USB Mic vs XLR Choose the Best for Your Needs

XLR is the traditional type of audio connection found on mics. But technology has given birth to the USB connection. So, USB Mic vs XLR which type is good?

by Derrick Reeves | Updated: November 24, 2021

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What is the best way to get your voice heard? If you are a podcaster, singer, or just want to record some audio messages for friends and family, you will need an interface.

That's because condenser microphones can only be used for live performances. You might think that this makes USB mics the perfect solution - but they have their limitations too.

In this blog post, we'll discuss both options and give you a rundown of the pros and cons so that you can make an informed decision about what kind of microphone is best for your needs!

How is a USB microphone different from an XLR microphone?

It's mainly the connection that's different. A USB mic plugs into your computer, while an XLR microphone connects to a mixer or PA system.

Since this article is about condenser microphones vs USB mics and not the other types of mics, we won't be talking too much about these connections here!

Which Should I Use?

Which Should I Use

Personal preference is the best answer. The USB microphones are likely less expensive, and if you're a recording musician or podcaster, then a USB mic might be the perfect choice because it's easy to plug into your computer.

However, condenser microphones usually provide better sound quality. When they outgrow their USB, most people upgrade to an XLR.

If you're an audiophile, then the condenser microphone is definitely for you!

A USB mic plugs directly into your computer and a mixer or PA system can be connected to it with XLR cables. This means that there's less equipment needed in order to get started recording!

An XLR Mic + Interface vs A USB Mic At A Lower Budget

If you are considering setting up a home recording studio for the first time, you may be concerned with cost.

A professional condenser microphone and audio interface can be quite expensive, while the cost of a USB mic is significantly less than that for an XLR set up with an interface.

If you're on a tight budget, then opting for a quality USB Mic may be best for you because it will produce good results

A XLR Mic + Interface vs A USB Mic At A Lower Budget

USB Microphone Setup is simpler - They are less complex

A USB microphone is very easy to set up. They simply plug into your computer via a USB cable and USB port

Plugin XLRR microphone and audio interface requires a lot more setup time, so you'll need to purchase cables and possibly phantom power if your condenserenser mic needs it..

The setup of the audio interface is complicated because there are no instructions included with most devices.

Portability and Convenience

With just that and a set of headphones, you can record anywhere you want.

This is not very true with condenser microphones, as they are much more sensitive and need to be placed in a quiet room for the best possible sound quality. You will also have to lug around cables and an audio interface which makes it inconvenient when traveling or recording on the go.

USB Microphone Setup is simpler - They are less complex

Phantom Power – What is it? Do I Need it?

A phantom power supply is required for condenser microphones, as it provides power to the microphone.

With a USB microphone, the USB power supplies that phantom power.

Phantom power is a controversial topic in recording, as some people believe it helps the microphone to produce a clearer sound. No external phantom power is needed for a USB mic

If you have an XLR condenser microphone then you will need a phantom power supply to use it.

If you are unsure about your needs, then I would recommend buying an XLR condenser microphone and using the audio interface for recording vocals or instruments.

Final Verdict

The answer really comes down to the type of microphone you're looking for and the scenario you are using it for.

I would recommend either USB or XLR condenser microphones if your needs have been outlined above, and an audio interface to go with them.

If you want a cheap microphone then buy a USB mic, but make sure that you have phantom power as this is necessary in order to use a condenser microphone.