Broadcasting, Broadcast

5 Top-Rated Microphones for Internet Radio

This article was refreshed for accuracy in March 2023

There are plenty of steps you can take to maximize the sound quality of your voiceovers and talk segments. Perhaps the most important step, however, is choosing the right microphone. Below is a list of ten tried-and-true microphones that we highly recommend.

Six Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Microphone for Internet Radio

Several key characteristics distinguish different types of radio microphones. Some of the most important are:

1. Directionality (polar pattern)
2. Frequency response
3. Sensitivity
4. Impedance
5. Noise handling
6. Connectivity and compatibility with streaming software

Here’s what to look for in each of these categories:

1. Directionality (Polar Pattern)

Directionality, also known as polar pattern, refers to a microphone’s ability to pick up sound coming from different directions. Microphones can be omnidirectional, unidirectional, or bidirectional.

Omnidirectional microphones can pick up sound coming from all directions, giving them a very natural sound. They work well for environments such as radio station studios where you want to pick up the background noise. They’re less useful for settings such as stages where ambient noise needs to be tuned out.

Unidirectional microphones can only pick up sound coming from a specified degree of radius in the front of the mic. Different types of unidirectional microphones cover different degrees of pickup area in front of the mic, with corresponding areas of sound rejection outside the covered area. Cardioid microphones have a wide 180-degree range. Supercardioid microphones have a narrower 115-degree range. Hypercardioid mics have the narrowest range at 105 degrees.

Bidirectional microphones cover areas both in front and back of the microphone. They improve audio quality in situations where you need to pick up sound from two sources. For instance, they could be used to record a duet or two sections of an orchestra.

Microphones classified as dynamic microphones typically use unidirectional cardioid or supercardioid polar patterns. Microphones categorized as condensers can support any polar pattern, though not all condenser microphone models support all patterns.

2. Frequency Response

Frequency response refers to the range of frequencies a microphone can capture and reproduce as audio signals. This directly impacts sound quality.

Microphones can have a flat response or a shaped response, referring to the way their frequencies look when graphed. Flat response microphones can reproduce all frequency ranges. They work best for musical recordings and sound effects, but they aren’t ideal for recording voices.

Shaped response microphones specialize in reproducing specific frequency ranges while tuning others out. Typically, they provide boosts in the upper-to-mid range to increase voice clarity while tuning out low-frequency sounds from sources such as mic handling or stage rumbling.

3. Sensitivity

Microphone sensitivity refers to how much sound output a microphone generates when picking up sound input. Sensitivity is measured in terms of the sound pressure level (SPL) caused by a sound wave, expressed in decibels (dB). Low-sensitivity microphones have a sensitivity range of up to 80 dB, making them suitable for recording speech or quiet music. Medium-sensitivity microphones have a range of 80 to 94 dB, making them useful for recording live music from a short distance. High-sensitivity microphones have a range above 94 dB, making them suitable for louder environments such as stages.

4. Impedance

Microphone impedance refers to opposition to alternating current (AC) circuits flowing between microphones and connected devices. Output impedance is opposition over a microphone’s connection to its output source. Load impedance is the opposition between the microphone and the next device in line in its circuit, usually a preamplifier. Some microphones list both output and load impedance, while others don’t.

Impedance is rated in ohms. Low impedance ranges up to 600 ohms, while medium impedance covers 600 to 10,000 ohms, and anything above this falls under high impedance. Most professional microphones have low output impedance in the range of 150 to 250 ohms. Load impedance should be five to ten times higher than output impedance to let signals flow efficiently between microphones and preamplifiers.

5. Noise Handling

Handling noise refers to a microphone’s ability to filter out background noise when picking up a speaker’s voice. Noise handling is measured in a speech-to-noise ratio (SpNR). The higher the SpNR, the more strongly the desired speech signal is coming through over background noise. SpNR depends on what you do with a microphone as well as the mic itself. Variables that play a factor include the distance of the microphone from the sound source. Microphones with a boom that can be placed near the speaker’s mouth can achieve a better SpNR than in-line microphones at the end of long cords.

6. Connectivity and Compatibility with Streaming Software

Microphones vary in their ability to connect with different hardware devices and software applications. Microphones with USB connectivity can connect directly to your computer for simplicity. Those with XLR connectivity connect to other devices via an audio interface, providing better sound, more balanced audio over long cable lengths, and better protection from electrical damage. In addition to hardware connectivity considerations, make sure your microphone offers compatibility with any important software you use, such as the streaming software service you use for your radio broadcasts.

Ten Best Microphones for Internet Radio

Below we compare ten of today's most popular radio microphones for internet broadcasting. We summarize each microphone's key features, including type, polar pattern, connector type, and price. We also cover best uses, consider pros and cons, and offer overall evaluations.

When evaluating microphones, consider the application you will use the mic for and your budget. Some microphones are designed for speaking, while others are geared toward singing. Some work better in a studio environment, while some work best on stage. Consider any additional accessories that can improve audio quality or reduce unwanted noise like pop filters, shock mounts, or wind protection. Choose the option that's right for your needs and resources.

1. Behringer B1

Type: Condenser
Polar Pattern: Unidirectional (cardioid)
Connector Type: XLR
Best Used For: Main support microphone for studio and live applications, such as picking up acoustic instruments or serving as an overhead mic
Pros: Quality condenser microphone at an affordable price, open and transparent sound, flat response with a slight boost in presence range, filters for handling high volume and low frequencies, durable
Cons: Designed for stage and recording use, can be overly sensitive in a smaller studio environment when recording voice input
Pricing: $89
Overall Evaluation: One of the best buys at its price point, but you’ll need to adjust your volume levels and distance to avoid excessive ambient sound. Because it’s designed for stage or recording applications, it may be more than you need for a small studio.

