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Choosing a USB microphone

USB microphones are designed for computer-based recording, and are ideal for digitally capturing music or any acoustic audio source using your favourite digital audio workstation (DAW).

The USB connection offers a simple way to get an analogue signal into the digital domain without the need for a dedicated audio interface, and offers professional-quality audio perfect for home studio recording, field recording, podcasting, streaming, content creation, voice overs and much more.

Audio Technica’s USB mics feature a built-in headphone jack with volume control that allows you to directly monitor your microphone’s output during recording.

There are two main types of USB microphones available, condenser, like the AT2020USB-X and ATR2500x-USB, and dynamic like the ATR2100x-USB. All these microphones offer a cardioid polar pattern which addresses the area to the front of the mic. This article explains the differences and which may be better for your set up.




Dynamic mics use a diaphragm, voice coil and magnet to pick up the sound waves and convert them into an electrical signal. They require the movement of air from the sound source to physically move the diaphragm in order for them to function optimally. Depending on what you are trying to achieve this could work to your benefit.

As this kind of mic requires the user to speak directly into the front of the capsule it means that minimal off-axis sound is captured. This characteristic allows the mic to be very forgiving of the environment it is being used in, i.e. if background noise is constant, or the room has reflective surfaces then it won’t affect the audio quality to a great extent.

One point to note with this kind of mic is that it has to be directly in front of the user and within 200mm, which may not be ideal if the content being created uses a camera, as the mic will always be in shot and potentially obscuring someone’s face.




Condenser mics use an electrically-charged diaphragm, which when it vibrates, generates an electrical signal that is proportional to the sound. Condenser mics require phantom power (usually 48v DC) in order to do this. A condenser mic’s diaphragm is generally much smaller than a dynamic mic’s diaphragm and is more sensitive giving a more detailed representation of the sound it picks up.

The nature of a condenser mic means that it doesn’t need to be as close to or directly in front of the sound source to pick it up,  allowing the mic to be placed in more convenient position. Two people could also share a mic in an interview situation, for example. This is a great option with USB mics as it is not straightforward to use two USB mics simultaneously. Also, they generally offer a wider frequency response giving a fuller representation of the sound source.

When choosing a condenser mic it is necessary to be aware of the surroundings it is being used in. A condenser mic will be affected by reflective surfaces, background noise, and will also pick up noises in the room such as typing on a keyboard or shuffling papers. To get the best out of a condenser mic the environment has to be taken into consideration and where possible acoustically treated to dampen any reverberation that may occur. This may take the form of some simple wall hangings, closing curtains etc.

Contact us if you have any further questions about USB microphones.