Best Condenser Mic Review – Top Rated Models in 2019 with Buying Guide
In case your interest in music and your hobby call for the best condenser mic yet the time you have at your disposal is not that generous, you might find this paragraph to be of help. Our team has examined various models available for sale and condenser mic reviews and concluded that the first option to consider is the AKG C214. Designed to record solo instruments and lead vocals, this durable large-diaphragm condenser mic comes with specs that reduce vibration from the stage and mechanical noise and deliver an accurate sonic output. Should you be unable to find this item, the second model to consider is the Audio-Technica AT2020.
Our Top Choice
Ideal for vocals and solo instruments, this condenser mic comes with features that will take your game to the next level. It has a remarkable 143 dB dynamic range and a switchable 20 dB attenuator that enables impressive close-up recording. Thanks to the integrated suspension, the mic reduces mechanical and stage noise. Moreover, the construction is shock and scratch-resistant.
You will need a 3-pin XLR cable as well as an Audio Driver to power the mic as such items are not included in the pack.
You might want to give this condenser microphone a try if you’re interested in using it with loud instruments and even for vocal applications.
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Versatility is what you get with this mic model. Due to the wide dynamic range and the high-SPL handling it is capable of, the mic can be used for a variety of applications. The low-mass diaphragm ensures a superior transient response as well as an extended frequency response. Thanks to the cardioid polar pattern used, background noises are reduced and the sound source is isolated.
Just like other such items, this model does not come with an XLR cable, which means that you need to buy it separately.
Durable, easy to use, and versatile, this mic should be added to your list of options. It comes with all the accessories you need.
Delivering a maximum sound pressure level of 144 dB, this large-diaphragm mic is also worth considering as it can be used for various applications. You can thus employ it to record loud sound sources including drums, percussion, and amps, or vocals and speech. Due to the very fast transient response, you can also use it for quieter instruments. It is compact and thus easy to store.
The unit was designed with home and studio use in mind and thus might not be ideal for on-stage use.
Providing versatility, a compact design that ensures easy transportation, and high-quality sounds, this mic is worth trying.
13 Best Condenser Mics (Reviews) in 2019
Finding the best condenser mic for vocals or the best condenser mic under 200, if you are on a budget, might be intimidating since the market is simply overflowing with such products. To ease your decision-making process, we have reviewed a few of the models that have gathered the public’s appreciation.
- 1. C214 Professional large-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone
- 2. Audio-Technica AT2020 Cardioid Condenser Microphone
- 3. Neumann TLM 102 Condenser Microphone
- 4. MXL V67G microphone
- 5. Shure SM81-LC Cardioid Condenser Instrument Microphone
- 6. Rode Microphones NT1-A Vocal Pack
- 7. Neumann KM 184 MT Stereo Set Condenser Microphone
- 8. Rode M5 Matched Pair Condenser Microphone
- 9. Rode NTK
- 10. AKG Perception 170 Small Diaphragm Pencil Condenser Microphone
- Yearly Guide & Report
- Frequently asked questions about condenser microphones
1. C214 Professional large-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone
Whether you’re looking for a mic to help you record solo instruments or vocals, this AKG condenser mic is worth trying. It boasts specs that will cover such needs flawlessly and help you up your musical game.
With a remarkable 143 dB dynamic range, the C414 enables excellent close-up recording even when using high-output sources of up to 156 dB SPL thanks to the switchable 20dB attenuator.
Due to the integrated suspension, the vibration from the stage and mechanical noise will be reduced. The unit also sports a bass-cut filter to ensure that the proximity effect during your close-up recording is significantly reduced.
Given its specs, the mic can be used on stage with guitar amps, drum overheads, and for other such loud applications. If you’re a lot on the road, rest assured that the construction of this mic will keep up with extended use as it is resistant to shocks and scratches.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($344.17)
2. Audio-Technica AT2020 Cardioid Condenser Microphone
In case you’re on the lookout for home studio mics, this Audio Technica condenser mic should also make it to your list of options.
