The Best Condenser Mics - $100 to $1000

The Best Condenser Mics - $100 to $1000

Over a century after it was first introduced, the Condenser Mic continues to be an indispensable tool for music production, be it in studios or live performance settings.

Here we look at market favorite condenser mics, divided into four of the most popular price ranges, to better help you find a good quality condenser mic that fits your budget.

If you're looking for lower cost options then see our guide to The Best Condenser Mics Under $100.

Contents

The Best Condenser Mics

Best Condenser Microphones Under $200

Audio-Technica AT2035

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 500+ 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

AKG P220

93
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$150
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

Shure SM86

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 200+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$179
Shure SM86 Cardioid Condenser Vocal Microphone

With the Shure SM86, you get a handheld condenser microphone with Shure's brand of quality and reliability. It is essentially the condenser mic version of their very popular SM58 dynamic mic, designed specifically for singers to enjoy.

It has a tailored frequency response that peaks in the 2-5kHz range, which works together with its condenser capsule for improved vocal clarity. Shure also equipped the SM86 with an internal three-point shock mount and a two-stage pop filter to reduce unwanted handling, pop and wind noise.

Specifications:

  • Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 50Hz to 18kHz
  • Impedance: 150 Ohms
  • Max SPL: 147 dB
  • Applications: Live vocals, also for recording of vocals and acoustic instruments
  • Power Requirements: 11 to 52 volts DC

Pros

Most users who have upgraded to the SM86 from other mics report big improvements in terms of sound quality and overall clarity, and it is known to work well with a variety of singing styles, be it from male or female vocalists. As expected, the build quality is top notch, allowing for worry free use, setup and storage.

Cons

There are a few who are not particularly happy with the brighter sound of the mic, but even those who gave the Shure SM86 lower scores comment that all in all, the mic sounds great.

Overall

It's hard to go wrong with a Shure branded handheld mic, do check out the SM86 if you're looking for a reliable condenser mic.

Shure SM86 Frequency Response Chart:

Shure SM86 frequency response chart

Shure SM86 Polar Pattern Chart:

Shure SM86 polar pattern chart

Blue Microphones enCORE 300

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 175+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$200
Blue Microphones enCORE 300

Blue Microphones designed the enCORE 300 to be a studio quality condenser mic for stage use.

One unique feature of this microphone is its floating capsule design, which helps prevent handling noise. This distinct capsule works in conjunction with its cardioid pickup pattern and reinforced chassis for an impressively quiet performance.

Specifications:

  • Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 40Hz to 20kHz
  • Impedance: 25 ohms
  • Maximum SPL: 146 dB
  • Applications: Live and recorded vocals & acoustic guitar
  • Power Requirements: 48v phantom power

Pros

One user summarized market sentiment by describing the enCORE 300 as a great sounding mic. Transparency and clarity comes up quite often in reviews, along with some praise for its distinct aesthetic look. Paul White of Sound on Sound concluded his review by saying, "...so if you tend to work across the studio and live divide but demand studio-quality audio, the Encore 300 is a very attractive proposition."

Cons

There's not much in the way of extra controls to work with, limiting the mic to mostly vocals and acoustic instruments. Those who are looking for some coloration complained that the mic is too dry and transparent.

Overall

With its high ratings and brand reputation, the enCORE 300 from Blue Microphones is easy to recommend.

Blue Microphones enCORE 300 Frequency Response Chart:

Blue Microphones enCORE 300 frequency response chart

Blue Microphones enCORE 300 Polar Pattern Chart:

Blue Microphones enCORE 300 polar pattern chart

Best Condenser Microphones Under $300

Audio-Technica ATM450

93
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$249
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 bit 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

Audix VX5

93
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$249
Audix VX5 Handheld Supercardioid Condenser Microphone

The Audix VX-5 comes in a conventional handheld mic shape, but underneath its simplicity is a condenser capsule that is specially tweaked for vocals. It has a smoother frequency response that emphasizes the frequencies used by the human voice, while its tighter supercardioid pattern prevents outside noise from getting into the mic.

But it's not just about vocals, the VX-5 is also quite capable of handling acoustic guitars and other instruments that share their sonic characteristics with the human voice.

Specifications:

  • Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Supercardioid
  • Frequency Response: 40Hz-16.5kHz
  • Impedance: 150 ohms
  • Maximum SPL: 140 dB (with -10 pad)
  • Applications: Live and recorded vocals and acoustic instruments
  • Power Requirements: 48V phantom power

Pros

Those who have recorded with the Audix VX4 have a lot of good words for its sound quality, while others are pleased with how nice it blocks of. More importantly, it gets a lot of nod for how good it works with vocals and acoustic guitars.

Cons

Pricing seems to come up a few times from those who don't have the budget to spend, but those who bought the mic have mostly good things to say.

Overall

Specialized gear are usually better in terms of quality, on the flipside, flexibility is limited. The Audix VX5 is a good specialized mic for vocals should you need one.

Audix VX5 Frequency Response Chart:

Audix VX5 frequency response chart

Audix VX5 Polar Pattern Chart:

Audix VX5 polar pattern chart

Shure Beta 87A

97
GEARANK

97 out of 100. Incorporating 500+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$249
Shure Beta 87A Handheld Supercardioid Electret Condenser Mic

8th season American Idol winner Kris Allen is just one of the many artists who trust the Shure Beta 87A condenser mic for their live performance - and rightly so given its stage friendly features.

Speaking of stage, the Beta 87A blocks unwanted stage noise with its tight super cardioid pattern which only accepts the closest sound sources. It also has a built-in pop filter and low frequency roll-off that addresses proximity issues. Before being released to the public, Shure mic designs go through real world durability tests which include drops, humidity, heat and more, and this is the reason why their brand remains synonymous with reliability.

Specifications:

  • Type: Electret Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Supercardioid
  • Frequency Response: 50Hz to 20kHz
  • Impedance: 150 Ohms
  • Maximum SPL: 140.5 dB
  • Applications: Live and recorded vocals and even live broadcasting
  • Power Requirements: 11v to 52v phantom power

Pros

2018 saw a big increase in the rating of the Beta 87A, thanks to the many former Shure SM58 users who are impressed with the improvements they experienced after switching. As expected, build quality and reliability is reported to be top notch, with more and more reviewers praising its sound quality, some even point out that it sounds so good, it requires minimal EQ adjustments.

Cons

With its almost perfect ratings, there's not many negative comments to write about. There are a few who mention that covering the mic capsule causes feedback, but this is more a mic positioning issue than an actual problem.

Overall

Seeing that it outranks most of the mics in this list, including more expensive ones, the Shure Beta 87A is very highly recommended.

Shure Beta 87A Frequency Response Chart:

Shure Beta 87A frequency response chart

Shure Beta 87A Polar Pattern Chart:

Shure Beta 87A polar pattern chart

Best Condenser Microphones Under $500

Shure SM81

98
GEARANK

98 out of 100. Incorporating 225+ 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 almost perfect overall market rating, there are simply too many positive comments 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

Rode NT2-A

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 600+ 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

Shure KSM141 SL

93
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$399
Shure KSM141 SL Dual-pattern End-Address Condenser Microphone

The Shure KSM141 SL is a premium small diaphragm condenser microphone, featuring a low mass 2.5 micron thin mylar condenser diaphragm that allows it to handle loud sound sources. To achieve this, Shure designed the mic to have high max SPL handling of 159dB (with the help of its switchable pad). It also houses a Class A transformerless design preamp that further improves overall performance while reducing noise.

In addition, the KSM141 SL comes with two polar patterns, cardioid and omnidirectional for easier positioning. And since this mic is from Shure, you know that it will last you a long long time.

Specifications:

  • Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid, Omnidirectional
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz to 20kHz
  • Impedance: 150 Ohms
  • Maximum SPL: 134dB (159dB with Pad)
  • Applications: Recording of drums, guitar amps and acoustic instruments
  • Power Requirements: 48V

Pros

They may use different words like clean and glistening but most reviewers are saying the something similar, they credit sonic transparency as the main reason that they rate the Shure KSM141 SL highly. A big chunk of the positive reviews are for those who are impressed with how the mic works with acoustic guitars, but there are also plenty of reports where in the mic is used for other instruments, including as overhead for cymbals. Reliability also gets a lot of attention, with some users happily reporting that they haven't encountered any issues with the mic, even after many years of use.

Cons

Aside from a few who wish that the price is lower, there aren't any noteworthy concerns to mention here.

Overall

The Shure KSM141 SL is a solid investment for studio owners and musicians who are looking for a reliable and great sounding small diaphragm condenser mic.

Shure KSM141 SL Frequency Response and Polar Pattern Charts:

Shure KSM141 SL frequency response chart

Best Condenser Microphones Under $1000

Shure KSM9 Dual Diaphragm Handheld Condenser Microphone

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 70+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$699
Shure KSM9

As expected, Shure continues to hoard the top spots in the market, and the KSM9 secures them a spot in the sub $1000 price range. This is a mic that's truly ready for the big stage, with its quiet operation, background noise reduction and Shure's brand of quality and reliability.

It lets you switch between Cardioid or Supercardioid polar patterns, both of which are well known for their feedback reduction qualities, with the Supercardioid having a tighter polar pattern. It also comes with a 3 stage grille, built-into the mic capsule to prevent unwanted breath noise and popping sounds, it also comes with a special shock mount.

