Thanks to the advancements in technology, recording music is becoming easier and cheaper each year. As you probably already know, USB microphones offer an affordable alternative to XLR microphones, and there are plenty of varieties to choose from. So, to help you find the best USB mic for rapping, I have compiled some research outlining what’s available and how to choose the one that’s right for you.
When choosing a USB mic for recording rap vocals, you should know the advantages and limitations of the gear. This kind of mic has some definite advantages over XLR microphones:
- USB microphones are easier to use: Plug in the mic, open your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), and make sure you are getting a good signal. That’s it. You are ready to play your track, hit record, and start rapping.
- USB microphones are much cheaper. You don’t need any other microphone-related gear to start rapping and recording. Recording with an XLR microphone can require other equipment: a microphone preamp or XLR cables to connect to the computer.
- USB microphones are very portable and easy to store: When you’re done recording, the microphone will easily fit into a desk drawer. If you want to meet up with a fellow rapper or producer to work on some tracks, you can just put your mic into a small case or bag and be on your way.
Also, using a USB microphone for recording rap vocals is the easiest way to get your vocals on your track, as these mics connect to your computer using standard USB ports, so you don’t need an additional interface. They have a built-in preamp, so you won’t need to spend hundreds of dollars for an external component, allowing you to spend less time learning the gear and more time using it. If you want a simple plug-and-play option that gets the job done without extra gear and fits your budget, a USB mic may be the choice for you.
Of course, USB microphones have their limitations. Any microphone purchased with a budget in mind will not match the quality of very expensive microphones. Using a USB mic for recording rap vocals isn’t going to be the same as using a high-end condenser or dynamic microphone, but there are a few USB mics that I think will give you quality recordings.
If you already have a USB interface and a good mic preamp, you may choose to use an XLR microphone so that you can use the gear you already own. Buying an XLR microphone may be an option if you have a larger budget and are willing to research the many available options for condenser and dynamic microphones, preamps and interfaces.
Most USB microphones are side-address condenser microphones. If you have never dealt with a side-address microphone, there may be a bit of a learning curve. To properly record your vocals, you must sing into the side of the microphone, not into the top (as is done with the dynamic microphones commonly seen in live performances).
Purchasing the best USB microphone is like buying any other piece of musical equipment, so do your research as you would for any other kind of gear. I’ve sorted through websites, forums, and online communities to choose three I believe deliver the best bang for the buck.
- Well-suited for spoken-word performances, podcasts, voice-over work, singing, and rapping.
- Audio-Technica is known for its quality design and manufacturing, and based this microphone on their more expensive XLR version.
- It delivers crisp and clean sound, with a decent frequency response (20Hz-16,000Hz).
- The AT2020USB is built in a metal housing and should be durable enough for a long life in any home studio.
- It can be mounted on the small tripod that is provided, or on your own shock mount and traditional microphone stand.
- The included small tripod is low, unstable, and unable to support the weight of the microphone well.
- With no headphone jack on the AT2020USB, monitoring during use can be difficult due to latency.
The AT2020USB is a quality microphone worthy of the Audio-Technica name. It delivers good sound at a price that won’t bust the budget.
You can get the AT2020 here: http://amzn.to/2goL9Nk
Blue Snowball USB Microphone
- Great for podcasting, voice-over work, singing, and rapping.
- Allows you to choose from three modes: a cardioid pattern, an omnidirectional pattern, or a cardioid pattern.
- Comes with a -10dB pad to prevent distortion when recording loud sound.
- It has a good frequency response (40Hz-18,000Hz) and delivers crisp and clear sound.
- A desktop tripod stand is included.
- The microphone can’t be mounted on a traditional stand.
- The sound quality isn’t as good as some other budget microphones.
- The modes are numbered on the microphone, so you’ll end up having to check the manual until you memorize which number matches which pattern.
- The brushed aluminum finish is beautiful but scratches easily.
The Blue Snowball is a microphone that will fit almost any budget. It’s not the best USB microphone, but it’s likely the best you can find at this price level.
You can get the Blue Snowball here: http://amzn.to/2goQPXC
- It has excellent frequency response (20Hz-20,000Hz).
- It has a gain control, allowing you to adjust the sensitivity when dealing with sound sources of various volumes.
- A headphone jack that lets you monitor at the microphone, avoiding any latency or delay.
- You have a choice of four recording patterns with the Yeti: omnidirectional, cardioid, bi-directional or stereo.
- There is also a mute button, which can be very useful when trying to avoid unwanted noise.
- Both the microphone and stand are made of durable metal construction and are available in four finishes (silver, blackout, whiteout, platinum). The Yeti stand is one of the sturdiest with a USB microphone, and it even includes a standard microphone mount.
- The controls on the Yeti are plastic and can feel flimsy compared to the metal microphone body and stand.
The Blue Yeti has more features, better sound quality and sturdier construction than most USB microphones at its price level or higher. I recommend it as the best budget USB microphone for rapping or any other vocal use. It is a bargain at this price.
You can get the Blue Yeti here: http://amzn.to/2giS9u7