The Best Condenser Mics - Studio: Small to Large Diaphragm

The Highest Rated Studio Condenser Microphones

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It's hard to believe that the first condenser mic was invented over a century ago. With it came rapid developments in communication and media and condenser mics continue to be a studio staple for their wide range of pickup compared to dynamic microphones.

For this March 2020 update we have focused on the highest rated large and small diaphragm mics that cover all the tasks studio condensers are used for.

If you're looking for handheld condensers you'll find them in our Live Vocal Mics Guide, and for budget options see The Best Condenser Mics Under $100.

The Best Condenser Mics

Best Condenser Mics Under $200 - Large Diaphragm

AKG P220

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 300+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$149
AKG P220 Vocal Condenser Microphone

The AKG P220 is a large diaphragm condenser microphone that's designed to better capture vocals, acoustic guitars and other instruments that have similar frequency profiles. It is among the most popular in their Project studio line,

To expand its use, AKG equipped it with a switchable bass-cut filter and attenuation pad, which allows it to handle louder sound sources up to 155 dB SPL. This versatility helped make the P220 one of the most popular mics in AKG's Project Studio line of microphones. Wrapping up its features is the bundled spider-type shock mount and aluminum carrying case, both of which complements the mic's solid feeling exterior.

Specifications:

  • Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz to 20kHz
  • Impedance: 200 Ohms
  • Max SPL: 135 dB (155 dB with Pad)
  • Applications: Recording vocals, percussions, drums and acoustic instruments
  • Power Requirements: +48V

Pros

Reviews show that value for money is the AKG P220's strong suit, with most users describing it as a great workhorse condenser mic that you can get for a good price. Reports of it working well with vocal recording are rampant, but it also works well in live situations. There are also quite a number of commendations for how well it captures ukulele, percussion, wind instruments, drums, and many more.

Cons

There are some who find that the high frequencies are a bit lacking, but this is to be expected of large diaphragm mics as they typically emphasize middle frequencies.

Overall

If you're looking for an affordable yet versatile large diaphragm condenser mic, then do check out the AKG P220.

AKG P220 Frequency Response and Polar Pattern Charts:

AKG P220 frequency response chart

Audio-Technica AT2035

92
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$149
Audio-Technica AT2035 Large-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone

Thanks to its large large diaphragm design, the Audio-Technica AT2035 works well with most sound sources, including vocals and acoustic guitars. Its versatility is expanded further with its relatively high SPL handling at 148dB Max SPL, along with its built-in 10dB pad and Low-frequency roll-off (80Hz, 12dB/octave) switch.

Positioning is a bit limited with its cardioid polar pattern, but on the flip side, this helps minimize background noise, which makes this mic viable for studio recording use. Finally, it comes with a sturdy metal chassis along with bundled accessories that include a shock mount and storage pouch.

Specification:

  • Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 20 to 20,000 Hz
  • Impedance: 120 ohms
  • Max SPL: 148 dB
  • Applications: Great for recording vocals and acoustic instruments.
  • Power Requirements: 11V to 52V DC, 3.8 mA typical

Pros

Market response to the Audio-Technica AT2035 is overwhelmingly positive, with most commendations focusing on its quality to price ratio. It is often described as a great steal, with its sound clarity and solid build being getting a lot of mentions. Many are also pleased with its aesthetics and size.

Cons

There are a few complaints about the quality of the bundled accessories, and as expected, there are some who are not too happy with how it subtly colors the sound.

Overall

All in all, the Audio-Technica AT2035 is a good all around condenser mice that will make a good addition to home studios.

Audio-Technica AT2035 Frequency Response and Polar Pattern Charts:

Audio-Technica AT2035 frequency response chart

Best Condenser Mics Under $200 - Small Diaphragm

Slate Digital VMS ML-2

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 40+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$149
Slate Digital VMS ML-2 Small-Diaphragm Modeling Microphone

Slate Digital describes their VMS (Virtual Microphone System) as: "...a hybrid system that utilizes an extremely transparent condenser microphone, a sonically-neutral preamp, and state-of-the-art digital processing suite that recreates the tone of classic microphones and preamps."

While most of the specifications are still kept under wraps, the VMS line pushes forward with Slate Digital's second offering: The ML-2. The ML-2 is a transparent condenser microphone with a linear frequency response and serves as a platform for the modelling software.

While the design is a condenser mic, it has a switch to attenuate the signal for use with higher SPL situations like drums along with the software's dynamic mic models.

Specifications:

  • Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: Varies per model
  • Impedance:Varies per model
  • Max SPL: No data
  • Applications: Recording vocals, percussions, drums and acoustic instruments
  • Power Requirements: +48V

Pros

Versatility is the number 1 pro. Different mics fit into mixes in different ways and having the option to choose different mic models opened up a wide variety of applications for a lot of users.

Cons

Many disliked that it requires an iLok to function with the software. To use the modelling, you need to insert the software into each track or apply it on the way in.

Overall

The ML-2 is a winner if you're looking for one mic to rule them all. The software is easy enough to use but may consume significantly more resources the more instances you have it on. The iLok functionality may be a turn off for some.

Sennheiser e614

92
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$200
Sennheiser e614 Small-diaphragm Condenser Microphone

Sennheiser's e600 series are composed of high quality instrument microphones. The e614 is a Supercardioid electret condenser microphone with a high max SPL for use specifically with high volume sound sources like drums and percussion. It's compact size allows it to be easily positioned even in tighter drumkit layouts.

Specifications:

  • Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Supercardioid
  • Frequency Response: 40Hz-20kHz
  • Impedance: 50 ohms
  • Max SPL: 139dB
  • Applications:Percussion, Drums, Electric and acoustic instruments
  • Power Requirements: +48V

Pros

Users love it for miking up drums especially overheads where the neutral sound of the mic plus the supercardioid design allows some reflections of the drum room to be recorded, resulting in natural sounding overheads. For more percussive elements, the mic is noted to perform equally well for with its fast transient response.

Cons

Few relevant complaints - most were about packaging differences.

Overall

The e614 proves to be a community favorite because of its small size, high SPL handling and neutral frequency response. For overheads, it's a definite go-to mic for many professional engineers.

Sennheiser e614 Frequency Response and Polar Pattern Charts:

Sennheiser e614 frequency response chart

Best Condenser Mics Under $300 - Large Diaphragm

Rode NT1-A

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 1100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$229
Rode NT1-A Large-diaphragm Cardioid Condenser Microphone

The Rode NT1-A is a sister model of the original Rode NT1. While the Rode NT1 is focused on being as flat as possible, the NT1-A has its own sound signature, accentuating the high frequencies. What both NT series mics are capable of are great sensitivity while having an extremely low noise floor, with the NT1-A having a self-noise reading of 5dBA.

Specifications:

  • Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
  • Impedance: 100 ohms
  • Max SPL: 137dB SPL
  • Applications: Recording vocals and acoustic instruments
  • Power Requirements: +48V

Pros

Many users see the NT1-A as a great value that punches above its weight in sound quality and how the mic enhances vocals in the most pleasant way. Some users said that the raw tracks might not even need additional processing for broadcast, save for slight compresion.

Cons

Build quality issues in the XLR jack frustrated some users. Some units shipped with faulty wiring which led to some noise issues.

Overall

The NT1-A by Rode is nearly ubiquitous in its presence in many studios around the world. While it hypes up some frequencies, the response is to the benefit of those looking for a mic that makes voices sound great from the get to with minimal processing.

Rode NT1-A Frequency Response and Polar Pattern Charts:

Rode NT1-A frequency response chart
Rode NT1-A Polar Pattern chart

Aston Microphones Origin

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 250+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$300
Aston Microphones Origin Large-diaphragm Condenser Microphone

At first glance, the Aston Microphones Origin looks like a premium, boutique-manufactured microphone. Even when looking at the specifications and features, one might mistake it for a $1000+ microphone.

It features a 10dB pad, and 80Hz highpass filter, all augmenting a 1" gold-evaporated capsule. To emphasize it's versatility, Aston Microphones notes that the Origin has been used "from vocals for the likes of Noel Gallagher and Kylie Minogue, to drums for Arcade Fire and Geoff Dugmore (Elton John, Tina Turner, Bruce Springsteen) and live guitar cab mics for Radiohead's Thom Yorke."

