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On Test: Metro plugs into the latest USB microphones

BEST FOR SOLO CASTERS

Audio-Technica AT2020USB+

The latest ‘+’ model of the 2020 (originally released in 2017) is a refinement of a mic that already closed the gap between DIY enthusiast and studio sound. A plug-and-play solution on both Windows and MacOS devices, this great cardioid condenser microphone features a 48kHz sample rate and 16-bit depth, which easily captures vocal idiosyncrasies and room ambience without giving up that all-important clear and smooth spoken digital recording. A simple tripod design and easy-to-reach thumb wheels for gain and volume controls, along with a nifty headphone monitoring input, fill out the premium package. £145, eu.audio-technica.com

BEST FOR STUDIO QUALITY

Røde PodMic

Røde’s broadcast-grade mic is designed for podcast use with a built-in pop filter to prevent those irritating plosives and a balanced output that delivers smooth pro-quality recordings. Sure, the impressive frequency curve is focused on speech, but we found it robust enough to record instrumental tracks. The PodMic’s true value, however, comes in its optimisation for use with the new RødeCaster Pro (£559), a portable podcast studio boasting four mic channels, automatic level setting, one-touch recording and the ability to conduct crisp phone interviews and lay down bedding and sound effects. £99, rode.com

BEST FOR BEGINNERS

Bumblebee

Neat Microphones are in the habit of banging out approachable, uniquely designed audio solutions — and with an excellent 96kHz digital output, the Bumblebee is ideal for quick-to-cut CD-quality sound straight out of the box. The neon yellow-accented design is certainly Marmite but the honeycomb pop filter, internal shockmount and sturdy if small adjustable boom arm — to keep the mic out of reach of pesky desktop vibrations — further the cause for first-time buyers. The mic’s own level control and the zero latency while recording takes away two more worries for those learning the trade. £108, reverb.com