Best Budget Condenser Mics
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At the heart of any studio, home to professional, a good condenser mic is a must-have. For those on a budget, a condenser can be used for the majority of the live recording you’re going to be doing. Not to say that you shouldn’t get a variety of both condenser and dynamic mics, just that if you could only have one mic, a condenser is the place to start. But don’t take “great” to mean expensive. Yes, it is true that you get what you pay for, however, in 2019 there are a lot of solid options that don’t break the bank. Here is a list containing the best picks for budget condenser microphones all under $300.
TONOR Q9 (USB)
Coming in as the cheapest option on this list, the TONOR Q9 is a surprising but worthy pick for those on very tight budgets. At just $50 you are getting some pretty respectful sound quality here. Made more in mind for the Streamers or Podcasters out there, this mic is fully powered via USB. It also works right out of the box without having to worry about drivers (that’s a big plus for some people!). Honestly, there’s not much more to this one. While it might not be as good of sound quality as the other entries, for someone with fifty dollars and a song, this will do the trick.
Samson C01U Pro (USB)
Sticking with the USB side of things, the Samson C01U is a great starting point for those looking to get the best sound for the least money. Starting off with USB means saving some money by not having to worry about an audio interface yet and with the C01U Pro you also don’t have to sacrifice quality. The onboard headphone input means that you’re not going to have to worry about latency either. Overall, this is a great buy for anyone looking to get their hands on a great USB mic.
CAD M179 (XLR)
The CAD M179 is the most versatile mic on this list. Sporting a 20db boost/cut, 100hz high pass filter, and a variety of pickup patterns the M179 will get you by in nearly any situation. While this one is often marketed for voice it also works wonderfully with acoustic instruments and for drum overheads. While not currently found at many retailers, CAD is still selling this model on Amazon. Additionally, the M176 has been dropping in price recently on the used market, so always good to keep an eye out for deals!
Rode NT1-A (XRL)
For many, the NT1-A resides as the centerpiece of their budget studio. Coming in at under $250, the NT1-A is one of the best sounding mics that you can pick up at this price point. At just 5db This entry from Rode has is among the absolute quietest you will find. So quiet in fact, recording guitar amps and or drums is not just possible, but a rather great experience with this condenser. This is an all-around studio workhorse that can handle just about any task that you throw at it. You will not regret owning this one.
Warm Audio WA-47Jr (XLR)
Looking at the edge of the budget spectrum here, the Warm Audio WA-47Jr is a great sounding mic. Warm Audio has built a reputation for having some of the best modern recreations of vintage recording gear. While this mic is not voiced all that similar to Neumann U-47 which it gets its name, it does sound excellent. Many would use this condenser for all things percussion, but it remains to sound great in other applications too. Additionally, with three polar patterns, you get versatility that will aid you in different situations. If you have the funds, this one is not a bad choice at all.
The range of great affordable mics is wider than ever before. Make sure you do your research with your specific needs and wants at the forefront. For example, while all these mics listed are great overall options, none of them have a super flat frequency response. So, if you are someone who values as little coloration as possible, you might want to keep looking. This is just one example though; be sure you tailor your purchase to your own implementation. But if you are just starting out and looking for solid audio quality, any of the mics listed will get the job done. With all that said, I’d say your set to make your decision. Get out there and pick up the right condenser for you.