If you want to reach a wide audience with your content, one of the best ways to do it is vlogging. YouTube, where most vloggers host their content, is the second biggest social network, and as part of the Google family, videos there pack an SEO punch.
Moreover, it’s where your audience spends their time. Recent reports show that viewers spend one billion hours on YouTube in just one day — more than Netflix and Facebook Video combined. Videos appeal to us because we’re visual as a species, and we’re increasingly short on time (with attention spans to match.)
If you’re ready to jump in to vlogging, the two pieces of essential equipment are a camera and a microphone. And, yes, you should have both. While many popular vlogging cameras come with built-in microphones, all cameras are built to prioritize picture quality, so audio is generally poor.
Besides lower audio quality, the biggest issue with built-in microphones is that they’re designed to record everything around them, so you end up with a lot of ambient noise, which can prevent people from hearing you properly.
Luckily, as demand grows, home studio tech like cameras and microphones are becoming increasingly affordable. Here’s what you should know about choosing a great vlogging microphone for YouTube.
As we mentioned above, some microphones are designed to record everything around them — these are called omnidirectional mics. Others are built to record only in one direction, or unidirectional. The most common type used for vlogging is a cardioid microphone, which is a unidirectional mic ideal for recording the human voice.
Within the cardioid microphone category there are different types of mic you can choose depending on your camera, the type of ambient noise around you, and the type of video you’re making.
Here’s a quick rundown of the options and when you might use them:
The vast majority of YouTubers and vloggers opt for USB microphones. These are ideal for anything you’re recording near a computer, including gaming walkthroughs, product demos, tutorials, music, interviews, commentaries, and voiceovers. You can read about the features of one of our favorites, the Rode NT-USB Condenser Microphone, below.
These microphones mount to a DSLR camera hot shoe (some point-and-shoot cameras have them, but not all) and are a good option if you’re filming outdoors or away from your computer. The most common types are so-called “shotgun” mics like the Rode Video Mic you can read about below, one of our favorite DSLR camera microphones out there. It’s a bit more expensive than other options, but if quality is important to you — and if you’re shelling out for a DSLR, it probably is — then it’s worth it to spend a bit more for a quality DSLR mic too.
Lapel or lavalier microphones unobtrusively clip to your clothing and are available as both more expensive wireless systems and budget-friendlier wired systems. While lavaliers are typically omnidirectional, because they’re clipped close to your mouth, it’s easier to suppress background noise later in editing.
These mics are often used for interviews and conversational vlogging. They’re also popular with vloggers who move around a lot, like yoga or fitness instructors, dancers, and other performers. The ultra-affordable Audio-Technica ATR-3350IS is a good option that also includes an adapter for use with smartphones.
While it’s not the best option out there, some vloggers on the go opt to use their phones to record. If you go this route, an external mic is a must, since the built-in one provides poor quality audio — the Zoom iQ7 is a popular option for iOS devices.
Whether you host your vlogs on YouTube or elsewhere, here are our top 5 recommendations for vlogging microphones for 2018:
The AKG Pro Audio C214 Condenser Microphone is a studio-grade professional microphone.
Ideal for: The C214 is a favorite of singers and musicians, podcasters, and anyone else for whom crystal-clear, best-in-class vocals are important.
As we mentioned above, the Rode VideoMic is a professional-grade shotgun microphone at a budget-friendly price. It can be used with DSLRs, portable audio recorders (like the Zoom recorder below), camcorders, and even smartphones!
Ideal for: This is a great option for travel vloggers, interviews, sports, and others who want to film away from home and minimize background noise.
The Rode NT-USB Condenser Microphone is a great USB microphone from a respected brand. It’s simple to set up, and comes with lots of features and accessories.
Ideal for: The Rode is one of the best microphones for YouTubers and vloggers who record at their desks, including playthroughs, instructional videos, unboxings, business vloggers, and others.
Ideal for: Vloggers who use mirrorless or point-and-shoot cameras that lack an external microphone port.
The Blue Snowball iCE Condenser Microphone is a solid USB microphone for vloggers on a budget.
Ideal for: Streamers and vloggers who want a basic, entry-level USB microphone.
With so many options, it can be tough to know what kind of microphone you need, especially if you’re not an audiophile. We hope this guide helps, no matter your camera, vlogging style, or price range.
Be sure to also try Biteable’s easy to use intro and outro templates, built specially for vloggers and YouTubers.