While most headsets that are designed for chat or online teaching come with a built in microphone, what if you want to use a pair of headphones that do not have a microphone?
Your built-in internal microphone on your laptop should be acceptable in most instances, but just like getting a decent webcam allows you to upgrade your video – getting a dedicated microphone will do the same for your audio which is just as important if not more important.
So what should you look for in buying an external microphone for online teaching? Here is what we here at Teach and GO suggest:
Microphones that are designed for voice recording are actually quite affordable. With the more premium options being over $100, you can find a decent microphone for a fair price and we’ve tested out quite a few different options.
There is no need to spend an excessive amount on something as simple as a USB microphone for a laptop unless you tend to do more advanced things like voice over work or YouTube videos.
Plug and play usability
Microphones can come with various advanced options to pair with a DSLR camera or be something as simple as a USB connection with a laptop. As we are only looking at quality microphones for voice recording, more expensive and complicated options are not included on this list.
We want something simple that just works out of the box. You plug it into your laptop or computer, your device recognizes it and all you have to do is select it as the audio option when in your online class.
Small, portable size
Some external microphones designed for laptops and professional voice recording are big. The popular Blue Yetti microphone comes to mind. While it does produce high quality audio, it’s way to big to use for an online class.
Only small, portable and easy to use microphones made our list. Another reason is that we also don’t want the microphone to appear in the video, so to accomplish that small is the way to go.
The Best Microphones for Online Teaching
So with that short buying guide out of the way, here are the best, most affordable and practical microphones that are ideal for online teaching. These microphones are the right mix of small size, low price with high quality audio:
- Shure MV7
- Rhode NT USB Mini
- Fifine Mini Goose Neck
- Blue Snowball
- CMTeck USB Computer Microphone
- Fifine USB Microphone
- Samson Meteor Mic
- Jounvio Desktop USB Microphone
- Zoom H2N
Shure MV7 – The best USB microphone on the market.
The Shure MV7 is the USB version of the SM7B which is currently the most popular podcasting microphone in the world. The MV7 has three types of connections. You can plug it in via an XLR cable to a sound mixer (for professional use) or you can plug it in via the included USB cable or thunderbolt cable.
With more and more modern laptops foregoing the USB connection in favor of USB type C or thunderbolt ports, the fact that you can plug this microphone in directly with no dongle is wonderful.
Last, the audio quality is outstanding. Deep and rich with clear highs. You also get access to Shure’s MOTIV software to adjust the gain and audio profile. This is the best USB microphone we’ve come across. It’s expensive, but in terms of audio quality and aesthetics, the Shure is tough to beat.
- Superior sound.
- XLR, USB and thunderbolt connection.
- Ability to adjust the gain and sound profile.
- Excellent build quality.
- The microphone itself is small and portable.
- This is the most expensive microphone on the list but for good reason, it’s the best USB microphone money can buy.
- You may want to purchase a stand (we suggest this) as none is included.
Rhode NT USB Mini – The best small microphone
The Rhode NT USB is a small and surprisingly heavy microphone that produces high quality audio. It’s plug and play, comes with it’s own little stand and overall has premium build quality and a minimalistic design.
This microphone is a good choice for teachers because it can be positioned in a way to not be viewable on camera due to it’s small size. The only drawbacks we found is that the included stand, while it looks great, is too small and you’ll find yourself leaning forward towards the microphone. You’ll probably want to prop it up a few inches using a book, that’s what we ended up needing to do in order to get optimal sound using this microphone.
Also, like all lower priced microphones there is no mic gain control. Gain allows you to adjust the microphone sensitivity. Instead, you have to adjust everything via your laptop or desktop, not a big deal for a simple use case like an online Zoom class. Last, it comes with a built in pop filter which is surprisingly helpful.
- Good audio quality, built in pop filter.
- Heavy, but it has good build quality.
- It’s plug and play so it just works out of the box.
- Stylish and minimalistic design.
- We wish this had a mic gain knob.
- The stand is quite small. You’ll need to come up with a creative way to get the microphone closer to your face. Either a small stack of books or a boom arm.
Fifine USB Microphone – The low priced premium option
This is a high quality USB condenser microphone that is designed for online content creators that won’t break the bank so to speak. While it’s made for individuals who want to get into streaming, voice over work or YouTube videos it’s actually quite a nice microphone for the online teacher.
As a condenser microphone, it will produce better quality audio than a cheaper desktop microphone or the built in internal microphone on your laptop. It will also do a fine job of isolating your voice and cancelling out background noise.
- This microphone is designed for prosumers and online content creators in need of quality microphone.
- USB plug and play design makes this microphone an easy to use option.
- Bigger than the Blue Snowball but it has a more professional design.
Blue Snowball – Best price and performance microphone
The Blue Snowball is the little brother of the more premium Blue Yetti. It rose to prominence as a microphone of choice for aspiring pod-casters due to it’s surprisingly good audio quality.
