Home studio microphone in front of a laptop.
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Looking for a new microphone that actually sounds good? You can either go with a headset or a standalone mic, but which is better? Let’s compare the two to see which you might prefer more.

A headset microphone, as the name suggests, is a microphone that’s built into a headset. You’ll often find them on gaming headsets, as they’re designed as an all-in-one solution to hear and be heard. The microphone quality is usually decent, but you don’t have many options to customize the way you sound. You’ll need to find and use audio editing software to make adjustments.

Standalone microphones don’t come with a headset attached. You can clip them onto your shirt, set them on your desk, or mount them on a compatible boom arm. These mics don’t have speakers, so they focus on delivering the best audio quality possible. Since they’re not all-in-one solutions, you have more options to fine-tune your voice the way you like it, but that also means there’s a bit of a learning curve.

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Comfort

One of the main differences between these two types of microphones is their comfort. A headset microphone means you’ll be wearing a pair of headphones over your head. Although there are many headsets that are comfortable to wear, for some people, it can be a bit of a hassle after a while.

This is why you’ll see some people wear headsets around their necks and place the microphone near their mouths. They’ll then listen through the headphone speakers from a distance, which isn’t really convenient. Or, they’ll use external speakers, but the microphone is more likely to pick up background noises and people’s voices, creating an unpleasant echo. Again, it’s not convenient.

In contrast, you’ll really never have an issue with comfort when dealing with standalone microphones because you don’t have to wear anything over your head. You can simply place them on your desk and face them toward you. You can also attach them to a boom arm to get them closer to your mouth if needed. However, the boom arm can get in the way if you don’t have a good setup for it.

A major problem for both headsets and standalone mics is using external speakers for sound. Your microphone is much more susceptible to picking up sounds from your speakers, which can create an echo that others may hear. Wearing headphones is the best way to avoid this, but it’s not the most comfortable option. A pair of earbuds is a better solution, but they might not offer the best sound quality.

Overall, in terms of comfort alone, standalone microphones will definitely be more comfortable to use for extended periods.

Boseen Microphone Shock

This shockmount is great for condenser mics. It gets rid of vibrations, is widely compatible, and has a sturdy, metal build.

Audio Quality

Audio quality determines how well your voice will be heard by others. A microphone with good audio quality will make your voice sound clear and full, without pesky background noises. This includes any distortion, echoing, static, humming, or unwelcome sounds created in your environment.

Quality microphones do a decent job of reducing background noises, but they might not eliminate them completely. Overall, standalone microphones will deliver much better audio quality than headset microphones. They have better internals that are designed to produce superior audio, especially for professional uses such as recording voiceovers and podcasts.

Headset microphones don’t usually produce the same level of quality because they’re also used to hear. It’s harder and more expensive to find headphones with good sound quality and a full-sounding microphone. Standalone microphones don’t have speakers, so they only focus on producing the best audio possible.

Fine-Tuning

Although some microphones sound good right out of the box, you might need to do some fine-tuning to get the perfect sound you’re looking for. This is where standalone microphones have an advantage over headset microphones.

With standalone microphones, you have much more flexibility to adjust and fine-tune the audio. For some people, using the included table stand can work, but it’s not always the best since the mic isn’t that close to your mouth. The closer the mic is, the better the audio quality will be.

This is where a shock mount comes in handy. The mount allows you to position the mic exactly where you want it while absorbing vibrations and sounds from your keyboard. It also frees up some desk space. Luckily, it’s a must-have accessory that’s relatively inexpensive. You can also install a pop filter to reduce or eliminate any popping and hissing sounds while speaking.

You can play around with these accessories to help you get the best sounding audio from your standalone microphone. Furthermore, standalone mics usually come with software that allows you to fine-tune the audio. With the Blue Yeti X, for example, you can install Blue VO!CE to add vocal effects and make EQ adjustments to make your voice sound perfect.

Headset microphones are more limited in terms of fine-tuning because they’re designed as an all-in-one solution. You’re usually not given software to help you improve the audio quality, so you’ll need to find and learn how to use voice editing software to make adjustments.

That said, if your headset mic doesn’t do a good job of reducing popping and hissing sounds, you can get a windscreen. This may help your microphone sound the way it was designed to sound.

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Which Is Better?

Now that you know the main differences between the two types of microphones, you’ll realize that standalone microphones are better in terms of delivering high-quality audio. If you’re looking to record a podcast, do voiceovers, or stream on Twitch, then a standalone mic is the way to go. Pairing it with headphones that deliver high-quality sound will give you the best of both worlds.

However, if you’re looking for a simple solution to talk with friends, a headset microphone might be a better option. They offer decent sound quality, and the microphones are still good enough for most people. Just don’t expect to get studio-quality audio.

Regarding pricing, the two aren’t too far from each other. You can find a decent standalone mic around $50-100 with higher-end options near $150 or higher. However, don’t forget about the cost of any necessary headphones and other accessories.

Decent headsets also start around $50-100. You can get higher-end models for over $150 with better sound and microphone quality, but the mic alone still won’t compare to standalone models.

The 8 Best USB Microphones of 2022

Best Overall
Blue Yeti
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Blue Snowball
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Fifine K669B
Best Premium
Audio-Technica AT2020USB+
Best Ultra-Premium
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Small and Powerful
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Best for Streamers
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Versatile
Audio-Technica AT2005USB
Profile Photo for Andy Nguyen Andy Nguyen
Andy Nguyen has been a professional freelance writer for over three years and has written hundreds of articles. He has loved computers and technology ever since he started gaming as a kid back in the 1990s. He's the person everyone he knows turns to for help with tech, too. Andy also runs a blog where he provides information and guides for students on becoming more productive.
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