Best XLR Microphones for Podcasting

January 20, 2021

If you’ve listened to my podcast then you’ll know that I have worked on quality of sound to make sure it’s the best listening experience possible. XLR microphones are definitely the ideal for sound quality and it just takes a quick look around the podcast and broadcast ecosystem to realize you see the same few microphones showing up again and again. 

I figured it is helpful to take a look at what the best XLR microphones for podcasting are and let your listeners hear the difference as you deliver a high quality, professional, noiseless experience for them. 

Why XLR Microphones?

While USB microphones and headsets are popular for gaming and folks doing online webinars and such, the step up for the most professional sound begins with the best XLR microphones for podcasting. These handful of options below are the de-facto standards among professional podcasters and budding podcaster alike. 

Using XLR microphones for podcasting lets you get great pre-production sound and all the gain, equalization, and preamp processing before it hits the recording. These microphones are built for high quality output, great noise reduction, and have a perfect dynamic range to match those dulcet tones that every podcaster is after. 

Since you’re looking for XLR microphones let’s put aside the USB option and stick to just the best XLR microphones for podcasting here. A couple of bonus items made the list and we also have a great price range represented in the selection. These are the same road-proven microphones used by bands and broadcasts everywhere. 

Let’s start with the best of the top-rated and most broadcaster-loved microphone in the business. 

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Electro-Voice RE20 Broadcast Announcer Microphone with Variable-D

This is the Cadillac of microphones and is a long-time resident in the best radio stations and podcast studios around the world. The tones and dynamic sound of the Electro-Voice RE20 bring out all the best of the lows and mids and still has lots of room up top for the highs. You’ll be sounding like a pro and you also get the crisp, clear recordings that cut down ambient noise because of the very cool Variable-D technology.

You’ll be able to “eat the mic” as they say and not pull in the unwanted noises and ambient hiss or anything from outside of a close physical range. This means getting the best deep tone and reducing the noise that is common with many USB microphones. 

When it comes to searching for the best XLR microphones for podcasting, the Electro-Voice RE20 is the top of the list every single time. 

This is my primary microphone for my recording studio as you may have seen in videos and the gear walkthrough.

Check it out here: https://amzn.to/35OT9lD

Electro-Voice RE20 – Black Version

This is the same spectacular Electro-Voice RE20 in the black ceramic option which is more rare and also a great option for how awesome it looks to go with the unmatched sound quality you’ll get. 

Check it out here: https://amzn.to/38TFaNv

The Electro-Voice Gear Bundle: Electro-Voice RE20 with 309A Shockmount

Since you’re looking at the best microphone around it makes sense that you would love to have the best shockmount to go with it. If you are looking for the ideal hanging shockmount kit at a 50% discount then this bundle is what you are after. If you buy the Electro-Voice 309A shockmount by itself it is usually around 99$ but comes in at half that when you pick these up together.

Check it out here: https://amzn.to/3oTzKaF

Electro-Voice RE320 Large Diaphragm Dynamic Vocal Microphone

A close second place in the best XLR microphones for podcasting behind the Elecro-Voice RE20 is the close cousin, the Electro-Voice RE320 Large Diaphragm Dynamic Vocal Microphone. This stylish unit comes in black and is a little less expensive only because of construction. The RE20 is ceramic and built for a bit more road and studio abuse. The Electro-Voice RE320 has the quality of an Electro-Voice product and an attractive aluminum body that is a little lighter (not much really) and has a great look on camera as well. 

You may not need any preamp boosting with the RE320 as long as you pump the gain nicely and it still doesn’t let unnecessary ambient noise bleed in. 

I say it’s “second” only because the RE20 is the broadcast standard microphone. I use the RE320 for many of my recordings and for day-to-day use in meetings and webinars as well.

Check it out here: https://amzn.to/3qmbONI

Shure SM7B Cardioid Dynamic Microphone

We would be remiss if we didn’t have the Shure SM7B among the best XLR microphones for podcasting. Many would actually love to see this one up at the #1 spot, but the Electro-Voice has such a colorful and proven history that the SM7B is still gaining in popularity. There is no doubt that this is an amazing microphone and gives you a beautiful look and a fantastic dynamic sound range to lift up your voice and make it sound superb.

Everyone who has seen the Joe Rogan podcast will recognize the familiar shape of the Shure SM7B and the warm, noiseless voice quality it produces. You may also notice that guests have to be reminded regularly to stay close to the microphone (one fist away is the easy measurement) or else they won’t come through. Having the tightness on the pickup range is great but requires that you stay close. This is why we use the phrase “eating the mic” sometimes because of how close you need to be.

