Whether you’re a musician, a podcaster, or simply need to make a Zoom call, having an external microphone for your MacBook can be a lifesaver. But with so many options available, choosing the right one for your needs can be a challenge.
MacBook users can find USB, wireless, and XLR microphones that are compatible with their laptop and can vastly improve audio quality. Always consider the purpose of the mic and the level of audio quality you really need. For remote meetings, a simple headset is probably enough.
Let’s take a closer look at how to go about selecting the right microphone for your audio needs and some of the best microphones for various uses and budgets. We’ll also learn how to connect mics, so you can start using yours right away.
Is a MacBook Compatible With an External Microphone?
Yes, a an Apple MacBook (on Amazon) is compatible with most external microphones. External microphones are often used because they can provide better sound quality than MacBooks’ built-in microphones.
Options like the Blue Yeti USB (on Amazon) are a good sledgehammer option that will solve this problem for you, but there are some details you should consider about how you’re going to use your mic, and if you really need that high quality of an option. More on that (and the Blue Yeti) later, but first let’s cover the types of microphone options you have to get started.
What Type of Microphones Work Well With a MacBook?
XLR microphones, wireless microphones, and USB microphones all work well with a MacBook. Here’s an overview of each:
- USB microphones are a popular option for those who want an easy way to connect their microphone to their MacBook. Many USB microphones are plug-and-play, so they don’t require any additional software or drivers to work.
- Wireless microphones are a good choice if you want to move around while using your microphone. They connect to your MacBook with a receiver that plugs into a USB port or via Bluetooth.
- XLR microphones are a type of professional microphone that uses a three-pin XLR connector. These microphones require an audio interface to connect to your MacBook.
USB microphones are typically the best option for a MacBook, as they’re easy to set up and usually provide good sound quality. Wireless microphones can be a good choice if you need to move around freely while talking or recording.
However, the sound quality often isn’t as good as a USB microphone. XLR microphones are a good choice for professional users, but they can be more expensive and require additional equipment.
What Factors Should You Consider Before Buying a Microphone?
You should consider a few factors before buying a microphone for your MacBook. These include the purpose or use of the microphone, your budget, the quality of sound you need, and any additional features you might want.
For example, if you plan to use the microphone to record music, you’ll need a higher quality microphone than if you’re using it for making Skype calls. Likewise, if you’re on a tight budget, you may need to sacrifice some sound quality to save money.
What will you use the microphone for? Recording vocals, music, podcasting, gaming, etc.? Getting clarity on your purpose will help narrow down the type and quality of microphone you need.
How much can you spend on a microphone? Many affordable options are available, but sound quality often varies by price. Also, some microphones may require additional equipment or accessories, which can add to the overall cost.
How good does the sound need to be? You won’t need studio-quality sound if you’re only using the microphone for making Skype calls or recording audio for YouTube videos. However, you’ll need a higher-quality microphone if you’re recording instruments or vocals.
The pickup pattern of your mic is another point to consider. Microphones capture sound through transducers, which convert electrical signals into sound waves. The pickup pattern is how the microphone captures those sound waves. The four main types are cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional, and stereo.
Named for its heart-shaped pickup pattern, this type picks up sound primarily from the front while rejecting sound from the sides and back. It’s a good choice for recording vocals or other sounds from a single source.
This type of microphone picks up sound equally from the front and back while rejecting sound from the sides. It’s best for recording two people in the same room, such as during an interview.
This type of microphone picks up sound equally from all directions. An omnidirectional microphone is ideal when recording multiple people in the same room or capturing ambient sounds.
A stereo microphone has two capsules that each capture sound in a different direction, creating a natural, realistic sound that’s perfect for recording music or other audio with multiple sound sources.
Which additional features would you like in a microphone? Some microphones have built-in audio interfaces, while others have mute buttons or noise cancellation.
If you plan to use your microphone for live streaming, you may want a model with a built-in headphone jack to monitor your audio in real-time.
What Are the Best External Microphones for a MacBook?
There are many options for external microphones for a MacBook, and each has its benefits and drawbacks. Based on research and reviews, these are our favorite picks for external microphones you can buy for your MacBook:
Blue Yeti USB
The Blue Yeti USB (on Amazon) is a well-reviewed USB microphone that offers high-quality audio recording for podcasting, gaming, and music. It features three condenser capsules that can be switched between cardioid, omni, bidirectional, and stereo pickup patterns and a built-in headphone jack for monitoring audio.
