The microphones you’ll find for under $200 are where quality meet affordability. You can find mics the pros use in their studios for an amount of money DIY musicians spend to expand their recording spaces. There are quite a few, but fortunately, we’ve narrowed it down to the best three.
Top 3 Condenser Microphones Under $200:
The Rode NT-USB is a condenser microphone with a cardioid (heart-shaped) pickup pattern. On the side of the mic is a mini mixing panel -- two gain knobs and a headphone jack. In terms of USB mics, this one stands the test of use -- it delivers high-quality audio, whether you’re singing, talking, or playing acoustic guitar.
The Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ is a condenser microphone with a cardioid (heart-shaped) pickup pattern. It has a built-in headphone jack, output volume control, and monitoring controls to mix your microphone input with your pre-recorded audio. And with the high-quality A/D converter (16 bit, 44.1/48 kHz sampling rate), this USB mic delivers good audio at an affordable price.
The Shure Motiv MV88 is a unique microphone -- it plugs directly into your Lightning-equipped iPhone or iPad for on-the-go mobile recording. It’s most fitting for podcasters, journalists, band rehearsals, or ameteur film makers. Users rave about the high-quality audio it provides, especially for such a tiny mic. It’s kind of like the Mighty Mouse of microphones.
Quality without compromise
Compared to other microphones, regardless of the price, the three we recommend above stand their ground in terms of the quality they offer.
They all have a cardioid (heart-shaped) pickup pattern, and the Motiv MV88 even has the option of using cardioid or a bidirectional recording pattern. Each have a frequency response of 20 Hz to 20 kHz, allowing you to record freely without worrying about certain frequencies getting left out of the recording.
The overall sound each of these microphones delivers is top-notch, and even though they’re so affordable, they don’t compromise on the quality. It would be no surprise to see any of them in a professional recording studio.
These microphones all have special features that not a lot of other mics have, especially cheaper mics. For example, the Motiv MV88 plugs into any Lightning-equipped mobile device (like an iPad), meaning you can record on-the-go, whether you’re on tour or just away from your studio. It’s easily good enough to allow you to record anything from band rehearsal to an interview to vocals.
And the NT-USB and AT2020USB+ each have mixing controls right on their faces, so you can balance the input levels with the output volume of your already recorded audio. This means the microphone is not just a microphone — it’s also a mini mixing board. Who says you need an audio interface to record good audio?
Plus, both the NT-USB and AT2020USB+ come with extra stuff, like a tripod stand for recording at your desk. The former comes with a pop filter, helping to cut down on plosives (hard “B,” “T,” and “P” sounds that can cause peaking or harsh sounds). And the latter comes with a pivoting mount for your mic stand.
Basically, they both come with everything you need to start recording the minute you open the box.
Some professional engineers will buy a microphone that costs anywhere from $500 all the way up to thousands of dollars — just for one mic! Can you imagine having that kind of budget?
Yes, that would be really nice to have that kind of cash to throw around, but most of don’t. And if you’re reading this article, your budget is most likely $200 or less. That’s what’s so great about the three microphones we’re recommending — you can get pro-level audio quality at a miniscule fraction of the price some pros pay.
If, after shopping around for other mics, you decide to grab one of these, you may have a little cash leftover from that $200 budget to buy more gear for your recording space. How can you beat that?
If you’re a DIY musician with peanut-butter-and-jelly-for-lunch budget, the microphones for under $200 are your jam. You get audio quality comparative to the professionals in fancy studios, but you’ll have spent just a portion of what the pros spend.
I’ll be honest — these microphones aren’t perfect. You’ll have to choose the one specifically for your needs. But once you find that perfect match, we’re confident you’ll be glad with your decision.