The Best Condenser Mics Under $100 - XLR & USB - Over 128,000 Rating Sources!

The Highest Rated Condenser Mics Under $100

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Significant changes in the music industry have made home recording and music production more viable in recent years. Even Billie Eilish's hit song "Bad Guy" was produced and recorded at home.

Musicians like Matt Heafy from the metal band Trivium has taken to streaming platforms like Twitch to give his fans live performances, lessons, and even Q and A sessions.

We noticed a shift in trends with more USB microphones being popular with people who don't plan to get an audio interface or prefer to work with less equipment. Standard XLR condenser microphones still offer better options and better quality as previous generation tech gets trickled down to more affordable tiers.

Although, USB condensers have become a viable alternative to XLR condenser mics for those looking for a straightforward and minimal setup. Modern USB condensers now also carry over tech from brands' mainline microphones and are a great alternative for those looking for a more portable recording solution.

Looking for premium mics? Then head over to our guide for The Best Condenser Mics - $100 to $1000.

The Best Condenser Mics Under $100

Author & Contributors

Raphael PulgarRaphael Pulgar

I've been an audio engineer for 20 years specializing in rock and metal recordings, and also I play guitar and produce original music for my band and other content creators.

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.

AKG P120

95
GEARANK

95 out of 100. Incorporating 2650+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$85
AKG P120 Large-diaphragm Condenser Microphone
At publication time this was the Highest Rated XLR Condenser Mic Under $100.

Cons

  • Only comes with a stand adapter - no other accessories

Pros

  • Versatile - works well with a lot of vocal types and instruments
  • Warm sound signature without sacrificing detail
  • Comes with pad and bass roll off switches

Getting a mic that does it all is often something that would make people recommend expensive microphones. Affordable options usually don't have enough features or only sound good on some instruments or voices.

The AKG P120 is a versatile mic designed to be able to record various sound sources. It's equipped with bass roll off and pad switches. This makes it great for startup home studio engineers that want a versatile first mic.

It's 2/3-inch diaphragm captures great detail and transient response. A bass roll off switch and -20dB pad adds to the microphone's versatility.

Along with versatility, price-to-performance ratio is the main positive of the AKG P120. I can recommend this as a great first mic for many since it does a lot of things in the studio that would usually require different mics. It can be compared to the Audio Technica AT2020 when it comes to vocal mic duty with its tastefully warm and ever so slightly compressed sound. It accomplishes this smooth sound signature without losing detail, and it's neutral enough to be useful for all kinds of voice types but does especially well with high-pitched and shrill vocalists who need to accentuate less of their edgy highs and gain a bit more body.

On a more critical note, the AKG P120 only ships with a stand adapter and no other accessories… not even a travel pouch. I prefer microphones especially those geared towards beginner recordists come with as many accessories as possible to get them up and running right away. Be sure to buy an XLR cable, stand and pop filter if you're planning to buy this as your first condenser microphone.

If you're looking for a versatile mic to cover all the bases in your studio or want a backup mic that plays nicely with other mics, the AKG P120 is a great pick at this price.

Specifications

  • Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20kHz
  • Diaphragm Size: 0.67" / 17.02mm
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Max SPL: 130dB, 150dB w/Pad
  • Power Requirements: 48V phantom power (+/- 4V)
  • Best For: Recording instruments, Singing, Voiceovers, Podcasts

Hands On Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
YouTube Podcastage 90/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Audio-Technica AT2020

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 13250+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$99
Audio-Technica AT2020 Cardioid Condenser Microphone

Cons

  • Can sound sibilant on some sources
  • Sensitive to plosives - pop filter recommended
  • Some issues with self noise

Pros

  • Smooth response and great transient handling
  • Subtly bright sound great for female vocals
  • Solid build and reliability
  • Very usable and professional sound on vocals and instruments

"Often imitated, never duplicated" is an adage that applies to the AT2020. It is Audio-Technica's offering for the lower-priced segment. Despite this, it still offers much of Audio-Technica's signature sound, build quality and reliability.

It has a smaller 16mm-diameter back-electret capsule, which gives it a subtly bright sound that complements female vocals, although it works fine on male vocals too.

It's also a solid entry-level mic for recording acoustic guitars and works very well for reproducing the high frequency zing of spruce top acoustics.

I praise the AT2020 wholeheartedly for its smooth response and great transient handling. Not only is it a great entry point to the Audio-Technica "sound", but also a great value microphone for its price, delivering a very usable and professional sound on vocals and instruments. I can also attest to this mic's solid build and reliability.

