With Apple's GarageBand software a free download for any new Mac, it's really easy to create podcasts, songs or general recordings on your computer. All you need is a decent microphone to help capture the audio and your voice at its best.
A decent mic can also be a welcome addition to video calls, improving the sound quality of your contributions when compared to the built-in mics on the Mac.
But where do you start when trying to decide which microphone to buy? You can spend a lot of money on a quality microphone, so to keep this list within the reach of most people we'll limit the selection to ones below £200/$250. Here's our quick guide to the best mics currently available.
Should I buy a USB or XLR microphone?
When it comes to microphones, there are two main types of connection that you use to plug them into your Mac: USB and XLR. The former is the easiest as they connect via standard USB cable, while the XLR variant can't be attached directly to a Mac, but instead require some kind of audio interface.
You might think that this makes the USB option the best, and for many people this will be the case, but audiophiles usually take the view that the XLR/audio interface route gives superior audio quality thanks to the pre-amps in the interface that can add a little warmth and sparkle to the finished recordings.
If you just want a simple setup that gives good results, then a USB microphone will probably suffice as it will most likely be a cheaper and more portable solution. For those wanting to record music or multiple people in a podcast the flexibility and more professional options that come with the XLR/audio interface setup will be preferencial.
While we won't be covering audio interfaces in this particular roundup, an excellent choice is anything from the Focusrite Scarlett range, with the Scarlett Solo perfect for those just starting out with audio recording. It retails for around £100/$120 and at the time of writing could be found for £94.99 on Amazon UK and $119 on Amazon USA.
Should I buy a dynamic or condenser microphone?
Aside from the connection choice there's also the type of microphone you can buy. There, again, are two main options: dynamic and condenser.
As a rule of thumb dynamic mics are better are getting rid of background noise as they have a focus on what's directly in front of the microphone (your voice). Condensers can have a richer tonal palette, but their sensitivity can pick up more surrounding audio. The latter makes them excellent for capturing ambient tones in the room, but if you live in a noisy house then they could be problematic.
Both can produce fantastic audio, so if you're unsure which to choose, do a little Googling on the specific model you have in mind to see if people who own them are getting the results you're hoping to attain.
Top five microphones for Mac
Type: USB / Condenser
If you're looking for a cheap and cheerful microphone to record vocals when streaming on Twitch, chatting on Zoom or making a podcast, then the Snowball by Blue is something of a modern classic.
The spherical chassis is cool and fun, plus it comes with an attachable stand that will have it sitting up on your desk at a good height to capture your voice.
You'll want to add a pop shield if you intend to speak directly into it, as you'll pick up 'plosives' (booming sounds as your breath hits the microphone) when using it in this manner. Sit it slightly offset to your mouth and you should find this a great USB condenser microphone that won't break the bank.
Type: Dynamic/USB & XLR
If you're unsure which kind of connection you want to use, the Samson Q2U has both USB and XLR outputs. This is a nice feature as it means the mic can stay in your rig if you decide you want to upgrade to an audio interface at some point.
The Q2U has a traditional handheld-style chassis, but fits happily in any standard mic stand. For such a compact unit it manages to fit in a surprising amount of options, with the aforementioned connectors joined by a 3.5mm headphone jack for direct monitoring.
There are no volume controls though, so you'll need to do that via your software.
Affordable price, flexible options and great sound. Perfect for beginners or even those who want to add a second mic to their setup.
Type: Dynamic / XLR
One of the newest entries on this list is the PodMic. This broadcast-style dynamic microphone comes from the renowned Rode brand. Aside from the beautiful styling that makes it look like something you'd find in a radio studio, the PodMic is aimed very much at spoken word audio and podcasting in particular. Hence the name.
It's a solid construction, with a metal chassis surrounding the microphone grill which also includes a built-in pop shield.
There's an integrated bracket that can screw into the standard mic stand fittings, and the only port or control is the XLR output on the back.
You'll, of course, need an audio interface to plug it into your Mac, but if you want an affordable mic for vocal work then this is well worth your consideration.
Type: Condenser / USB
Another stalwart in the USB microphone world is the Yeti by Blue. You'll see this in a multitude of YouTube videos and have heard it on countless Twitch streams and podcasts, as it's an incredibly popular condenser mic that delivers great audio.
One of the main reasons for its popularity is that it contains four different condenser capsules inside - giving it the ability to record in a variety of modes. These include speaking directly into the mic or even having two people speak either side of it.
If versatility is what you're after, not to mention the convenience of a USB connection and built-in stand, then the Blue Yeti is a tried and tested legend.
Samson G-Track Pro
This is a bit of a chunky beast, so if you want a mic to throw in your bag and take around with you, one of the earlier entries are probably more suitable. But, to those who are looking for a mic that has plenty of features and sonic options, then the G-Track Pro should be high on your list.
The mic has three different polar patterns, which means you can change the area where it will capture sounds, much like the Blue Yeti. Cardioid will focus on your voice and ignore surrounding audio, while omnidirectional will allow you to capture interviews, plus you can also record yourself playing guitars, pianos or other instruments while singing.
The G-Track Pro caters for electric guitars too, as you can plug a standard 1/4in cable directly into the mic via its port and use it as an audio interface.
There's direct headphone monitoring, onboard volume controls and switches for instantly selecting the recording pattern. A bit too much for those who just want to pep up their Zoom calls, but a tempting mic if you have higher ambitions.
Read a full review on Tech Advisor UK
Type: Dynamic / XLR
One of most highly regarded vocal microphones that qualifies for this list is the Rode Procaster. This excellent dynamic mic, looks and feels premium with its full metal construction and broadcast-style design.
Tailored specifically for spoken word, it features a built-in pop-filter, low noise, and the cardioid pattern does a great job of rejecting background sounds.
There are no buttons or dials on the Procaster, instead it's a professional aesthetic with only the XLR output to break the simplicity.
Audio quality is fantastic, and your vocals will instantly sound more impressive compared to cheaper mics that you may already be using. Should you really prefer the idea of a USB version, then you can buy the Rode Podcaster for around the same price.