The Best Condenser Mics Under $100 - XLR & USB

The Highest Rated Condenser Mics Under $100

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The popularity of home recording continues unabated thanks in part to good quality condenser microphones in the sub $100 price range. As innovations come, previous generation tech gets trickled down to more affordable offerings from manufacturers. This means that technologies that existed only on high-end microphones 10 years ago are now commonplace in the budget mic category such as premium components and construction.

Here we present you with an updated look at the best condenser microphones that you can get for under $100. This October 2019 update sees the return of consistent favorites like the Samson C01U Pro, Samson Meteor Mic, MXL 770 and the affordable Fifine K669. We introduce two new recommendations from sE Electronics and MXL in addition to MXL's 990 making a come-back after 18 months since its last appearance here.

If you need higher performance mics, look at our guide for The Best Condenser Mics - $100 to $1000.

The Best Condenser Mics Under $100

The Best XLR Condenser Microphones Under $100

These are condenser mics that use a traditional XLR connection. Because condenser microphones use internal circuitry for the diaphragm to function and send signals, they require phantom power to operate. Most modern preamps, mixing consoles, and USB adapters provide phantom power.

MXL V67G Large Capsule Condenser Microphone

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 600+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$58
MXL V67G Large Capsule Condenser Microphone

The MXL V67G promises vintage tube-like warmth in a budget friendly package. It is tuned to give vocals more body and richness with a wide frequency range extending into 30hz in the low frequencies. All wiring is done by class-leading cable maker Mogami to couple a Class A FET design with a Transformer-coupled output stage similar to vintage condenser microphones

Specifications:

  • Frequency Response: 30Hz - 20kHz
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Max SPL: 130 dB
  • Power Requirements: Phantom Power 48V (+/- 4V)
  • Applications: Voiceovers, Vocal recording and Drum overheads/rooms

Pros

Users inclined towards music from earlier decades found their sound with the V67G. Tube mics can be very expensive and to get that sound, a lot of users love the V67G's warmth. They also reported that they use less post-processing to get a good sound that fits in the mix. Deeper vocals sound rich. Some reviews consistently note that the mic adds authority to deep-voiced speakers for podcasts, voice overs and audiobook recordings. Drum rooms in particular sound great with a matched pair of V67G mics according to forum discussions.

Cons

Its diaphragm is sensitive to humidity and condensation from breaths as reported by a couple of users. Using a proper pop filter alleviates this.

Overall

If you're looking for a microphone that adds a little bit of color to the low and low mid frequencies, the MXL V76G is an amazingly affordable pick. It's voicing and character adds body and warmth to speaking and singing. Using it as a room mic for drums also gives you thundering drum sounds reminiscent of 70s recordings.

MXL 770 Cardioid Condenser Microphone

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 750+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$60
MXL 770 Condenser Microphone

The MXL 770 is a straightforward studio quality workhorse mic at a very affordable price. The 770 features a 6-micron, 20-mm gold sputtered diaphragm, and it has a frequency response of 30Hz-20kHz. It has a nice balanced sound that works great for just about anything, be it vocals or instruments, as long as the SPL does not exceed 137dB.

Specifications:

  • Frequency Response: 30Hz - 20kHz
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Max SPL: 137 dB
  • Power Requirements: 48V phantom power (+/- 4V)
  • Applications: Recording, Voiceovers, Podcasts

Pros

While some reviewers prefer the more expensive MXL 990, the MXL 770 continues to perform better in the market as evidenced by its continued higher ratings and higher sales volume. Many reviewers speak of this mic dearly, specifically pointing to its quality, value for money, and how it is versatile enough to work with common instruments and sound sources in home recording situations.

Cons

There were concerns about long-term durability; they recommend careful handling when moving the mic around or when transporting.

Overall

The market continues to hail the MXL 770 as one of the best budget friendly condenser mics, so we highly recommend it, especially for home studio use.

sE Electronics X1 A Large-diaphragm Condenser Microphone

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 30+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$99
sE Electronics X1 A Large-diaphragm Condenser Microphone

At the time of publication, the sE Electronics X1 A was the Highest Rated XLR Condenser Mic Under $100.

sE Electronics released the X1 A during the second half of 2016 as a more affordable follow-on to their popular X1 from 2011. Despite its status as their value priced offering, many features have trickled down from their higher-end models such as the condenser capsule and housing.

This mic can handle a staggering 150 dB before distorting which means you can record very loud sources including guitar amps.

Specifications:

  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz - 20 kHz
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Max SPL: 150 dB
  • Power Requirements: 48V phantom power
  • Applications: Home and Professional Recording Studios, Vocal and instrument recordings, Voice-overs

Pros

Users give near-universal praise to its build quality. Some note that it doesn't feel nor perform like a $99 microphone. The high maximum SPL handling makes it easy for users to record instruments like electric guitar and drums without worrying about the capsule distorting.

