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What is a USB Microphone?

By Phil Shepley
Updated May 16, 2024
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A USB microphone is a microphone that is designed for use in a personal computer or laptop and utilizes the “plug and play” technology that is associated with USB ports. Devices that use USB technology are popular since all someone needs to do to use it is plug it into the USB port, after which the device is quickly powered up and running. There are many different types of these microphones available, which range not only in price and quality, but also in the amount of features they come with. Some varieties of USB microphones can also be integrated into other USB gadgets such as headphones, personal computer cameras and more.

A basic USB microphone simply consists of the microphone itself for speaking into that has a wire with Universal Serial Bus type plug that connects directly to a USB port. These simple gadgets can have many different uses, including recording podcasts, talking to people on other computers, recording music, for audio that accompanies video, gaming and more. The use of the USB microphone will determine the quality that it needs to be, and the quality of these devices can range from poor to microphones that can record at studio-quality levels for high fidelity purposes like high quality music or podcasts.

USB microphones come in many different styles and varieties, as well as being equipped with different features. Some of them utilize noise-canceling technology, which filters out unwanted background noise. Many features involve flexibility of where these desktop microphones can be placed such as longer cords, mounting devices, pivots to adjust the position and weighted bases to prevent movement. Another popular feature of a USB microphone is a muting switch that can easily turn the device on and off for privacy.

It is important to use a USB microphone correctly in order to get the most quality possible out of it. The position where the microphone should be placed is mainly dependent upon the specifications and quality of the microphone itself, and typically the microphone does not to be too near the sound source unless it is part of a headset. A USB microphone that cancels outside noise and interference will have more flexibility as to where it can be placed for the best sound quality. It is also important that the microphone is placed away from computer speakers because feedback can be caused when the two are too close in proximity.

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Discussion Comments
By anon28780 — On Mar 22, 2009

A USB microphone is *much* more than a microphone capsule with a wire on it. If you attached a mic directly to a USB port, you'd get nothing at all.

It consists of a microphone capsule, preamplifier, analog to digital converter and a USB chip to interface all this to the computer. It's basically the complete input side of a sound card with a microphone built in.

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