This mic might not include a cable or stand extension. We found that some retailers may use photos that show the mic on a stand with a cable. It is best to check the specifications to see if you are buying a bundle or just the microphone. Performance-wise, it has some self noise and is not the quietest microphone. Also, it can be sensitive to plosives and sound a bit sibilant on some sound sources.

Due to its popularity, the AT2020 is often the target of counterfeiting. To avoid this, order only from reputable sellers/distributors.

The AT2020 is an excellent microphone capable of handling many scenarios from vocals to percussion to streaming. Just be sure to get one from a major retailer to ensure you get the real thing!

Specifications

  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
  • Diaphragm Size: 0.63" / 16mm
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Max SPL: 144dB
  • Power Requirements: Phantom Power 48V (+/- 4V)
  • Best For: Voiceovers / Vocal recording, Instruments, Podcast / streaming

Hands On Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Sound On Sound Paul White 90/100
Gearspace Tom Higgins 85/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

MXL V67G

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 1050+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$100
MXL V67G Large Capsule Condenser Microphone

Cons

  • Sounds sibilant and too airy - not great for distorted guitars
  • Does not come with a shockmount or pop filter

Pros

  • Rich, low frequency presence that's not bloated in any way
  • Vintage sounding, relaxed upper midrange usually found in higher end condenser microphones of German and Austrian origin
  • Adds body and harmonic richness to lighter female vocals without sounding brittle

My experience with the MXL V67G comes from my need for an affordable XLR Condenser mic to use for deeper voices. Being a baritone myself, I found that the mic I was using at the time, an Audio Technica AT2020 felt like it was thinning out my voice too much.

Budget constraints were a big concern for me as well so I needed a mic that did not take away from the depth of my voice while still being able to present higher frequencies naturally.

The V67G is a vintage sounding microphone with warm and smooth low frequencies and a relaxed upper midrange. This type of sound signature is usually seen in higher end condenser microphones of German and Austrian origin.

I've been a big fan of mics inspired by the U87 so when I read that the circuitry was partly influenced by that mic, I knew I had to try it out.

The V67G has a rich, low frequency presence that's not bloated in any way. To offset this, there is a slight dip at the midrange which is a good thing in this case as it prevents excess nasality in my tone. Even with the midrange pulled back, it was harmonically rich enough not to sound hollow or brittle as is the case with other cheaper condenser mics. I have used this microphone to record other vocal types as well. It does a good job of adding body and richness to lighter female vocals as can be heard here:

In this song, I chose the MXL V67G to complement not only the lighter tonality of the singer's voice but also the dynamics of the instrumental which ranges from soft plucked instruments to a 90's pop style beat. The harmonic richness of the mic help it stand out a bit more in the mix without pulling the faders up too high and it sits nicely nestled in the middle of everything.

MXL V67G in Raphael Pulgar's studio
Photo of the actual mic that Ada M. used in my studio to record vocals for the video above.

For other instruments, the only thing I would record with it are acoustic guitars. For other types, I will discuss them below...

One common problem I encountered is excess sibilance. While the mic itself isn't brittle sounding, I often find it to be too airy. This also means that distorted electric guitars have too much sizzle on the top end that conflicts with the range of the cymbals and other high frequency rich elements in the mix.

It's a bit slim on the upper midrange but it helps give it a clear sounding capture of voices. It's best paired with warm preamps so for those with Third Generation Focusrite interfaces, this mic sounds best with the "Air" feature off.

It also does not come with a shockmount or pop filter. MXL does offer a version of this mic called the Heritage Edition (link to Amazon) that comes with accessories and a case but for an added premium.

The V67G is a great mic to start out with. It gives your vocal tracks a vintage tonality and provides polish straight from the raw tracks; a quality often associated with higher end mics like the AKG C414 XLS or Neumann TLM series (though not as refined and perfected). At this price, It's tough to beat. The only time I would replace this would be if I get either of the aforementioned AKG or Neumann microphones and that should say enough about how much I love this mic.

Specifications

  • Frequency Response: 30Hz - 20kHz
  • Diaphragm Size: 1" / 25mm
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Max SPL: 130 dB
  • Power Requirements: Phantom Power 48V (+/- 4V)
  • Best For: Voiceovers, Vocal recording and Drum overheads / room mics

Hands On Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Audiofanzine goodbyebluesky 80/100
Gearspace GL Respect Due 96/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

MXL 770 Cardioid Condenser Microphone

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 3000+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$100
MXL 770 Cardioid Condenser Microphone

Cons

  • Max SPL of 137dB makes this not great for the loudest of sources
  • Long-term durability issues

Pros

  • Balanced and versatile sound - great for most sources and situations in a typical home recording studio
  • Comes with a high quality hard case and a decent shockmount
  • Useful low-frequency roll-off and -10db pad switches included on the microphone

The MXL 770 is a straightforward studio-quality workhorse mic at a very affordable price.

It 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.

While you might prefer the more expensive MXL 990, the MXL 770 continues to sell at a higher rate. This an outstanding condenser microphone, specifically pointing to its quality, value for money, and how versatile it is when working with common instruments and sound sources found in most home recording situations.

Its long-term durability can be put into question; they recommend careful handling when moving the mic around or when transporting. But given that this mic has consistently appeared in our top rated lists for several years and the included high quality hard case, most people shouldn't have a problem with it.

The MXL 770 is one of the best budget-friendly condenser mics, I highly recommend it, especially for home studio use. Just handle it with a bit of care and you'll be golden.

Specifications

  • Frequency Response: 30Hz - 20kHz
  • Diaphragm Size: 0.87" / 22.1mm
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Max SPL: 137 dB
  • Power Requirements: 48V phantom power (+/- 4V)
  • Best For: Recording, Voiceovers, Podcasts

Hands On Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
YouTube Audio Hotline 96/100
YouTube Podcastage 89/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

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 their frequency range and dynamic range. The convenience of these microphones has given them great value for content creation and recording.

Pyle PDMIKT100

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 650+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$70
Pyle PDMIKT100 USB Cardioid Condenser Mic
At publication time this was the Equal Highest Rated USB Condenser Mic Under $100 along with the FIFINE K690

Cons

  • A bit too sensitive - off-axis rejection is not this mic's strong suit

Pros

  • Clear and crisp sounding
  • Lots of included accessories - comes with a desktop stand, USB cable, hard carrying case, shockmount, windscreen and pop filter

If you didn't see the price right away, you would think the Pyle PDMIKT100 would be a higher end microphone with its included accessories and case.

The PDMIKT100 is an affordable USB Microphone packaged with a stand, windscreen, shockmount and pop filter - perfect for those that want to get up and running with vocal recording, voice overs and streaming.

It also includes a handy carrying case for those who need a secure way to bring their recording setup anywhere.

I highly praise the package for all the contents included like the stand and pop filter. The aluminum hard carrying case was also a welcome addition.

Sound-wise, I give the PDMIKT100 high points for its clarity and crispness.

I found the mic a bit too sensitive as it picks up background noises, off-axis rejection is not this mic's strong suit.

If you need a great sounding USB mic with all the accessories and a case included, the Pyle PDMINKT100 fits the bill at a competitive price.

Specifications

  • Frequency Response:18-21kHz
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Max SPL: 96dB
  • Power Requirements: 5V USB power
  • Device / Operating System compatibility: Class - Compliant USB ,Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10, Mac OS X, Linux
  • Sampling Rate: up to 48KHz
  • Bit Depth: 24-bit
  • Best For: Home Vocal Recording, Podcasts, Content Creation, and Streaming

Hands On Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
YouTube expert island 88/100
YouTube Silly Things I Buy 92/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

FIFINE K690

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 1050+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$88
FIFINE K690 USB Condenser Mic with Four Polar Patterns
At publication time this was the Equal Highest Rated USB Condenser Mic Under $100 along with the Pyle PDMIKT100

Cons

  • Not the best off-axis sound rejection - can pick up a lot of background noise

Pros

  • Impressive implementation of multiple polar patterns including stereo
  • Solid build quality and nice feeling knobs and switches
  • Includes a built-in gain knob and zero latency direct monitoring straight from the mic via a headphone jack
  • Good sound quality for the price

Versatility is often an either an afterthought or a compromise when it comes to USB mics. Bad implementation of multiple polar patterns often lead to subpar recording quality.

The FIFINE K690 stands out among many of the USB mics in this price range because of its successfully implemented multiple polar patterns, zero latency monitoring as well as its external gain knob. The stereo polar pattern even allows for binaural recordings; perfect for recording drums in a room or even binaural voice recording.

The different polar patterns make it versatile enough to use with various instruments like acoustic guitar and drums. The stereo polar pattern is great on those sources too. For vocals, I was pleasantly surprised to find it does well beyond just voiceovers. Singing vocal captures are rich and not brittle in the high end like many cheap condensers. The build quality was also a welcome surprise. The mic feels solid to the touch and the knobs and switches feel high quality.

Like the Pyle PDMIKT 100, the mic picks up a bit too much background noise. Condenser microphones are more sensitive than dynamic microphones but I was hoping for a bit more off-axis sound rejection from the Fifine K690.

