Which 3.5mm microphone is best?
Whether you’re recording podcasts, music or lectures, choosing a high-quality microphone is a crucial first step toward producing professional-sounding audio. USB microphones have been a popular choice for many years, but as the USB port becomes increasingly absent on new devices, more consumers are considering 3.5-millimeter microphones than ever before.
These versatile microphones are compatible with any device that has a traditional headphone jack. One top pick for a 3.5mm microphone is the Looyuan 3.5mm Condenser Recording Microphone for its affordability, superior sound quality and accompanying features like a pop filter and tripod.
What to know before you buy a 3.5mm microphone
3.5mm microphones can be sold in many different forms. When shopping for these microphones, you’ll probably consider one of the following options:
- Lavalier: Also known as lapel mics, these compact microphones can be discreetly clipped onto a jacket or shirt and are typically used for lectures, meetings and other professional speaking engagements.
- Desktop: Ideal for podcasts, music and recorded presentations, the desktop microphone is larger and usually has an adjustable tripod or shock-resistant mount so it can be positioned on a desk or table.
- Handheld: As the name suggests, this familiar microphone is a simple, cylindrical mic that can be held or attached to a stand.
Dynamic vs. condenser microphones
There are two main types of 3.5mm microphone available. Each has pros and cons, depending on the kind of audio you want to record.
- Dynamic microphones are the most commonly used and are well-suited for live settings. They’re also recommended if you’re trying to capture a wide range of sounds, like percussion instruments or field recordings. Handheld mics are traditionally dynamic.
- Condenser microphones are better for capturing quieter, more precise audio like vocals in a studio setting. These mics are perfect for podcasts or recorded lectures, situations where pristine, crystal-clear quality is a must. Desktop mics are usually this type.
TRS vs. TRRS
This specification indicates the type of connector that your 3.5mm microphone cable uses. TRS (or Tip, Ring, Sleeve) cables have two black rings near the tip and are best for dedicated audio equipment like video cameras and recording interfaces. TRRS (or Tip, Ring, Ring, Sleeve) cables are identified by three grey rings and can be plugged directly into smartphones and computers.
What to look for in a quality 3.5mm microphone
Many 3.5mm microphones come with additional accessories like pop filters and shock mounts. Both of these items can be used to reduce unintentional noises that can be picked up by the mic. Pop filters are particularly useful when recording speech or singing, since they block popping noises caused by plosive consonants like “p” and “t.”
A digital audio workstation (or DAW) is software that can be used for recording and editing audio files. From a DAW’s interface, you can mix the audio, add effects like reverb and EQ and export audio files to your preferred file format like .mp3 or .wav. Some 3.5mm microphones come with full or trial versions of DAW software for free.
How much you can expect to spend on a 3.5mm microphone
The price of a 3.5mm microphone can vary widely, ranging from $15 to over $70. The lower end includes simple microphones that may underperform in certain environments, while higher-end microphones often include bonus accessories and software.
3.5mm microphone FAQ
Can I record music with a 3.5mm microphone?
A. While most people use them for spoken word content like podcasting and lectures, 3.5mm microphones are also a practical solution for recording quick music demos. If you plan to record your performances, search for an omnidirectional microphone that has an adjustable tripod or shock-resistant mount, rather than a lapel mic.
Is a 3.5mm microphone better than a USB microphone?
A. Since they transfer data directly from a device’s audio input, 3.5mm microphones have cleaner, crisper sound quality than USB microphones. This connection to the audio input also means that you have more audio control and fewer latency issues with a 3.5mm microphone.
I plugged in my 3.5mm microphone — why isn’t it working?
A. Check the tip of your microphone’s cable to make sure that it’s compatible with your device. Two black rings indicate that your microphone uses a TRS cable, meaning it may not work with a smartphone, tablet or computer. Those devices use TRRS cables, so you’ll need to buy a TRS-TRRS adapter to make them work.
What’s the best 3.5mm microphone to buy?
Top 3.5mm microphone
Looyuan 3.5mm Condenser Recording Microphone
What you need to know: This compact condenser mic comes with a pop filter, shock guard and tripod, making it a reliable addition to any home studio.
What you’ll love: Lightweight, compact and affordable, this microphone looks professional and sounds great when recording speech.
What you should consider: The small diaphragm and cardioid setup is only recommended for certain types of recording.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top 3.5mm microphone for the money
PowerDeWise Professional Grade Lavalier Microphone
What you need to know: This lapel mic is very affordable and compatible with most devices.
What you’ll love: This mic has a 1-year warranty and comes with a 6-foot cable and TRRS-TRS adapter.
What you should consider: Some users reported poor sound quality, while others had an issue with broken parts.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
3.5mm microphone that’s worth checking out
Sony ECMCS3 Clip-On Omnidirectional Microphone
What you need to know: Backed by Sony’s stellar reputation, this lapel mic is versatile and compact.
What you’ll love: The microphone itself rotates, while the omnidirectional pickup delivers clear and consistent audio.
What you should consider: The microphone picks up a lot of ambient room noise, making it ill-suited for professional studio use.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Patrick Farmer writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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