In this blog post, I will run you through what are the five best noise-canceling microphones for digital nomads, in my opinion.
All the microphones I will present in this article are microphones I would buy for myself. I do several calls every day, sometimes quite long calls. And I did calls from all sorts of places including busy cafes, noisy hotels, noisy roosters (they are everywhere in the Philippines). I know what are the things you need to look out at to pick the best microphone.
Please note that the links pointing to Amazon are affiliate links. I will get a commission on your order if you purchase one of my suggestions. Feel free to simply copy the name of the microphone and search it into Google if you don’t want to reward me with a tiny percentage of your purchase 🙂
If you just want a quick list of microphones coming at different prices here are the devices I’ll write about further down:
- Krisp (a noise-canceling app)
- Shure MV7 (high sound quality)
- Rode NT-USB Mini microphone USB (good sound quality & portable device)
- Samson SAGOMIC Go Mic Portable USB (highly portable & OK quality)
- Sennheiser XS Lav USB-C (the best option)
Otherwise, I suggest you read the below summary of the things you should know before buying your new microphone.
How to find the best microphone for your needs?
The first thing you need to figure out is what you want to do with the microphone. Depending on what you are up to, there are different microphones that will suit your needs.
For instance, if you are doing a podcast or something like that, you want good sound quality and durability. If you are only using the microphone for online role-playing games, then you might not need anything too fancy.
If you know that you are going to need a microphone for calls with your teammates only, it might not be worth spending too much on a techy solution that will come with an external sound card. A simple Lavalier mic might be enough for you.
Finally, if the quality of your sound is important in your activity, for example, if you are an English teacher, well you will probably need a directional USB mic that will only catch the sound that comes right in front of it.
In order to pick the best mic for your needs, you will need to know the meaning of a few technical words:
What does omnidirectional mean?
Omnidirectional means that the microphone has an equal pickup pattern in all directions. The sound quality is good over a wide range of distances but lacks the directionality of the cardioid pattern.
What does directional mean?
A directional microphone will only pick up the sound that comes from a certain direction, which will reduce the background noise from other directions. There are three types of directional microphones.
What does cardioid pattern mean?
The cardioid pattern is a type of directional microphone pattern that is shaped like a heart. This type of microphone is designed to cancel out ambient noise from the rear and sides, making it ideal for use in noisy environments.
What is a super-cardioid microphone?
A super-cardioid microphone is a type of directional microphone. The main advantage of this type of microphone is that it can eliminate sound from the rear and side direction much more efficiently than a regular cardioid directional microphone.
What does hypercardioid pattern mean?
The hypercardioid pattern is a type of directional microphone pattern that is shaped like a butterfly. This type of microphone is designed to cancel out ambient noise from the rear and sides, making it ideal for use in noisy environments. It is even more efficient than the super-cardioid pattern at capturing the sound from one particular direction.
What is a Lavalier microphone?
Lavalier microphones are small and can be hidden under a shirt or clipped on clothes or a lapel. Lavaliers used to be attached to the speaker’s clothing with a wire but nowadays they also come in wireless models.
What is the best type of microphone to cancel ambient sound?
The best types of microphones to cancel ambient sound are the ones with a cardioid pattern. In other words, unidirectional microphones.
However, omnidirectional microphones with low sensitivity can also do a good job if placed close to your voice.
The best type of microphone to work in a cafe
To work in a cafe or in any sort of busy place like a coworking full of noise digital nomads. I would probably pick a Lavalier microphone. It may sound counter-intuitive to get an omnidirectional microphone in this type of situation, but a directional microphone in such places won’t fit at all.
First of all, they are much bigger than Lavalier mic, and you often have to place them on your desk, or on your dining table next to your laptop, quite far from your mouth. If someone sitting right behind you makes some noise, your directional mic will pick up the sound. A Lavalier microphone set to a low sensitivity level will pick up all the sounds around you but will capture your voice at a much higher level.
