When it comes to USB microphones for your Mac the best option when it comes to versatility and convenience is the Blue Yeti. Not only can it record in four different modes, but it’s 16bit/48kHz recording sample rate always comes out sounding loud and clear.
Best Overall: Blue Yeti
The four different recording modes are where the Blue Yeti really shines because there’s practically nothing you can’t record with the Blue Yeti if it’s set in the right mode. I’m not the only one on the iMore team that loves the Blue Yeti, Rene Ritchie, star of Vector on YouTube has been using his for years, and he loves how easy the Blue Yeti is to use.
“Blue Yeti is still my pick for best USB microphone — not just for the Mac but for anyone starting out doing anything, including podcasts, audiobooks, live streams, videos, and more. It plugs right into your device, no audio interface needed, sounds great out of the box, and has a few simple options if you need to adjust for particular circumstances, like two people sharing one mic. Of course, it can’t beat a high-end XLR mic and interface, but at a tenth or less the price, it sounds so good you’ll probably think twice, hard, before considering those higher-end purchases. It’s the mic I used for years, still, travel with today, and always recommend to anyone who asks.” — Rene Ritchie, 10-year podcast veteran and host of iMore show, MacBreak Weekly, and VECTOR
Its basic cardioid mode is fantastic for capturing a single voice or instrument in front of the mic, making it perfect for game streaming, video calls, or vocals.
The omnidirectional mode allows the Blue Yeti to pick up sounds from all around it, meaning you can put it in the middle of a table and have multiple people speaking, and it won’t miss a single word. This mode is great for podcasting with multiple hosts and guests, or for capturing the noise around you.
Bidirectional mode allows the Blue Yeti to be an interview microphone with minimal setup. Just put the microphone between you and the other person speaking and never touch it again.
Lastly, stereo recording mode allows the Blue Yeti to use the left and right channels to record in stereo and give your recordings a more realistic soundstage when there is more than one sound source in front of the microphone.
- Headphone jack for live monitoring
- Manually gain adjustment
- Four record modes
- Great price
Most features for the best price
With four recording modes, plug-and-play functionality, and live monitoring, the Blue Yeti offers the most versatile experience for the best price.
Excellent Sound Isolation: Rode Podcaster
The Rode Podcaster is a fantastic microphone for anyone that wants to record their voice. Whether you’re making Skype calls, podcasting, or recording yourself streaming, the Rode Podcaster has a tight cardioid pattern that rejects sound from the rear or too far away. You’ll have a clear recording with no unwanted noise coming from all around you.
The Rode Podcaster is a very simple, but elegant USB microphone that iMore managing editor Lory Gil has been using with great success for years.
“I use the Rode Podcaster bundle. It’s easy to set up, sounds great, and the boom stand mounts to my desktop so I can swivel it into range when I need it. The Rode is specially designed for voice, so it has warm tones with even bass, and the cardioid pattern isolates my voice, so there isn’t too much background noise being picked up.”* — Lory Gil, Managing Editor of iMore
- Comes with stand
- Some with shock mount
- Excellent sound isolation
- Only one recording pattern
Excellent Sound Isolation
Boom arm and shock mount included
The Rode Podcaster is a solid choice for anyone who wants to ensure that background noise is no issue when recording.
Smaller Yeti: Blue Yeti Nano
Blue’s newest USB microphone takes a lot of what people love about the Blue Yeti and shrinks it down (both in size and price) into a pretty compelling product. Both its cardioid and omnidirectional pickup patterns support sample rates up to 24-bit at 48Khz, and it’s included stand keeps it stable while recording so you don’t get any noise from the microphone moving around.
- Less expensive than Yeti
- No manual gain control
- Only two recording patterns
Blue Yeti Nano
A compact microphone that still offers a lot.
Both the cardioid and omnidirectional pickup patterns support sample rates up to 24-bit at 48Khz, which is slightly better than its larger version.
Great for Singer/Songwriters: Audio-Technica AT2020 USB
Functioning much like a traditional XLR microphone, the Audio-Technica AT2020USB is ideal for the singer/songwriter in you who loves to record digitally. Being a cardioid microphone, the AT2020 USB performs best when recording sound from a single source located in front of the microphone. What makes the AT2020 USB so great for musicians is its ability to easily fit into shock mounts and mic booms, allowing you to position the microphone perfectly in your space.
- Shock mount compatible
- Live monitoring with the headphone jack
- No gain control
- Flimsy stand
Great for Singer/Songwriters
Perfect for instruments and vocals
The 16bit/48kHz recording sample rate and ability to fit in most shock mounts and mic stands makes it perfect for recording all sorts of instruments and vocals.
Budget Option: Samson Meteor
Although the Meteor is only meant to capture a single sound source, it does record all of its audio at a 16 bit, 48kHz sample rate, which means you’re getting great sounding audio every time you sit in front of it. It’s lightweight and quite compact, allowing you to transport the Meteor anywhere you need to go, so you never have to worry about sounding bad when you’re on the road.
- Super compact and portable
- Poor sound isolation
- Only one recording pattern
Perfectly portable to take anywhere
It’s small and easy to carry around, meaning you can always bring it anywhere with your MacBook, and its price can’t be beaten.
Much like Rene has said, the Blue Yeti is the best all-around microphone for most Mac users. It’s four recording modes offer an incredible amount of versatility, meaning regardless of what you’re trying to record, you should be able to get a high-quality recording.
I have personally used my Blue Yeti to record podcasts with multiple guests, record guitar and vocals on a musical track, and every day for multiple Skype and Google Hangouts over the past couple of years, and I have never been disappointed.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Luke Filipowicz is an iMore staff writer who has been using microphones to record podcasts and even his band on his Mac.
Lory Gil is the Managing Editor of iMore and knows her way around a microphone, as she records multiple podcasts every week.
Rene Ritchie is the foremost authority on all things Apple and has insider knowledge about the goings-on at the biggest tech company in the world. He uses microphones with his Mac every day to record videos, interviews, podcasts, and much more!