For strictly voice work (not singing or recording instruments) the Blue Snowball opens up a wide variety of options for the online teacher. You can now improve the audio for your online class, online courses all for a low price. The only issue with the Blue Snowball is the build quality of the wire that connects it to your laptop.
- Low price, excellent audio.
- Small and portable.
- Easy to position as needed.
- Build quality could be better.
Fifine Mini Gooseneck microphone – The tiny option for laptops
This little gooseneck microphone is very small and ideal for anyone who teaches English online using a laptop (which is most of us). It’s a small, no frills microphone that plugs into your laptop via a USB connection and gives you much improved audio over your internal audio.
This is the best budget microphone to get if all you’re looking to do is get something that will improve the audio of your online class. It has no advanced features as you should expect but it does allow you to use a headset of your choice and still have quality audio without pickup too much background noise.
- Small. Seriously, this thing is perfectly paired with any laptop for improved audio.
- Good build quality and it’s portable.
- Much improved audio quality over your laptops built in audio.
- Not for professional voice recording or YouTube videos.
CMTeck USB Computer Microphone – The Noise cancelling option for Desktops
This is a good (not great) USB noise cancelling microphone. Perfect for any laptop or desktop. With it’s low price, long cable and small size, this is an excellent option for any type of video call.
While this particular model is designed for online gaming, it doubles quite well for the online teacher. With it’s small body and long goose neck design, this microphone is easy to setup and position out of sight of your webcam while conducting class.
- Noise cancelling audio recording.
- Goose neck design so you can position the microphone as needed.
- Small, but not as small as other options on the list.
- As it’s a cheap microphone, the audio recording is good for video calls but not much else.
- Designed more for a desktop than a laptop
Samson Meteor Mic – Great for travel and home use
This is a well designed, premium looking little microphone that pairs well with any laptop for better audio. Inside, it is designed with a large condenser diaphragms of 25mm so you can be confident that the audio you record will be clear and accurate.
It comes with a built in tripod that is also removable and it connects to your device via a USB like all the other microphones. This particular model does not have any pro features like a mic gain control or ability to change the direction of the sound pick up.
But if you’re looking for a more premium microphone compared to the Blue Snowball. One that has better build quality, then consider the Meteor Mic from Samson.
- Good voice quality recording.
- Nice build quality.
- Small portable size.
- This is still a mid range phone microphone and lacks various pro features.
Jounvio Desktop USB Microphone – The cheap option
Making the bottom of the list, this is the best cheap microphone you can get. It’s designed for a desktop but you can use it with any device that allows for a USB connection.
A no frills, adjustable neck microphone designed primarily for a desktop setup that does not have an internal mic. This microphone provides a very mediocre upgrade if you already have an internal microphone on your laptop.
If you teach with a laptop I would skip on this microphone. But if you’re a teacher who uses a desktop and you need a microphone for online class this is a great cheap option.
- Excellent price
- Small size with a long cord
- Mediocre audio, on par with the built in audio of a laptop.
Zoom H2N – The best multi-purpose microphone
The Zoom H2N is an impressive little microphone. It’s the best microphone on this list but also the most expensive. It combines all the pros of all the other microphones with none of the cons (the main con being it’s price).
This is a very small microphone that you can plug into your laptop or desktop via USB for some high quality audio. It also has a mic gain control as well as the ability to record audio from any direction as it has numerous little microphone built into it (4 to be exact).
The mic gain feature allows you to turn down the sensitivity of the mic so it does not pick up background noise.
The multi-directional 4 mic design means you can turn off one side or turn on all sides. Last, you can use it with a DSLR camera or as a stand alone recording device due to it’s battery powered nature. However, when plugged in via USB it does not use battery power. The accessory kit is sold separately.
- Small, high quality microphone.
- Advanced pro features for recording in multiple situations.
- Perfect device for teaching, online courses, YouTube videos or a microphone for your camera.
- Price, this is quite expensive and excessive if all you’re looking to do is have better audio for online class.
- The accessory kit that comes with a mini tripod, wind filter and blue tooth remote is not included.
Alternatives to a USB microphone
External microphones are great because you can get high quality audio for your students. However, please be aware that you do have alternatives to look into.
Headsets for online class – There is an entire product category of headphones with built in microphones that are designed for chat. Some headsets even have noise canceling microphones built in too. If you’re required to wear a pair of headphones as you teach you may want to look into our buying guide on this.
Webcams for teaching – External webcams often come with their own high quality, built in microphones that out perform the built in, on board audio of your computer.
Best Microphones for Online Teaching
So that is it for Teach and GO’s best microphones for online teachers. If you already have a headset with a built in microphone we would skip on getting an external microphone unless you wanted to vastly upgrade your audio.
If you would prefer to get a more premium set of headphones (which usually don’t have an attached microphone) then consider getting an external USB microphone. They make a significant difference in audio quality.
Editorial StaffThe editorial Staff at Teach and GO is a team of teachers with a broad range of experience led by David Unwin. We have been creating helpful advice, guides and tutorials for teachers since 2018.
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