The best budget mics are surprisingly capable these days. So whether you're a podcaster or Twitch streamer, musician or film-maker, or just want a better quality microphone for your Zoom calls, it's possible to get a very decent mic within quite a tight budget.
No, this won't be the best microphone overall, but it will certainly be a big improvement on the one built into your phone, tablet or laptop. So it's still a very worthwhile investment. The only problem is, with so many options on the market, which do you choose?
Below we've listed the best budget microphones for a variety of needs, including the best budget mic for Zoom, best budget mic for iPhone, the best budget mic for interviews, and the best budget mic for Twitch. No, these aren't the absolute cheapest mics on the market, but they all hit the sweet spot between being affordable and delivering good performance, durability, and overall value.
The Simorr Wave U1 is a plug-and-play USB mic that's very affordable but still sounds great. It's compatible with a huge range of devices, including those running Windows, Android, macOS and Linux, as well as the PS4 and PS5.
It's very compact: standing just 17.5 cm tall, around half the height of the Blue Yeti. It has a touch sensitive mute button, and a physical input dial that makes it more or less sensitive to your sound levels. You can monitor the audio quality by plugging headphones directly into the mic’s jack. And its cardioid polar pattern reduces the sound from the sides and rear of the mic, so there’s less interference from background noise.
All this at such a small price, makes this our clear pick as the best budget mic overall. For more details, see our full Simorr Wave U1 review.
Looking for a cheap mic you can clip to your clothing? Here's our current favorite. This lavalier mic is small and unobtrusive, and captures clear, high-quality sound from all directions, via two omindirectional capsules.
It comes with a 3.5mm jack TRS connector, so you can connect it to a compatible camera, voice recorder or transmitter, and it takes it power from these devices, so there's no need for batteries. Its flexible rotating clip lets you attach it to yourself at any angle, from horizontal for a necktie or lapel, to vertical for a pocket. Plus it comes with a windshield designed to reduce the impact of both wind noise and the sound of your own breathing.
The main downside with this mic is that of all omnidirectional mics; by capturing 360 degrees of sound, it may pick up a lot of background noise. That aside, this is a great option for anyone on a budget.
If you have an iPhone 7 or above, you'll want a microphone that can plug in via its Lightning connector. Here's our favourite, and while it's a little costlier than most of the other mics on this list, it's still pretty cheap, and offers great quality and value overall.
Designed specifically for mobile filmmaking and content creation, this shotgun mic uses a directional polar pattern to reduce background noise and focus on exactly what you're recording. It comes with a furry windshield to further enhance audio, and a 3.5mm headphone port, so you can monitor your sound as you go.
The Rode VideoMic Me-L works with Android too, so it's also our pick as the best budget mic for smartphones in general. The main potential downside is that you'll probably have to remove your phone case to use it.
If you want a budget mic for iPhone that's cheaper than our number three pick (a LOT cheaper, in fact), here's one we recommend. This lovely clip-on mic provides a clear, clean sound, and its cable is nice and long at 12.87 feet (4m).
It comes with a 3.5mm headphone jack, and at such a low price, the quality-to-value ratio is quite astounding. It's compatible with a wide range of devices, including smartphones, laptops and PCs. However, there are lot of things it won't work with, including Samsung Galaxy S4-S7, so do check before you buy.
The JLab Talk is a popular choice for streaming, gaming, podcasting and more. It offers studio-quality resolution of 96kHz/24BIT, three studio-quality condensers, and great dynamic sound range, enabling you to capture clear and accurate audio for less than you might expect.
What's even more surprising at the price is that you get not one but four polar patterns: cardioid, omnidirectional, stereo, and bidirectional. There's a handy button and lighting system too, making it easy to switch between modes, or to mute your sound. Finally, this plug-and-play mic comes with a 6.5-foot USB/USB-C input cable to plug into your device. On the downside, it's better used indoors than out, and it's not good enough for recording music; but otherwise, this offers superb value.
Want something even more affordable than our number 5 pick above? The Tonor TC30 is super-cheap and would suit someone who's just starting out on YouTube or a similar content creation platform. Especially as this condenser mic comes with a tripod, a shock mount, a pop filter and USB-C to USB-A cable included in the price.
Overall, this mic is durable and reliable, and offers good audio quality. It's compatible with Macs, PCs, PS4 and iPads, although for the latter you'll need to buy an adapter. It's not, however, compatible with iPhones or the XBox.
Fed up with your words not being heard properly on Zoom calls? This condenser mic's cardioid polar pattern and high-quality A/D convertor will cut out most background noise, and make sure others can hear what you're saying clearly.
And that's not all. It's easy to connect to your laptop via USB. A built-in headphone jack allows you to directly monitor from your microphone. And you can adjust headphone volume with easy-to-use controls on the bottom. This mic also comes with a stand clamp, tripod desk stand, 2m mini USB cable, 3m XLRF-type to XLRM-type cable and a carrying pouch.
It all adds up to a bargain at US prices, although on the other side of the Atlantic it's currently about 50 per cent more expensive, for some unexplained reason. So if you're in the UK, you might want to give this one a miss, because in truth any of the mics on this list will also improve the quality of your Zoom calls significantly beyond your laptop or phone's in-built mic.
If you want a mic specifically for interviews, here's our top choice. The Audio-Technica ATR3350iS connects to video cameras, DSLRs and audio recorders, as well as via smartphones, tablets and laptops using the included 3.5mm adapter, and offers very good sound quality for the price. This tiny, newscaster-style mic comes with an in-line battery pack and its omnidirectional polar pattern captures full 360-degrees, stereo sound. You also get a clothing clip, LR44 battery, and foam windscreen, making this a fantastic deal overall.
If you're streaming on Twitch, you'll want a gaming style headset with high-quality audio. Thankfully, you can get all of that for an affordable price, in the form of the Logitech G332 Wired Gaming Headset. As well as a great listening experience, it also captures clear and crisp sound, thanks a large boom mic which boasts noise-cancelling smarts and mutes when flipped up. It's compatible with Windows, Mac and mobile devices via 3.5 mm cable, as well as gaming consoles such as the PlayStation, XBox One and Nintendo Switch.
Want a wireless mic for using on stage? Whether you're a DJ, musician, comedian or giving a lecture, these budget mics will set you right. Coming as a two-for-one combo, these mics offer an impressive range of 160 feet (50m), great audio quality, and easy connection to singing machines, amplifiers, PA systems and mixers. Note, though, that they're not compatible with MacBooks or Bluetooth speakers, and you'll need to buy two AA batteries separately.
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