Specifications:

  • Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz (+/-3dB)
  • Impedance: 200 Ohms
  • Max SPL: 127dB SPL
  • Applications: Recording vocals and acoustic instruments. Some low volume electric guitar.
  • Power Requirements: +48V

Pros

Many users note they were "blown away" by the Origin's sound quality; emphasizing mostly on how the mic is amazing for vocals with a balanced timbre that works well for different voices. Other users love it on drum overheads for working with excessively bright cymbals without becoming sibilant.

Cons

Some report a little distortion with higher SPL sound sources.

Overall

With its unique design philosophy, top-shelf components and construction and overall industry sentiment, the Aston Microphones Origin is etching its name into the logbooks of many studios as a treasured microphone. Get it for great, neutral sounding vocals and instruments but be wary of high SPL sources.

Aston Microphones Origin Frequency Response and Polar Pattern Charts:

Aston Microphones Origin frequency response chart

Audio-Technica Artist Elite AE3000

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 40+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$279
Audio-Technica Artist Elite AE3000 Large-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone

The AE3000 is a high-SPL capable offering by Audio-Technica. With a whopping 158dB max SPL with the built-in Pad, it can handle loud sources like drum kits and orchestral timpani and percussion with ease.

It can also be used for loud and distorted electric guitar and aggressive singing or screaming vocals.

Specifications:

  • Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
  • Impedance: 100 ohms
  • Max SPL:148dB (158dB w/10dB Pad)
  • Applications:Aggressive vocals, percussions, drums, electric and acoustic instruments
  • Power Requirements: 11V to 52V

Pros

Using the AE3000 for close miking snares and toms results in a very natural but punchy sounding sound that blends well with other mics especially with rooms. The side address design makes it easy to optimally place on different sound sources. Loud aggressive vocals also sound great with the mic according to a few community posts.

Cons

Users note that the sound signature is not optimal for quieter vocals.

Overall

If you like recording loud, the AE3000 is your best bet. Being able to capture high-SPL sources with little to no distortion is a blessing for more extreme, hard hitting music like metal or orchestral sections with high dynamic range.

Audio-Technica Artist Elite AE3000 Frequency Response and Polar Pattern Charts:

Audio-Technica Artist Elite AE3000 polar pattern chart

Audio-Technica Artist Elite AE3000 frequency response chart

Best Condenser Mic Under $300 - Small Diaphragm

Audio-Technica ATM450

94
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$279
Audio-Technica ATM450 Cardioid Condenser Instrument Microphone

With its side address design and compact profile, the Audio-Technica ATM450 is easy to position to work with various instruments and other sound sources. And since it can handle high SPL, it can work well with most instruments, from quieter acoustic guitars to loud drums, cymbals or even guitar amplifiers.

In addition, the ATM450 comes with a 80Hz hi-pass filter, and switchable 10dB pad, both of which make the mic even more useful to meet the many different needs of recording studios and stages.

Specifications:

  • Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 40Hz to 18kHz
  • Impedance: 200 Ohms
  • Maximum SPL: 152 dB
  • Applications: Acoustic Instruments, drums, percussion, guitar amps, overhead and more
  • Power Requirements: 48V

Pros

A lot of good words are being passed around for the Audio-Technica ATM450, many commending it for working well with drums, particularly the snare and cymbals, on top of the familiar home studio instruments like acoustic guitars and electric guitar amplifiers. There are also a lot of positive reports coming from banjo, ukulele, percussionists and other musicians who are satisfied with the mic's performance. Being compact is also a plus for many users, who describe it as very portable and easy to store away when not in use.

Cons

Not many complaints to write about, other a few who wish that the price was a bit lower, or that it was bundled with a few more accessories and extras.

Overall

If you're looking for a nicely priced condenser microphone for instruments, then check out the Audio-Technica ATM450.

Audio-Technica ATM450 Frequency Response and Polar Pattern Charts:

Blue Microphones enCORE 300 frequency response chart

Best Condenser Mics Under $500 - Large Diaphragm

Rode NT2-A

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 700+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$399
Rode NT2A Large-diaphragm Multi-Pattern Condenser Microphone

Thanks to their reputation for premium sound quality, Rode remains a strong contender in the microphone market. The NT2-A is a great example of why they are sought after, with its combination quality and versatility, both of which ultimately result in great sounding recordings.

