The market of recording mics has limitless options but thankfully you can still get one of the best studio microphones for under $300.
If the time has come for your first studio microphone you will probably end up looking to a huge market with limitless options and some very expensive models. Some high-end microphones cost thousands of dollar. If you are not working in a professional recording studio dedicated for vocal and instrument recordings, then there is no need for such a big investment. Today we will see decent mid-range mics that will completely cover your needs in the studio for every available budget.
In case you do not know already, before buying your studio microphone, first you will have to invest on a decent audio interface. Only if you pick a studio microphone with USB connection, you will not have to buy one. As a USB mic is plugged directly into your desktop computer or laptop.
In any case an audio interface is or will be a necessity in your home recording studio, and that is for sure. Find how many instruments you will need to record at once, a buy an interface with Inputs/Outputs according to your needs. You can find more details for the best audio interfaces under $200 . All our choices below for the best studio condenser microphone with cardioid polar pattern require an audio interface.
You will quickly notice that there are a few things to consider before you purchase your studio microphone. Two of your biggest concerns will be the microphone type and the polar pattern.
Do not forget that the ambience and room conditions (sound isolation / soundproof) have a crucial impact on recording quality. You can see you how to soundproof your room at reasonable price.
WHAT TO LOOK BEFORE BUYING A STUDIO MICROPHONE
Regarding the features of a good quality studio microphone, the selection criteria are pretty clear.
- Microphone type:
Condenser microphones are commonly used in a recording studio, simply because with a large diaphragm you will have a transparent and rich in detail sound. In addition, it focus more on the sound from the front of microphone and ignores background noises.
Dynamic microphones transforms waves of acoustic sound into mechanical vibrations and final into electrical waves. We will not explore any dynamic microphones in our list.
- Polar patterns:
The Polar pattern defines in which direction the microphone is most sensitive.
Cardioid: With a cardioid pattern, the sound that is coming from the front, is recorded louder than from the side. Furthermore, it will pick up less ambient sounds from the room into your recordings. Cardioid microphones with large diaphragm are ideal for vocal recordings. And they can be used on recording guitar, bass, drums or even small orchestra ensembles.
Omnidirectional: It will record sources from all directions.
Figure 8: It is for opposing sound sources, such as two singers facing the mic from opposite side.
Multi-pattern: Some microphones are multi-pattern. Which means that their polar patterns can be changed (e.g. from cardioid to omnidirectional). This capability gives your studio microphone the versatility you need in your home recording studio.
- Frequency response: A studio quality microphone must record a wide range of frequencies in order to achieve clear and plain sound. Condenser microphones have higher frequency response than dynamic type’s, making them perfect for vocals, keys, strings, piano and cymbals.
- Diaphragm: Size matters and in that case we choose microphones with large diaphragm. Microphones with small diaphragm are best known for being more precise and accurate, but you will have limited options of vocal and instrument recordings.
- Connectivity: XLR, USB and the classic 3.5mm are your choices, but without a doubt with an XLR you will get better quality of sound.
Each microphone performs at it’s best depending on the sound source
- male/female vocals
- loud instruments (drums etc.)
- acoustic instruments (guitars, violins etc.)
- with heavy bass (kick-drum, bass guitar, etc.)
There are two-three things you will need in addition to start recording. First shock mount is essential to absorb vibrations. A fabric pop filter between the sound source and the mic. Lastly, an XLR cable to connect to your audio interface. Happily, many studio microphones comes in packages including those items.
In our list of the best studio microphones you will find condenser type with large diaphragms and with cardioid polar pattern.
And if you are also dreaming for your own home recording studio check how to build a home recording studio with under $600.
5 BEST STUDIO MICROPHONES FOR RECORDING
RODE NT1-A is my first quick response for the best studio microphone. Perfect for anybody who is starting music production and needs an affordable microphone to record. There are many characteristics for consideration but this mic is a perfect balance and great addition for any recording studio.
This condenser type of microphone has great clarity in the mids and highs and impressive neutral-sounding. It also offers a wide dynamic range and a large diaphragm. With frequency response of 20Hz-20kHz, you will be able record a large variety of instruments and vocals.
NT1-A has a self noise of only 5dB, making it one of the quietest studio microphones of our list of the best studio microphones. It’s characteristics might not overcome others but is a studio standard, sufficient and available at a very good price.
conclusion: If it didn’t convince you yet check the nearly perfect reviews on Amazon store. RODE NT1-A comes in a package with a deluxe Rode SM6 shock mount, a fabric pop filter, a dust cover bag and a 6m XLR cable to give everything you want to start recording. All that for a very affordable price and quality that will tide you over for years.
