk

Check out this quick video from RODE to learn the differences between XLR and USB.

What If I Want To Get A Professional Style Microphone?

If you have been podcasting for quite a while and you have a bit bigger budget than the average bear, you might be interested in looking at getting a more professional microphone.

Recently, I upgraded my gear to include a new RODECaster Pro interface, a DBX 286s, and the Shure SM7B Microphone. Let's take a look at these three items and why I purchased them.

RODECaster Pro

For the longest time, I was recording my sounds directly into the Behringer 1832USB Mixer.  It is a fantastic piece of hardware that allowed me to connect just about everything else in my studio to it to bring into my final mix.  One of the problems that I had with it was not in what it could do … but in what it couldn't do.  (more on this later)

Last fall, I heard rumblings of a new device coming out that not only provided the latest and greatest in audio recording technology but also had a ton of other perks.

The RODECaster Pro Can

  1. Record 4 microphones at once, each with their own monitors and adjustments
  2. Record directly into a memory card, or stream directly into the computer through USB cable
  3. Connect to your computer or phone through Bluetooth enabling me to take phone calls while recording my show (something I wasn't able to do in the past)
  4. Program interviews, Sound Effects, and other audio goodies into the 8 sound banks


By upgrading to the RODECaster Pro, my show has been so much easier to record saving me a ton of time both before and after the recording. If you are looking to purchase the new RODECaster Pro, you might also want to check out the new PODMIC.  I haven't had the opportunity to play with one yet, but I am hearing several great things about it.

Shure SM7B Microphone

For the last several years, my podcasts have been recorded almost exclusively using the AT2005 USB Microphones. They are dependable and great, however, they are still USB Microphones that just “happen” to have XLR connections.  When thinking about my new microphone, I wanted to purchase something that would make my voice stand out above other podcasts and podcasters.  This is why I choose a Dynamic microphone and selected the Shure SM7B.

What is a Dynamic Microphone?

In the world of microphones, there are two different types, Dynamic and Condensor.  In order to make sure this concept is explained properly, please take a moment and watch this exciting video.

Which Microphone Is The Right Fit For My Podcast?

After reading through this post and watching the videos, you may still have the original question in the back of your mind.

Here are some questions that you need to answer before moving forward with your decisions.

  • What is my budget?
  • What are my short term and long term goals for my podcast?
  • What is my budget?
  • Am I looking for something now with the idea of upgrading once I grow my podcast?
  • What is my budget?
  • Will I be taking this microphone out of the studio or will it only be in one location?
  • What is my budget?

You might get the sense that price is a big part of this decision and of course it certainly should be.  If you are starting out on your podcasting journey, you don't need to spend almost $600 on the Shure microphone. It's ok and absolutely appropriate to start with a nice USB microphone and work yourself up to the next step.

What Is The Most Important Thing To Keep In Mind When Selecting A Microphone?

No matter which Facebook Group or Conference you go to, there is always someone asking the question: “How do I make my podcast better?” The answer is always simple

Just make great content!  

It's not about the microphone, it's not about the mixer, and it's not about the website … it's all and only is ever about creating great content.

Where Can I Get Additional Help?

If you are looking for help starting your podcast, please check out our great channels below or reach out to use with any questions you may have.  We are happy to help.

In Conclusion

We would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on this subject (both good and bad). Please take a moment and leave a message in the comments section below.

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About the author, Jeffrey Bradbury

Jeff Bradbury, creator of TeacherCast, and father of the famous @EduTriplets Thanks for checking out TeacherCast today. Please take a moment to find me on all of my Social Media channels!

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