We bring you the best microphones for home recording, versatile condenser and dynamic mics that excel in home studio setups.
While big studios have the luxury of using multiple microphones that specialize in capturing specific types of audio, home studios have space and budget limitations to work with. Since audio quality, sturdy build and cost is an obvious factor to consider, we decided to give priority to flexibility when we selected our top picks. We tried our best to stay under $500 for the most part, with an exception made for the Neumann mic which deserves to be on this list.
Condenser Microphones are phantom powered mics that have better frequency response compared to dynamic microphones. Their improved frequency response makes them ideal for capturing the small details and nuances of vocals and both acoustic & amplified instruments. Some condenser microphones also feature multiple pickup patterns that make them useful for capturing multiple instruments simultaneously, i.e. live recording.
The NT1A Condenser Microphone is designed by Rode to be versatile from the get go. With its affordable price, good frequency range (20Hz-20kHz) and its low noise operation, the NT1A has become a popular low-cost and low-maintenance solution for the needs of home recording studios. The NT1A can capture solo and group vocals with ease and its ability to capture popular home recording instruments like guitars is not too shabby as well. Aside from working extremely well, Rode have also bundled the NT1A with very useful freebies that include a premium shock mount with integrated pop filter, quality 6m (20') XLR cable, microphone dust cover and it even comes with a bonus instructional DVD. You will be hard pressed to find a better deal in this price range. Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.
AKG C214 Large Diaphragm Condenser
The AKG C214 is a cost effective alternative to the popular and high-end C414 condenser mic. It utilizes the same black-plate technology that gave the original its impressive clarity and performance. The C214 is a versatile workhorse mic that has enough sensitivity to handle vocals and orchestra instruments while at the same time having the durability to take on the high-pressure sounds of amplified guitars. To add to its flexibility, the mic comes with a 20 dB Attenuation pad, 13 dB noise floor, and a low cut switch, and all packed in an elegant and rugged package. The AKG C214 is a worthy investment for any home recording studios. Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.
Audio-Technica AT4033CL Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone
If you are planning to do one-mic recording for bands or singing groups, then the Audio-Technica AT4033CL is for you. Users rave about its ability to capture the nuances of multiple instruments and vocals with virtually no low-frequency distortion. And its good points don't end there, its large diaphragm format allows it to capture all types of instruments with satisfactory results - the mic is known to capture acoustic instruments really well and can even take on the duty of being an overhead mic for drums. Although not as affordable as we would like it to be, the results you will get from AT4033CL will make every penny count. Other features include 30-20kHz response, low frequency roll-off and it comes with an AT8449 shockmount. Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.
MXL Genesis Studio Tube Condenser Microphone
The MXL Genesis gives you top dollar features at a reasonable price. This tube microphone gives you genuine vintage sounds and impressive features that are normally found in mics priced in the thousands of dollars. You can use it on various instruments and on vocals to give your tracks a warm vintage vibe. Satisfied users range from hiphops to balladeers and they commend the Genesis flashy looks and its ability to cut through the mix. The MXL Genesis is equipped with a Mullard 12AT7 tube, which plays a major role in allowing the mic to capture with clean highs, warm mids, and tight bottom-end. If the features are not enough, MXL bundled this mic with a custom pop filter, shockmount and a 15 ft. 7-pin Mogami cable. Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.
Neumann TLM 102
Although this microphone is above our target budget of $500 for home recording studios, we feel that you will be missing out if we don't list a Neumann. The Neumann TLM 102 is simply a great sounding mic with a matching price tag. Although it may be considered as entry level when compared to other high end mics, it is a great mic to test the waters, so to speak. The TLM 102 has that modern ultra-clean characteristic that Neumann mics are known for. It has amazing sensitivity as testified to by various user reviews, and at the same time it is able to handle sound pressure levels of up to 144dB, more than enough to take on the duties normally reserved for tough dynamic mics. As the saying goes, if you want to play with the big boys, you have to play with bigger toys, so start saving. Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.
Although these rugged microphones are popular for their reliability on stage, they are equally reliable in a home studio setting. Their limited frequency response makes them ideal for recording loud instruments like cranked guitar amps and drums. This limitation also helps the mic ignore unwanted high and low frequency background noise.
Shure SM57 is the most popular and widely used microphone in the world, and for good reason - reliability, thanks to its durable design that have stood the test of countless travels and abuse. Proven useful in live situations, it can also serve as a versatile home studio microphone. The SM57 has a good frequency response of 40Hz-15kHz, which is complimented by its cardioid polar pattern - this enables the mic to handle anything from vocals to close-in milking of guitar and other instrument speakers. This sturdy and versatile microphone continues to be the go-to jack-of-all-trades microphone in many studios.Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.
The Shure SM58 got its legendary status due to its amazing ability to withstand abuse that would simply destroy other microphones. Some even joke that you can use it as a hammer to build stages and it will still perform well. So what does this have to do with home recording - two words - affordability and Bono (which usually does not mix together). It is said that Daniel Lanois always uses the SM58 or a Beta58 to capture Bono's vocals! The SM58's frequency response of 50Hz-15kHz is fine-tuned for vocal work, it has a distinct upper midrange that has become a staple sound in rock and other musical styles. Like the SM57, it can also be used on instruments to add a bit of retro analog character. It also has the notable distinction of being the main workhorse mic for both live work & recording demos by the two founders of Hitsquad! Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.
With the popularity of video sharing sites like YouTube, you will need a mic that can capture your sound in style - and the Shure 55SH fits that bill perfectly. With a classic eye catching style that was made famous by Elvis, this rugged microphone is sure to inspire both the performer and the listener. Aside from looking cool, this mic sounds surprisingly good - especially when paired with a good mic preamp. It is primarily designed for vocal singing, but works just as well with other voice recording applications like podcasting. Note that this mic is directional, which means you have to stay in front of it, but this also helps in reducing unwanted background noise and feedback. Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.
Sennheiser MD421 II
Here is another popular dynamic mic used by professional sound engineers on drums, the Sennheiser MD421 II. It features a large diaphragm that handles high sound pressure levels well, making it ideal for loud instruments like guitars and drums. Users rave about its performance in capturing toms, guitar cabinets and even bass cabinets. The MD421 II's most notable feature is its five-position bass roll-off switch which works in conjunction with the mic's 30-17kHz frequency response. You can use this microphone to capture virtually any instrument and you can even use it on singers or for other vocal applications. Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.
The RE20 from Electro-Voice is a versatile dynamic microphone that works brilliantly in home studio settings. Although a bit pricey when compared to the others on the list, the RE20 is well worth saving for. The RE20 is known for its clean sound thanks to its internal pop-filter and element shockmount that reduces proximity and vibration noise. Aside from its quiet operation, users also rave its versatility. Its frequency response (45Hz-18kHz) and nifty bass roll-off switch allows it to handle various instruments, from wind to violin and it works really well with bass, drums and guitars. Its ability to capture vocals is also top notch, with many hailing it as the industry standard broadcast microphone. Its versatility, impressive response and durability easily justify its price tag. Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.
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