This is the category to be in. This is where quality meets affordability with a loud “Booyah, baby!”
Once you start looking at condenser microphones closer to the $100 mark rather than $50, that’s when you start to see some pretty decent mics, especially for those who want pro-level audio quality but have a common DIYer’s budget (i.e. not a lot).
If that sounds like you, this group of microphones is your jam.
Top 3 Condenser Microphones Under $100:
The AKG Perception 170 (aka the P170) is a small-diaphragm microphone with a cardioid (heart-shape) pickup pattern, perfect for using as an overhead mic or even on an acoustic guitar. Plus, with a 20 dB rolloff switch, you can get close to it without worry. This lightweight bullet-like mic will, stylistically and quality-wise, fit perfectly in any studio.
The Audio-Technica AT2020 is a large diaphragm condenser mic that is perfect for entry-level engineers who want a professional-level recording. Whether you need to record vocals, acoustic guitar, or even horns, this microphone is one of the top performers for mics under $100. It’s difficult to find a mic with this kind of all-around value.
The Blue Snowball is a super fast and easy way to record decent-sounding vocals, whether you’re singing, doing a video voiceover, or podcasting. This little alien-spaceship-looking condenser microphone is a desk unit -- while secured on the included tripod, it stands at 10 inches tall, right at mouth height. Overall, a smart choice for beginners looking to record vocals.
One thing’s for sure…
If we can be sure about one thing — just one thing — with these condenser mics, it’s that they record good quality audio. And that’s the most important thing, isn’t it?
For an example of high quality, take the AKG Perception 170. It’s built with a small-diaphragm, which allows for a few benefits or large-diaphragm mics. It can more accurately follow the sound waves of your instrument or voice. It has an extended frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz (all frequencies audible to the human ear), opening the possibilities to what you can include in your recording and giving you overall better sound.
To be sure your mic sounds good is the main thing when it comes to building a decent recording space.
Give yourself the option of having options
It’s always nice to have options. When you’re stuck with just one type of feature, it can be annoying. Good news — these mics have you covered with options.
The Audio-Technica AT2020 and the AKG Perception 170 both have roll off switches (10 dB on the former and 20 dB on the latter). This means when you activate this rolloff switch, it will roll off certain frequencies below the given dB. With this feature, you can record close to the mic or mic up instruments with high pressure levels, like horns or drums, and not worry.
Likewise, the Blue Snowball allows you to change the pickup pattern. This is a very cool feature that not a lot of microphones offer, especially in this price range. The Snowball allows you to choose between cardioid (heart-shaped), omni (from all directions), and cardioid with that aforementioned -10 dB pad to activate roll off.
You’ll give yourself the option of having options with one of these microphones.
Cheap yet not cheap
A professional engineer might look at the title, see the words “under $100,” and scoff.
I only buy microphones of the utmost quality, this engineer may think. And quality comes at a price.
Okay, there’s truth to that statement. But sheesh, Mr. Engineer, open your mind a little. Even though these mics are less than $100, many of them record pro-level audio. You could swap some of them out with one of the best microphones in the world, one of those fancy $1,000 mic and you probably wouldn’t even know the difference.
The price tag may be cheap to some people, but the quality is not cheap — no matter whom you ask. For example, the P170 is usually on the cheaper end of the “under $100” category, and it’s our most recommended condenser mic.
If the ceiling of your budget is around $100, this is the category you should be hanging out in. Adding a condenser microphone to your recording setup is a must — they’ll give you a crisp, “real studio” sound for a margin of the price and 10 times the feeling of reward. Depending on the mic you get, you’ll also get options that not every mic offers.
The key is to find the right microphone for your needs. Hopefully, we’ve helped you on that path.