Compared to dynamic microphones, condenser mics do a much better job of capturing the human voice and usually have a better frequency response. Which often makes them the choice for installation in studios. Unfortunately, it’s their sensitivity and transient response that often makes them very expensive, especially when compared to lower-priced dynamic mics.
Fortunately, it’s not only possible to buy a condenser microphone that is well within the financial reach of most people but to also buy one that does an excellent job of capturing sound. We set out to find the ten best condenser mics available, and we feel like we’ve found models that were suitable for just about anyone.
Best Condenser Mics Reviews & Buying Guide
#10 Blue Snowball ICE Microphone
This inexpensive condenser microphone is often used by gamers looking to replace their headsets for in-game communication. However, it’s also suitable for the beginner’s home studio. This product captures sound quality very well, although the volume of the sound is sometimes too low. This product easily plugs into a MAC or PC, and there’s never any drivers needed to install it. All the user has to do is plug it into an available USB 2.0 port, and it’s ready to go. Another great thing about this mic is that it comes with a handy stand for holding the mic in place.
- Is a high-quality microphone
- Comes with a nice stand
- This mic is inexpensive
- Sound variance is too low
#9 Audio Technica AT 2020 XLR Mic
This quality low mass microphone is made with a cardioid pattern that helps it to pick up sounds from in front of it and reduces the sound that it picks up from its sides and rear. This improved sound isolation allows the microphone to pick up only what’s really important—which is the user’s voice. other features that can be found on this mic include a low-mass diaphragm that provides a great frequency response and a superior transient response. Although it doesn’t come with its own LXR cable or even a mic stand, it’s still a great microphone for a great price.
- Is an inexpensive model
- Has a great frequency response
- Has a great transient response
- Has a cardioid pattern design
- Doesn’t come with an LXR cable
- Doesn’t come with a mic stand
#8 CAD E100S Microphone
This high-quality microphone provides a warm, vintage tone that some people desire from a microphone. That’s because it’s made with a 1-inch nickel-plated diaphragm capsule and has a full differential Quadra-FET that allows for high sensitivity and low distortion. Although this microphone is more expensive than some other comparable brands, it does reproduce sound accurately and comes with a stealth shock mount and a vintage cherry display case. This product is manufactured in the U.S.A according to quality engineering standards.
- Has a low noise floor
- Provides nice robust lows
- Has a stealth shock mount
- Has a cherry display
- May distort with higher impact sounds
- Is fairly expensive
#7 Rode NT-USB Studio Microphone
This professional quality microphone comes with a lot of handy features that make it suitable for musical performances, for singing or for doing podcasts. It has a 20-foot long USB cable, a pop shield, a ring mount, and even a tripod desk stand. The microphone also comes with controls right on the microphone, so audio adjustments are quick and easy. This unit also has a 3.5mm stereo headphone jack that allows for zero-latency monitoring. Other features of this microphone include a cardioid polar pattern, a 16-bit resolution and a frequency range of 20Hz to 20kHz.
- Has USB connectivity
- Has an on-mic mix control
- Come with tripod stand & pop shield
- This is a high-quality microphone
- Audio Jack leaves a lot to be desired
#6 MXL 990 Microphone With Shockmount
Although this microphone may not be the best condenser mic overall, it’s probably one of the best microphones in its price range. That’s because it does a pretty good job at reproducing midrange and low-range sounds and produces pretty good results for both analog and digital recordings. It has a frequency response of 30Hz to 20kHz and has a 130-decibel maximum SPL sensitivity. This microphone also has a gold-sputtered diaphragm and has a vintage microphone style with a beautiful champagne finish.
- Nice starter microphone
- It’s an inexpensive model
- Provides a nice midrange reproduction of audio
- The mic can be a bit noisy if the gain is boosted too much
#5 Marantz Professional MPM-1000
This entry-level microphone is designed for anyone who is looking for a studio-quality microphone but doesn’t want to spend a fortune to get one. It has a Cardioid pattern that picks up the sounds in front of it while screening out sounds that are to the sides or behind it. It also has a large diaphragm with a 20 to 20,000 Hz frequency response and a fast transient response. This microphone also has a rock-bottom price tag that makes it a microphone that just about anyone can afford. This makes it suitable for home recordings, podcasts or even for use during games.
- This mic is pretty inexpensive
- Captures sound nicely
- This mic is a Cardioid condenser
- Is an attractive looking microphone
- Requires a phantom power supply
- XLR cable is extremely short
#4 MXL 770 Cardioid Condenser Microphone
Not many people expect a microphone in this price range to deliver studio quality results, but that is exactly what this microphone does. Although it’s a little bit sensitivity to humid conditions, most of the time it performs extremely well. This microphone reproduces a warm sound that has an extremely clear top end. This makes this product suitable for vocals, guitars and for voice work. And since it has a low-frequency roll-off, there’s is never an unwanted rumbling during or at the end of recordings. All of which makes this a great mid-range studio microphone.