The FIFINE K690 brings a lot to the table for the price. While not coming from an as established of a brand as say, Blue Microphones or Rode, its multiple polar pattern implementation and overall strong suits earn it a place in our top picks. Its versatility, build quality and sound quality are beyond its asking price.

Specifications

  • Frequency Response: 40-20kHz
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid/Omnidirectional/Bi-directional/Stereo
  • Max SPL: 130dB
  • Power Requirements: 5V USB power
  • Device / Operating System compatibility: Class - Compliant USB ,Windows 10, Mac OS 10.10 or higher with USB 2.0
  • Sampling Rate: 48kHz
  • Bit Depth: 16 bit
  • Best For: Home Recording (Vocals and Instruments), Podcasts, Content Creation, and Streaming

Hands On Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Richard Tech Editor 80/100
Youtube Caleb Thornton 88/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

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 SPL.
 

Recently, "Medium diaphragm mics" have been getting more popular. These are usually found on compact designs or USB Condenser mics. They usually have less low frequency extension than large diaphragm condensers but offer a more compact silhouette. This is useful for screen visibility during streaming or for reading scripts and lyric sheets.

In most microphone literature, Large diaphragms are 1" or more in diameter, while Small diaphragms are 0.5" or less. It's a good rule of thumb but this usually varies depending on manufacturer. There are Large Diaphragm Condensers with capsules measuring less than 1". Some manufacturers base their measurements on the entire capsule which in most cases means that some listed at above 1".

If that feels too confusing, often diaphragm size is usually determined by how the mic is constructed. Small Diaphragm Condensers are usually slim and are end-addressed while most Large Diaphragm Condensers are, as the name suggests, larger and are usually side-addressed.

Polar Pattern and Background Noise Reduction

For single instrument and vocal recording, the Cardioid polar pattern is ideal because of its noise reduction capability. 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. Some budget microphones 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.
 

For more detailed information, along with diagrams to help your understanding, take a look at this.

USB vs XLR

The biggest considerations between going for USB vs XLR are convenience and upgrading. Having a USB condenser is more convenient since you won't need XLR cables and an audio interface to get started. This is great for those who are on the go or those that want a minimal setup. The downside is, in order to upgrade, you will need to buy a new USB mic. You won't be able to use hardware processors / vocal effects with a USB mic.

Though XLR mics inevitably require an interface and cables, they are more flexible with regards to routing and upgrade paths. Most XLR condenser mics outperform similarly priced USB mics as well. If you have plans to upgrade your studio in the future, there are no barriers to that when you use an XLR mic.

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. XLR condenser mics take their electricity from phantom power, usually supplied by mixing desks, audio interfaces or standalone mic preamps and channel strips.

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.

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 to work 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

The first edition was published in 2015 an the current edition was published on August 2, 2022.

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 major US-based retailers. For this August 2022 edition we gathered over 128,300 relevant review and rating sources and came up with a shortlist of 39 condenser mics - you can see them all in the Music Gear Database. These rating sources were then processed by the Gearank Algorithm to provide the rating scores our of 100 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.

About the Author and Contributors

Here are the key people and sources involved in this guide's production - click on linked names for information about their music industry backgrounds.

Lead Author & Researcher

Raphael PulgarRaphael Pulgar

I've been an audio engineer for 20 years specializing in rock and metal recordings, and also I play guitar and produce original music for my band and other content creators.

Some of the recording gear I use in my studio includes the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20, Focusrite Scarlett Solo, Samson QH4 Headphone Amp and Cloudlifter CL-1. My mics include Aston Origin, Aston Element, Shure SM57, Rode NT1, Rode PodMic and MXL V67G.

Contributors

Alexander Briones: Supplemental writing.
Jason Horton: Editing and Illustrating.

Media

Main/Top Image: Created by Gearank.com using photographs of the MXL V67G, AKG P120, Audio-Technica AT2020 and MXL 770.

The individual product images were sourced from their respective manufacturers' websites, promotional materials or supporting documentation, except for the additional photo of the MXL V67G which was taken in the Author's recording studio.

The video has been embedded in accordance with YouTube's Terms of Service.

Comments

What's interesting is that 6

What's interesting is that 6 months later, the MXG is no longer made and those that do stock it want considerably more than $100 (you're looking more like $200)
How come the AT2020 fell off the list? it's still regarded as the "Go To" but I'm looking for a mic with a bit more warmth (I have a fairly high-pitched thin voice for a bloke).

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.

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?

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.