When playing with friends, streaming for your audience or creating content for YouTube you need to ensure you're heard loudly and clearly. Gaming headsets often pack a built-in microphone, but they're not always great and certainly not as good as a dedicated microphone. 

If you've been thinking about adding a dedicated mic to your setup, but aren't sure what to buy then we've got you covered. 

We've put together a list of the very best USB microphones, most of which are easy-to-use plug and play affairs with incredible audio capabilities. These are great looking and capable microphones that won't break your bank account.

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Blue Yeti Nano

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  • 24bit / 48khz recording sampling rates
  • Omnidirectional and Cardioid modes
  • 20Hz - 20kHz frequency response

The Yeti Nano is a tiny premium USB microphone that packs some serious punch. This is a perfect addition to your desk or gaming area if you're looking to upgrade your mic and want fantastic sound quality without taking up too much room. 

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Despite its size, the Yeti Nano delivers impressive results with support for high-quality 24-bit/48kHz recording that sounds great whatever you're doing. If you're planning on streaming your gameplay, creating video content for YouTube or just chatting with your friends as you game, then this is the microphone for you. 

It's a USB microphone that features a simple plug and play functionality. Out of the box, it will work with everything from Discord to Twitch, Audacity, Skype, XSplit, OBS and much more besides.

You can also download the Blue Sherpa software to tweak the settings within Windows so you don't have to fiddle with any knobs while you're recording. This means you can easily update firmware, adjust mic gain or change between polar patterns with the simple click of your mouse. 

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The Yeti Nano features Cardioid and Omnidirectional modes so it can be used in different settings. Cardioid is great for streamers, VOIP calls and voice-overs as it only picks up sound coming from in front of the mic. While Omnidirectional picks up all surrounding sound and can be used for conference calls and situations where multiple people are involved in the recording process. 

This mic comes with its own stand, but also has standard threading for mounting on a boom arm and shock mount if you want to reduce background noise and unwanted sounds. 

These little microphones are also nifty and clever. You can even set your PC up so you can use two of them at the same time - for podcasting, interviews or whatever else you wish.

Another highlight to these mics is the range of colours available. Choose one to suit your personal preference rather than being stuck with the same colour as everyone else.  

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Samson G-Track Pro USB microphone

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  • Cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional modes
  • Dual back electret condenser
  • 50Hz–20kHz frequency response with +6dB FS/PA sensitivity
  • 16 or 24-bit with a sample rate of up to 96kHz
  • Built-in headphone output and instrument input
  • USB compatible with PC or Mac

If you want a microphone with a lot more presence and plenty of class, then the Samson G-Track Pro may well be it. This is a thoroughly imposing, heavy-duty microphone that's not pulling any punches. It stands head and shoulders above the Blue Yeti Nano - at least in terms of height - and may raise an eyebrow or two when you see what it can do. 

This is an all-signing, all-dancing microphone that's not only great for gamers, but can also be used with instruments too. That's right - there's an input for a guitar on this mic, so you can entertain your Twitch audience while you stream if that's your bag. 

The G-Track Pro offers "professional grade" recording capabilities in a compact and aesthetically pleasing frame. We were struck immediately by the size, weight and build quality of this microphone. There's no messing about here, you can immediately tell you're getting what you're paying for. 

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There are plenty of options too, without the need for faffing about in any software. Buttons on the mic itself allow you to switch between the three pick-up patterns - cardioid, fig 8 or omnidirectional with ease. You can also opt to record in mono or stereo tracks, tweak recording volumes and even mix the levels of attached instruments and the mic as well. Zero-latency monitoring is also possible with the built-in stereo headphone output, so there are plenty of content creation options here. 

This is an incredibly flexible microphone. Whether you're planning on podcasting with multiple people in the room, jammin' out or simply capturing a voice over for a gaming video, this mic is more than capable. 

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We're also fans of the hefty padded base which appears to act nicely as an alternative to a shock mount to prevent most noise from your desk getting into the recordings. Of course, the Samson G-Track Pro is also boom arm friendly, so it's easy to get even more serious with this mic if you feel the urge. 

You do need plenty of space on your desk for this professional mic though. One minor highlight for us is the small monitoring light on the front. It's green as standard when the mic is turned on, but if your recording levels hit the peak it turns red to let you know things are too loud. It's small clever features like this that make all the difference. 

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Blue Yeticaster

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  • 16bit / 48khz recording sampling rates
  • Omnidirectional, bidirectional, cardioid and stereo modes
  • 20Hz - 20kHz frequency response
  • Boom arm and shock mount included

If you've got a bit more space on your desk, then Blue's Yeticaster is a worthwhile upgrade to your gaming area. This is an all-in-one package that delivers a premium audio recording experience without breaking the bank. 

Yeticaster delivers brilliant recording capabilities with the stylish and robust Yeti microphone bundled with Radius III shock mount and Compass boom arm.

