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Top 5 Cheap Microphone For Gaming

Blue Snowball iCE Condenser Microphone
Best Choice

Blue Snowball iCE Condenser Microphone

4.9

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Blue Yeti USB Microphone - Blackout Edition
Premium Pick

Blue Yeti USB Microphone - Blackout Edition

4.7

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Fifine Metal Condenser Recording Microphone
Best Value

Fifine Metal Condenser Recording Microphone

4.5

View At Amazon

A lot of people look at professional sound gear like high-quality sound cards, DACs, and pro mics and think that you have to spend several hundred dollars to get a setup that’s any kind of good.

Thankfully, that’s really not the case anymore, especially with USB microphones coming into the scene. Sure, they might not reach as high a quality as something with XLR, but they are cheap and have relatively good audio quality.

So, what are the best cheap gaming microphones? 🖥️ 🎤

Best Choice: Blue Snowball iCE Condenser Microphone

Pros & Cons

  • Easy setup
  • Cheap
  • Mic stand doesn’t allow for proper alignment

Specifications:

  • Connector: USB
  • Transducer Type: Condenser
  • Polar Patterns: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 40-18 KHz
  • Sample Rate: 44.1 KHz / 16 bit

Blue Snowball iCE Condenser Microphone Review

The first entry on the list does a good job of offering good hardware with a good price, and don’t let the name fool you, this is a product from a well-known brand in the industry.

For starters, the Snowball iCE has some really excellent mid-range performance, although it does tend to suffer at other ranges. You might have to place it a bit closer to your mouth when using it to get the best performance across all the ranges. Thankfully, the design of mic, and specifically the grille, helps avoid some plosives from the close mic technique.

Setup is relatively easy, as is common with USB microphones; just plug it in the cable to the mic, then the computer and your PC should detect it immediately. The design is also pretty solid all around and even though it’s made of plastic, it is durable and should last quite a while.

That being said, the tripod stand isn’t great and you can’t adjust the mic up or down, so you will have to use it off-axis.

Unfortunately, the downsides don’t end there and probably the biggest issue is the low sample rate this mic has. At 44.1 KHz and 16-bit, it’s equivalent to cd-quality audio, which is something we shouldn’t have to deal with in 2020. That being said, it doesn’t use Digital Signal Processing (DSP) which can be a plus for some who are used to professional mics that don’t use DPS.

One other small niggle is the missing gain knob and headphone jack which the majority of USB mics tend to come with.  Nonetheless, even though the Snowball iCE has some issues here and there, it’s a solid entry for under $50 and a good first step in the world of audio recording.

Premium Pick: Blue Yeti USB Microphone - Blackout Edition

Pros & Cons

  • Easy setup
  • Great audio quality
  • No multi-head option
  • Sensitive to shocks and sudden vibrations

Specifications:

  • Connector: USB
  • Transducer Type: Condenser
  • Polar Patterns: Cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional and stereo
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20KHz
  • Sample Rate: 48 KHz / 16 bit

Blue Yeti USB Microphone - Blackout Edition Review

The Yeti is one of the most recommended USB mics for streamers, so it’s no surprise that it shows up on this list.

Probably the first thing I’d address is its striking and cool looking design. Made of metal and imbuing that 50’s style, the Blue Yeti is pretty sturdy, durable and heavy. One aspect that I especially like is that it has screws on the side that allow you to hinge the microphone if you need to, or remove the provided stand completely and use your own.

It also comes with an impressive selection of patterns depending on your needs, so you don’t have to rely on one thing like the Snowball iCE.

Whichever pattern you go for, you’re going to get a clear and crisp sound. Thankfully the Blue Yeti does come with a headphone jack, an immeasurably useful feature that allows you to adjust the gain of your mic while listening to your own voice.

Unfortunately, the Blue Yeti doesn’t have as great a sample rate and is only slightly better than the Snowball iCE. That being said, it’s certainly good enough for a starter mic and for what you’re paying, it’s actually a great deal. Of course, if you want the best sample rate possible, you’re better off going with the Blue Yeti Pro XLR.

Whichever way you cut it though, the Blue Yeti USB is an excellent microphone that doesn’t require you to spend hundreds of dollars on audio equipment. It comes with the stand and the USB cable, both of which are all you need to plug and play. The option of four different patterns is also really great and should fit the majority of your use cases.

Best Value: Fifine Metal Condenser Recording Microphone

Pros & Cons

  • Reasonable price
  • Easy to use
  • Durable
  • Included stand is not the greatest

Specifications:

  • Connector: USB
  • Transducer Type: Condenser
  • Polar Patterns: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20KHz
  • Sample Rate: 48 KHz / 16 bit

Fifine Metal Condenser Recording Microphone Review

A reasonably good microphone doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, and the Fifine mic is a good example of that. Much like the Blue Yeti, it’s made completely of metal and has a hefty weight to it, which is impressive for a roughly $30 microphone.