2. Rode Broadcaster

Type: Condenser
Polar Pattern: Unidirectional (cardioid)
Connector Type: XLR
Best Used For: Broadcast vocal applications, voiceovers
Pros: Ultra-low noise, low-cut filter reduces unwanted low-frequency rumbling sounds, internal pop filter reduces plosive sounds, ten-year extended warranty
Cons: Expensive
Pricing: $419
Overall Evaluation: Excellent for internet radio broadcasting, but expensive.

3. Electro-Voice RE20

Type: Dynamic
Polar Pattern: Unidirectional (cardioid)
Connector Type: XLR
Best Used For: Singing, podcasting, voiceover, audiobook narration
Pros: Smooth and natural controlled sound, internal pop filter for close-in voice work, internal shock mount support to reduce vibration, shielding against line hum
Cons: Noise isolation may diminish over time
Pricing: $449
Overall Evaluation: High-quality option for internet broadcasters.

4. Audio-Technica AT2020

Type: Condenser
Polar Pattern: Unidirectional (cardioid)
Connector Type: XLR
Best Used For: Studio applications
Pros: Low noise level, high SPL handling, wide dynamic range, extended frequency response, superior transient response
Cons: No tone control, flat sound, must be very close to source to pick up sound, no English set-up instructions
Pricing: $99
Overall Evaluation: Affordable but low quality.

5. Rode Procaster

Type: Dynamic
Polar Pattern: Unidirectional (cardioid)
Connector Type: XLR
Best Used For: Singing, broadcasting, voiceover
Pros: Designed for broadcasting voice applications, tailored to voice frequencies, pop filter minimizes plosives
Cons: Picks up background noise, requires preamp, electrical interference can disrupt live streaming
Pricing: $299 or $348.99 with USB port audio interface
Overall Evaluation: Suitable for podcasting, but not optimal for live-streaming, and expensive for the quality delivered.

6. Shure SM7B

Type: Dynamic
Polar Pattern: Unidirectional (cardioid)
Connector Type: XLR
Best Used For: Streaming, singing
Pros: Supports studio and home recording as well as podcasting and streaming, does not require DC electric power (phantom power)
Cons: Expensive, requires additional equipment to use, less sensitive than condenser microphones, better for capturing loud singing than textured vocals
Pricing: $399
Overall Evaluation: The SM7B can accommodate a variety of audio, from softly spoken words to screaming rock, while still sounding clean and natural. However, it lacks sensitivity for vocal nuances, and its high price point gets multiplied by the need to buy additional equipment.

7. Audio-Technica AT4053B

Type: Condenser
Polar Pattern: Unidirectional (hypercardioid)
Connector Type: XLR
Best Used For: Professional recording, broadcast, and sound reinforcement
Pros: Clear signal even with high output, minimal low-frequency distortion, superior handling of high-speed transients for superior reproduction of nuanced instruments, hi-pass filter removes low-frequency sounds, 10 dB pad lowers overpowering loud signals
Cons: Expensive
Pricing: $699
Overall Evaluation: Excellent option for professional broadcasting, but pricey.

8. Heil PR-40

Type: Dynamic
Polar Pattern: Unidirectional (cardioid)
Connector Type: XLR
Best Used For: Streaming, singing
Pros: Wide frequency response to capture vocal and instrumental nuances, exceptional rear sound rejection for minimal ambient noise, warm and clear sound, superior recording
Cons: Sensitive to low-frequency rumbling, needs preamplification, requires set-up adjustments to use with USB connection
Pricing: $349
Overall Evaluation: Good dynamic mic option for the price point, but not ideal for USB connectivity.

9. Sennheiser e965

Type: Condenser
Polar Pattern: Unidirectional (cardioid/supercardioid adjustable)
Connector Type: XLR-3
Best Used For: Singing
Pros: Switches between cardioid and hypercardioid options, low ambient and rumbling noise, pre-attenuation for loud singers, shock mount reduces handling noise, durable
Cons: High bass pickup, challenging to equalize
Pricing: $399.95
Overall Evaluation: Best for live singing, less optimal for recording.

10. AKG Pro Audio C7

Type: Condenser
Polar Pattern: Unidirectional (supercardioid)
Connector Type: XLR
Best Used For: Stage performance
Pros: Clear voice reproduction, high SPL handling, pop filter system, shock absorber handling noise reduction, feedback, and spill rejection, durable
Cons: Sensitive to self-noise in a podcasting environment, needs a phantom power source
Pricing: $289
Overall Evaluation: Good option for stage performers, usable for podcasting, but can pick up self-noise.

Discover More Top-End Recording Accessories for Your Internet Radio Station

The best radio microphone for your internet radio station depends on your needs and budget. Overall, we recommend the Rode Broadcaster or Electro-Voice RE20 if you can afford it or the Behringer B1 if you’re on a budget.

Investing in quality equipment and essential tools gives your internet radio show a better sound and a competitive edge. Live365 gives you the tools you need for a successful internet radio station, supporting streaming, analytics, monetization, listening distribution, and the option for licensing coverage. Our user-friendly tools offer the easiest way to launch an internet radio station in minimal time at an affordable price. Sign up for a free trial to start broadcasting in minutes.

Discover the ultimate guide to selecting the perfect microphone for your internet radio broadcasts on Live365. Explore our curated list of broadcaster equipment to ensure crystal-clear sound quality and professional performance. Elevate your broadcasting experience with the right equipment today!

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Article Image:  Jonathan Velasquez via Unsplash.

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About Michelle Ruoff

  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania