15 Best Condenser Microphones

Condenser microphones are more sensitive than dynamic ones. That means unless you are planning to scream into a mic on stage, a condenser microphone is your choice. Check out the current best ones.[wpsm_toplist]

Under 100$

If you need hardware just for voice calls and some voice recording you can totally save cash and go for something under $100.

M-Audio Nova

A good condenser mic should have gold in it (maybe not just the mics). M-Audio Nova has 1.1″ diameter evaporated gold diaphragm which is a good start, really. Class A FET preamp topology adds output to that 16mV/Pa (-36dBV) gold diaphragm sensitivity. Another basic number would be the frequency response at 20Hz-18,000Hz. This is a solid mic that comes with soft case, hard mount and XLR cable. M-Audio Nova gets laconic solid posts like “Exactly what I was looking for!”, “Excellent sound quality!” and even “Much better than the mic I paid 5x the price for.”

PROS:

  • Price under $100.
  • Sound quality.
  • Comes with accessories.

CONS:

  • Some hum.

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MXL V67G

Gold-sputtered and looking super cool the vintage way MXL V67G most definitely makes the list. Frequency Response of 30Hz – 20kHz is different from the mic above. Not a bad thing. Solid state preamp balanced transformer is proper hardware. And despite being condenser mic, V67G works through a USB cable. That is convenient but some would immediately respond that USB is bad for sound. Anyways, Class A FET circuitry certainly provides good recording for vocals. Thanks to the low price and USB connectivity MXL V67G is a popular choice.

PROS:

  • Good for vocals.
  • Excellent design.
  • Affordable price.
  • Convenient USB.

CONS:

  • USB connectivity has limitations.

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Audio-Technica AT2020

Of another strong brand, Audio-Technica AT2020 is a good model. For starters, you can yell into it as it can handle 144 dB SPL. It is the right thing for podcasting or those just starting out in the industry. It delivers sound quality sufficient for a home studio, and with this one, the finally started adding the pop filter into the package. 

PROS:

  • Awesome SPL.
  • Affordable price.
  • Strong brand.

CONS:

  • Comes without a desktop base.

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MXL 770

We are not done with MXL yet. A generous discount made this MXL 770 fit the $100 budget. With a 20-mm gold sputtered diaphragm this is a bargain. Among other things, you get switchable bass cut and -10dB pad. FET preamp with balanced output is yours too. The 770 has a frequency response of 30Hz-20kHz through 6 dB/octave @ 150Hz high pass filter. It records a nice balanced sound that works great for both vocals or instruments, as long as the SPL is under 137dB. If you are looking for a reliable mic, and you want some change from your 100 bucks, this is the way to go.

PROS:

  • Comes with shock mount and rugged carrying case.
  • Good sound quality.
  • Excellent price.

CONS:

  • Picks up some background noise.

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BEHRINGER B-1

Behringer’s another strong player on this market, and it has this B-1 fighter within the entry-level category. Behringer B-1 has achieved both fame and user ratings. This visibly large diaphragm microphone features a 1″ gold-sputtered dual-diaphragm (which they call professional, of course). The 1.0″ capsule’s transparency and fidelity make it sell and many users to rave about the sound quality. The home studio owners compare the B-1 to premium mics, naturally. The common cardioid pickup pattern is one of the reasons for outstanding sound source separation and feedback rejection.

For applications, where you need less of low frequencies, B-1 is equipped with a switchable low-frequency roll-off switch, plus -10 dB input attenuation for improved high SPL handling. The package arrives at your place quite full as there are heavy-duty suspension mount, windscreen and aluminum transport case together with the mic. Gold-plated 3-pin XLR output connector cannot spoil the sound the leaves the mic. Basically, the rugged construction with satin nickel-plated brass body invites you to use this for recording some real heavy metal.

PROS:

  • Crystal clear.
  • Excellent price.
  • Excellent package.

CONS:

  • Has gain in some environments.

