The best condenser microphone under $500 | CONSIDERATIONS!
Hi friend and Welcome!
When it comes to the best condenser microphone under $500, the solution isn’t exactly cut and dry, but I do have some wonderful recommendations for you! Before we get started, grab a snack, sit back and relax because..
You’ve come to the right place!!
What I will bring you in this article
Now without further ado, let’s get rolling!!
In the early stages of building your home studio and finding the right mic, all of the information out there can be really overwhelming. There are hundreds, even thousands of different microphones available, and deciding which one suits your needs best can be quite a challenge. For starters, everyone’s ear and perception is a little different. What sounds good to me may not to you. To start out however, a good condenser mic is highly recommended. Condenser mic vs. Dynamic mic.
What you really have to do, is decide exactly what you need the mic for and also take some things into consideration.
The problem with recommending a single mic is that it may or may not work for you specifically. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Your budget. Under $500 can entail, well, anything under $500! There are a plethora of mics in this range. Today we’ll try and focus on a select few.
Your room. What’s your studio space like? Are you in a small to medium sized bedroom with noAcoustic Sound Treatment? Do you have some bass traps and foam panels set up? Or are you in a professional setting? All of this matters greatly, as condensers in general pick up a lot of unwanted noise.
Phantom power. Condenser microphones require 48v phantom power, usually provided by a separate audio interface or mixer. Your audio interface. Want to know more about how your computer processes the sound from your mic through the interface? Check out: bit depth vs sample rate!
Your voice. Are you a rapper, singer, musician with a bunch of instruments lying around, or a combination of some or all? Are you a male or female? Is your voice naturally low or high? These are all things to consider when choosing a mic that’s appropriate for you.
Sound. Are you looking for a flat/neutral response, or a warm, accentuated one?
I read a great article from Joe Gilder from Home studio corner, and it involves the threshold of a good mic as opposed to an upper echelon type of mic that will potentially last. He says that the breaking point is around $250. Anything less than that and you may be replacing the mic in about a year or so. Yes, you will still get a good mic, but it just may not last like you envision it to.
The $300 range and up is where mics start to really shine as far as quality and sound.
That said, here are some good recommendations and different types of instances you may be faced with in the studio. All of these have been well researched by me, and come up time and again in my searches as the best in their respective price ranges.
AKG C214. A fantastic solution for your rap/hip-hop vocal needs, but also remains an extremely versatile piece. Does well with Rap, Vocals, Instrumentation, Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar, Drum overheads, Saxophones, etc. Adds warmth to your recordings. Not flat/neutral. Check out my AKG C214 condenser microphone review!
Audio Technica AT4040. Very similar to the C214, but some say it may be even more versatile. Interested in a mic comparison/shootout? Check out AKG C214 vs. AT4040!!
Rode NT1. A lot of people like the NT1-A, but the NT1 is the way to go. The NT1-A is a good mic, but a bit too bright/sibilant. What does sibilant mean? The NT1 is crisper, more natural sounding, solid and reliable, and will last a long time. It also does well in a variety of instances and comes with the patented Rode 10 year guarantee. Also great for rappers, and you won’t have to EQ much either.
Blue Microphones Bluebird. Unlike the others, the Bluebird sports a flatter frequency response, but still has great clarity and versatility as well. Interested in learning more? Check out my shootout of the Bluebird vs. Blue Spark!
Again, please keep this in mind: Your studio space has a lot to do with whether you invest in a condenser mic now or later. Regardless, you will want both a dynamic and a condenser in studio eventually. Also make sure to get some XLR cables. The difference between a USB microphone and an XLR microphone. The big thing to remember:
Dynamic: blocks out unwanted background noise much better.
Condenser: picks up EVERYTHING. So if you’re going to go with a condenser now, you will want to treat your room at least somewhat.
As mentioned in the open, it’s hard to recommend one single mic for all of your needs, but in the case of this situation (best under $500), I would probably go with either the AKG C214 or the AT4040. As for which out of the two of those? If you’re looking to record rap vocals, go with the 214.
Don’t want to spend over $300 but still want a great option under $500? The AT2035 is the “bang for your buck”mic that I would go with if I was a little strapped for cash. It’s drooled over pretty much everywhere I’ve looked. Learn more in my:
Stu is determined to provide the truth about all things audio, and strives to deliver excellent content to you the reader! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, attend church, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His attention to detail and perfectionist attitude are what allow him to excel, but it can be both a blessing and a hindrance at times.