The past several years have seen a rise in the quality and quantity of studio microphones that connect directly to your computer through a USB connection. For home recording rigs using recording software on their computer as a virtual studio, a USB microphone can increase the number of tracks they're able to simultaneously record because it allows them to take advantage of the numerous USB ports found on the computer. Today, USB versions of high-quality dynamic, condenser and even ribbon microphones are all available, and can significantly increase the capabilities of your home recording studio.
What is a USB Microphone?
A USB microphone is not a new kind of studio microphone but rather a new way to utilize existing types of studio microphones. Instead of the typical XLR connector most commonly used, USB microphones plug directly into the USB port on your computer. Once connected, the USB studio microphone will be able to work with your recording software, or independently if you choose. The easy plug and play nature of USB makes these studio microphones easy to set up and even easier to use.
Another great thing about today's USB studio microphones is that they can use the USB port on your computer to supply phantom power for condenser microphones.
When to use a USB microphone
The benefit of a USB microphone is that you can use it with your computer without needing an additional audio interface. And since USB microphones can work with existing recording software, they make a great way to expand your home recording capabilities without having to massively overhaul your home recording rig. Additionally though, USB microphones can be used for numerous other activities, like internet conversations with friends and family or recording your own podcasts. And with the high-quality sound of today's USB microphones, you can feel confident that your recordings won't be full of background noise and static when you record.
The former downside of a USB microphone was that you couldn't connect it to a more conventional mixing board or digital audio interface. This limitation is now a thing of the past with the new studio microphone adapters that allow XLR microphones to work as USB microphones. You can even buy an all in one studio microphone pack, such as the Shure SM58 with X2u USB Digital Bundle that gives you a great studio microphone and a USB adapter; giving your home recording studio a leg up on the competition. All you need to do it plug in the X2u adapter to the Shure SM58 and your standard XLR microphone is now a fully equipped USB microphone ready to work the moment you plug it in. In fact, the X2u adapter will work on any standard microphone, so you'll be able to plug your favorite studio microphone directly into your computer.