By going with a condenser microphone that’s under $500, you’re much closer to the “professional” price range. But with that price comes professional-grade quality and a stricter vetting process, so only the best mics surface to the top.
We’ve combed through the sea of condenser microphones in this price range, looking for only the best. And now present to you the top three to consider.
3 Best Condenser Microphones Under $500:
The Shure KSM 141/SL is an “everything mic” from a reliable company. This large-diaphragm microphone lets you switch between two pickup patterns -- cardioid (heart-shaped) and omnidirectional (all sides) -- giving this mic the versatility you’ll need to record. With it, you can record anything from an acoustic guitar to a drum kit to an entire orchestra. Definitely a winner.
The Aston Spirit is a large-diaphragm condenser microphone that allows you to switch between three pickup patterns: omnidirectional (all sides), cardioid (heart-shaped), and figure-of-eight (two sides). With a built-in pop filter and mic stand mount, this mic has everything you need, whether you’re using a professional studio or your bedroom.
The Austrian-born AKG C214 is trying to challenge the expensive high-end mics. You can use this large-diaphragm condenser mic to record vocals, spoken word, and even guitar amps. The cardioid pickup pattern is meant to cut out unneeded noise with help from a 20 dB pad and a low-cut filter. However, the high sensitivity can still grab some nice audio.
There’s not much to throw shade at…
When it comes to these three microphones, it’s difficult to find negative things to say. Granted, no microphone is perfect or without flaw (at least that we’ve found). It all depends on what your recording needs are and what type of space you’ll be using.
But these microphones are all keepers and worth checking out, whether you’re recording from your bedroom or from an expensive professional studio.
Highlights That You Should Keep In Mind
Here are the highlights of our top three microphones…
Shure KSM 141/SL
Shure is a trusted name, and following in the footsteps of the reliable and ubiquitous SM58 is no easy feat. But the KSM 141/SL continues Shure’s reputation of holding onto your trust securely — that’s why it’s our top-rated condenser mic in this category.
This mic’s forte is versatility. With the option to switch between a cardioid (heart-shaped) and omnidirectional (all sides) pickup pattern, you can record an acoustic guitar, a drum kit, or use it as a room mic. And, of course, the audio quality it delivers puts it at the top of the list.
The Spirit is a spirited piece of equipment that gives you what you expect from a mic at this price. The audio it gives you is of the utmost quality — clear, crisp, warm, and wide without the harshness that often comes with super sensitive mics. Vocals are easily the best instrument (yes, voices are instruments) to record with this microphone, especially because it has a built-in pop filter (although you may want to have an external pop filter on-hand just in case some plosives still get through).
However, with the ability to switch between three pickup patterns — omnidirectional (from every side), cardioid (heart-shaped), and figure-of-eight (two sides) — you can record a plethora of instruments. It’s sort of like having three microphones in one, meaning you get the benefits of three mics for a third of the price.
Even though the C214 is number three on our list of recommended microphones in this category, don’t overlook it. It, like the other two mics, will allow you to record pro-level audio.
The best thing to record with it is spoken word recordings, like podcasts, voiceovers, and audio books. It works well recording vocals as long as you’re in a sound-proofed recording space.
And the extras that come with this mic will make you sit up and listen. When you grab the C214, you also get a hardcover protective case, a pop filter, an XLR cable, a shock mount, and even extended warranty. Pretty hard to turn that down, huh?
Once you’re able to spend more than $100 or $200 on a mic and you can be in the price range of $300 to $500, the world of recording equipment gets so much bigger. You suddenly have plenty of options, and that can be both good and overwhelming.
Fortunately, we’re here for you.
If you go with one of the three AudioRumble-recommended condenser microphones listed above, you won’t regret it. In fact, you may come back for more recommendations after you feel the satisfaction of making the perfect choice.