Cons

Close to none. One user reported that the internal pop filter will still let plosives through when too close.

Overall

With one of the highest marks we've seen so far in this list, the X1 A is a future classic great for use at home, in the studio, and more. There is no reason not to have one (or two!) at this price.

MXL 990

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 1300+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$100
MXL 990 Condenser Microphone

The MXL 990 has been used in home studios for many years, and although it wasn't in our previous set of recommendations immediately prior to October 2019, it was in the original recommended list when we first published this guide back in December 2015 and retained its spot until February 2018 when the Audio-Technica AT2010 achieved a higher rating squeezing out the 990.

Now in October 2019 we're happy to say that the MXL 990 would have secured our recommendation again at this time, even if the AT2010 hadn't had its price increased above the $100 limit for this guide, due to it receiving a higher level of ratings from home recording enthusiasts over the last 12 months.

It sports a 3/4" gold-sputtered diaphragm designed to to retain high and low frequencies and keep the overall sound well balanced and transparent. This transparency allows it to work well with commonly recorded sound sources in home studio environments, including acoustic instruments and vocals. It is wrapped in a vintage inspired metal exterior that looks good and can take a beating, making it an inspiring mic to have in case you need the extra encouragement.

Specifications:

  • Frequency Response: 30 Hz - 20 kHz
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Max SPL: 130 dB
  • Power Requirements: Phantom Power 48V (+/- 4V)
  • Applications: Vocal and Acoustic instrument recording and Voice-overs / Podcasts

Pros

Having a clear sound and being easy to use are traits that have generated many very positive reviews for the MXL 990, with a significant portion of those coming from experienced home recording enthusiasts. It also gets many recommendations from both experienced users and novices alike for its solid build and durability.

Cons

As expected, some reported that it can't handle high SPL sources given its 133 Max SPL specification, but it will work just fine in normal studio conditions. There were also a few who noticed that the mic tends to capture ambient sounds, especially when not positioned properly.

Overall

The MXL 990 has the right balance of affordability, quality and adaptability, resulting in a well received and recommended condenser mic for home studios.

The Best USB Condenser Microphones Under $100

These are condenser mics that feature USB connectivity, which lets them draw power from your computer and stream captured audio for direct recording. These are for direct to computer recording, and are ideal for musicians who are looking to set up a basic home studio without the need for a separate audio interface. USB condenser microphones are designed to run on lower power compared to regular condenser mics. This is usually reflected in a difference in frequency range and dynamic range. The convenience of these microphones have given them great value for content creation and recording.

Fifine K669

88
GEARANK

88 out of 100. Incorporating 1400+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$28
Fifine K669 Condenser USB Microphone

The Fifine K669 is a very affordable USB condenser microphone. It connects to computers via a permanently attached USB cable, which simplifies connectivity. A volume control on the body of the mic allows for on-the-fly volume changes. Other features include a frequency response of 20Hz-20kHz, and a max SPL of 130dB.

Specifications:

  • Frequency Response: 20-20kHz
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Max SPL: Not Specified
  • Power Requirements: 5V USB power
  • Device / Operating System compatibility: Windows 10, Mac OS 10.10 or higher with USB 2.0
  • Sampling Rate: 48kHz
  • Bit Depth: 16-bit
  • Applications: Home Recording, Podcasts, Content Creation, and Streaming

Pros

Many users could not help but compare Fifine K669 favorably to other USB mics. And while it receives most of its good reviews from podcasters and gamers, singers and musicians have been chiming in with their good reports and recommendations. Sound quality and resistance to background noise are two of its most commended traits, while others are also happy that it doesn't look as cheap as its price.

Cons

There were a few who had issues with the included stand's stability, while others were reporting getting unwanted noises while recording. The manufacturer noted that these noise issues may be because of outdated audio drivers. Having a built-in cable is an issue for some.

Overall

With its built-in volume control, good sound quality and build, the Fifine K669 is an affordable microphone that punches well above its weight. While it may not rival our top contenders, the low price makes it a great pick for those who are just starting out or as a backup for their more expensive mics.

Samson Meteor Mic

86
GEARANK

86 out of 100. Incorporating 1300+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$60
Samson Meteor Mic Desktop Studio Condenser USB Microphone

The Samson Meteor Mic is an all-in-one desktop mic with a rich featureset. Most noteworthy of which is its large condenser diaphragm of 25mm, which allows it to capture more nuanced sounds for more clarity. This works with its cardioid pickup pattern, 20 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response and 16-bit - 44.1/48kHz resolution, allowing it to work with different vocal applications like singing, overdubbing, and podcasting, and musical instruments.