With a simple plug-and-play design, the Blue Yeti is also very easy to use, making it ideal for beginners. It also features built-in audio controls for gain, pattern selection, and instant mute.
The only downside of the Blue Yeti is the customer support, as some users have reported issues getting troubleshooting help from the company.
The Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ Cardioid Condenser USB
The Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ (on Amazon) is another excellent option for a USB microphone. With a cardioid pickup pattern and a smooth frequency response that is perfect for podcasting, streaming, and voiceover work, it includes a built-in headphone jack for monitoring audio and comes with a desk stand and a USB cable.
The plug-and-play setup makes the AT2020USB+ very easy to use, and its low-mass diaphragm helps produce clear and accurate sound. The only downside is that it’s not as versatile as some of the other microphones on this list, as it only offers one pickup pattern.
For the price, however, it is an excellent value if your needs are for superior quality audio recording in a single direction.
The Rode NT-USB (on Amazon) is a side-address condenser microphone, meaning that the capsule is on the side of the microphone, rather than on the top.
With its unidirectional pickup pattern, the Rode NT-USB is more versatile than some of the other microphones on this list, as you can use it for singing and music recording, podcasting, and voiceover work.
The included pop filter helps to reduce wind and breath noise, while the adjustable desk stand ensures you can find the perfect position for recording. The NT-USB also comes with a pouch for easy transport.
The only downside of the Rode NT-USB is that it is a bit more expensive than some of the other microphones on this list.
Samson Meteor Mic
The Samson Meteor Mic (on Amazon) is a great option for those looking for a budget-friendly USB microphone. It features a unidirectional pickup pattern and a cardioid condenser capsule, making it ideal for podcasting, gaming, and music recording.
The Samson Meteor Mic also includes a built-in headphone jack for monitoring audio and has built-in legs that fold up for easy transport.
The Samson Meteor Mic is very easy to use and is one of the most affordable microphones on this list. The only downside is that the built-in tripod legs are not adjustable, so users recommend purchasing a separate stand.
Blue Snowball iCE
The Blue Snowball iCE (on Amazon) is ideal for podcasting, gaming, and Skype or Zoom calls. The Blue Snowball iCE delivers clear and focused sound with a cardioid pickup pattern. With the included desktop stand and USB cable, plug-and-play setup is easy.
The Blue Snowball iCE is one of the most affordable microphones on this list and users love its simple design. Well-reviewed and known for its excellent sound quality, the only downside of the Blue Snowball iCE is that it does not include a headphone jack for monitoring audio.
Which Mic Is Right for You?
The Samson Meteor Mic or the Blue Snowball iCE will be a great option if you’re looking for a budget-friendly option.
The Rode NT-USB will be a good option if you need a more versatile microphone. And if you’re looking for the best sound quality, the Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ would be the best choice.
Wireless options are also available, but we recommend sticking with a USB microphone for the best sound quality because it will provide a cleaner sound than an analog wireless connection.
If you must have a wireless microphone, the Samson XPD2 Lavalier (on Amazon) provides a wireless solution for around $100. It includes a receiver that plugs into your USB port and a lavalier mic that you can clip to your shirt.
The Samson XPD2 Lavalier has a range of up to 100 feet, giving you the freedom to move around. Samson also offers handheld and headset wireless configurations.
The Jabra Evolve2 65 (on Amazon) includes a microphone, built-in speakers, and active noise cancellation, making it perfect for conference calls or recording videos. It has a battery life of up to 37 hours, and a USB-C dongle provides a stable wireless connection.
How Do You Connect an External Mic to Your MacBook?
To connect a USB microphone to your MacBook, plug the USB cable into one of the USB ports on your computer. Most USB microphones are plug-and-play, meaning they will work with your computer with no additional drivers or software, or the software will install automatically.
To connect a wireless headset or lavalier microphone to your MacBook, plug the wireless receiver that comes with the device into your USB port. When the wireless receiver is plugged in, you should be able to pair it with your headset or lavalier microphone.
Some wireless headsets, like the Jabra Evolve2 65, come with a USB-C dongle for a stable connection. If your wireless headset uses Bluetooth, you can pair it with your MacBook by going to System Preferences, then selecting ‘Bluetooth‘ and choosing the device from the list of available options.