A good-quality condenser microphone is incredibly important for a successful home studio setup.
If you’re setting up your home studio for the first time, you will probably be wondering – which is the best condenser mic to buy?
Well, it may seem hard to pick the best type, given a wide selection of condenser mics available on the market today, but if you narrow down your options carefully in terms of budget, preference, quality, and customer reviews, finding the best of all may not be as hard as you may think.
To make things easier for you and save you from arduous research, we’ve put together the best condenser microphones. Let’s review these top 5 condenser microphones so that you make the right decision.
Best Condenser Microphones – Reviews & Buying guide for 2020
Winner: Audio-Technica AT2020 Condenser Microphone
The Audio-Technica AT2020 Cardioid Condenser Studio is an excellent product for customers with a limited budget.
It offers legendary Audio-Technica sound quality at an excellent price value, which means you won’t have to compromise on quality over price.
If we look further than the price value of this product, there is so much to like about this product; starting with the sturdy construction of the microphone – unlike its dynamic competitors, this condenser mic is robust and frill-free.
It stays solid and steady on the stand and is durable for a lifetime.
The AT2020 supports a maximum sound pressure level of 144 dB. This enables the mic to produce higher sounds with clarity and accuracy. Due to its low-mass diaphragm, the condenser mic has an unmatched transient response.
Its cardioids polar pattern allows the maximum sensitivity at the front and the least sensitivity at the back. This reduces the mic from sound pickups and improves the overall sound quality.
The Audio Technica AT2020 has quite a few setbacks. The storage bag is not as durable and long-lasting. It is quite flimsy. The product comes with no extra padding and lacks a shock mount to reduce mic vibration.
The cost-effective condenser mic comes with many accessories that you will need for setting up the mic.
A few of these essentials include a stand mount for 5/8”- threaded stands for easy adjustment of the mic on the stand, 5/8”-27 to 3/8” threaded adapter for emergency charging, and a protective pouch to store extras.
The mic is designed from an advanced back-electret capsule that enables the voltage to run through the back-plate of the condenser.
Therefore, the diaphragm used is thin and highly responsive – a feature common to high-end mics. The diaphragm itself is shorter than the most typical diaphragm.
It is only 16mm in diameter as compared to the standard 1-inch diaphragm. This feature is great for a speedy transient response. Another feature that is conducive for the smooth operation of the AT2020 is its 48 V phantom power and 100 Db SPL.
This is an amazing condenser mic available at an affordable price range. It has all the features of a premium microphone and thus worth the investment.
The mic produces a very smooth and clean sound and eliminates all the sound picks from the sides or rear. It is indeed ideal for budget-friendly home studios!
Runner Up: AKG Pro Audio Condenser Microphone
The AKG Pro Audio C214 has a loyal customer base around the globe, and there is a good reason why. The high-end model comes with high-end features and that too at a relatively fair price.
When you look at the mic, the first thing you notice is its impressive vintage design. The microphone has a retro appearance, setting it apart from other typical, modern mics.
Its all-metal chassis is short and robust and is covered with a double-mesh grille that helps resist dents and dings.
The C214 is phenomenal for a large diaphragm condenser. Vocals sound so clear and precise for a male and female voice.
At the given price range, this one is literally the most accurate transparent large diaphragm condenser mic on the market today.
The mic is used mainly for recording the true sound of acoustic instruments such as the piano or drum. Plus, with its high SPL rates, you can record your favorite instrument in its true form.
The mic lacks a proprietary shock mount, which is important for controlling noise. Because of this, the mic can color the original sound and make it slightly harsh.
The C214 has some really cool components. Firstly, it has the 1” suspended diaphragm that helps reduce mechanical noise. Since the diaphragm sits at a distance, it delivers an up-front sound without any nuisance.
The mic supports an amazing 143dB dynamic range, capturing a range of high-amplitude sounds. It also comes with an in-built capsule suspension, preventing mechanical noise and resonance and enhancing the sonic accuracy.
The frequency response curve is straight from 60Hz to 1kHz, which slightly drops between 1kHz and 2.5kHz, preventing acoustic instruments from sounding too harsh.