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MXL 990

It is hard to finish with MXL models as they offer lots of great models and even with good cases as it happens with MXL 990. The sturdy specifications like maximum SPL of 130dB and 15MV/pa sensitivity can’t make the mic a wrong choice. Nothing new about frequency response here. The 3/4″ gold-sputtered diaphragm delivers the gold we need in a home applications up to a home studio. In fact, MXL 990 is a great microphone for vocals. However, you do need to know, that it does have a kind of a narrow focused area right in front of the mic where 990 picks up sound the best.

PROS:

  • Great for vocals.
  • Good package, includes a case.
  • High max SPL.

CONS:

  • Pop filter helps a lot.

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Samson C01

The capsule 19mm diaphragm design definitely makes it good enough for vocals and acoustic instruments. You can scream into this as well as it delivers the high SPL handling capability of almost 140dB, and with the heavy gauge mesh grill, you can make it work with a drum, out it overhead.  And we remind you, these are still the mics fitting the under $100 budget. With swivel stand mount included, the word “studio” comes to mind.

PROS:

  • High SPL.
  • Gold Plated XLR Connector.
  • LED 48V Phantom Power indicator.

CONS:

  • Some hum.

Under $200

Lots of people make cash with voice-over work. Home studio is a dream for lots of folk as well. This is the people whi spend up to $200 on a microphone.

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Blue Microphones Spark

Apparently, orange is not just the new black, it is also the new blue, too. In fact, this piece of orange is so popular with people, that you should hurry to buy it if you want to pay under $200. Circuit design connects Spark’s condenser capsule with the phantom-powered outboard amplifier to control the capsule with linear control and accuracy. The Blue Spark offers two operation modes – Normal Mode and Focus Mode – you select with the Focus Control switch.

Normal Mode records a robust timbre that creates a large audio landscape. Focus Mode permits the microphone to capture greater clarity and more detail. Focus Mode works perfectly for lead vocals recorded for a rock-and-roll or pop track. Sensitivity of 28 mV/Pa at 1kHz is much higher than that of mics above. Dynamic Range is not too small either at 131 dB. Before you hear the sound you record, though, you will enjoy the full package it comes with. The pop filter which, as you already know, stops popping noises and sibilance sounds. The shockmount of unique design isolates the microphone from vibration, bumps, and low-frequency noise that may get though to the recording area.

PROS:

  • Focus Control for two modes.
  • Classy wooden case in package.
  • High sensitivity.

CONS:

  • Might make you hate your own voice by recording your imperfect articulation.

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Blue Yeti USB Microphone

The blue Yeti surprises with a tri-capsule array. 3 condenser capsules record things that 1 capsule would miss. This triple design also makes possible switching between cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional & stereo pattern options. To make it clear, bidirectional mode allows recording sounds from both front and rear sides.

Other cool things, like gain control, mute button, and zero-latency headphone output are on the mic body. This piece of hardware that sounds complicated is actually Plug’n’Play with Mac and PC compatibility. Sensitivity is not just good here, it is under control with gain control. And the mute button deals with your listeners’ sensitivity. Once you install a headphone into the 3.5-millimeter jack it will allow you to listen to what you are recording in real-time. The stylish design born from mix of retro mics and semi-retro robots finds its fans as well.

PROS:

  • Tri-capsule array.
  • Multiple pattern selection.
  • Perfect for vocals, musical instruments, podcasting, voiceovers, interviews, field recordings.

CONS:

  • Being a USB thing depends on drivers.

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Audio-Technica AT2035

With the regular cardioid polar pattern, Audio-Technica AT2035 reduces noises from the sides and rear. Large diaphragm delivers smooth, natural sound and low noise. Switchable 80Hz high-pass filter and 10dB pad help the AT2035 handle high sound pressure levels. The mic comes with shockmount, pop filter and cleaning cloth.

PROS:

  • Perfect for podcasting.
  • Feels better than Yeti for some users.

CONS:

  • Requires 48V power.
  • Boring design. Like, really boring.

