Which XLR microphone for Zoom meetings IS best?
The number of people who work online and communicate remotely with friends and family has risen exponentially since early 2020. Technology has risen to the task of facilitating this and we’re seeing an impressive array of video conferencing products flooding the market.
Microphones are an essential part of any high-quality home setup, and XLR models with three-pin connectors usually provide the best results. If you’re looking for a studio-quality, professional model, the Shure SM7B is an excellent choice.
What to know before you buy an XLR microphone for Zoom meetings
XLR vs. USB microphones
Whether you choose an XLR connection over USB depends on the quality with which you wish to broadcast. Most USB microphones are cheaper and easier to use than XLR microphones, as you can connect them directly to your Mac or PC and start chatting away. XLR microphones produce much clearer output across a broader frequency range, although they require an interface between the microphone and computer to convert the signal from analog to digital.
Dynamic vs. condenser microphones
While both may use XLR connectors, dynamic mics differ from condenser mics in the way that they process the signal. The former uses electromagnetics and the latter uses variable capacitance. Condenser mics also often need a phantom power supply to provide additional direct current to their circuitry. Deciding which type is best for you is usually determined by a couple of factors. Dynamic mics are sturdier and more directional but lack the warmth and detail of condenser mics. With that said, condensers are generally more expensive and prone to distortion at high levels.
Know your polar patterns
Polar patterns refer to the area in which a microphone picks up a signal and how effectively it points in certain directions. Cardioid patterns are often best for Zoom meetings as they’re highly directional and eliminate ambient sounds to the sides and rear. An omnidirectional polar pattern is more useful for group meetings, whereas a figure-8 pattern works well for recording face-to-face interviews.
What to look for in a quality XLR microphone for Zoom meetings
The best XLR microphones for Zoom meetings create very little internal noise, with the best vocal mics emphasizing those frequencies of 1kHz and higher to accurately represent the nuances of speech. Look for microphones with a neutral-leaning frequency response, and consider using a shock mount and pop shield to further reduce sibilant sounds and vibration interference.
Some microphones have the option of both XLR and USB connections. These are ideal for use on the go via USB, or in the home or studio where you have an available audio interface. Hybrids are especially popular with podcasters and streamers as they add an element of versatility that can be useful in the workplace.
Switchable polar patterns
Some condenser microphones have the option to select from a choice of polar patterns to accommodate different uses and environments. This comes in handy for switching to a cardioid pattern when solo streaming, then to a figure-8 pattern and sharing the mic with another person in the home or studio.
How much you can expect to spend on an XLR microphone for Zoom meetings
An entry-level XLR desk microphone can cost as little as $50 and still produce excellent results. Mid-range products from recognized brands start at around $200, with high-end professional models starting at around $350.
XLR microphone for Zoom meetings FAQ
What do I need to set up an XLR microphone for Zoom meetings?
A. It goes without saying that you’ll need a laptop to broadcast over Zoom. You’ll also need an XLR cable and an audio interface to connect to the laptop. These convert your analog signal to digital data for Zoom streaming and should include a 48-volt phantom power supply if you’re using a condenser mic. If your microphone needs a stand, ensure it’s compatible with its mount.
What does XLR stand for?
A. There’s a common misconception that XLR stands for earth, left and right, in relation to the three pins in the connector. It actually stands for External Line Return, meaning they’re balanced connections that greatly reduce interference from radio frequencies. While this type of connector can be found in stage lighting and video equipment, it’s most commonly used in audio applications.
What are the best XLR microphones for Zoom meetings to buy?
Top XLR microphone for Zoom meetings
What you need to know: This high-end microphone from industry leader Shure boasts a flat and wide-ranging frequency response that makes speech sound clear and natural.
What you’ll love: The SM7B is yoke-mounted with a tightening nut that makes it easy to position. It features excellent electromagnetic shielding to reduce hum from nearby computers while streaming and uses a classic cardioid polar pattern that cuts down on ambient noise interference.
What you should consider: This model works best with a boom arm, which is sold separately and should be placed in a static location.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top XLR microphone for Zoom meetings for the money
What you need to know: The Marantz Pro MPM1000 is possibly the best value condenser mic from a well-recognized brand.
What you’ll love: The microphone comes with a host of accessories, including a custom windshield, shock mount, desktop tripod and an XLR cable for connection. The mic itself has a metal shell, as does its mount, and its matte body has a high-quality feel that’s reminiscent of models several times the price.
What you should consider: While it’s perfectly adequate for most Zoom requirements, it lacks much of the clarity of high-end models in a studio setting.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This simple, no-frills streaming microphone from Rode has plug-and-play appeal, with a built-in pop shield and no switches.
What you’ll love: The Procaster is very well-built, with sturdy all-metal construction. It includes a zippered pouch and elasticized shock mount, and its capsule has an internal secondary shock mount to eradicate interference from vibration for exceptionally clean-sounding results.
What you should consider: Unlike its USB cousin, the Rode Podcaster, this mic requires a phantom power supply with plenty of gain.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Luke Mitchell writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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