Mic recommendation for multi-person conference calls?

I have some very soft-spoken coworkers who can’t be heard on conference calls unless they walk over to the laptop that’s running the meeting.

Thinking of getting an inexpensive mic (with a longish cord and/or Bluetooth) that we could just pass to whoever’s speaking.

Any recommendations on a mic suitable for this situation? Notes:

  • Budget: less than $50
  • We don’t control the conference room so something small/portable preferred to a “conference room speakerphone”
  • Preference for mic only (the MacBook speaker is fine for our small team, and if I’m going to spend $20, I’d rather get a $20 mic than a $10 mic with a $10 speaker)
  • I’m guessing a 3.5mm jack would also take over the MacBook’s sound output, so USB would probably be best.

Any recommendations? Or lessons learned if you’ve tried something similar?

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Recent Reddit discussion thread that dovetails with your question here. Check it out.

If you get a cheap USB audio interface (like this $24 interface/cable) there’s a world of XLR handheld mics to choose from that can be in your price range.

The cheapest handheld USB mics I know of are from Audio-Technica but they have street prices of $65-$80.

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Thanks @bowline. That could work although I think I’d opt for a simpler setup for the work situation. Might try it if I ever get into music recording at home though!

FWIW I posted in another forum and got back recommendations for the Jabra Speak series (410, 510, etc.). These do have a speaker built-in, which I wasn’t necessarily looking for, but a bunch of people jumped into that thread to say they love their 510s. The higher end ones (7xx) can even be daisy-chained for larger conference room settings.

Someone also recommended the Blue Yeti Snowball – it has 3 different mic settings, including an omnidirectional option, which could be good for a group situation. It’s not specifically designed for a conference situation so the person nearest the mic will be dramatically louder than people far away. (Possibly fixed by running through a compressor in Audio Hijack?) But the Snowball could be a good option for someone with multiple use cases.