With more and more schools across the country integrating remote learning methods into the curriculum, families and teachers alike are adjusting to a new kind of classroom. This often involves acquiring or upgrading technology, including an online classroom microphone.
To get the most out of this new learning and teaching experience, you'll need tools that help you communicate clearly and easily. Yes, your computer, webcam and favorite headphones might come with a microphone, but a dedicated USB mic can help students and teachers hear better and understand each other.
In this blog post, we’ll break down the best USB microphones for remote learning to help you find the best microphone for your classes.
Why do I need a dedicated microphone?
Built-in microphones are designed for convenience, not quality. The built-in microphones on laptops or the earbuds that come with your phone are small, omnidirectional, and produce unwanted background noise. That means those who can hear you will likely hear typing noises, your dog snoring, and your neighbor mow the lawn.
Plus, those built-in microphones have harsh midrange frequencies. That’s fine for cutting through a mix when you need to, but isn’t pleasant to listen to for long periods of time.
Also, you usually can't adjust the placement of built-in computer microphones, so keeping the microphone close enough to your face to ensure you’re heard over background noise means getting your face right up close to your computer. And trust us, that’s never a flattering angle.
What's the benefit of a USB microphone over the Bluetooth microphone I use for lectures?
If you’re used to teaching in a large lecture hall or classroom, you might already have a Bluetooth classroom microphone that you use as part of a classroom microphone system.
So why can’t you use those for online lessons?
Bluetooth microphones are great for certain situations, but unlike USB microphones like the Yeti, Yeti Nano, and Snowball iCE, they’re not plug-and-play devices. It can be difficult to set up a Bluetooth microphone to a computer, and there’s a higher risk of interference or audio dropping out while you’re speaking.
You also have to charge Bluetooth microphones, and the latency inherent in Bluetooth devices could be distracting. You’ll never have to charge a USB microphone because it’s powered by your computer. And since your signal is hardwired into your computer, latency isn’t an issue.
Yeti – Best Classroom Microphone for Teachers
Yeti is a great choice for teachers, offering studio-quality audio and plug-and-play simplicity.
Yeti is the #1 USB microphone on the market now, and for good reason. Like every Blue microphone, it offers studio-quality audio with the ease of a plug-and-play device. And at $129.99, it’s an affordable option for a teacher microphone.
Whether you do all of your teaching at a stationary desk or prefer to move around during the day, Yeti is a great choice. It’s small enough to move from spot to spot and has a convenient desktop stand to prevent it from getting bumped around. It’s also easily adjustable on its base and locks into place once you find that sweet spot.
With Yeti, you can bounce between four microphone settings, including cardioid and omni patterns. The cardioid pattern is ideal for most remote learning situations as it helps reduce background noise when compared to built-in microphones. Try using the omni setting for groups, including situations where there are a lot of people speaking around a table.
Yeti also has a foolproof mute button right on the front of it. No more wondering if you’re actually muted or if everyone can secretly hear you. Plus, Yeti has a headphone output jack with its own volume control.
Yeti Nano – Best Portable Microphone for Teachers
Yeti Nano delivers stunning clarity in a portable package—perfect for teachers on the go.
More compact and portable than Yeti, Yeti Nano boasts many of the same features, making it a strong choice for USB teaching microphones. Like Yeti, Yeti Nano is easy to set up and start using as a personal microphone for teachers or students alike. It also has both the cardioid and omni settings, so you can adjust your microphone setting based on your needs in different situations.
Measuring in at just eight inches tall (including the base), its compact size makes it ideal for smaller spaces and desks or carting around in a backpack or bag. Plus, it’s even more affordable than the Yeti. Yeti Nano costs just $99.99 new.
Same as Yeti, Yeti Nano has a headphone output so you can both monitor your own voice and listen to everyone else in the classroom without disturbing anyone around you. It even comes in four colors, so your microphone can match your personality.
Snowball iCE – Best Portable Microphone for Students
Snowball iCE is intuitive, sounds great and easily fits in a backpack—a great choice for students.
For maximum portability, you can’t go wrong with Snowball iCE at $49.99 USD. It’s just as intuitive as Yeti or Yeti Nano, but offers a more compact size and even greater affordability. You can easily tuck Snowball iCE into your desk drawer or backpack for great sound anytime, anywhere.
But what makes Snowball iCE so affordable? Unlike Yeti and Yeti Nano, Snowball iCE only features the cardioid pattern. That means it’s still ideal for reducing room noise, so your teachers and classmates can hear you clearly. Snowball iCE also doesn’t have a headphone output, but you can plug into your computer headphone out jack just like you normally would.
Of course, Snowball iCE and every Blue microphone deliver high-quality audio, no matter the situation. It’s even great for Twitch streaming after you finish that homework!
Which microphone is best for online teaching?
We’d recommend Yeti or Yeti Nano for online teaching. Both USB microphones are reliable, easy to use, portable, and have a cardioid pattern which reduces background noise.