- Has a great sound quality
- Built very well
- Has low-frequency roll-off
- The microphone is sensitive to moisture
#3 MXL V67i Large Dual-Diaphragm Mic
Not only is this a beautiful looking microphone, but it’s a mic with a number of great features that make it a great budget studio mic. First of all, it has two selectable diaphragms that can be selected according to the user’s preferences. The first diaphragm has a rich, warm sound and the second diaphragm has a brighter, lighter sound profile. This microphone also has a roll-off filter, a solid state pre-amp, and comes with a mic clip. This unit also has a balanced transformer output and a unique green and gold design that gives it a classic look.
- Has a solid-state pre-amp
- Has a roll-off filter
- Dual selectable diaphragms
- Extremely sensitive to humidity
#2 Audio Technica AT2035 Studio Mic
The Audio-Technica AT2035 is a nice looking mic with a number of features which makes it a suitable mid-price-range microphone. It has a large diaphragm that allows for low-noise and a more natural sound recording. It also has a 10-foot XLR cable that allows the mic to be easily connected to an interface or mixer. This unit also comes with a shock mount and pop filter, so it can be pressed into service immediately. And finally, this product has a high-quality construction that isn’t subject to humidity problems like other condenser mics.
- It’s a large diaphragm cardioid condenser microphone
- Has low noise and has a natural sound profile
- Has a pop filter
- Comes with a 10-foot XLR cable
- XLR cable could be longer
#1 AKG C214 Professional Large-Diaphragm Microphone
This professional quality microphone creates studio quality results. It’s an extremely well-built microphone that comes with a windscreen and a shock mount for ease of use. It also has a large diaphragm for a more natural sound and has a frequency response of 20 to 20,000 Hz. It also has a Cardioid polar pattern that blocks out background noise and only allows sounds at its front to be captured. This product also has an XLR-type output and can be used in sound fields as loud as 156-dB SPL.
- Is a professional quality microphone
- Has a cardioid polar pattern
- Comes with windscreen and shock mount
- The microphone is a bit pricey.
More products also worth checking out:
A Basic Guide to Condenser Microphones
Although dynamic microphones are considered to be the most suitable choice for stage use, most experts agree that if you want a microphone for your studio, then it better be a condenser microphone. That’s because while dynamic mics may be more durable than condenser mics, it’s the condenser mic that does a better job at capturing sound. Below are a few things that to know about these microphones.
What is a Condenser Mic?
Also known as capacitor microphones, these mics are made using a thin membrane and a solid metal plate. The membrane forms what is known as the diaphragm, and is always made from a material that can conduct electricity. Most of the high-end models use gold-layered Mylar, although there are some other models which only use a thin metallic foil as a diaphragm. The principle behind this configuration is quite simple. When sound strikes this thin membrane, it moves back and forth. This changes the distances between the plate and the diaphragm. As a result, this changes the capacitance of the microphone. And as this happens, the sound is transferred into an electrical signal which can be transmitted or recorded.
Dynamic Versus Condenser Mics
There are probably thousands of articles describing the difference between dynamic and condenser mics. However, most of these articles are filled with sound theory, mathematical equations and other information that aren’t useful to many people outside of dedicated sound engineers. All of which isn’t necessary at all. The differences between these two types of microphones are subtle yet important. Just as a general rule, condenser microphones are better suited for in-studio use and for capturing delicate variations in vocals. Dynamic mics seem better suited for live use or for capturing strong signals. Let’s compare the two below.
- Suitable for capturing sensitive vocal variations
- Suitable for capturing high-frequency sounds
- Ideal for use in studios
- Not as durable as dynamic microphones
- Needs an external power source
- Suitable for strong vocals
- Suitable for capturing powerful signals
- Ideal for on-stage or live use
- Can’t capture the vocal variance that condenser mics can
Less response at higher frequencies
Those are the basic differences between the two types of microphones. It should be noted that those are general differences and some microphones are more capable than other ones. Having said that, once you have selected the condenser microphone of your choice, it’s time to properly set it up for best results. Below are some tips to help you out in that regard.
Tips For Setting Up a Condenser Microphone
Set Correct Microphone Distance-When you’re setting up your microphone, it’s important that it’s placed close enough to capture the sound it needs to capture, and far enough that the audio is allowed some space. Depending on the microphone used, this can be anywhere from 4-inches up to 20-inches away from the audio source.
Set the Mic in the Correct Direction-Make sure that the microphone is facing the direction of the audio source.
Set Mic’s Pattern Switch to Cardioid-If your microphone has a pattern switch, then be sure to switch it to Cardioid. This setting prevents the microphones from picking up sides from the back or the sides of this mic.
Make Sure Microphone is Plugged In-If attaching the microphone to your computer, then make sure the cable is plugged into an open USB port. For other applications, ensure the mic is plugged into its phantom power source.
Make Sure Software is Installed-It’s also important to make sure the mic’s software is properly installed before use.
Install the Pop Filter-If your microphone came with a pop filter, then make sure it’s properly.
Adjust the DAW Sound Levels-Launch your PCs DAW (digital audio workstation) to the proper levels.
Test the Sound Levels: Put on headphones and ensure that the mic’s sound levels are where they should be.
And that’s all there is to it. Although some microphones may require additional steps, the above tips should work for the vast majority of condenser microphones used. Once these steps are finished, the user is ready to begin recording their audio source.