The unit stands out not only through the performance delivered but also through its versatility. Thanks to the wide dynamic range and the high-SPL handling, you can use it for a variety of applications.
The item features a low-mass diaphragm that was specifically engineered for a superior transient response as well as an extended frequency response.
No need to worry about background noises as the cardioid polar pattern ensures reduction of side and rear sounds. What’s more, it provides a better isolation of the sound source.
The mic comes with several accessories so you can use it right away. The pivoting stand mount ensures precise and easy mic placement. The rugged construction will make sure that using it on a frequent basis won’t damage it too soon.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($119)
3. Neumann TLM 102 Condenser Microphone
If you’re on the lookout for studio recording microphones, this model from Neumann shouldn’t go unchecked before you make your final decision.
Offering a maximum sound pressure level of 144 dB, the large-diaphragm mic can be used for a variety of applications as it will still deliver the appreciated Neumann performance.
You can thus use it to record loud sound sources including drums, percussion, and amps. Quieter instruments were not neglected when this mic was engineered as, thanks to the very fast transient response, they can benefit from this unit as well.
What’s more, you can also record speech and vocals because the slight boost above 6 kHz will make sure you enjoy a remarkable voice presence in the overall mix.
Therefore, if you’re a broadcaster or you’re a voiceover artist, this unit might be right up your alley. The compact design ensures ease of transportation, use, and storage.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($699)
4. MXL V67G microphone
Designed with voice recording in mind, this MXL condenser mic is also worth considering if your needs involve such applications.
The unit is designed to enable you to record vocals flawlessly while adding to your performance through a beautiful vintage body.
This large-capsule condenser microphone will get you that open, pure sound you’re interested in thanks to the transformer-coupled output and the Class A FET circuitry featured. What’s more, this microphone will add a touch of warmth to your vocal recordings while keeping the vocals above the tracks and the background hiss close to zero.
The excellent performance is further ensured by the wide cardioid pickup pattern used and the 30Hz-20kHz frequency response.
The product comes with a hard mount mic stand adapter and features a distinctive green vintage body coupled with a gold-plated round grill. Therefore, give this product a try if you need to bring a warm tone to your vocal recording.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($58)
5. Shure SM81-LC Cardioid Condenser Instrument Microphone
Another model you might want to take into account is this Shure condenser mic if you’re interested in a microphone for broadcasting, studio recording, and sound reinforcement.
The unit comes with specs that make it ideal for applications that include acoustic instruments such as cymbals and acoustic guitars.
To enable such applications, the SM81-LC comes with a wide frequency response, low RF susceptibility, and low noise characteristics.
The flat response curve ensures accurate sound source reproduction whereas the cardioid polar pattern rejects and minimizes the coloration of off-axis sounds. The unit also comes with a 0 dB/10 dB lockable attenuator switch.
Furthermore, you don’t have to worry about using it in various environments as it was built to perform in different temperature and humidity conditions.
Its rugged steel construction ensures durability. Plus, the microphone comes with various accessories including a case for easy storage and transportation and a foam windscreen.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($339)
6. Rode Microphones NT1-A Vocal Pack
If you’re interested in studio recording microphones, the NT1A from Rode should also be taken into account, considering its specs and the positive feedback it has received from the users who tried it.
The 1-inch cardioid condenser microphone has been appreciated for the warmth, clarity, and wide dynamic range delivered.
Considered one of the quietest microphones available on today’s market, this model has a self-noise level of only 5 dB (A), which means it is a great option for recording percussion and guitars as well as for applications including vocals.
What’s more, the NT1A offers a wide dynamic range and high SPL capability that are usually found in more expensive mics.
The unit comes with a variety of accessories that will enable you to use it upon arrival. You will thus get a shockmount, a studio-grade pop shield, a dust cover, and a premium 20-foot microphone cable. Plus, you will also receive an instructional DVD with recording tips.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($197.98)
7. Neumann KM 184 MT Stereo Set Condenser Microphone
Versatility is what you get if you opt for this condenser mic set from Neumann. Ideal for various studio applications, this model is another mic you might want to consider before you make your final decision.
