Vocals are often the most important part of a mix, regardless of the genre. Getting quality vocals is not something you can compromise on — they must be good. You can’t just “fix stuff in post,” as some inexperienced artists say.
This is exactly why we reviewed a plethora of condenser microphones to come up with a Top 10 list for you.
10 Best Condenser Microphones For Recording and Singing Vocals:
This mic has the awesome option to switch between three pickup patterns: cardioid, omnidirectional, and figure-eight. Because of this, it works with almost any recording situation, whether in the studio or onstage. And with a 80 Hz high-pass filter and a 10 dB roll-off pad, you can fine-tune your audio even further.
This is different from most condenser microphones because it has a small-diaphragm, which often provides clearer sound quality than large-diaphragm mics. And the 20 dB roll-off switch on its body helps you get even crisper audio by cutting out unwanted lower frequencies, thus highlighting the frequencies of your beautiful voice.
The AT2020 comes from a good family of mics, and it carries the Audio-Technica name well. This large-diaphragm gives you a large sound. It’s very versatile, so you can use it to record vocals, acoustic guitar, or even drums. And with a 10 dB roll-off switch, you can cut out lower frequencies, giving you a much crisper sound.
On this condenser microphone you get a mini mixing panel right on the body of it -- you get two gain knobs and a headphone jack. This allows you to control the live monitoring feature to your liking. And the audio quality you’ll hear in your headphones is so clear and perfect for recording vocals.
The feature that makes the Spark burn away the competition is the Focus Control feature, which lets you either roll off lower frequencies or make the audio brighter, highlighting the higher frequencies. Plus, Blue is a name you can trust, and the Spark doesn’t break or even bend that trust.
The cool thing about the Spirit is you can switch between three pickup patterns: omnidirectional (all sides), cardioid (heart-shaped), and figure-of-eight (two sides). This opens up a world of possibilities and gives this mic a good amount of versatility. Also, its built-in pop filter will help cut down on plosives.
With a built-in headphone jack, headphone output volume control, and live monitoring controls, the AT2020USB+ sets itself apart from other microphones, specifically when it comes to USB mics. And the audio you’ll get from it is top-notch -- this is a great choice for any level engineer, but especially for beginners.
The C214 could challenge any other pro-level microphone and be up to the task. It works well recording vocals, spoken word, and guitar, assisted by a 20 dB pad and a low-cut filter. Plus, with the included protective case, pop filter, XLR cable, shock mount, and extended warranty, this mic is one to consider.
The name sounds like a fighter jet -- and it may be the fighter jet of condenser microphones. It’s built in a way that delivers isolated vocals, clear acoustic guitar, or a high-quality recording of any other instrument. It comes with its own shock mount, tripod, and XLR cable, so it comes fully loaded and ready to go.
The MXL 990 is a perfect mic for podcasting, but also does a beautiful job recording vocals. The cardioid (heart-shaped) pickup pattern helps cut out unwanted noise, focusing on only your voice. It’s also a durable mic -- it’ll stand up to nicks and bumps thanks to its metal body and cage.
You might think $50 is not enough money for a decent microphone, but you’d be wrong. The key is to do some digging for that rare piece of gold — and that’s what we’ve done for you.
In the under $100 category, you can begin to smell the scent of professional-level microphones. You’ll find mics from Audio-Technica and Blue, companies trusted by the pros. If you’re on a tighter budget but still want a good microphone, this is your category.
The under $200 category is where affordability meets quality. This is where you can find microphones that the pros use, except you can spend (or save) money like a DIY artist. Basically, we’ve found the best mics for the best price.
When you get to the under $300 category, you’ll notice the options theses microphones offer begin to multiply. As you look through the different microphones, you’ll also notice they’re all versatile and reliable, fitting for the beginner and the expert engineer.
This is when things get serious. The under $500 category is where the pros hang out. And because you’re spending more, you’re getting more. Here you’ll find the mics found in the best studios around the world, mics the stars sing into.
You probably won’t find microphones fit for singing, but rather mics perfect for speaking. The last thing you probably want as a gamer is something overly fancy — if so, this is the place to be. We found the best all-around mics for gamers — convenient, affordable, and of good quality.
What good is high-quality video if the audio doesn’t match? If you’re a YouTuber or film maker of any kind, these are the best microphones for you. All of them are under $100, easy to use, and have been vetted by users, burning away the weak mics and leaving only the strong standing.
Most likely, none of us podcasters will ever be as good as Ira Glass from This American Life, but we can try. Here you’ll find condenser mics that give you clear recordings of your voice with minimal background noise. Tese microphones will give a head start on your way to becoming the next star podcaster.
What Makes A Good Condenser Microphone?
Every microphone will brag about what makes it special, but those descriptions are obviously biased because the makers wrote them. So you’ll need to know what to look for, how to read between the lines.
One of the most important things to look at is the pickup pattern of the mic. This will determine how you’ll use it, how much room noise it will capture, and the quality of the audio. Most of the time, you’ll see three patterns: cardioid (heart-shaped), omnidirectional (all sides), and figure of eight (two sides). Some mics even have the ability to switch among these three, like our top-recommended condenser mic, the AT2050. This is a big plus.
Reliability is another key factor in a good mic. If the microphone can produce the same, high-quality sound every time and last a long time, that’s one you’ll want to hang onto. If a mic sounds great only some of the time or it just conks out on you after six months, that’s not a good mic, even if it sounded good when it worked.
How Do You Choose The Right Condenser Microphone?
You’ll first need to figure out your budget and go to the corresponding price range. That’s a given.
Second, you’ll need to know how you’re going to use the mic. Will you be recording someone singing? Do you need to record drums? Are you podcasting or vlogging? You’ll need to know the answers to these questions before you start shopping.
Next you’ll need to look at the mic’s specs (i.e. the pickup pattern, compatibility with your current equipment, and frequency response). Say, for example, you’ll be recording vocals. You’ll need a condenser microphone with a cardioid pickup pattern so that unwanted background noise is cut out and the focus is on your voice, as opposed to an omnidirectional pattern (which will record everything around it) or a figure-of-eight pattern (which will record whatever is behind it in addition to your voice).
For more details and more specific guidance, feel free to visit our buying guide.
How To Use Condenser Microphones
Once you receive your new condenser microphone, you’ll get it plugged in — either via an audio interface (if it connects using an XLR cable) or directly into your computer (if it connects using a USB cable). Obviously, you’ll need to make sure you have software compatible with the mic.
Next, you’ll get it set up on a mic stand or desk tripod. When you record (whether it’s vocals, guitar, or some other instrument), you’ll want to position the mic anywhere between 4 inches and 16 inches away depending on how loud the instrument can get and the frequency response of the mic. This will require some trial and error as you ensure the audio doesn’t peak during recording.
And then of course, the pickup pattern will have to match what you’re recording. Again, for vocals, you’ll want to use a cardioid pattern.
Once you have your DAW (digital audio workstation) opened and running and your microphone connected and picking up audio, you’ll be all set!
Recording vocals is probably the most important part of a song, and it’s necessary for podcasting and gaming. That’s why you need a great condenser microphone in your recording space.
The more money you can spend, the better quality microphone you’ll get. But we know not everybody has $500 to drop, so we’ve made these categories in order to help both the rookie engineer as well as the professional engineer.