Unfortunately, the same level of care wasn’t put into the stand which is plastic and really makes the lower quality stand out compared to the microphone. Thankfully though it is angled and has a lot of adjustment to it, so you can angle it properly for head-on if that’s what you prefer.

Sound quality is surprisingly good, although it does tend to struggle with louder sounds, so try not to bang it against the desk too much when you use it. It also has a brighter sound to it and it does seem there’s some form of DSP or EQ that does that.

While that’s not necessarily a bad thing if you want something hassle-free, if you’re an audio producer, having something pre-EQ’d for you can be a pain, so I’d be aware of that if I were you.

One other thing that is somewhat irritating is that the USB cable is hard-wired into the mic, so if it’s damaged, that’s it, you just have to buy a whole new unit, even if everything else works well. That’s quite a big downside, although it’s almost certainly used as a cost-cutting measure. I can’t blame them too much though, especially because an integrated cable is generally more durable.

As for sampling rates, they’re equivalent to the Blue Yeti at 48 KHz/ 16-bit. They aren’t stellar, but when you consider that this mic costs a quarter of the Blue Yeti, you realize that’s quite an achievement. Either way, it should be more than enough for most people’s needs, especially as a starter mic.

Yes, this might not be the fanciest or highest quality budget mic out there, but if you’re really trying to keep the budget tight, this little mic will take you far.

Best For Streaming: Blue Snowball USB Microphone

Pros & Cons

  • 3 different polar patterns
  • Relatively cheap
  • No gain adjustment

Specifications:

  • Connector: USB
  • Transducer Type: Condenser
  • Polar Patterns: Cardioid, Cardioid with -10 DB pad and Omnidirectional
  • Frequency Response: 40 Hz-18 kHz
  • Sample Rate: 44.1 KHz / 16 bit

Blue Snowball USB Microphone Review

If you liked the Snowball iCE but wanted something a bit nicer, this is the alternative option as the iCE is essentially just a stripped down version of this microphone.

There are a lot of similarities between the two mics, which isn’t surprising since they’re both using the same design. Durability is good, but it is made of plastic rather than metal, which I don’t generally prefer but it’s not a deal breaker.

Unfortunately, the stand is still not that great, and since the center of gravity is so high, it’s much easier to knock over compared to some other tripod stands out there.

Sound performance is also essentially the same. They both record at 44.1 KHz / 16 bit which, as you know, isn’t the best sampling rate out there. That being said, Blue decided to omit the gain knob, which I find somewhat peculiar considering how useful of a feature it is. Ditto for a headphone jack.

You might be wondering where the difference is then and the answer to that is in the extra 2 polar patterns. Along with the standard cardioid, the Snowball also has a cardioid with a -10 DB pad which makes the mic a little bit less sensitive. It also has an omnidirectional polar pattern, although there’s no pad on this one.

Now, whether those two extra polar patterns are worth the increase in price will depend a lot on what you use the mic for. If you’re only gaming with friends and not doing it professionally, then you’re better off going with the iCE version.

Otherwise, if you stream, do podcasts or things of that nature, then the extra patterns add a level of versatility that is worth that extra $20 or so that you’d spend. Either way, the iCE version of the Snowball is a great choice, and this one is about the same with just a couple of extra polar patterns. If you're into streaming check out our article on what mic does Ninja use.

Best Basic: CMTECK CM-G006

Pros & Cons

  • Flexible neck
  • Button placement isn’t great

Specifications:

  • Connector: USB
  • Transducer Type: Condenser
  • Polar Patterns: Omnidirectional
  • Frequency Response: Unkown
  • Sample Rate: 44.1 KHz / 16 bit

CMTECK CM-G006 Review

So far the microphones we’ve seen have been targeted to semi-professionals in that they offer a few functions here and there that let them up their game a little bit. The CM-G006 isn’t like that, but instead is made and targeted to users who just need a microphone without any of the hullabaloo.

As you can imagine for a mic this cheap, it doesn’t come with a lot of extra additions. It does have one button which mutes the mic, a feature that’s actually quite handy and yet not available on a lot of mics on this list. The mute on this mic is even more useful since the polar pattern is omnidirectional, so it’s likely to pick up a lot of background and ambient noises.

Of course, sound quality is not going to be the best on a mic this cheap and it does have a bit of a muted sound to it. It also has no gain control, so if the volume is too low, you’re going to be stuck with it unless you have some other software to boost it. Also, CMTECK claims to have an internal sound card that offers noise canceling, but I’m not sure it’s that effective.

All in all, this is a bare-bones microphone that’s meant to offer a very basic ability to transmit your voice. If you plan to stream, or record for a semi-professional setting, you’re better off going with one of the more expensive options. Check out our guide on the best microphones for gaming.


