Finding a podcast mic isn’t hard, but finding the best podcast mic for you can seem like a real challenge. Search for “podcast microphone” and you face everything from cheap laptop mics to overpriced broadcast microphones that go way beyond your needs. For video podcasters, there are specialized mics that interface with your DSLR or smartphone — but that’s only if you know for sure they're going to work, every time, episode after episode. How can you tell which of the 3,000 smartphone lapel mics on Amazon will be up to the task?
The truth is, most “podcast mics” out there are non-starters. When you’re producing a show, you need two things: performance and reliability. You’re only going to get that from a trusted pro audio company that puts in the work to design and develop gear they can bank their reputation on.
Mackie, for instance, has been building gear that audio pros swear by for decades. There are Mackie mixers still in use today from before podcasts (or even internet) were a thing. If you’re investing in your podcast for the long haul, you need podcast equipment you can trust to perform in the long term. So, going with a no-name brand just isn’t worth it — especially when Mackie’s pro-grade podcasting mics are such a good value.
From there, you’re choosing between four main types of podcast microphone.
Every mic is a little different, but you can put them in a few basic categories:
USB mic — These mics connect straight to your computer with USB. They’re best for one-person recordings where you’re not moving around much, whether that means recording solo, or remotely with others.
XLR mic — These mics connect to your computer through an audio interface like the Mackie Onyx Artist 1•2 or a podcast mixer like the Mackie DLZ Creator. To record multiple people, or take more control of your sound, go with these.
Specialized mics — Since podcasts come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so do podcast microphones. Video podcasters who use their smartphone or DSLR, for example, need dedicated microphones that connect directly to their equipment.
These podcast mics are all classic Mackie: Built to perform at the highest level, under pressure, with all the essentials that professionals need. Oh, and we don’t add any gimmicks to inflate the price, like RGB lights or fancy paint jobs. These mics are all made to do their job, and do it well. One of them is the perfect podcast mic for you. Here’s how to choose.
We’ll save you some time: If you’re looking to start a solo podcast using your Mac or PC, with no other gear required, pick up the Mackie EM-USB condenser microphone and call it a day.
The EM-USB plugs straight into your laptop via USB, instantly replacing your built-in computer mic or Bluetooth headset with a real studio microphone. Use the gain knob to set your levels by hand, listening through the built-in headphone jack until your voice feels just right. Then, it’s as simple as opening your recording software and pressing record. If you’ve never used a high-quality microphone, the jump to professional sound quality will blow you away.
There’s a reason USB condenser mics are by far the most popular type of microphone for podcasters — they’re the easiest and most affordable way to upgrade the sound of your show. Mackie designed the EM-USB to be the essential USB condenser mic, with everything you need to start podcasting at your best. If you’re a solo host, or you only record with others remotely, the EM-USB may be the only mic you ever need.
USB condenser mics like the EM-USB are especially good for podcasting because they’re convenient to use and offer remarkable sound quality on a budget. They’re also the perfect choice for recording remotely with friends, using a tool like Zencastr. The EM-USB takes literally seconds to hook up, and you can record a podcast straight to your laptop at professional quality.
How does something so simple sound so good? It’s all in the capsule.
We won’t get into the technical side too much, but the EM-USB is a condenser mic. It has an “active” mic capsule that uses electrical power to actively pick up your voice and project it onto the recording. Condenser mics are especially great for first-time podcasters, as they are more forgiving when your voice fluctuates in volume. The active capsule essentially gives the quieter parts a boost. Condensers also help even things out when you aren’t the most consistent about your distance from the mic. That’s why they’re popular for game streamers, too.
The other benefit of the Mackie EM-USB is that it doesn’t require a separate audio interface or preamp. If you’re not sure what an “audio interface” or “preamp” is, that’s all the more reason to just grab an EM-USB and start podcasting. You’ll get great results in no time.
You are a solo podcaster or remote podcaster recording on a computer
You don’t want to buy any other gear
You want the most affordable pro-grade option
If you’re hosting your podcast with more than one person, that USB mic won’t do. The long and short of it is that it’s pretty complicated to get your computer to work with multiple USB microphones and generally involves software hacks that are more trouble than they’re worth.
To record multiple hosts and guests at once, you’ll need to move up to XLR microphones like the Mackie EM-99B dynamic broadcast mic, specifically designed for podcasting and streaming.
With the right audio interface or podcast mixer, you can record as many EM-99B mics as you need for your show. And unlike most dynamic broadcast mics, the EM-99B is affordable enough to get one for each co-host and guest, so you can capture every voice with clarity and warmth while rejecting background noise. Even for solo podcasters who can get by with a USB mic, the EM-99B may be worth the upgrade.
But wait, you may be asking: If the EM-USB sounds so good, why would I need an XLR mic for a solo podcast? The answer is that you don’t need it — either mic is excellent for getting consistent results. However, you may want the unique, public radio sound that comes with using a genuine dynamic microphone like the EM-99B for your podcast.
Think of the voices you hear on well-produced radio shows and professional podcasts. There’s a certain richness to the vocal sound that’s difficult to describe — it’s clearer and fuller, yet also natural, never sounding processed. You might have wondered: How do the reporters on This American Life always sound so crisp and clear? What mic does Joe Rogan use, and can I afford it for my podcast? What you’re hearing on these shows is the particular sound of a broadcast-quality dynamic microphone. Thanks to the Mackie EM-99B, that sound is within reach for any podcaster — not just the famous ones.