You can use it to record cymbals or percussion and brass instruments, it will deliver the desired performance anyway. The unit is designed to handle high sound pressure levels of up to 138 dB easily.
What makes it great is that it is also quiet, so you can comfortably use it to capture the subtleties of orchestral instruments or acoustic guitars. It also has a low inherent self-noise and can reproduce sounds clearly and free of coloration.
This set will help you get that fresh and vivid sound thanks to the small diaphragm used and the slight treble lift around 9 kilohertz. The sound produced is not only consistent but has depth and a certain complexity.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($1500)
8. Rode M5 Matched Pair Condenser Microphone
Another set of small diaphragm condenser microphones you might want to take into account before placing your order is the M5 -MP Matched Pair from Rode.
The mics are a good option for both live stage performances and studio recordings. Therefore, they can be used for acoustic instruments and choirs as well.
The compact cardioid condenser mics have a full frequency response and low noise, which means that you will get to enjoy the sound you’re interested in and reduce unwanted noises. The exceptionally clear sound produced render the mics ideal for studio and on stage use.
They can be used to record any instrument ranging from drum overheads and hi-hats to violins, saxophones, and flutes.
Since you get two mics with a variation of no more than 1dB sensitivity between them, you can use them for stereo recording applications, too. Plus, the set includes the accessories you need to get started.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($198.98)
9. Rode NTK
Whether you want to record vocals or various instruments, this model from Rode will help you do that flawlessly.
Combining noteworthy specs, this unit is a great option for acoustic instruments, pianos, guitar amps, and vocals. Its performance is paired with a distinctive design that will complement your sonic session.
The NTK Tube condenser microphone delivers a very low noise, a wide dynamic range as well as excellent tube warmth.
All that is possible thanks to the twin-triode 6922 valve and other audiophile grade components used. The unit also ensures a high level of RF rejection to further contribute to the flawless sonic output.
The satin nickel finish and heat-treated steel mesh head add to the durability provided by this product. You will also get a power supply, a stand adapter, and a 30-foot cable. Plus, the case included will help you store and transport it easily and safely.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($529)
10. AKG Perception 170 Small Diaphragm Pencil Condenser Microphone
Engineered for a variety of instruments, this small-diaphragm condenser microphone shouldn’t go unchecked before you make your final decision. It is committed to providing you with the sonic clarity you’re interested in and to keeping up with extended use.
The microphone is thus worth considering if you intend to use it for percussion, overheads, acoustic guitars, and other stringed instruments.
Noteworthy clarity and transient response are ensured by the 1/2-inch condenser transducer diaphragm. The cardioid-pattern mic comes with a switchable 20dB attenuation pad and offers a frequency range of 20Hz-20kHz.
Sonic performance is not the only benefit you get to enjoy when using this microphone.
Its rugged all-metal construction will make sure that extended use is not a problem and will keep up with regular use for a long time. Given all that, you can safely take it with you when traveling.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($89)
11. Blue Spark
The word to describe this cardioid condenser microphone from Blue is versatile. Created to provide professional quality recordings no matter the creative environment in which it is used, this microphone will get you clear recordings and eliminate unwanted noise so you can enjoy a flawless sonic result.
The unit provides the user with two recording modes, Normal Mode and Focus Mode, that can be selected with ease thanks to the Focus Control switch.
If you want a robust timbre and a vast audio landscape, then you need to use the Normal Mode whereas, for enhanced clarity and detail, you will need to use the Focus Mode. Thanks to the cardioid pattern, background noise is eliminated.
The mic comes with a pop filter that can be easily installed and that minimizes disruptive popping noises. Plus, the shockmount provided will isolate the mic from bumps, vibrations, and low-frequency noises.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($94)
12. Avantone Pro CV-12
Designed with a variety of applications in mind, this large-diaphragm tube condenser microphone should not be ignored. It will help you get rich, smooth vocals while adding the right amount of flavor when playing your acoustic guitar.