Check it out here: https://amzn.to/2Lx4UGL

Audio-Technica AT4040 Cardioid Condenser Microphone

Audio-Technica microphones are also high among the popularity list for yearning and seasoned podcasters for a few reasons. First, the price point is lower than the Electro-Voice and the Shure alternatives we shared above. The second is that they can also offer a larger pickup range which lets you use them to share a microphone or record an ambient room/table.

The win for the ability to pick up more area is that you have more flexibility. Great for recording instruments, team discussions, and more. The down side is that you have the risk that the sensitivity and gain will pick up mouth noises, breathing, and other ambient noises from your surroundings if you are not careful about where you position the gain level. 

Having used both the AT4040 as an XLR microphone and more from the Audio Technica lineup in USB as well, the AT4040 is a super good microphone for the price. A great value and a versatile microphone. 

Check it out here: https://amzn.to/3qsmH0r

Audio-Technica AT2020 Cardioid Condenser

The next one down on the price spectrum for Audio Technica is the AT2020 Cardoid Condenser. Don’t let the entry-level price fool you when it comes to the quality of the microphone and results you’ll get. The AT2020 has been a staple in the Audio-Technica product line for many years with good reason.

The microphone is responsive, dynamic, and sensitive. You will want to practice with setting up your gain and mic pre-amp settings so that you have a nice signal range. The real value comes with the microphone technique that you’ll learn in spending time recording and streaming. It also allows you to use this for a better “off-camera” mic position when doing video recording. Many of my reviewers and podcaster/broadcaster friends have put this mic through it’s paces and come up with a double thumbs up on the results. 

Check it out here: https://amzn.to/39FsMQf

Rode Procaster Broadcast Dynamic Vocal Microphone

Rode rate very highly for both durability and sound quality. Having used every possible iteration of microphone in their lineup, our review team can stand by the hardware and the resulting sound that the Rode gear creates. There was no way that we could have the best XLR microphones for podcasting without seeing Rode microphones on the list.

The Procaster is a solid piece of hardware and the warm dynamic range gives you a really awesome sound for yourself and your guests. This one definitely earned it’s spot on the list of top picks.

Check it out here: https://amzn.to/2LZbGES

But wait, there’s more! 

BONUS SECTION – RE20 and SM7B ACCESSORIES

While these microphones stand alone on quality, there is a case where you will need to get a little gain boost for the Electro-Voice RE20 or the Shure SM7B. The Cloudlifter CL-1 Mic Activator is a popular (and rightly so) piece of equipment that you add inline as a preamp boost before it gets to the mixer. 

The Cloudlifter uses the phantom power from your mixer/interface and turns that +48v into pure signal boost. The microphone won’t need the phantom power so it is caught at the Cloudlifter CL-1 and then adds some really nice full-bodied gain to the audio signal as it heads to the board. 

Cloudlifter CL-1 Mic Activator

Check it out here: https://amzn.to/2XMttBZ

You may find that you want this for the Electro-Voice RE320 although many of our podcasters and reviewers have found that just boosting the gain on the RE320 is enough without the inline CL-1. Your results may vary.

Electro-Voice 309A – Suspension Kit

Since we also have two models of Electro-Voice microphones in the well-deserved selection for best XLR microphones for podcasting, it makes sense to also share the suspension kit that you can use for a super cool looking setup. The silicone/rubber suspension ensures that no boom arm noise makes its way to the microphone. This lets you adjust position on the fly as you record or stream and you don’t have to worry about creaking and squeaking slipping into the audio.

https://amzn.to/3nZMHig

We really hope that find these microphones and our reviews as helpful as most of our podcast and equipment reviewers have so far. These are must-haves for the professional sounding podcast without blowing up the budget. 

One More thing…

For the rest of us who are looking to nail the price/quality balance, the Electro-Voice RE20Electro-Voice RE320Shure SM7B,  Audio Technica AT4040Audio Technica AT2020, and Rode Procaster are all top notch value for the price. If you really wanted to go all in you may find yourself looking at the Neumann TLM102 and Neumann TLM103 which are much higher on the price range and will be what you find inside the studios of some serious audiophiles and hardcore vocal performers. 

Dream Microphone #1: Neumann TLM102

Check out the Neumann TLM102 here: https://amzn.to/39Fft2l

Dream Microphone #2: Neumann TLM103

Check out the Neumann TLM103 here: https://amzn.to/3nUVBxa

Photo by Erkan Utu from Pexels

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