The key to the “broadcast” sound of dynamic mics like the EM-99B is that they use an entirely different kind of capsule than condensers. Rather than an “active” capsule that uses electrical power to transmit the signal, a dynamic capsule is “passive.” It uses only the vibrations picked up from your voice to send a signal to the interface. The result is a more natural sound, trading the “pop” and brightness of a condenser microphone for something smoother and richer.
Dynamic mics are the oldest and simplest mic technology around, but they sound so good that they’ve never gone out of style. That’s why so many audio brands, Mackie included, make their own version. Be warned, though: Many other dynamic mics have some drawbacks.
Dynamic mics are the gold standard in podcasts for a reason: They simply sound great. But they’ve traditionally come with some downsides. Mackie designed the EM-99B to avoid each of them, while still giving you the full “broadcast” voice sound.
They’re expensive. Looking at the prices on the most popular dynamic broadcast mics, you may think you need to shell out a lot more than you actually do. There are vintage designs and reissues that command high prices. Like all Mackie products, the EM-99B focuses on what matters: capturing detailed dialogue recordings with a genuine dynamic capsule. You’re getting the results — you’re not just paying the premium.
They need a ton of gain. One of the first things you’ll hear about dynamic broadcast mics is that they require lots of gain, sometimes well over +60 dB. That’s more than most interfaces and mixers can provide. The solution is typically to buy something called a Cloudlifter that uses 48V phantom power to give the microphone more juice. That works okay, but don’t throw more money out the window when you can get the EM-99B, which performs well with normal amounts of gain, no boosting needed.
You need to stay close. Passive mics require you to speak closely into the mic, so they often have a built-in suspension mount that combines with a third-party boom arm for easier positioning. However, older mics have clunky designs for the suspension mounts that can be tricky to adjust, with external cabling that gets caught easily. Some boom arms are cheap, others overpriced. The Mackie EM-99B has a sleek, single-axis suspension mount that pairs with our own boom arm designed for total freedom.
Even if they don’t realize it, audiences know the sound of dynamic broadcast mics. They associate that sound with professionalism and authority. Grab some Mackie EM-99B mics to raise the production value of your entire show instantly, without breaking the bank.
You need to record multiple people to the same computer or podcast mixer
You want an affordable way to get classic broadcast vocal sound
You want to use a podcast mixer, audio interface or preamp
Video podcasting continues to grow, and for good reason. YouTube is the second most-visited website in the world behind Google, drawing podcasters to a massive potential audience. Other podcasters use video as a direct money-maker, offering the video version of their show exclusively through Patreon. Whether you’re starting a video podcast or adding video to your current show, the visual element can add a lot of value. It’s also pretty effortless to do, thanks to smartphones—most of us have 4K cameras in our pockets!
The biggest challenge, then, is audio.
You could use the built-in mic on your smartphone or DSLR camera, but the sound will always be subpar. You could record video and audio separately and sync later, but that’s a huge pain, and it rules out live streaming. Luckily, there is a better way. Mackie designed EM Series mobile mics to cover the needs of any video podcaster by connecting directly to your smartphone or DSLR. This arrangement makes recording easy. It also unlocks the ability to live stream with excellent audio quality, since the video and audio sync up automatically.
Here’s how to choose the EM Series mic for you.
Lavalier mics (also known as lav mics, clip-on mics or lapel mics) are tiny mics that clip onto your clothing. Even if you weren’t familiar with the term, you’ve seen these mics before. When someone on television speaks to the camera, and you don’t see a microphone, there’s a good chance they have a lav mic carefully tucked into their clothing.
The benefits of lav mics are many, for everyone from professional broadcasters to beginner podcasters—they’re affordable, lightweight, compact, and easy to use. And since they always stay a consistent distance from your mouth, they give you a consistent recording no matter how close or far you are from the camera, without picking up outside noise.
For video podcasters, smartphone lav mics are especially popular, since they’re as easy as a pair of earbuds while sounding infinitely better. The downside? Typically, smartphone lavalier mics connect directly to your phone or DSLR input, without a dedicated preamp. That makes them simple and lightweight, but unfortunately, the sound quality suffers. There’s just not enough gain to get an impactful recording.
That’s what the Mackie EM-95ML was created to fix. It’s plug-and-play just like a consumer lav mic, but features an in-line Mackie amplifier with a rechargeable battery. The tiny amp clips onto your clothes just like the lavalier, and has both a headphone output and a smartphone/DSLR output you can use at the same time. You’ll get a strong signal for both recording and monitoring, with genuine Mackie sound.
You’re recording in a noisy environment
You’re recording solo videos with your smartphone or DSLR
You’re recording while moving
Of course, lav mics aren’t for everyone. For one, they tether you to your recording device. That’s no problem for filming yourself up close, but can create problems (and a tripping hazard) when you need more distance. Clip-on smartphone mics like the EM-95L also limit you to a single person being recorded. On top of that, some people just plain don’t like clipping stuff to their clothes—we get it. For recording to your smartphone or DSLR without using a clip-on mic, the Mackie EM-93M