When it comes to recording audio directly into a PC or Mac, a USB microphone offers the simplest solution. USB mics are plug and play with most operating systems and do not require an audio interface or internal sound card within the computer. USB condenser mics offer clarity and accuracy, without the need for a preamp or mixer to provide phantom power. These features them the first choice for those looking for a simple solution for home recording and podcasting.
The main difference between USB and their XLR counterparts, is the conversion from 'analog to digital' which takes place within the microphone body itself rather than by an audio interface. USB condenser mics are also convenient for novice uses as they do not require phantom power like a typical analog XLR condenser. The A/D conversion is an important part of the quality and performance, so consider the bit rate (16-bit or 24-bit) and sampling rate (96kHz or 192kHz) when comparing mics or interfaces.