Speaking of versatility, the Rode NT2-A comes with switchable pickup patterns, which lets you switch between the familiar cardioid to omnidirection and finally to a figure 8 settings. This feature works in conjunction with its switchable high-pass filter and variable attenuation control, allowing the mic to handle louder sound sources and reduce background signals. Included in each Rode NT2-A package is a shockmount and cable, along with a tutorial DVD and dust cover.

Specifications:

  • Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Omni, Cardioid & Figure 8
  • Frequency Response: 20 to 20,000 Hz
  • Impedance: 200 ohms
  • Maximum SPL: 147 dB
  • Applications: Acoustic instruments, guitar amps
  • Power Requirements: 48V phantom power

Pros

Thanks to its innate versatility, value for money is easily the Rode NT2A's main selling point. There are many vocalists and producers who report positive experiences with the mic, mostly in the studio, but there are also many reports of the mic working well outside / on location.

Cons

One obvious downside of this mic is its bulky size, which can be annoying to setup and store. There are also some who caution that the weight of this mic requires a good counterweight to ensure that balance is not off. As expected, not everyone was happy with how the mic tends to color the sound.

Overall

The Rode NT2-A is an easy pick if you're looking for a versatile large diaphragm condenser microphone.

Rode NT2-A Frequency Response and Polar Pattern Charts:

Rode NT2-A frequency response chart

sE Electronics sE4400a

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 20+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$499

The sE4400a is a vintage-inspired microphone with modern features like four polar patterns, a vintage-style brass capsule, two bass cuts and two pads.

Because of these features, the sE440a can be seen as a general-purpose mic that can be used with different applications from Drum overheads to violin string sections to intimate voice-overs.

Specifications:

  • Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern:Cardioid, Supercardioid, Omni, Figure-8
  • Frequency Response:20Hz-20kHz
  • Impedance: 50 ohms
  • Max SPL: 130dB
  • Applications: Recording vocals, percussions, drums, electric and acoustic instruments
  • Power Requirements: +48V

Pros

Users have nothing but praise for the sE440a and their responses are proof that the mic is indeed capable of handling many different uses. While excellent on drums and rooms, vocal uses may need additional tweaks but would still be a definite plus if a more neutral vocal sound is desired.

Cons

No notable cons even with extensive research; everyone seems to have a good use for it.

Overall

The sE4400a is definitely one of the most versatile mics in this guide and with its feature set, SPL handling and sound signature, it's your go-to mic for neutral sounding captures of almost any sound source.

sE Electronics sE4400a Frequency Response and Polar Pattern Charts:

sE Electronics sE4400a frequency response chart

Best Condenser Mics Under $500 - Small Diaphragm

Shure SM81

98
GEARANK

98 out of 100. Incorporating 250+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$349
Shure SM81 Small Diaphragm Cardioid Condenser Microphone

At the heart of this mic is a small diaphragm condenser that adds tube-like coloration to the sound, which better captures sonic nuances that most listeners appreciate.

The capsule is also lighter than many of its competitors, resulting in better background and handling noise rejection, even more so when enabling its built-in -10db Pad. On top of this, the SM81 comes with a low cut filter that allows it to better capture the nuances of virtually any sound source, from vocals, to acoustic guitars to loud guitar amplifier cabinets.

The usual downside of small diaphragm mics is its lack of frequency response, but this doesn't seem to be very noticeable with the SM81, with its frequency response of 20Hz-20kHz. Reviews are consistent in saying that the SM81 gives you more sound quality per dollar than similarly priced microphones. And coming from Shure, you can be assured of reliability and consistency without having to shell out too much dough. It's really hard to find fault with it, especially for acoustic guitars, other than its natural limitation of not having the same low frequency emphasis as large diaphragm mics.

Specifications:

  • Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern:
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz to 20kHz
  • Impedance: 150 Ohms
  • Maximum SPL: 136dB (146db with Pad)
  • Applications: Live vocals, acoustic instruments, guitar amps
  • Power Requirements: 48V

Pros

With its very high market rating, there are simply too many positive sentiments to fit into this guide, but these positive responses usually have a common denominator - they are impressed with its overall sound and build quality. While most of the high ratings are due to how good the mic is at capturing acoustic instruments, it is also recommended often for its versatility, with reports of it working well with many different instruments and sound sources.

Cons

Given its very high Gearank score, there are simply no noteworthy complaints to worry about.