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Samson C03

You get switchable SuperCardioid, omni and figure-8 pickup patterns with Samson C03 as well. That is enabled by dual 19mm capsule design. Gold-plated XLR connectors are also good hardware news. That hardware records vocals just great. Maybe less so with acoustic instruments. But, inlike the C01 model this definitely works for music. Good gain power is here for you.

PROS:

  • Great for vocals.
  • Switchable patterns.
  • LED phantom power indicator.
  • Swivel stand mount.

CONS:

  • Some self-noise.
  • Just a tat of background noise.

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Behringer B-2 PRO

As the Behringer B-1 model above, B-2 deserves a spot on this list. Professional 1” gold-sputtered dual-diaphragm is what makes them similar. But with B-2, you can choose between cardioid, omnidirectional or figure eight pickup patterns. Another thing that makes a difference is the pressure-gradient transducer. Moreover, here you can switch low-frequency roll-off and input attenuation. Shortly put, B-2 is a huge onward and upward step compared to the B-1 model.

PROS:

  • Dual-diaphragm capsule.
  • Cardioid, omnidirectional or figure eight pattern.
  • Switchable attenuation.
  • Max. SPL (1% THD @ 1 kHz): from cardioid 138 dB to omnidirectional 149 dB.

CONS:

  • Maybe won’t make much difference for you from the B-1 model.

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Avantone CK-6 (with the most passionate design)

Well, if you are recording a female singer this flaming hot mic will get her recording the most sensual vocals ever. I mean, you can actually see the warm vapor of breath settle down on it when lips are close,

The figures (if you are interested) are also available. Cardioid 10 dB pad & 80 Hz low-frequency roll off switches are here. 32mm gold-sputter thin Mylar capsule is here. Max SPL is high at 136 dB which means you can get that female singer screaming and it will take it.

PROS:

  • DESIGN.
  • Sound.
  • Transformerless circuitry.
  • Metal shock mount.

CONS:

  • Not for male performers.

Expensive microphones

If you use this hardware you can legitimately call your set-up a “studio”.

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Rode NT1A Anniversary

Gold plated diaphragm is the first thing you should know about the Rode NT1A Anniversary. Self Noise of only 5 dB (A) impresses people as well. The NT1A operates like a true condenser which is definitely a step up. Maximum SPL of 137dB would allow you to successfully scream into it. Sensitivity figure are complicated for this thing: -31.9dB re 1 Volt/Pascal (25.00mV @ 94 dB SPL) +/- 2 dB @ 1kHz, but you get it, the mic’s sensitive. And as the pic shows, you get a lot more than a mic: a studio grade pop shield, a shock mount, a premium 20-feet microphone cable, dust cover, and an instructional DVD full of recording tips.

PROS:

  • High sensitivity.
  • Low self-noise.
  • Price $250.
  • More than a mic in the package.

CONS:

  • None really.

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Aston Origin Studio

Once in a while, we revolt against flood of Chinese products. Aston Origin Studio is designed and built in the UK. Maybe that’s the reason for built-in pop filter (it works, though). It utilizes one inch (1 inch) gold evaporated capsule. The capsule is connected to circuitry without any transformers. Pad Switch  of -10dB and low-cut filter at 80Hz add more good words about hardware. A novel non-linear voltage/current source rectification provide controlled amplification and smooth audio.

PROS:

  • Excellent sound.
  • Reasonable price.
  • Drop dead design.
  • No transformers.

CONS:

  • Comes without XLR cable.

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Sony C800GPAC

Sony C800GPAC is going to make you feel like that whale from Moby Dick. Don’t mind the boring design, this is the mic that turns any setup into a studio. Besides cash requirements, C800GPAC also has power requirements: 100/120 VAC and 30W.

No worries, the package includes a power supply (AC-MC800G) and all the necessary accessories. 6AU6 vacuum tube is not there for vacuum cleaning either.  The sensitivity is naturally high at -33dB/Pa. The directivity is selectable between omni- directional or cardioid. Dynamic range of 113 dB suffices.

PROS:

  • Perfect.

CONS:

  • Expensive.
  • Boring design. (maybe so people would not steal it)

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