USB vs XLR Mic for Podcasting: Choosing One for Your Show

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Last Updated on March 6, 2024 by Muisc Pro Editorial Team

Selecting the perfect microphone for your podcasting venture is crucial. Podcasts are fundamentally about audio, meaning the clarity and quality of your voice can either attract listeners or drive them away. When it comes to setting up your recording environment, one of the first decisions you’ll face is whether to use a USB or XLR microphone. This choice impacts the audio interfaces, USB cable, and XLR cable requirements of your podcast setup.

What Sets USB and XLR Microphones Apart?

Before delving into which microphone type is best for your needs, it’s essential to understand the fundamental differences between USB and XLR microphones. USB microphones connect directly to your computer or tablet via a USB cable, integrating an A/D converter for digital signal processing. They often come with a headphone output and are easy for audio recording without additional equipment.

On the other hand, XLR microphones require an audio interface or audio mixer for the XLR connection to convert the analog signal into a digital signal for recording audio, including music studios and live performances. They utilize a three-pin connection known as XLR3 to transfer audio signals. Unlike USB mics, XLR microphones require an external device, such as an audio interface or mixing console, to convert the analog signal into digital form for recording. This process, utilizing XLR cables, makes them more versatile but also potentially more complex to set up.

Choosing Between USB and XLR for Podcasting

The decision between a USB and an XLR microphone hinges on several factors, including your recording environment, the number of participants, and your technical proficiency. If you’re starting a solo podcast, a USB microphone with a USB connection offers plug directly convenience, utilizing USB ports on your device might be the ideal choice. It offers plug-and-play convenience and eliminates the need for extra gear. However, if your podcast setup involves multiple hosts or you aim for higher audio quality, XLR microphones and an XLR setup provide superior sound quality and flexibility, though requiring your own mic, additional cables, and interfaces. They can accommodate complex setups with multiple microphones and provide superior sound quality through professional-grade equipment.

Key Factors in Selecting a Podcast Microphone


When choosing a microphone for podcasting, several attributes deserve attention. Beyond the basic USB vs. XLR consideration, you should evaluate:

  • Audio Quality: The most critical aspect, as poor audio can lead to loss of listeners.
  • Type of Technology: Dynamic or condenser microphones offer different sound characteristics.
  • Polar Pattern: Determines how the microphone picks up sound from different directions.
  • Portability: Important if you plan to record in various locations.
  • Durability: Ensures that your investment lasts over time.
  • Looks and Aesthetics: While not as crucial as audio quality, the appearance of your microphone might matter in video podcasts or personal preference.

Additional Considerations for Podcast Recording

If you’re recording on an iPhone or a similar mobile device, exploring external microphones designed for such devices is beneficial. These can significantly enhance your audio quality compared to built-in microphones. Additionally, regardless of your microphone choice, incorporating a pop filter can help reduce plosive sounds (“p” and “b” sounds) that can distort your audio, ensuring a clearer and more professional podcast sound.

The Pros and Cons of USB Microphones



  • USB microphones offer significant simplicity and convenience.
  • Direct connection to a computer with quick input source selection simplifies the recording process.
  • Plug-and-play functionality is a key advantage in the USB vs. XLR microphone debate.
  • Compatible with recording programs like Audacity (Windows) and GarageBand (Mac) for seamless support.
  • Minimal setup required, making it appealing for podcasters and content creators who prioritize efficiency and ease of use.


  • USB microphones are convenient but have limitations for multi-person recordings.
  • Connecting multiple USB mics to one computer presents significant challenges.
  • Many computers and recording software struggle with multi-USB mic setups.
  • Less suitable for podcasts with guests or co-hosts due to connectivity issues.
  • While audio quality satisfies most users, professionals prefer XLR for its versatility with multiple mics and mixers.

The Pros and Cons of XLR Microphones



  • XLR microphones are superior for professional and scalable audio setups.
  • XLR connections integrate with any professional audio interface, recording device, or mixer.
  • Crucial for podcasts planning to include multiple guests or co-hosts.
  • Enables connection of several microphones to a single device or computer.
  • Flexibility for expanding setup makes XLR the preferred choice for growth and complex recordings.


  • XLR microphone versatility requires extra equipment.
  • An audio interface is needed for solo recordings or simple setups to connect XLR mics to computers.
  • Multi-microphone recordings require a mixer or multi-channel audio interface.
  • Equipment enables simultaneous recording of multiple microphones to an SD card or computer via USB.
  • Initial investment in gear is offset by benefits in scalability and professional-grade audio quality for serious podcasters and musicians.

Deciding Between XLR and USB Microphones

Your choice between an XLR and USB microphone depends largely on your recording needs and aspirations. If you’re embarking on podcasting, streaming, simple music recordings, or require a mic for video calls and other business applications, a USB microphone offers great sound quality with the convenience of plug-and-play functionality. This makes USB mics an attractive option for those seeking quality recordings without the complexity and cost of additional equipment.

Conversely, if you envision a future in home studio recording that goes beyond basic tracks, or if you aim to experiment with different types of recordings, such as stereo acoustic guitar or multi-instrument setups, an XLR microphone system is advisable. XLR setups grant you the flexibility to explore various microphone types and expand your recording capabilities as you advance in your craft. Whether you’re getting serious about podcasting, streaming, or music production, and wish to tailor your microphone choice to your voice or recording needs, an XLR microphone setup offers the adaptability and professional quality required for sophisticated audio projects.


In the end, the decision between USB and XLR microphones for podcasting hinges on a balance between convenience and quality, scalability, and the specific requirements of your project. USB microphones offer an unbeatable ease of use for beginners and solo podcasters, making them a fantastic choice for those who prioritize straightforward setup and recording. On the other hand, XLR microphones cater to those looking towards the future, offering superior sound quality and the flexibility needed for more complex, multi-person setups or professional-grade recordings. By carefully considering your current needs and future aspirations, you can choose the microphone type that not only suits your podcasting journey today but also supports its growth tomorrow. Regardless of your choice, understanding the strengths and limitations of both USB and XLR microphones is essential in creating a podcast that captures and retains the attention of your audience through high-quality audio.


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