Here is our selection of the best cheap USB microphones for home recording, sitting on the sweet spot where quality and affordability meet.
Thanks to technology, quality home recording equipment like USB microphones are now rampant and more accessible. We have taken it upon ourselves to do the daunting task of picking out the hidden gems from among the cheapest ones available. Don't let the price fool you, because these are serious USB microphones that are great for capturing vocals and instruments.
MXL 990 Condenser Microphone
With its perfect balance of quality, sound and price, our top pick goes to the MXL 990 Condenser Microphone with Shock Mount.
This cheap USB microphone has impressed numerous musicians and producers, they rave its stylish vintage looks, high frequency response, and its ability to retain lows - which can match the quality found on more expensive recording microphones. The MXL 990 captures with impressive quality thanks to its 3/4" gold-sputtered diaphragm. It is has a frequency response of 30Hz to 20kHz and a maximum SPL of 130dB. As a testament to its versatility, users have successfully captured vocals, horns, guitars and even used this as a drum overhead mic. This is a great USB studio condenser microphone. For its price it even comes with a custom shock mount, mic stand adapter, and case - which is definitely a steal.
The versatile Samson C01U is another consistent favorite, capturing sounds with impressive quality without the need for expensive preamps and audio interfaces.
The C01U captures audio using its 19mm internal shockmounted diaphragm, a cardioid pickup pattern and its components are protected by a solid die cast housing. It is compatible with any Mac or PC and it works plug and play with popular DAW programs. Its design and compatibility makes it a flexible mic used by many musicians, even non-musicians like podcasters, journalists and students appreciate its quality recording and simplistic operation. Further control over the microphone is provided by a software called Samson Softpre and it comes with bonuses like a desktop mic stand, mic clip, USB cable and a carrying pouch. If that is not enough, Samson also bundled the C01U with Cakewalk Sonar LE, allowing for a quick, convenient and inexpensive way to record audio.
Blue Microphones Yeti
Although not as cheap as the others on this list, the Blue Yeti's combination of style, versatility and sound quality ensured its spot among the top affordable mics.
The Blue Microphones Yeti USB mic features a combination of 3 capsules and 4 different pattern settings, making it the most versatile mic within its price range. The tri-capsule design allows it to record sounds that range from quiet to deafeningly loud and maintain high fidelity. You can also pick from four pattern modes which include Stereo, Cardioid, Omnidirectional and Bidirectional - making it ideal for capturing anything from podcasts, to singers and even entire bands. Its cool and functional retro style makes it fit into any studio or desktop setting. If you have enough dough for this relatively affordable mic, reward yourself with this impressive, versatile and hassle free mic. Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.
CAD U37 USB Studio Condenser
The CAD U37 USB Studio Condenser is simply the cheapest way to capture vocals and instruments with reasonable quality.
With a street price of around $40, you will be surprised at how good the CAD U37 USB captures sound. It has a large condenser diaphragm that gives the mic a good frequency response range and it utilizes a cardioid pickup pattern that helps minimize background noise. It also comes with nifty features like a -10dB overload protection switch to minimize distortion and a bass-reduction switch for reducing room noise. If not for this mic's plastic exterior, it would have bagged the top spot. If you handle the mic with care and as long as you're not expecting this mic to perform miracles - like improving your song or mix, the CAD U37 will not disappoint.
The Audio-Technica TR2100-USB/XLR is our top dynamic microphone pick. This versatile and affordable hand held mic, gives you the option to connect via USB, via XLR and through its built-in headphone output.
The most prominent and interesting feature of this rugged handheld microphone is its three outputs - a USB output for digital recording, and an XLR output that connects with a sound system's microphone input for use in live performance and a very cool built-in headphone jack with volume control. These three outputs give you the connectivity that other mics in this price range cannot. As expected from Audio-Technica, the sound quality is impressive, if not better than more expensive dynamic mics. Although many prefer using this mic for podcasting, many musicians have had equally good experience with capturing instruments and vocals. When you add all its features up and look at the ratio of its features vs its price, it is a really good deal.
Samson Q2U Handheld
The Samson Q2U is another versatile handheld microphone that provides multiple connectivity options at a very affordable price, and it comes with matching headphones.
Samson is known for packing the latest in technology into their products, and a good example of that is the Q2U Dynamic microphone. With its USB and XLR output, you can carry it to your next live gig and also use it for recording straight to your computer. Just like the ATR2100-USB/XLR, this mic has a 3.5mm stereo headphone output that gives you the ability to monitor your sound with no-latency during recording. For its price, this mic can handle 16-bit audio, and record at 44.1/48kHz sampling rate. To give you the most out of your hard earned cash, Samson bundled the Q2U with a pair of HP20 headphones.
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