Cheap microphones have been one of the biggest streaming hardware trends of the last 12 months. But we’re not talking about cheap and cheerful, throwaway tech here—the biggest PC peripheral brands have got in on the action, with cheap microphones that eschew fancy extras and instead focus on great sound and ease of use. The best cheap microphones give the budding content creator everything they need to get started for as little as $40. No, really.
It’s no question that any serious streamer needs a microphone. Though, if you’re starting out, you may be shocked that some of the best microphones for streaming can cost up to a whopping $300.
Some of these cheap microphones may be lacking features like volume and gain controls (and in some cases even a mute button), but they make up for it by sounding just as good as their pricier counterparts. This does mean you’ll have to rely on third-party broadcast software like OBS and XSplit if you want to fine-tune your sound.
We still follow the same criteria for the cheaper mics on this list; all we added was a budget of $100. We still want the best sound quality, adaptability, and form factor. There are tons of budget mics in the $40-$100 range out there from brands you’ve never heard of, so it’s easy to feel a little paralyzed by choice. Thankfully, we’ve picked out a handful of tiny affordable mic that stand out from the pile.
Best cheap microphone for streaming and gaming
The HyperX SoloCast is a budget microphone that sounds just as good as, if not better than, microphones, double the price. It’s less flashy than HyperX’s other mic offerings, and I won’t lie, I miss the RGB lighting. The sound quality on this mic for $60 is just incredible. It more than makes up for losing out on some of the quality of life features.
While the JLab Audio Talk GO and Razer Seiren Mini all offering great sound, the HyperX SoloCast still reigns as the king of budget microphones, essentially giving us the audio chops of its pricier QuadCast S compatriot but for a fraction of the price.
The Razer Seiren Mini is one of those obnoxiously adorable pieces of hardware I instantly want to put on my desk. Its stylish pill-shaped design and color variety give the Mini the personality lacking in some of our other choices on this list. And it sounds incredible, to boot.
Remember earlier we mentioned that some of these microphones had to sacrifice some features? Yeah, well, the Seiren Mini pretty much gives up everything. Some people won’t care because you’re getting a killer mic for $50. At the same time, some other people won’t get over the fact that there’s no mute button.
This miniature version of the classic Blue Yeti is the perfect microphone for those just starting with streaming. It has an excellent sound quality for a product under $100. Simultaneously, its tiny size and lightweight metal build make it easy to transport (this is at least 40 percent smaller than its larger cousin). The Yeti Nano sits as an outlier as the most ‘expensive’ budget mic on the list but offers more than the cheaper mics regarding features.
The difference its 24-bit, 48 kHz recording sample rate makes is noticeable, too; putting audio from the Nano and original Yeti side by side reveals that the former is superior by quite a margin. It’s only got two polar patterns (cardioid and omnidirectional), but the Yeti Nano more than makes up for it with everything else.
The JLab Audio Talk GO does a great job providing a decent-sounding microphone for podcasters and streamers on a budget. The Talk GO’s small stature and companion stand are perfect for anyone looking for a microphone that travels well and doesn’t take up much space on your desk.
Even though the GO only has a pair of Condensers, the sound of my voice still came out better than expected, although a bit tinnier than I would like. You may not be recording the next hit single on this microphone, but it is great if you’re dipping your toes into the whole streaming or podcasting scene.
I’ve tested a few different mics from JLab Audio. Given its history in the affordable audio space, it’s no surprise the Talk GO was the USB microphone that impressed me more than its more expensive offerings, the Talk and Talk Pro. The Talk GO is a great affordable microphone without sounding or feeling cheap.
Rode no question makes quality microphones, though experiencing its brand, the prosumer audio often requires a bit of financial investment. The Robe NT-USB Mini microphone is hand down one of the best $100 mics you can pick up right now.
Aside from sounding incredible, the NT Mini is an easy-to-use mic that any beginner can plug and play. Speaking of easy, the Rode Connect software is a digital mixer that actually allows for up to four NT Minis to be plugged into a single computer without jumping through any hoops. It follows the same design philosophy as the other mini mics on this list by being compact and traveling well and, most of all, looking like a cool piece of tech.
How we test microphones
These are the most common polar patterns:
Cardioid: Records in front of the microphone. Perfect for voice-over, vocals, and streaming.
Bidirectional: Captures audio in front of and behind the mic. Ideal for one-on-one interviews.
Omnidirectional: Picks up sound from every direction. Perfect for round-table interviews.
Stereo: Perfect for ASMR recordings. YouTube ‘ASMR’ if you want the best example because I couldn’t do it just justice.
I say that audio quality isn’t everything, but it’s still the most important factor when testing a microphone. The point is, after all, to find a mic that makes you sound good. We tested multiple microphones with different mic settings. We usually just use the Cardioid polar pattern since that’s how these mics are used most of the time, whether that’s gaming or live streaming.
Everyone’s desk and setup requirements are different, so a mic must perform well under a handful of different scenarios. If a microphone sounds better than all the rest combined but only when it’s on a suspended mic stand with a shock mount positioned precisely six inches away from your mouth, it’s not necessarily a reliable option to recommend. You need a mic that sounds great under any circumstance—you need to be able to use it so you can play your games comfortably and still sound great.
This isn’t a fashion show, but the form factor is still something that matters. In the case of a standing mic, you’ll be staring at it every time you’re sitting at your desk—and attachable mics need to make sure they aren’t too distracting either. A mic’s form factor can also play a role in how adaptable it is, as you’ll need to make space for it. We used every mic in multiple settings with different PCs, keyboards, and monitors, getting a feel for how they looked and performed in each environment. As a streamer, your mic will also be in view for your audience, so its appearance is relevant.
As PC gamers, we will, of course, always try to get the best we can for less. It’s easy to get lost in the deep dark wood that is the world of audio and even easier to spend a ludicrous amount of time and money chasing the best possible setup.
We are considering anything under $100 a budget microphone. Think about your use case; if you’re only using a microphone to chat with your teammates, chances are, you don’t need a microphone with half a dozen polar patterns. Don’t spend money on features you don’t need or use.