Musicians who use it: Above&Beyond, B.B.King, Rob Chapman, Madeon, Nicky Romero
|Value for money:||9/10|
2.AUDIO TECHNICA AT2035
One of my favorite brands, Audio Technica produces besides headphones and turntables, high-end microphones as well. One of their most popular studio quality mic is the AT2020 USB. But it is slightly behind to features and characteristics compare to our pick AT2035.
The AT2035 by Audio Technica is a large diaphragm condenser microphone that offers smooth and natural sound. As well as cardioid polar pattern that reduces the ambient sounds from sides and rear while improving the isolation of the desirable sound source. You can record great vocals and at some level acoustic guitars or other stringed instruments. In total it is producing a very natural and detailed sound.
Is a bit louder than RODE NT1-A but the 12dB self noise level won’t be heard in your recordings. The AT2035 features a 10dB pad and an 80Hz high-pass filter that you can switch on whenever you desire.
conclusion: With a beautiful appearance that refer to a studio recording microphone it has collect some excellent reviews. Users praise it’s sound, durability and the sweet price tag. AT2035 comes with shock mount, pop filter and a 10ft. XLR cable to connect and record from day one.
Musicians who use it: Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Boyinaband
|Value for money:||9/10|
3.SE ELECTRONICS SE2200A II
After the big success of 2200a by SE Electronics, it was next to launch the new SE 2200A II with switchable polar patterns and a nice black appearance. You will have to put your hand deep in your pocket but this is a studio quality microphone that gives you the opportunity to record a wide range of sound sources.
SE Electronics SE2200A II is a large diaphragm condenser microphone with multi-pattern capability. It uses 1″ capsule employed with two centre-terminated diaphragms that give you the opportunity to switch between cardioid, omnidirectional or figure-8 polar pattern. The 20Hz-20kHz frequency response of this condenser microphone will get the job done perfectly. There is no doubt that is one of the best vocal microphone out there.
The original SE 2200A had been used by Amy Winehouse to record the “Black To Black album”, and that alone is a quality guarantee. It has a clear natural sound with a little warmth in the low-ends while it keeps the brightness of the highs.
conclusion: If you can get over the fact that SE Electronics is not a popular brand, SE 2200A II is a great option for any studio with switchable multi-patterns to record anything you want. For a limited period the package comes with a new universal black shock-mount.
Musicians who use it: Amy Winehouse
|Polar pattern:||Cardioid, omnidirectional, Figure 8|
|Value for money:||8/10|
The most budget-friendly studio microphone of our list has the highest user ratings and hundred of superb reviews. MXL 770 has been out for many years now and it’s safe to say that established by musicians and recording studios around the world.
This condenser microphone with large diaphragm and cardioid pattern can record vocals and instruments as well. The overall sound is “raw” but is nicely balanced with solid bass and upfront high-end. It will also perform very well with guitar and string instruments.
The smaller sibling of the well knownMXL 990 has a switchable bass cut and -10dB pad and legendary MXL sonic characteristics. The MXL 770 even uses a high quality FET preamp with balanced output for a wide dynamic range.
conclusion: MXL 770 is the best cardioid condenser microphone in the market for it’s price tag. It comes along with a shock-mount and a carrying case. You might not have “wow” recordings but at the end you will save money for other gear in your studio and still have a quality mic to record vocals and instruments.
|Value for money:||10/10|
5.AKG PRO AUDIO C214
The smallest and most affordable model of the AKG series C (212/314/414) is a superb option for beginners as well as experts. If you desire premium quality with beautifully detailed recording on lead vocals and solo instruments this is for you.
Like the rest of the studio condenser microphones we have seen so far, AKG C214 has a large diaphragm and cardioid polar pattern. It uses the same capsule as the three times more expensive multi-pattern AKG C414. But the existence of only one polar pattern in C214 justifies the more affordable price tag.
It surely delivers highly detailed vocal recordings with very low self noise. With SPL at 156dB, you won’t have to worry about loud vocalists. The AKG C214 also features switchable 20dB attenuator and bass-cut filter for close-up recording.
conclusion: The top rated AKG C214 can perform equally well with vocals and instruments. With a nice built quality it guarantee a wonderful investment. If you decide to go for the full package that includes XLR cable, pop filter and elastic spider suspension you will have to get over budget. One of the best studio microphones for those who wants a career from it.
|Value for money:||9/10|
It’s pretty nice to get any of the microphones above with under $300. All options will fit perfect in any home recording studio but if your pocket can afford more, check the best studio recording microphones under $1000.
Do not hesitate to post your comments and questions. Me and my team would be happy to help!