It's perfect for podcasting, game streaming and voice-over work or just chatting with your friends as you game.

The boom arm helps keep your desk clear while positioning the mic in the perfect spot to record your voice. The accompanying shock mount reduces the background noise from the environment - like the knocks and bumps that would be otherwise picked up from your keyboard or mouse movements. 

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This full package also includes a channel for the cable carved right into the boom arm meaning you can keep wires out of sight and out of mind while you game. 

Like the Yeti Nano, this system is plug-and-play with easy-to-use USB installation. You can also use the Blue Sherpa software to tweak the settings within Windows or adjust on-the-fly with the buttons on the mic. A mic mute light on the front lets you know when the microphone is listening and allows you to quickly silence audio should you need to. 

The boom arm of this system features a brilliant swivel and tilt design, meaning it can not only be adjusted to the perfect position, but also rotated out of the way when not needed. 

We're happy to report that the Yeticaster not only looks great, but is also convenient to use and sounds utterly fantastic to boot. Don't confuse this with just another boom arm, it's much more than that and oozes quality too. 

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HyperX Quadcast condenser microphone

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  • 16bit / 48khz recording sampling rates
  • Stereo, Omnidirectional, Cardioid and Bidirectional polar patterns
  • 20Hz–20kHz frequency response

The HyperX Quadcast is an interesting alternative and one that really raises some eyebrows, not just because of the snazzy design, but also due to the number of features it packs into its small frame.

The HyperX Quadcast is immediately appealing thanks to the numerous design features that you'd normally have to pay extra for. It comes with a shock mount built into its frame, a pop shield housed within its body and a nice solid stand to keep it planted on your desk. 

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This mic also comes with four polar patterns, making it useful for streaming, voice-overs, podcasting or whatever other recording use you can think of. The recording quality is excellent and the anti-vibration shock mount combined with the built-in pop shield keeps most unnecessary noise at bay. 

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Every aspect of this microphone has been cleverly thought out too. An easy access, quiet functioning, gain control wheel and tap-to-mute button make it simple to adjust sound without ruining your recording or stream with thumps, clicks and knocks. 

The HyperX Quadcast's stylish design stands out even more at night. The red honeycomb mesh is backlit by an internal LED when powered on as a bright beacon to let you know it's active. This is a nifty little design aesthetic that only goes to make the Quadcast even more appealing. 

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Like the others, this USB microphone also comes with the ability to mount on a boom arm and has an adapter that fits both 3/8inch and 5/8-inch thread sizes. 

The Quadcast is the complete package and available at a great price too, though the design might not be to everyone's taste. 

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Blue Yeti X

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  • 48 kHz/24-bit sample rate
  • 4 Blue-proprietary 14mm condenser capsules
  • Cardioid, Omnidirectional, Bidirectional, Stereo polar patterns
  • High-res LED meter with multi-function knob and customisation options
  • Blue VO!CE broadcast vocal effects
  • Logitech G HUB integration

The Blue Yeti X is another fantastic USB microphone from Blue. As well as being an imposing figure on your desk with a high-quality design this mic has some interesting features that make it intriguing. 

Not only does it have all the normal features you'd expect from a high-quality, plug and play USB microphone, but it also has some really neat additions that you don't see elsewhere and are fantastically useful. 

The first of these is a simple LED metering system which acts as a colourful visual warning system on the front of the mic to let you know how much audio the mic is picking up and if you're in danger of hitting the ceiling and ruining your recording. This LED lighting can be adjusted within the Logitech G-Hub software so you can tweak it to display whatever colours you like, but the default traffic light system is enough to give you the warnings you need during recordings or live stream sessions. 

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The other draw of the Yeti X is the software. This mic works with both the Blue Sherpa software and Logitech G-Hub. It's the latter software that then gives you access to the Blue VO!CE broadcast vocal effects technology. This system allows for live tweaks to your audio to give it a much more broadcast quality feel.

Obviously content creators have the ability to edit voice-overs in post and do things like noise reduction and normalisation, but this software does those things live. This is clearly a bonus for streamers who want the best audio for their viewers. 

From the software, you can adjust high-pass filter, noise reduction, expander, de-esser, compression, limiter settings and more. There are also numerous presets to choose from, the ability to tweak and save your own and you can even download other peoples too. Although a system like this is never going to be perfect, we did actually find that the software made quite a difference to background noise and the quality of recordings. 

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The design of this mic also includes a sturdy stand and the ability to mount it on any standard sized boom arm. It fits nicely on the company's compass boom arm and works with the shock mount too. 

The result is a capable microphone with a lot of different features going for it, alongside the excellent quality that we've come to expect from Blue. It's a lot larger than other microphones, so the Yeti Nano might be a better fit if you only have a small desk, but otherwise, the Yeti X is a brilliant bit of kit.