What are the advantages of having a USB mic over having a XLR, 3.5mm, or 1/4 inch connector? I.e. quality, price, portability. I am looking at recording sound for video and I'm not sure what type connector I should get. No matter what connection, I think I will be recording the sound straight to a computer. One thing about USB mics is that I have to get a long USB cord. Will this lower the sound quality at all?


When it comes to just the connector, the XLR is the best. It is a "pro" audio connector. 1/4" would be second. Stay away from the mini plugs if you can. If you are doing "double system" audio for video, your best bet is a shotgun mic and a separate audio recorder.

  • So you wouldn't recommend recording the audio straight to the computer? – daviesgeek Aug 10 '11 at 21:26
  • It all depends on what you are recording. If it is something simple like a podcast, then sure, a simple USB mic would be perfect. Or even one instrument at a time music recordings could be done that way. But if you have the budget, even a used "real" mic would be preferable. It gives you many more options. Like field recording etc . – Bryce Alan Flurie Aug 11 '11 at 12:35
  • Yeah, I am planning to use it for field recording. – daviesgeek Aug 11 '11 at 14:57
  • Then I'd say opt for a Zoom H4n... has great built in mics and add a shot gun or whatever you think best for what you're doing. I know other photogs/ videographers who take laptops in the field... seems better to leave it in the hotel to me. Plus, the more interfaces and things you have, the more to go wrong. I have a Zoom H4n that I use with a Senn ME66... great set up for less than a $1000. – Bryce Alan Flurie Aug 11 '11 at 18:20
  • Yeah, my budget is about $200, maybe less than that, maybe more. We are in the very early stages of planning, and I am working on getting equipment. Probably for this first project, I will record onto with a computer; later we may opt for a recorder. – daviesgeek Aug 11 '11 at 20:51

The USB mic will be much easier to connect to the computer (no extra cables or equipment needed) and, as a bonus, bypass the notoriously noisy internal sound card.

The only issue you might have with the USB mic is the sound quality, which will be based on the quality of mic and the quality of the D/A converters in the mic itself.

I would recommend finding a couple of USB mics in your price range and checking out some reviews to see if anyone complains about excess noise or poor quality sound. If you can't find a good one, you may need to go with a regular mic with an XLR connector and a USB interface.

  • How much is a good USB interface? – daviesgeek Aug 10 '11 at 23:24
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    You can get a M-Audio USB interface for as low as $150. I have one of their Firewire interfaces (Profire 2626) and I really like the clean recordings I can achieve. – Friend Of George Aug 11 '11 at 1:56
  • Is this a good interface? zzounds.com/item--BEH302USB I am on a tight budget and I'm trying to keep stuff cheap and simple. – daviesgeek Aug 18 '11 at 15:57
  • From the specs, it seems like it would do the job. I was unable to find a review of that specific model, but the reviews for other USB mixers from Behringer seem to be pretty favorable. Just keep in mind, you get what you pay for. – Friend Of George Aug 18 '11 at 16:36

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