Versatility is thus one of the greatest advantages of this model as it can be used for stage and studio applications. What makes this unit so easy to adapt to an artist’s various needs is that it comes with nine selectable polar patterns.
Such a feature will enable you to get the best sonic output regardless of the source you’re recording. Plus, the unit has a frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz.
The rugged body will make sure durability is not an issue. The unit comes with a variety of accessories so you can get started right away.
You will thus receive a premium shockmount, a wooden box as well as a metal road case for safe and easy storage and transportation.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($499)
13. SE Electronics sE2200a
This updated version of the now well-known sE2200a is also worth adding to your list of options if you’re interested in a highly satisfying sonic output, versatility as well as a stylish and durable construction. The unit can be used for a variety of applications. Therefore, you can consider it for your guitar and drum alike.
Thanks to the tried-and-true cardioid polar pattern, you will get the same up-front sound that made the original microphone such a hit.
Moreover, the unit delivers low-noise operation and high-headroom SPL handling. Due to the hand-crafted 1-inch gold-sputtered diaphragm, you will enjoy tonal stability as well as bold sound quality.
What’s also great about this particular model is that it was designed to withstand high decibel levels while keeping the noise at low levels.
This feature renders it ideal for capturing dynamic sounds. The unit has a black rubber paint finish and the package includes a shockmount.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($279.99)
Yearly Guide & Report
Whether you are an artist just starting to explore the endless possibilities of the sonic realm or you’re already a skilled musician in need of a new condenser microphone, the market is generous enough to help you find the right product for your needs. However, browsing all the search results you will get might take lots of time.
Just like when you’re on the lookout for overhead drum mics, wireless karaoke microphones, or studio microphones for vocals, there are some features you need to consider in order to narrow down that long list of options and identify the right model for you. We have highlighted them below to simplify your decision-making process.
Dynamic vs condenser mic
The great variety of microphones available these days might overwhelm you, especially if you are a beginner. Your shopping experience shouldn’t be a burden, though, and we’re here to make sure things stay on the pleasant side. You first need to know more about the type of mic that best suits your needs and the difference between condenser and dynamic mic models.
The most popular mics you will find include the dynamic and condenser mics. Dynamic microphones are ideal for vocals, recording loud instruments such as an acoustic electric guitar and a drum set, stage performances, and voiceover because they are less sensitive to high frequencies and sound pressure levels.
However, if you’re interested in audio fidelity and capturing the sound source faithfully, you might want to consider a condenser mic. Such microphones have a greater response to the speed and nuances of sound waves when compared to dynamic mics. This renders them ideal for acoustic pianos and guitars, vocals, orchestral recordings and instruments. You can even use it for a snare drum.
Diaphragm weight and size
Another characteristic that will help you get one step closer to the condenser mic you need is the size and weight of the diaphragm it features. Your needs will decide which type of diaphragm to go for. In case you’re interested in ultra-responsiveness, then a mic with a smaller, lighter diaphragm is the one to add to your cart.
Such mics are ideal for acoustic guitars, harps, hi-hats, and other instruments with extended overtones and sharp transients. However, large-diaphragm condenser mics are more versatile and can be used for a variety of applications. They can be employed to record almost anything from strings to vocals to percussion.
Professionals usually use a large-diaphragm mic (1-inch in diameter) for studio vocals, guitar amps, and generally close-miked sounds. Smaller diaphragm mics that have a diameter of 0.5-inches or less are generally used to record acoustic instruments or ensembles at a distance.
If you can’t afford two microphones, it is best to go for a large-diaphragm model as it should get you good results most of the time.
Your sonic output will depend significantly on the type of polar pattern the mic features. Mics are further classified according to the polar pattern used. You will thus find mics with a cardioid, supercardioid, omnidirectional, or a figure-8 pattern.
