PC Gamer Hardware Awards: The best microphone of 2023

With the continued popularity of streaming, remote-working and voice chat in general, it’s no surprise that so many manufacturers are focussing their efforts on creating great microphones, and this year we’ve had quite a few cross our desks. But when it comes to the best of the best, these three candidates stand out as top contenders for our best microphone award 2023.

We’ve all been subjected to less than ideal audio quality, whether it’s from someone using the built-in mic in their webcam to headset users with crackly headset units placed far too close to their mouths, the results are pretty horrible to listen to. However, each of the candidates here are designed to capture and deliver fantastic, warm and crisp vocal sound to caress your earholes, and would make worthy additions to any audio setup.

However, beyond sound quality and accurate vocal capture what we’re really looking for in a great mic is thoughtful design, solid build quality and great compatibility. Each of the microphones below really ticked these boxes in different ways, so it’s a tight competition for who takes the top spot.

The Sennheiser Profile Streaming Set makes a compelling case for itself as an all-in-one platform for anyone looking to get into professional sounding audio, with a professional look to match. Meanwhile the Audio-Technica AT2020+ delivers great audio quality for a surprisingly reasonable price, and as for our last pick, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xSTS StreamSet, well, we even included a headset in the mix. Yep, the mic was that good.

Any of these microphones seems destined for the top spot, so without further ado, here’s our breakdown of this year’s contenders.

Best microphone 2023: the nominees

Sennheiser Profile Streaming Set
An excellent all-in-one package for any budding streamer, the Sennheiser Profile Streaming Set gets you a handsome cardioid condenser mic with onboard mix, gain, headphone volume controls and a mute button, along with a sleek looking boom arm. It’s a good looking piece of gear all around, and something you’d likely be happy to show off on cam. The sound profile is warm, with a crisp professional quality that’s rather pleasing to the ear. 

An all-round contender from a well-respected brand, and a great starter kit for professional sounding audio. 

Read our Sennheiser Profile Streaming Set review.

Audio-Technica AT2020+
Proving that budget microphones don’t have to deliver budget sound, the Audio-Technica AT2020+ is a plug-and-play solution with no software to install, but it does come with a built-in headphone volume and mix control that sets it apart from many mics in the same price range. What you’re getting for your money here is great sound, and the sharp crisp delivery and overall warmth really made it stand out ahead of mics available for a similar price.

It could do with a pop-filter to take care of the plosives and the included tripod is a little on the flimsy side, but as budget mics go this one was built to impress, and it shows. 

Read our Audio-Technica AT2020+ review.

Audio-Technica ATH-M50xSTS StreamSet
A contentious wildcard entry? Us? Never. See, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xSTS (beyond being a bit of a mouthful of a name) might be a headset, but the included microphone was way too good to pass up making it onto this shortlist. Beyond the excellent audio quality and overall accuracy of the headphones themselves, the cardioid condenser microphone here is so good it beats out many desktop mics, and with handy features like flip to mute and built-in monitoring it would make an excellent podcast or streaming companion.

It’s a headset with genuine microphone benefits, and has to be a contender for best mic we’ve heard this year. 

Read our Audio-Technica ATH-M50xSTS Streamset.

The winner of the PC Gamer Hardware Award for the best microphone of 2023 will be announced on New Year’s Eve. Sound good? Sorry. Make sure you check in with us then to find out the eventual result.

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