The best type of microphone to do calls when it is noisy outside:
Now let’s say you are staying at your Airbnb rental to work. And you have a very important call with your client, but you are in a very remote place, your house is surrounded by street dogs, monkeys, birds, children. Well in this sort of case a simple USB directional, ideally hypercardioid, microphone will be perfect for you.
Even without an embedded noise cancelation technology, the sound coming from outside won’t be loud enough to cause you trouble.
The best type of microphone for digital nomads who make money with their voice
A high-quality directional microphone plugged into an external card sound will be ideal.
Let’s go through the microphone solutions I’m recommending:
Krisp – A Noise-Canceling App
This is not a microphone. It is an app that will cancel the noise around you with incredible accuracy.
I have tested this solution for quite a while. I have used it when I was working in the Philippines. And as I mentioned above, the noise of the roosters is everywhere in the Philippines. Thanks to this app I was able to do calls with my clients and my colleagues without any problem.
I remember doing tests on my end to measure how were the performances of the noise-cancelation, and it was really impressive.
They have a free plan which will allow you to test their solution. See the pricing page here.
Shure MV7 – USB High-Quality sound
Many famous podcasters are using the Shure SM7B microphone to record their shows. And I thought I would add it to this list of the best microphones to cancel the noise around you, but, I found out about this MV7 model which is almost twice cheaper than the SM7B. And it can be plugged with its USB port which is not the case on the SM7B.
If you really care about how you will sound in calls or if you need to record your voice to do voice-over jobs, or to teach English for example, the MV7 microphone will be perfect for you.
As I just wrote, it can be plugged via USB into your laptop. However, if you want to, and if you want even better sound quality, it can also be plugged through XLR to an external sound card. How great is that?
The mic comes with a free app that will allow you to apply some effects to your voice, and to have better control of the settings.
The mic has been designed not to pick up extra noises. It will focus on your voice.
There are lots of videos on Youtube where people either use it for their podcasts or do complete product reviews. Here is one of them:
The price should be about $250 on Amazon.
Rode NT-USB Mini microphone USB
I see the Rode NT-USB as a great solution for digital nomads who are traveling a lot.
The quality of the captured sound combined with its size and its stand which can be fit any sort of table without taking too much space makes this microphone a good choice.
It is a cardioid (think unidirectional) microphone but it does not come with any noise canceling software.
In this Youtube Video, Sara Nguyen tests the Rode NT-USB mini. The link will bring you to the actual part of the video where we actually listen to the sound quality.
It is a USB microphone, therefore you won’t be able to get the XLR quality out of it. And you will plug it directly into your laptop.
If you wish to have a good quality of sound without having to spend too much, you can go for this solution which should cost you about $99.
It is being purchased by podcasters, Youtubers, musicians.
It comes with a headphone amplifier.
Samson SAGOMIC Go Mic Portable USB
If you are looking for a highly portable solution, the Samson SAGOMIC USB microphone will be a good pick.
The quality of the sound won’t be good enough for podcasters, or for people making money out of their voices. Clearly not. However, it will please people who want to do calls from all sorts of wild places as it can be clipped to any sort of laptop.
For less than $50, I see this device as a really good option for travelers like, who like to travel light, and who often move from one place to another every two or three days.
Check this video to hear how you could sound if you were to buy this microphone. Ain’t that bad, is it?
Sennheiser XS Lav USB-C
As explained above, Lavalier type of microphones is probably the best solution for digital nomads as they are made to capture the sound of your mouth (or to whatever you put close to them).
The Lavalier microphone with a professional quality of sound will be too expensive or just inadapted to digital nomads’ use. That’s why I prefer Lavalier USB-C microphones as they can be plugged on laptops and on mobiles (you’ll need an adapter for your iphone).
From all the research I have done, the Sennheiser XS Lav USB-C seems to be one of the best lav mics.
It will allow you to have a clear voice over the phone, whether you use Google Meets, Zoom, WhatsApp, or Microsfteam.
Couples with the App I told you about above, Krisp, you should be able to do calls from any place, even cafes, without trouble.
I hope you found this article helpful. Feel free to contact me or to comment if you have any questions.