The cardioid polar pattern is one of the most common ones because it is great at “hearing” the sound produced in front of it and rejecting sounds that come from the rear and sides. Therefore, if you want to minimize room ambience and sounds, a mic boasting this pattern is the one to choose.
Omnidirectional microphones detect sound equally from all directions. So, if you want to capture room sounds as well, this pattern is the one that will help you with that. A figure-8 polar pattern is sensitive to front and back sounds and rejects sounds that come from sides.
If you need a microphone to help you with various applications, then you might want to consider a condenser microphone that comes with switchable polar patterns.
Durability and accessories
You also need to pay attention to the durability provided by the mic model you want to buy. Consider the temperature and humidity conditions it will be exposed to. Some condenser mics may suffer when exposed to extreme humidity changes.
Ease of use is another factor you should take into account. The market now offers USB condenser mic and iPhone condenser mic models for enhanced ease of operation. Don’t forget about the accessories needed to start using the mic.
Many of them come with the needed accessories such as a shockmount, a protective case, or other accessories that will make it easy to attach it to a condenser mic stand.
Frequently asked questions about condenser microphones
Q: What is a condenser mic?
A condenser microphone refers to a type of microphone that converts acoustical energy into electrical energy with the help of a capacitor. Such mics require an external power source. They offer an audio signal that is stronger than the one produced by a dynamic microphone.
Thanks to its low mass, the diaphragm found in a condenser mic is capable of following the sound waves with a greater accuracy than dynamic mics. This translates into superior sound quality. They also have a wide frequency response and excellent transient response. Plus, when compared to dynamic mics, condenser mics offer a lower noise and a higher sensitivity.
Q: How to power a condenser mic?
Condenser mics require phantom power for their internal circuitry to operate and this power should be supplied to the mic through the 2-conductor shielded cable the microphone features. You can supply the needed power from a mixing console or from a stand-alone device.
However, the backplate and the diaphragm of the mic can be charged not only through phantom power, that is by an externally applied voltage which is known as a “true condenser” or “external bias”, but also through a permanently charged electret material on the backplate or the diaphragm. The latter arrangement is called “electret condenser” or “internal bias”.
Q: How to position a condenser mic?
The way you position your condenser mic can make a significant difference as far as the sonic output is regarded. To know where to place and how to position your mic though, you need to first listen to how your instrument sounds. You can look for the right position once you’ve found the sweet spot of your instrument or the place where the sonic representation of it is balanced.
If you use a cardioid condenser mic, you can simply cup your hand behind one ear and cover the other and then listen. Move around the sound source until you find that place where the frequencies are balanced. Place the microphone in that spot.
Q: How to connect condenser mic to PC?
When using a USB mic, connecting it to a PC is easy. You just need to plug it into the computer’s USB port. In case you use a classic condenser microphone, you will need to plug the small end of the cable into the mic and the other end into the USB port your PC features.
Once you’ve done that, you will have to turn the PC’s main output level down and then simply switch the input and output to your condenser mic. Experts recommend setting the input of the mic halfway up in the digital workstation you use.
Q: Do I need a shockmount for my condenser mic?
It depends on your recording settings and conditions. If you want to use the condenser mic for your home recording studio and there is no stand-transmitted vibration, then a shockmount is not needed. However, things change if you can hear vibrations on the playback.
In such cases, a shockmount is a must as it will isolate the mic from mechanically transmitted noise. This type of noise does not refer only to the vibrations transmitted through the floor stand but also to the finger noise or other unwanted sounds produced by various parts of the instrument you use or the recording setting.
Q: Is a condenser mic good for vocals?
Yes, condenser mics are good for vocals because they have a high sensitivity which means the sound you want to record or reproduce will be rendered accurately. This sensitivity also ensures a good high-frequency response, so you can use a condenser mic whether you intend to sing or just to speak.
Condenser microphones are frequently used in studios because of their ability to reproduce the speed of the sound source. However, if you want to record vocals at home, you will need a large-diaphragm condenser microphone in case you have phantom power. If you don’t have that, a large-diaphragm dynamic microphone is preferred.