If you’re lost in a sea of reviews trying to find the right microphone for your first setup, you might have wondered if XLR microphones sound better than USB. In this article, we’ll share our thoughts on the topic and explain our reasons why.

Quick Answer: Do XLR microphones sound better than USB mics? The answer is both yes and no. They are both technically the same, but an XLR microphone can sound better if used with a high-quality audio interface or mixer.

Quality of Microphone

From a raw technical point of view, it’s possible to get the same quality on either side of the equation. Take the Audio Technica AT2020, for example. The XLR and USB versions of this mic both use the exact same microphone capsule.

From a purely technical point of view, these microphones are identical. The same is true of the Shure MV7. In both cases, any audio quality differences between XLR and USB versions will be the result of what you connect them to.

If you want to know more about the differences between XLR and USB microphones, click to read our in-depth comparison.

XLR Microphone Connectivity

We think there are 4 big advantages to going with an XLR microphone, the first being connectivity. XLR is a universal connection type that will allow you to connect to almost any professional-grade audio equipment on the market.

Check out our audio gear buyer’s guides if you’re looking for equipment recommendations based on your planned activity.

XLR opens up a whole world of audio interfaces, external preamps, compressors, and many other types of audio processing equipment. If you’re in a live sound or studio environment, connecting an XLR microphone to the existing setup is really easy.

The same is not true of USB microphones. You can use the USB cable to connect the mic to your computer, and that’s about it. 

XLR Microphone Selection

The second advantage to opting for an XLR microphone is that there are way more to choose from. There is somewhere in the region of 10-30 times more XLR microphone models than there are USB.

XLR Microphone Modularity

XLR microphones offer much more in the way of modularity. A USB mic is a self-contained, all-in-one solution that combines a mic, preamp, audio interface, and headphone amp.

With an XLR microphone, each component is separate from the mic. This gives you the ability to choose the equipment you want to handle each of those tasks. As each device is more focused on its specific job, the overall result is a higher quality recording.

XLR Microphone Upgrade & Repair

The last significant advantage to using an XLR mic is that you have more freedom to upgrade and repair the individual elements of your setup. If any single component in a USB mic fails, the whole unit is out of action.

You have a lot more scope to fine-tune and build a setup that suits your needs with an XLR microphone. It also gives you the opportunity to experiment and change components based on any given project.

XLR Microphone Price

There is one downside to choosing an XLR microphone over a USB model. Generally, an XLR microphone will work out more expensive once you factor in the costs of buying an audio interface or USB mixer.

You’ll also need to buy XLR cables and any other external processing devices you might want. These things add up, and your initial investment will be higher than with a stand-alone USB mic.

XLR Sound Better Than USB Pricing

XLR Sound Better Than USB Topics

  • 0:00 – Introduction
  • 0:10 – Quality of Microphone
  • 1:00 – Benefits of XLR Mics
  • 1:10 – XLR Mic Connectivity
  • 1:48 – XLR Mic Selection
  • 2:03 – XLR Mic Modularity
  • 2:38 – XLR Mic Upgrade / Repair
  • 3:18 – XLR Mic Price
  • 3:54 – Final Thoughts