10 Best condenser microphones for every budget

Condenser microphones can be quite different. Most studios use professional condenser mics that are able to produce crystal clear sounds. If you can afford professional gear, great! If not, you can always look for cheaper versions that nonetheless produce high-quality sounds. Below, we’ve chosen several models like that. Look through the list and see if anything suits you.

First things first though. What is a condenser microphone? Condenser microphones are different from other mics in that they have special vibrating diaphragms. Such diaphragms have two plates with a space between them. Any vibration is taken into account and conveyed to an audio unit. This makes condenser mics very sensitive and fragile. On the one hand, they are capable of capturing elusive sounds in a smooth manner. On the other hand, you need to treat them with care. Of course, it is better to treat any mic with care, however, dynamic mics – the main alternative to condenser mics nowadays – are less susceptible to wear and tear. 

1. Sennheiser MK 4 Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone

Price: $$$

sennheiser mk4Sennheiser MK 4 is a large diaphragm condenser microphone. Large diaphragm mics are different from small diaphragm condenser mics in that they produce a smoother outcome. It takes more time to process audio signals received from a large diaphragm, which is why the output is ‘broader’ than the one received from tube-like mics.

This particular model is not particularly new but it has proven to be great which is why you can still find it in stock. The characteristics of this microphone are typical of large diaphragm microphones. You can see them down below. In general, the mic is excellent for home studio recording – be it for vocals or for musical instruments. For many Sennheiser means quality. If you also think so, try this model. It is certainly worth closer attention.

Specifications:

  • cardioid polar pattern;
  • frequency response: 20Hz-20kHz;
  • sensitivity: 25 mV/Pa;
  • maximum sound pressure level (passive):140dB;
  • phantom power: +48V;
  • weight: 17.1 oz. (485 g);
  • dimensions: 160 x 57 mm.

Check price at Amazon

2. Avantone Pro CV-12 Large-diaphragm Tube Condenser Microphone

Price: $$$

avantone tubeAvantonne CV95 is one more large diaphragm microphone. This one has gained lots of popularity. It is great at recording vocals, acoustic guitar, piano, and many more. The microphone has 9 polar patterns – you can switch between them and choose the one you need depending on your situation.

The shipping package includes several items: the microphone itself in a wooden box, metal case, shock mount, and power supply. There is also an XLR cable.

The main advantage of this one is that it can be used in many different situations. The audio recording quality is very close to professional. Having the possibility to start recording with this mic is a real privilege.

Specifications:

  • 9 polar patterns;
  • frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz +/- 3dB;
  • sensitivity: -35dB;
  • maximum SPL: 136dB;
  • PS-12 Power Supply w/ selectable 115/230 VAC capability;
  • Weight: 8 kgs / 1.8 lbs;
  • Dimensions: 237mm x 46mm / 9.5″ x 1.8″.

Check price at Amazon

3. Audio-Technica AT2020 Cardioid Condenser Studio Microphone

Price: $

audio technica condenserAudio-Technica AT2020 is one of the best affordable microphones for home recording. It doesn’t cost much, however, the sound quality is more than satisfactory. If you are looking for a mic to use at home or for your personal purposes, this is a great model to start with.

The mic comes with a stand mound and a nice padded pouch. There are no cables or audio units in the package, so you’ll have to buy those separately. This mic can be used for recording podcasts, vocals, instruments – whatever you like. This is not a professional gear, of course, but it can bring you lots of fun and positive emotions. Besides, everyone needs to start with something.

Specifications:

  • cardioid polar pattern;
  • frequency response: 40-20,000 Hz;
  • 136 dB SPL;
  • phantom power: 48V DC, 2 mA typical.

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4. MXL Mics 770 Cardioid Condenser Microphone

Price: $

mxl microphoneMXL is one more budget studio mic that is just great for the beginners. This one can also be used to fulfill many various purposes. You can record vocals, piano, stringed instruments, percussion with it. And, of course, you can just use it for speaking or recording podcasts, however, it is more suitable for entry-level musicians.

