Clash of Titans: USB Microphones vs 3.5 mm Microphones. Which One to Choose?

If you are caught in the dilemma of choosing between a USB or 3.5 mm microphone, you have come to the right place. I will help you ultimately decide which one to purchase by providing you with the detailed differences, the pros and cons, the steps to set them up, and the reasons why you should choose each mic. Once you have decided which type of microphone you would like to buy, you should then look for one that is in your price range.

If you have a limited budget and need an affordable mic, check out this article on the best budget microphones.

USB Microphones

A USB mic is a microphone that possesses a USB output. It connects directly to any computer or laptop that has a USB port. This output is known as a digital audio signal. It is an affordable, easy option to plug into your computer and begin recording your voice immediately.

Pros:

  • Most USB microphones are affordable.
  • Most computers have numerous USB ports, allowing you to connect multiple microphones to your computer at the same time
  • USB microphones will provide the same quality audio output regardless of what type of computer you use or the hardware that it possesses.
  • Majority of computers recognize USB microphones as separate audio devices, which means a source card is not needed to use multiple recording sources.
  • These devices are easy to plug in and begin using as well as take on-the-go with you.
  • No extra cables or equipment needed
  • You will have the ability to record a wide range of voices with different pitches, tones, quirks, and timbres.

Cons:

  • If a USB microphone seems to be too cheap, it most likely is and will not perform well. There are many cheap USB mics, and you will be replacing equipment often if you purchase one of the cheap options.
  • A lot of USB microphones have latency issues. This means that there is a delay between the entering time of the sound and the exit time of the sound.
  • Majority of USB microphones are created for podcasting. Therefore, if you are looking for a microphone to create audio content for something other than podcasting, a USB mic may not be a good choice for the quality of your sound.
  • USB mics are typically more appealing for beginners and entry-level microphone users.
USB Microphones
Credits: fifinemicrophone.com

3.5 mm Microphones

A 3.5 mm mic is a device that possesses an 3.5 mm analog output. It plugs directly into any computer that has a headphone jack slot. Since most older computers do not contain a USB port, an analog mic can be used by connecting to the 3.5 mm headphone jack. An audio interface is usually already built into the jacks that are inside these computers.

Pros:

  • The quality of a 3.5 mm microphone is better than USB devices. Your voice will sound crisp and clear.
  • A 3.5 mm mic can take advantage of the features included in the sound card, such as special effects.
  • Not a lot of latency issues are reported with the 3.5 mm device.
  • They are great for going live and using instruments.
  • You will have more control over the sound quality.
  • These devices offer more compatibility as older computers and laptops are more likely to only accept analog mics.
  • They are easy to plug in and begin using.

Cons:

  • 3.5 mm devices are more expensive than USB mics.
  • They may produce static noise from wiring and connections.
  • You may need additional equipment to begin using the mic.
3.5 mm Microphones
Credits: lsin.panasonic.com

If you would like to know how to improve your audio quality with a 3.5 mm microphone, check out Podcastage’s YouTube video. He will explain how he is able to make his 3.5 mm device sound good, give recommendations, and show you how he sets the mic up.

What are the Main Differences?

There are a few key differences of these two microphones that we will discuss below.

What are the Main Differences?
It is important that you keep these four differences in mind to help you decide on the most suitable microphone to you and your personal and professional goals.
  1. One of the main differences is how each device sends its signal to the computer. The 3.5 mm device directly outputs its sound, whereas the USB device has a built-in processing hardware that converts the signal.
  2. USB microphones are one of the most affordable audio devices on the market. 3.5 mm microphones tend to be more expensive than USB devices, but the audio quality may be better.
  3. If there is an issue with the sound of the 3.5 mm mic, you can purchase a new sound card. You cannot do this with a USB mic because the audio adapter is built into the device.
  4. Majority of older computers do not have a USB port to plug a USB mic into. If you have an older computer, your only choice may be a 3.5 mm mic.

3.5 mm Microphones vs USB Microphones

There are many reasons to choose a 3.5 mm mic, and there are many reasons why you should choose a USB mic. Below, I will give five reasons to choose each type of device.

Why you should choose a 3.5 mm mic:

  1. Recording live music or instrument playing is best on a 3.5 mm mic.
  2. The sound quality may be better on a 3.5 mm mic.
  3. If you have an older computer or laptop, a 3.5 mm mic is guaranteed to be compatible.
  4. These devices give you more control over your sound and use the special effects of the sound card.
  5. If you have been using microphones for a long period of time, a 3.5 mm device is better for more experienced users.

3.5 mm Microphones vs USB Microphones

Why you should choose a USB mic:

  1. Most USB devices are affordable and cost-effective.
  2. They are able to be taken along with you on trips and use while on-the-go.
  3. USB mics are very easy to plug in and immediately start using.
  4. These devices are great for beginner microphone users.
  5. If you are a podcaster, a USB mic is the perfect choice for you.

If you’re looking for a perfect zoom-mic, check this article. It includes different models with several connecting types.

Summing up

Overall, the type of microphone that you should choose depends on your needs and goals. There are a lot of factors to consider when selecting a microphone, such as if you plan to use the mic personally or professionally, to create content for YouTube or podcasts, what type of computer you have, if you plan to travel, if you plan to record live or not, how much money you are willing and able to spend, and so much more. It is not only important to evaluate the benefits of each microphone, but also to consider what your plans of the microphone are.

To find out more information about the different types of mics that are commonly used, take a look at BarbsterFilms’ YouTube video. He gives you an in-depth description of the differences between a variety of devices including USB, XLR, 3.5 mm, LAV, AUX, and shotgun microphones.

Useful Resources

Conclusion

As you can see, both of these microphones are great choices for individuals looking to quickly connect their microphone to a computer or laptop and start using. A USB mic connects to the computer through an open USB port and possesses its own processing driver and hardware, while a 3.5 mm microphone connects to the computer through a headphone jack and depends on the computer system to process. Therefore, you should determine the quality of your sound hardware in your computer before you decide which type of mic you would like to purchase.

If you think that these microphone types are not something you’re looking for check the best wireless models here.

Leave a Comment