In order to record high-quality sound onto your computer, you typically need an audio interface. An audio interface takes input signals from your microphones and converts them to digital signals that your computer can use. USB microphones contain an analog-to-digital converter inside of the microphone housing, thereby eliminating the need for an interface. Many of the top microphone manufacturers produce a line of USB microphones. Each microphone model is optimally-configured for specific recording purposes.
Blue USB microphones come in a variety of models, each with distinct qualities. The Blue Yeti and Yeti Pro are variations on a condenser microphone. Both feature a number of different pickup patterns. The Yeti Pro also features a 192-kHz sample rate with 24-bit depth and an analog signal path for other recording applications. The Snowball microphone is also a condenser microphone with both cardioid and omnidirectional pickup patterns. Both Yeti models feature direct headphone monitoring, while the Snowball does not.
Samson manufactures a range of USB microphones. Their Go Mic is a portable condenser mic with either cardioid or omnidirectional pickup patterns. It features a headphone jack for monitoring the output from your Digital Audio Workstation. The Meteor is a cardioid-pattern condenser microphone with direct headphone monitoring. Samson also manufactures the Q1U, which is a dynamic microphone. It does not require phantom power and does not feature a direct headphone output.
MXL offers a variety of USB condenser microphones. The MXL USB77, MXL USB.009 and the MXL Trio are all different condenser microphones. Both the MXL USB77 and USB.009 offer direct headphone monitoring, whereas the Trio offers low-latency headphone monitoring. The USB.009 also offers a 96-kHz sample rate and 24-bit depth, thereby capturing sound at a higher resolution than many other mics. Additionally, MXL manufactures the Mic Mate. The Mic Mate is a USB microphone adapter which converts any existing condenser microphone into a USB mic. It supplies the mic with the necessary phantom power via USB and contains a preamp.
Audio-Technica is another reputable microphone manufacturer with a line of USB mics. They offer a number of USB condenser microphones, such as the AT2020USB+ and the ATR2500-USB. Both of these models feature direct headphone monitoring. Furthermore, Audio-Technica produces two USB dynamic microphones. The AT2005USB and the ATR2100-USB are dynamic microphones that feature direct headphone monitoring and separate XLR analog output jacks.
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