The price-performance ratio of this mic is truly amazing. You can record nice smooth sounds without paying an arm and a leg for this. The package includes a shock mount and a carrying case, so all the other details needed for this mic to function you have to buy separately. Most of all it concerns a phantom power.

Upon the whole, this is a very nice mic for those who want to record music but don’t know where to start. Start with this mic if you’re not sure! It shouldn’t let you down.

Specifications:

  • cardioid polar pattern;
  • frequency range: 30Hz-20kHz;
  • sensitivity: 15mV/Pa
  • SPL for 0.5% THD 137dB;
  • size: 59mm x 158mm;
  • weight: 1 lb/453.59g.

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5. Rode NT2A Anniversary Vocal Multi-Pattern Dual Condenser Microphone Package

Price: $$

rode nt2Rode NT2A is an extremely versatile large-diaphragm microphone suitable for many activities. It has three polar patterns which you can switch by using body buttons on the side of the microphone. The mic is also multicolored, which means that you can change the way your voice sounds if you don’t like what you hear.

In general, developers tried to modernize this device while staying loyal to the smooth output characteristic of the 50-s and 60-s. The mic is great for recording vocals. Some reviewers notice that it captures female voices perfectly.

The package includes several items: shock mount, cable, and a dust cover. So all you’ll need to buy additionally is an audio unit – a preamp or a mixer.

Specifications: 

  • 3 polar patterns including cardioid, omnidirectional, and figure-8;
  • 3 position variables: High-Pass Filter – Flat, 40Hz or 80Hz;
  • frequency range: 20Hz – 20kHz;
  • 147dB SPL;
  • weight: 860g;
  • dimensions: 209.00mmH x 55.00mmW x 55.00mmD.

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6. AKG Pro Audio C214 Professional Large-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone

Price: $$

akg micAKG Pro Audio C214 microphone is one more condenser mic with a large diaphragm. The microphone has a low self-noise and minimizes the proximity effect. Its sound quality is fantastic, very close to professional.

The mic is best to use for recording solo instruments and lead vocals. It is able to produce smooth sound without any background noises that usually damage the overall impression of the recording.

This model of AKG is a follow-up model that has come to life after C 414 which is considered to be more professional. Despite the fact that many people regard the described model as a budget version of its predecessor, it is still pretty awesome. The microphone has 3 polar patterns, which makes it quite versatile. It will definitely be a nice addition to one’s home studio! The shipping package includes a carrying case, a windscreen, and a shock mount.

Specifications:

  • 3 polar patterns including cardioid;
  • frequency range: 20 to 20 000 Hz;
  • 156dB SPL;
  • switchable 20dB attenuator and bass-cut filter;
  • impedance: 200 Ohms;
  • voltage 9 to 52 V.

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7. Behringer B-1 Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone

Price: $

behringer b1Behringer B-1 has a gold-sputtered large-diaphragm capsule. It is cardioid which is the most common polar pattern. The mic has a low-frequency roll-off, by turning of which you can considerably improve the sound quality of your recording.

If you need a studio-like microphone to start with, this is one more great model to consider. It differs from pro-mics, however, the difference is not that big. Of course, there is a difference, but if you are buying a mic for the first time, you won’t be concerned with it, so don’t worry.

The mic is great at recording vocals, acoustic instruments, and more. They ship it together with a metal case, a shock mount, and a windscreen – all as usual. You’ll need to buy an XLR cable and a preamp if you want to use this mic. All in all, if you want something to start with, this is an excellent option! The specs are listed below.

Specifications:

  • cardioid polar pattern;
  • 20Hz-20kHz frequency range;
  • 148dB;
  • requires 48V phantom power;
  • low self-noise.

Check price at Amazon

8. Neewer NW 800 Professional Studio Broadcasting and Recording Microphone

Price: $

neewer micNeewer NW 800 condenser microphone is for those who are on the budget. The mic is very cheap so it is affordable for lots of people. It may not be as good as more expensive models but it works. And that’s the most important thing! If you don’t really mind having a low-key microphone, it doesn’t really matter which one you choose, because they all sound pretty similar. This is just one option but you can always look for the other ones.