Overall

With its incredibly high rating and Shure's reputation, do yourself a favor and get the Shure SM81 if you're looking for good condenser mics in the sub $500 price range.

Shure SM81 Frequency Response Chart:

Shure SM81 frequency response chart

Shure SM81 Polar Pattern Chart:

Shure SM81 polar pattern chart

Best Condenser Mics Under $1000 - Large Diaphragm

Lauten Audio LA-320

96
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$599
Lauten Audio LA-320 Large-diaphragm Tube Condenser Microphone

Lauten Audio is a fairly new company. Instead of focusing on chasing vintage sounds, their approach is to craft original, great sounding microphones for the modern studio.

The LA-320 is a Tube Condenser microphone with added features like high and low pass filter switches. It includes a custom power supply and shockmount in a sturdy carrying case.

Specifications:

  • Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response:20Hz - 20kHz
  • Impedance: 200 Ohms
  • Max SPL: 130dB SPL
  • Applications: Recording vocals, electric and acoustic instruments
  • Power Requirements: Custom power supply (Switchable 100v to 240v compatible range)

Pros

Users praise the fact that they can get a good tube condenser microphone at this price range. The LA-320 also gets a lot of love for the smooth top end that gets a bit of a sparkle thanks to a little tube saturation.

Cons

Low cut switch can thin out the tonality too much. Some users didn't like the lack of portability due to the use of a power supply.

Overall

If you're not chasing a particular microphone sound but want a great quality tube microphone that imbues your tracks with harmonic sheen, the LA-320 is a great mid-priced offering and may be your gateway drug to expanding your mic cabinet with more.

Lauten Audio LA-320 Frequency Response and Polar Pattern Charts:

Lauten Audio LA-320  frequency response chart

Shure KSM44A

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 60+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$999
Shure KSM44 Large Dual-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone

The Shure KSM44A is a multi-pattern large-diaphraghm condenser mic featuring dual gold Mylar diaphragms, a subsonic filter to handle rumble, and transparent low-noise preamp with pad.

The KSM44A is capable of handling single sound sources with its cardioid mode, two adjacent sources with the figure-8 pattern and a good capture of the room with omni.

Specifications:

  • Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid, Omni, Figure-8
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz to 20kHz
  • Impedance: 50 ohms
  • Max SPL:131dB (Cardioid), 137dB (Omni), 136dB (Figure-8)
  • Applications: Recording vocals, percussions, drums and acoustic instruments
  • Power Requirements: +48V

Pros

While some users found the sound to be "colored", it is in a way that sweetens the incoming audio and makes the recorded track need less processing during mixing. Female vocals in particular benefit from the coloration as one user noted that the vocal tracks they recorded sounded "ethereal". Violins and violas sounded smooth with just the right amount of high frequencies to sound clear but not sibilant.

Cons

Has a slight low frequency dip that may affect low frequency heavy sources like bass cabs or deeper sounding vocals as well as overly thinning out some acoustic instruments.

Overall

If you're looking for a great mic for female vocals, string sections and deep sounding guitars and don't mind having a little color to your sound, the KSM44A is a great pick.

Shure KSM44A Frequency Response and Polar Pattern Charts:

Shure KSM44A frequency response chart

Best Condenser Mics Under $1000 - Small Diaphragm

Neumann KM 184

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 80+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$799
Neumann KM 184 Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphone

The Neumann KM 184 is a transformerless, small diaphragm condenser mic. The design helps eliminate off-axis coloration for a more consistent frequency response.

Neumann refers to the mic as "universal" because of the high max SPL which allows usage with loud sound sources.

Specifications:

  • Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz to 20kHz
  • Impedance: 50 ohms
  • Max SPL: 138dB
  • Applications: Recording vocals, percussions, drums and acoustic instruments
  • Power Requirements: +48V

Pros

Users say it is an excellent mic for acoustic guitar. It also pairs well with "Blackface" Fender amps and gives a rich, full-ranged but balanced sound. Many users also use a matched pair with overheads with great results. Stereo pairs give great natural imaging for binaural recordings.

Cons

No negatives were consistently reported by users.

Overall

The KM 184 is an essential microphone for any mic collection. Its great imaging and consistency allows for great stereo recordings with minimal phase issues.