Cheap Gaming Microphone: Buying Guide

Choosing a professional microphone can be complicated that’s for sure. Thankfully, we aren’t doing that here, so I don’t need to go into deep technical specifications about what you should look for. Even though these microphones are pretty much plug-and-play, knowing the information below will help you get a good idea of what you should be looking for depending on your needs.

Transducer

If there’s a beating heart to a microphone it’s the transducer. What it does is convert the vibration of sound waves into an electrical signal that can be understood by a computer. The two major types of transducers are Dynamic and Condenser, but there are lots of different types.

Audio-Technica AT9934USB Microphone

Condensers use an electrical charge to convert sound waves into signals. They usually have some form of a diaphragm that vibrates up and down and that vibration changes the electrical capacity of a capacitor. This change in the capacitor is translated into a digital signal that a computer can understand. Condenser transducers tend to be much more sensitive and generally offer a more natural, smoother sound.

Dynamic transducers also use a diaphragm but instead of relying on a capacitor, they rely on a magnetic field and a coil attached to the diaphragm. As the coil moves in the magnetic field, those changes are registered and turned into digital signals. Dynamic transducers are very hardy and can handle very loud sounds. They’re also pretty economical.

Polar Patterns

The best way to describe a polar pattern is sort of like a solid material or cap (called a capsule) with a pattern cut out that is placed on or around a transducer. This pattern dictates the angle the transducer detects sound waves from. There are actually dozens of different patterns, and you could actually make your pretty easily if you have mice with a removable grill.

While there are several types, the two most common are cardioid and omnidirectional.

Cardioid polar patterns are shaped like a heart (ergo the name) and are really good at picking up sound from the front of the mic but not from the back. This cuts out a lot of ambient noise and focuses the ‘hearing’ to the front.

blue snowball ice condenser microphone

Omnidirectional is exactly what it sounds like; it picks up sound equally from any direction. These are especially useful if you want to capture a room’s ambient noise, or if you can’t exactly angle a microphone for another polar pattern.

Frequency Response & Sample Rate

Frequency Response is basically the range a microphone can detect and how it responds differently within that sound range. This value is represented in Hz or kHz.

Sample Rate is how many times a microphone can sample a sound that is being made. The more samples there are, the more accurately that sound will be reproduced.


Frequently Asked Questions

Is a condenser mic good for gaming?

Absolutely, that’s a great transducer overall, not just for gaming. Of course, condenser mics can be a bit expensive and if you don’t need high fidelity, you might consider going with a dynamic microphone instead. Either way, if you’re not streaming and just using the mic to communicate with friends or through VOIP, then any modern mic is good enough.

samson meteor mic

On the other hand, if you do stream or use the mic semi-professionally, going for a condenser mic is probably a good idea. Or even buying the best gaming headset would be a great idea as well.

What's that thing in front of the microphone?

What you’re probably referring to is a pop filter. Usually, it’s a round device with a mesh in the middle that’s attached to a microphone. What a pop filter does is help filter out plosives and whooshing sounds from your breath as you speak. If you don’t know what plosives are, it’s basically just fancy audio jargon for ‘pops’ your mouth makes, such as with hard Bs or Ps (ergo the name).

If you’ve ever used a headset with a fuzzy or soft material covering the mic, that’s actually a pop filter as well. Actually, why not give it a go? Remove it and see what it sounds like when you make plosives compared with it being on.

Do I need a pop filter for my microphone?

That’s debatable, but if you can afford it then yes. I only say it’s debatable because if you’re gaming with friends, I’m sure they don’t care too much about that kind of thing, and a few USB microphones tend to have some form of pop filter integrated into the mic.

superlux microphone

Although again, if you’re streaming your games, then for the sake of viewers, absolutely use a pop filter regardless of the microphone you have!


Conclusion

As you can see, good quality microphones don’t necessarily have to be several hundred dollars worth. Sure, you don’t get the same variety and customization as you would with the more expensive gear, but the truth is that if you’re starting out, these are absolutely perfect. They’re on the cheaper end and they offer you the basic stuff you need to get going without having to understand audio hardware too deeply.

But if you're more into headsets, check out our article on the best budget headsets for gaming.


Sources:

  1. What is the Maximum SPL of a Dynamic Microphone, Sennheiser USA

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Matthew Lyons
Written by Matthew Lyons

Matthew comes from Texas and if you asked anyone who knows Matthew to describe him using one single word – they would all say the same thing: passionate What is Matthew most passionate about? Shooting.🎯 In the digital world, of course, not in the real one. Matthew played all sorts of different video games throughout the last 30 years, which is how long he has been gaming. All your questions regarding FPS titles will be answered by Matthew and you can rest assured that the answers have years of experience and research behind them.

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