This microphone is great at capturing vocals, speech, some musical instruments. You can record your favorite guitar song with it. Basically, it does everything a good studio condenser mic is supposed to do. The specifications though are bit different which affects the sound quality but not in the most dramatic way possible.

If you are looking for a cheap condenser mic, get this one! It comes with a cable, a shock mount, and a foam cap. All you’ll need to add is some power – both the power of your voice and the one of electricity. Definitely check this model and see if it suits your needs.

Specifications:

  • cardioid polar pattern;
  • frequency response: 20Hz-16kHz;
  • SPL 132 dB;
  • 4,5 V power;
  • dimension: 1.9 x 6.3 inches;
  • weight: 316 grams.

Check price at Amazon

9. Shure SM81

Price: $$

shure sm8Shure SM81 is another versatile condenser microphone. It can be used for studio recording, broadcasting, and sound reinforcement. Most musicians prefer to use the mic to record musical instruments, such as guitar, piano, and cymbals. Since you can easily change low-frequency response, it is possible to find the best regime for recording this or that instrument. It is a well-known fact that all musical instruments have their peculiarities.

Small-diaphragm microphones are known for sharper and stiffer sounds, however, this one is nothing like that. It has its peculiarities, of course, however eventually you get that smoothness characteristic of condenser microphones. Due to some stiffness, this mic can be used in live performances. Although it is susceptible to wind noise, so don’t forget to put on a windscreen.

A foam windscreen, as well as a swivel adapter, attenuator-switch lock, and a carrying case, are shipped together with the microphone. All you’ll need to add is an audio unit and a cable. All in all, this is a great microphone. It has been around for years and still remains popular.

Specifications:

  • cardioid polar pattern;
  • frequency response: 0 Hz – 20 kHz;
  • selectable low-frequency response;
  • SPL differs – can be from 128dB to 146dB;
  • low self-noise;
  • requires phantom power (DIN 45 596 voltages of 12 to 48 Vdc);
  • weight: 8 ounces.

Check price at Amazon

10. Samson C02 Pencil Condenser Microphones

Price: $

C02 displaySamson CO2 condenser microphones are the two microphones with small diaphragms that are sold together. A pair of microphones can be used for recording percussion instruments, acoustic instruments, and many more. Due to the fact that there are two of them, you can create a proper stereo sound with high accuracy.

The mics are cardioid so they only capture the sound that comes from the front. The areas of applications for these mics are limited, however, they’re great at recording music. The package includes a carry case, shock-mounted clips, and windscreens.

If you are looking for a mic to record instrumental compositions, Samson CO2 is what you definitely need to check out.

Specifications:

  • cardioid pickup pattern;
  • 134dB SPL;
  • a stereo pair (matched within ±0.5dB sensitivity of each other);
  • phantom power: +48V.

Check price at Amazon


F.A.Q.

Q: What additional equipment do I need to buy for a condenser mic?

If you want to work with your newly bought condenser microphone, it is important to have a phantom power source. There are separate pieces that provide microphones with power, however, there are also preamps and mixers that have embedded phantom power. To power the mic, you’ll need to connect it to a power source, for which you’ll need an XLR cable. It is worth checking whether all of the units are compatible with each other.

Q: What is better: a large-diaphragm microphone or a small diaphragm microphone?

These are just different options that you can look for. If you look for a vocals microphone, most of the time it is better to choose a large-diaphragm mic. If you want to record a musical instrument that produces lots of low-frequency sounds, it is better to take a look at small-diaphragm mics. There is no perfect solution for everything.


Conclusion

Condenser microphones can be very different. Most of them are used for studio recording, however, some can be seen during live performances. There are different price ranges you can choose a condenser microphone from. For example, if you are just starting out, you don’t need to splash out on a pro mic. Most likely you’ll be satisfied with an average microphone that has an average price.

One more thing to consider is the purpose you’re buying a microphone for. Do you want to record vocals or speech? Are you going to deal with bass instruments or an acoustic guitar? These are important questions.

We are really glad if this article helped you to find what you were looking for. Stay tuned for new overviews and choose the best microphones’ gear for your recordings!

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