Neumann KM 184 Frequency Response and Polar Pattern Charts:

Neumann KM 184 frequency response chart

Things to Consider When Buying A Professional Condenser Microphone

  • Diaphragm Size

    Diaphragm size refers to the mass of a mic's diaphragm which vibrates in response to sound. This vibration translates sound waves into electrical signals. As such, the mass of the diaphragm determines important mic specifications like sound pressure level handling, dynamic range, sensitivity, and more. The general rule is that larger diaphragms capture more detail but are not good at handling high sound pressure levels. Smaller diaphragms are usually not as good as their larger counterparts when it comes to sonic quality, but they can withstand loud sound sources like cymbals, drums, guitar amps and more. Condenser mics usually fall under three diaphragm size categories - Small, Medium and Large.

  • Polar Pattern

    This describes the area where the mic actually listens to sound. Cardioid is the most popular polar pattern because it is good at blocking the back side of the mic for reducing background noise and feedback. There are even variations of cardioid like Supercarioid and Hypercardioid with narrower areas of sound absorption. Other popular polar patterns include omnidirectional (absorbs sound from all directions), figure 8 (absorbs sound from the back and front while rejecting the sides) and shotgun (tighter and longer front absorption). Since condenser mics are used to record different types of instruments and sound sources, some manufacturers equip them with switchable polar patterns. If you're not familiar with pollar patterns then you can see charts and further information here.

  • Frequency Response

    Frequency response is usually represented in the form of a chart that describes the manner by which microphones emphasize and de-emphasize frequencies. For condenser mics, a flat response is ideal, but it may not always be the case depending on musical style, sound source and preference. This is not a strict rule but ordinarily, mics which emphasize the highs can compensate for vocals or instruments that have a warm or dull timbre, while trebly instruments and vocals work well with mics that have a smoother, warmer top end to manage sibilance. .

  • Proximity Effect

    Some manufacturers provide proximity effect data for their microphones via an extra line in the frequency response chart. This shows the low frequency emphasis that happens as the sound source gets closer to the mic, this is especially obvious with cardioid dynamic mics, and can also be noticeable with most condenser mics. This increase of volume in bass frequencies is sometimes used to good effect, but it can also be problematic in certain situations.

  • Phantom Power

    Since condenser mics use electricity to capture sound, and as such they require a power source. Most condenser mics run on phantom power (usually provided by a mixing console or audio interface) while there are some that can run on batteries. If you'll be working with a mixing console that doesn't have phantom power, you'll want to invest in a mic preamp with phantom power capability.

  • Max SPL

    This parameter is an important consideration, especially if you're planning on using the mic to capture loud sound sources like guitar amplifiers or drums. The higher the MAX SPL the better, just note that some high SPL mics may compromise audio signal quality.

  • Pop Filter

    Pop filters are screens that are usually positioned between the singer and the mic to prevent air from hitting the mic diaphragm directly. They are sometimes bundled with condenser mics, but they are also very cheap to acquire in case you bought one with no pop filter included.

  • Stereo Recording

    What's better than having a single condenser mic... get a matched pair and record in stereo, as many professionals actually do. Stereo recording is usually employed to add space and realism to any sound source, this is the reason why some manufacturers release matched condenser mics that are designed to work in stereo. While you can use two regular condenser mics to capture in stereo, slight differences between unmatched microphones often result in unwanted audio artifacts and phase issues.

  • Versatility

    Versatile mics allow you to save money by doing the jobs of multiple dedicated mics. Just don't expect them to have the same quality as specialized mics. Features to look out for include switchable attenuation pads, switchable polar patterns and built-in filters (high-pass or low-pass) and built-in. As always, there will be slight compromises to the sound because of the capsule or circuitry design.

Best Condenser Microphone Selection Methodology

This guide was first published on October 24, 2018 written by Alexander Briones and the latest major update was published on written by recording engineer Raphael Pulgar with contributions from Alexander Briones.

We examined short-lists of 35 Large Diaphragm and 18 Medium to Small Diaphragm condenser mics which included over 10,800 related reviews and ratings, including the latest ones from actual owners and experts. The Gearank algorithm processed this data to generate our rating scores out of 100 to reflect market sentiment of each mic. We then used the scores to pick out the best large and small diaphragm (we included medium in the small section) condenser mics in popular price ranges: sub $200, sub $300, sub $500 and sub $1000. For more information about our methods see How Gearank Works.

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