The microphone’s bass roll-off filter helps eliminate low-frequency vibrations and noises and keeps the quality of recorded voices fully intact.
The microphone’s solid attenuation pad helps increase the mic’s headroom by 20dB. This comes in handy when recording loud acoustic instruments such as guitars, trumpets, or drums.
The AKG Pro Audio C214 is an excellent performer for anyone who wants to record a wide variety of songs in their studio. It is convenient and easy to use. Plus, it comes with maximum SPL capabilities with minimal noise.
Alternative: MXL Mics 770 Condenser Microphone
The MXL Mics 770 is manufactured by a well-acclaimed company – MXL Mics and is available at an affordable price range, so investing in this product is a total win-win situation. It is one of the best-looking mics on the market.
However, at first glance, the design of the mic may seem complex. That said, it is pretty simple and straightforward to use. Plus, it comes with a compact shock mount, which makes it a perfect addition to any modern music studio.
The condenser microphone is versatile and is primarily used for recording the guitar, piano, drum, and even vocals. It also supports a low-frequency response that delivers a clear, shrill-free sound.
You can easily connect the mic to your PC via a mixing console, mixer, and sound card. Unlike most mics, the MXL Mix 770 only has a few settings that are easy to follow and understand.
So, adjusting the right volume and sensitivity for your vocal or instrument recordings will never be difficult.
Like any other great condenser mic, the MXL 770 has quite a few drawbacks too. Customers in the past have complained about the tendency for the diaphragm to trap air that causes unwanted wind sounds to occur.
The mic is also capable of capturing noises in the studio, so you will need to ensure the space you are recording in is noise-proof. Also, the manual that comes along this product is not as detailed as it should be.
The microphone is small, light, and compact, and at first glance, you may not expect it to be solid and powerful.
But that’s one of the many aspects where the MXL 770 excels and impresses its users. The microphone has classic black metal finishing, which looks ideal in any studio setting.
The small condenser microphone comes with a FET preamp that gives a mind-blowing output. Its high frequency with a range from 30Hz to 20kHz is somewhat similar to the most high-end condenser microphones.
The supremely elegant MXL 770 delivers optimum sensitivity at 15mv/Pa and with an impedance of 150 ohms. Plus, it features a wide frequency range and a maximum sound pressure level.
It is also easy to connect with an audio interface, including a phantom power that comes with an integrated mixing console.
This is a perfect, budget-friendly condenser mic, ideal for anyone who wants to record music, skits, podcasts, etc.
Even though its overall design looks slightly complex, it is super simple to use and best for both beginners and professionals.
Best for the Money: Marantz Pro MPM1000 Condenser Microphone
The Marantz Pro MPM 1000 may not be the best condenser microphone out there, but it definitely is the best for customers with a limited budget.
It can be used for almost every acoustic instrument such as drums, pianos, guitars, etc., and delivers effective output when used for streaming, recording, or YouTubing.
Content creators (podcasters or YouTubers) usually favor the MPM-1000 for its price and quality. It delivers you the quality of an expensive mic, which is why most content creators prefer this unit.
The mic is also easy to use. All you will need is an XLR cable to connect it to the mixer or an audio interface. This comes in handy during live performances on the stage.
You can also use this mic for recording any kind of music. However, you will have to make sure that your PC is equipped with a DAW.
The MPM 1000 is not as versatile for music recording as it should be, so it may not be the best choice for professional musicians. It also lacks proper USB connectivity, which makes it difficult to connect external devices.
The Marantz Pro 1000 is a fully aluminum-plated device which makes it tough and powerful. Despite its strong built, the mic doesn’t feel heavy at all.
It features a standard cardioids pattern, providing most of the sensitivity in front of the capsule than behind the capsule.
The frequency response range is from 20Hz to 20 kHz, which is quite remarkable as this effectively lends clarity and precision to both male and female vocals and all kinds of recordings.
The condenser microphone comes with a large diaphragm that works in favor of almost every application, such as recording vocals, brass, strings, percussion, etc.