Other features include a headphone output with volume control for zero-latency monitoring, a microphone mute switch for quick muting control right on the mic, and a versatile set of tripod legs that can be set at different angles.

Specifications:

  • Frequency Response: 20Hz–20kHz
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Max SPL: 120dB
  • Power Requirements: USB 5V 70mA (idle), 100mA (peak)
  • Device / Operating System compatibility: WIndows 10, Mac OS, Apple Ipod and Ipad with Apple's Lightning USB Camera Adapter
  • Sampling Rate: 44.1/48kHz
  • Bit Depth: 16-bit
  • Applications: Voice overs, Voice Chat, Podcasts, Vocal and Acoustic instrument recording.

Pros

Most of the comments describe this mic as being great for voice overs, voice chat and podcasting, but there are also plenty of singers and musicians who chimed in with their approval. Many appreciate that it can sit on their desk for long periods without issue, making it an ideal mic for quick recordings of song ideas or even actual performances - when limited by budget and time.

Cons

There are some who commented that the mic captures more background noise than they expected, while others are not too confident with its build.

Overall

The Samson Meteor Mic is a favorite among podcasters and content creators for its desktop form factor. The large diaphragm will pick up more background sounds due to its sensitivity and may be a good or bad thing depending on your intended application. Get it if you need to capture everything in your space.

Blue Microphones Snowball

86
GEARANK

86 out of 100. Incorporating 3550+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$70
Blue Microphones Snowball Condenser Microphone

It may seem like a toy at first glance, but the Blue Microphones Snowball is a true condenser microphone designed for desktop recording. It has a frequency response of 40Hz to 18kHz making it viable for podcasting and vocal recording. The -10dB pad allows it to handle louder sources like musical instruments, expanding the use of the mic into music recording territory. The mic also features two pickup patterns for further flexibility.

Specifications:

  • Frequency Response: 40Hz – 18 kHz
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid or Omnidirectional
  • Max SPL: not specified
  • Phantom Power: 5v USB
  • Device / Operating System compatibility: Windows 7, 8, 10 and Mac OS 10.10 or higher with USB 2.0
  • Sampling Rate: 44.1 kHz
  • Bit Depth: 16 bit
  • Applications: Voiceovers, Podcasting, Content Creation, Streaming, Vocal and acoustic instrument recording

Pros

Most of the many positive reviews that the Blue Microphones Snowball received are from podcasters and vocalists, many of which are impressed with the resulting sound quality. There are also some musicians, specifically those who use acoustic instruments, who found the mic to be just right for their needs. Being easy to set up and use are also mentioned as positives. A big number of users have found its oddball form factor to be effective, commending it for its stability and ergonomics.

Cons

There are a few users who found the bundled tripod stand to be flimsy, but assured that the mic itself can take a beating. Some recommend getting close to the mic for best results; this can prove difficult for desks set lower or for taller than average users.

Overall

If you're a total beginner, and you're looking for an all-in-one mic for you to up the quality of your audio recordings and content, then the Blue Microphones Snowball is a great pick for your first mic.

Samson C01U Pro

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 375+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$90
Samson C01U Pro Large-diaphragm USB Condenser Microphone

At the time of publication, the Samson C01U Pro was the Highest Rated USB Condenser Mic Under $100.

The Samson C01U Pro is a condenser mic that plugs straight to the USB port of your computer for direct recording. It comes with a large (19mm) internal shock mounted diaphragm condenser and a hyper cardioid polar pattern that allows for good sonic detail capture and good background noise rejection. It also comes with a built-in Headphone amplifier for no-latency real-time monitoring. The C01U is housed in a solid die-cast form factor with a heavy gauge mesh grill.

Specifications:

  • Frequency Response: 20Hz–18kHz
  • Polar Pattern: Supercardiod
  • Max SPL: 130 dB
  • Phantom Power: 5v USB
  • Device / Operating System compatibility: Windows XP/Vista/Win 7/Win 8/Win10, Mac OS X 10.4.9 or higher, iPad
  • Sampling Rate: 44.1/48kHz
  • Bit Depth:16-bit
  • Applications:Home Recording Studios, Mobile/Field recording, Voice overs, Podcasts, Streaming, and Content Creation.

Pros

Users describe the C01U Pro as being super easy to use, and good sounding. They are happy that there was nothing to complicate the recording process, just load up your DAW software, plug it in, and record away. There are many reports of it working well in various musical styles like rap, rock and even metal-style screaming, and it has also worked well when recording acoustic instruments.