In the box, you will also find a tripod stand, an XLR cable, a windscreen, and a shock mount that help in recordings and delivering top-notch quality sounds.
This is one of the best budget condenser mics for beginners or the ones that are just starting their music career. It is ideal for recording vocals and basic acoustic instruments.
RUNNER UP: Samson CO1 Condenser Microphone
The Samson CO1 Large-Diaphragm is another budget-friendly condenser microphone. Even though it has a low cost, it’s built to last a lifetime – thanks to its excellent design and features.
It has a sleek black and silver exterior, boasting an XLR connecter that’s gold-plated, a heavy gauge mesh grill, and an LED for running 48 volts of phantom power.
It delivers all the necessary features you may expect from a large diaphragm condenser microphone. This also includes using the mic for exceptional stage and studio performances.
It is best used on musical instruments where a minimum amount of coloration or a loud sound is needed, such as a guitar, bass amps, drums, etc.
Some parts of the microphone are a bit dodgy, including the headphone port. The microphone also lacks a regular audio output feature. So, you really can’t attach an external device to the microphone.
This large-diaphragm condenser comes with a smooth frequency response and a perfect cardioids pickup pattern. Usually, the on-axis response is impressively flat that gives the sound a clear and precise detail.
The sensitivity is quoted at 33dB, and the maximum SPL handling is 136dB, which means that the mic can effectively deliver shrill-free and crunch-free sounds. Overall, the mic does a great job and averts the background noise.
The condenser mic features a 10” USB cable, a tripod stand, a swivel mount, and a standard thread for connection to a mic stand. These extras are robust and well-made and offer solid support to the mic.
This is the best option for those looking for a simple, high-quality condenser mic for basic recordings, YouTubing, and podcasts.
It delivers great output and that too at a great price range; it is indeed a real bargain you don’t want to miss out on!
Condenser Microphones FAQs
What are Condenser Microphones Best For?
Condenser microphones are popularly found in studios. They have a terrific transient response and encapsulate a wide frequency range, which means that these mics respond quicker when confronted with loud sounds.
They are ideal for recording ambiances and different sound effects – thanks to their wide dynamic range and sensitivity.
What’s the Difference Between Dynamic and Condenser Microphones?
Dynamic microphones are the earliest kinds of microphones and therefore are primitive in their shape and design. Because they offer limited usage, they are cheap and affordable.
Bear in mind that these mics are super sensitive to quiet sounds and are capable of withstanding high-frequency sounds only. Therefore, they are mostly used for live performances.
On the other hand, condenser microphones are comparatively modern and slightly more expensive and versatile. Unlike dynamic mics, they are used for capturing complex sounds with a wide range of frequencies.
They are even capable of capturing quiet sounds with accuracy and precision that you can’t expect from dynamic microphones. This is why they are fairly priced higher and are commonly found in professional studios.
Are Condenser Mics Good for Vocals?
One of the best features of condenser mics is that they are great for recording vocals, either spoken or singing.
These mics feature a highly charged metal plate and a super-thin diaphragm – two features, when combined, are ideal for capturing subtle details in a speaker’s voice.
This means it is perfect for recording “demonic” screaming of a rock singer or singing a soft ballad – it’s perfect for both!
Do Condenser Microphones Need Phantom Power?
Phantom power is basically a voltage power that runs on an XLR connector. This type of power is invisible and uses some form of cord to run through. In the case of musical components, this power is run through an XLR cable.
Condenser microphones need phantom power because they have super high impedance, and they need an external powered circuit to reduce its impedance.
For this purpose, condenser microphones use phantom power to control impedance and deliver the desired outcome.
Choosing the right condenser studio can be tough if you are trying to find one for the first time, and you have no knowledge about microphones.
There are a few things you will have to consider when looking for the best type of condenser microphone, including the dynamic range, frequency response, sensitivity, and pattern variations of the mic.
You will also have to consider your budget, and if you have a limited budget, you may face difficulty in finding the best value for money.
However, that won’t be the case if you follow our guide that features not only high-end condenser mics but top budget condenser mics with amazing features!