Cons

The most common concern is regarding monitoring latency, which can be a deal breaker for those who want to listen to what they are recording in real-time. Thankfully, the mic comes with a built-in headphone amplifier so you can listen-in without latency at the cost of not being able to hear effects that you apply.

Overall

If you're looking for a mic that can get you started while being versatile and clear enough for more professional applications, the C01U Pro will take you a long way before needing any sort of upgrade.

Things to Consider When Buying a Budget Condenser Mic

If you're not overly familiar with budget condenser microphones, then have a read below to help you decide which mic to get.

  • Diaphragm Size and Sound Pressure Handling

    Condenser mics often come with large diaphragms and capture more detail from the sound source. They also work well with different instruments. For high SPL (Sound Pressure Level) applications like miking drum kits, wind instruments, or guitar amplifiers, ones with smaller diaphragms are more ideal. Small diaphragm cardioid mics are ideal for high SPL applications because they can withstand loud volumes. Large diaphragm mics reproduce more detail but may also capture unwanted reflections and distort when the diaphragm is overloaded with levels beyond the mic's rated maximum.

  • Polar Pattern and Background Noise Reduction

    For single instrument and vocal recording, the Cardioid polar pattern and its noise reduction capability is ideal. This pattern captures everything in front of the capsule and rejects background noise from the back and sides. Omnidirectional and Figure-8 patterns are useful for capturing multiple instruments and sound sources. This also means that background noise can seep in, so consider proper placement and the acoustics of the location first. There are some budget microphones that come with polar pattern switching, allowing you to switch between Cardioid, Omnidirectional, Figure-8 and more. These versatile mics give you more value for your money, but because of the moving parts required, they are more fragile.

  • USB vs Non-USB

    USB mics draw their power from your computer or tablet. This can sometimes cause problems if your device can't supply enough power (a common issue on the iPad). USB ports on the front of many computers have less voltage and current than ports directly connected to the motherboard. Insufficient or inconsistent power may cause malfunctions or damage. This can also cause your device's battery to be drained. If this happens you'll need a powered USB hub. Non-USB condenser mics take their electricity from phantom power, usually from mixing desks or audio interfaces.

  • Phantom Power

    Condenser Mics that operate via XLR require a power source which is usually from a standalone preamp, mixing console or audio interface. In our research, we have encountered users who mistakenly thought an XLR-to-USB cable is sufficient to power these microphones. Condenser mics require up to 48v of power while a USB port is only capable of outputting around 5v. USB condenser mics have different circuitry such as a charge pump to increase the voltage running through the microphone. If you purchase a condenser mic with an XLR connection, make sure you have a preamp or input with a switch for phantom power. If you don't have an audio interface, we have made a guide for choosing The Best USB Audio Interfaces - 4 / 8 / 16 Channel.

  • iPad USB Power Issues

    As of the time of writing this gear guide iOS limits the current that can be used to power to USB devices. This can cause a USB mic not working at all on the iPad, or more commonly the mic will work but as soon as you plug headphones in it will draw too much current and the iPad will cut the power completely. You may need to provide additional power via a Powered USB Hub to solve these problems.

Budget Condenser Microphone Selection Methodology

This guide was first published on December 19, 2015 written by Alexander Briones. The latest major update was published on October 8, 2019 and was primarily researched and written by recording engineer Raphael Pulgar with contributions from Alexander Briones.

We looked at popular and highly rated condenser microphones in the sub $100 price range and to ensure that you can readily buy the mics recommended in this guide, we only considered those that are widely available from US-based retailers. For this 2019 update, we gathered over 20,700 relevant review and rating sources and came up with a shortlist of 22 condenser mics. These entries were then processed by the Gearank Algorithm to provide the scores we used to rank the mics according to their XLR or USB connection type. For more information about our methods please read How Gearank Works.

Comments

A great list! thank you! I

A great list! thank you! I used Blue Microphones Snowball and was satisfied a lot! Has anybody tried M-Audio Nova? My friend advised me to buy it because of its benefits.

There's nothing wrong with

There's nothing wrong with the M-Audio Nova but it's out of production and no longer sold by most of the major online music gear retailers - M-Audio removed it from their own website store back in 2015.

do i need to buy the power

do i need to buy the power supply? can you tell me if the mic is still good with no power supply?

Love that for once the lower

Love that for once the lower-end mics are getting their due somewhere. Be nice to see an update on this article...also I suggest (to the author and others) to check out the Behringer C1 and MXL 67, both in the $50-60 range.

Thanks for that - when I saw

Thanks for that - when I saw your post I also wondered why we didn't have the MXL V67G recommended above and when I looked into it I found there was a glitch in our database which I've now fixed. There is a good chance that one or both these mics will make it onto our recommended list when we next update this guide.

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