Specifications:

  • Type: Condenser (Electret Biased)
  • Polar Pattern: Supercardioid and Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 50Hz to 20kHz
  • Impedance: 150 Ohms
  • Maximum SPL: 152 dB
  • Applications: Live and recorded vocals
  • Power Requirements: 48v phantom power

Pros

The Shure KSM8 gets a lot of love from its owners, most of which point to its clarity and quiet operation. Vocalists also appreciate how Shure was able to minimize the effects of proximity. As expected build quality and reliability also come up quiet often.

Cons

Not much to talk about other than the price range.

Overall

The Shure KSM9 is for those who are looking for a premium handheld condenser microphone.

Shure KSM9 Supercardioid Frequency Response Chart:

Shure Supercardioid KSM9 frequency response chart

Shure KSM9 Supercardioid Polar Pattern Chart:

Shure Supercardioid KSM9 polar pattern chart

Shure KSM9 Cardioid Frequency Response Chart:

Shure KSM9 Cardioid frequency response chart

Shure KSM9 Cardioid Polar Pattern Chart:

Shure KSM9 Cardioid polar pattern chart

Neumann KMS 105 Handheld Supercardioid Condenser Microphone

99
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$699
Neumann KMS 105 Handheld Supercardioid Condenser Microphone

Neumann is well known brand when it comes to recording gear, but incredibly one of their best rated mics, the KMS 105 is actually a handheld condenser mic for live vocal use. Big name artists like Norah Jones and Michael Buble are just two of the many professionals who put the Neumann KMS 105 to good use.

This mic comes with a supercardiod polar pattern that is really good at rejecting unwanted sound, and it has the ability to control proximity effect via a 120Hz high-pass filter. Both of these features work together to make this mic as transparent and clean sounding as possible.

Specifications:

  • Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Supercardioid
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz to 20kHz
  • Impedance: 50 Ohms - Load impedance is 1000 Ohms
  • Maximum SPL: 150 dB
  • Applications: Live and recorded vocals + recording acoustic guitar
  • Power Requirements: 48v phantom power

Pros

Attaining an almost perfect Gearank score is quite a feat, especially in the higher price range where consumers are very picky. And most of its many 5 star ratings are from owners who are impressed with its natural sound and quiet operation. Some even go so far as stating that the Neumann KMS 105 is the best vocal condenser mic that they have ever tried.

Cons

There aren't that many complaints going on, aside from the usual ones that have to do with price. There are some who recommend pairing this mic with a premium PA system to get the most out of it. Also note that since this mic can do away with proximity coloration, this mic may not be a good mic for vocalists who utilize proximity in their singing technique - like rappers and rock singers.

Overall

If you want nothing less than the best rated condenser microphone, then get the Neumann KMS 105.

Neumann KMS 105 Frequency Response Chart:

Neumann KMS 105 frequency response chart

Neumann KMS 105 Polar Pattern Chart:

Neumann KMS 105 polar pattern chart

Earthworks SR40V Handheld Hypercardioid Condenser Microphone

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 10+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$999
Earthworks SR40V Handheld Hypercardioid Condenser Microphone

Earthworks believes in the quality of the SR40V so much, that it comes with a 15 year warranty for it. This by itself is telling of the quality, which many popular singers noticed and put to good use on the big stages, most notable of which is James Taylor.

Having the widest frequency response in this list, the SR40V's main strength is its transparent sound, thanks to its flat frequency response.
The company claims that it requires less EQ, if not none at all, and this is corroborated by users. In addition, this mic has a hypercardioid polar pattern which helps quiet unwanted noise and feedback.

Specifications:

  • Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Hypercardioid
  • Frequency Response: 30Hz to 40kHz
  • Impedance: 65 Ohms with the min output load being 600 Ohms
  • Maximum SPL: 139 dB
  • Applications: Live and recorded vocals
  • Power Requirements: 48v phantom power

Pros

Not needing any EQ at all is a big claim, but reviews show that Earthworks is not bluffing, the SR40V's flat frequency response is the real deal. Many describe it as having recording studio like sound quality while having stage friendly reliability and rejection of noise and feedback. There are also a good number of experienced users who report that the Earthworks SR40V beats out all the other mics that they have owned.

Cons

It goes without saying that with a high-end mic like the SR40V, you'll have to invest more. This includes making sure that it is plugged into an equally high-end PA system. Careful handling is also expected, it would be painful to watch a rock singer dropping this almost $1000 price tag mic.

Overall

The Earthworks SR40V's wide frequency response and proven build quality makes this mic very easy to recommend.

Earthworks SR40V Frequency Response Chart:

Earthworks SR40V frequency response chart

Earthworks SR40V Polar Pattern Chart:

Earthworks SR40V polar pattern chart

Things to Consider When Buying a Condenser Mic for Vocals or Instruments

  • 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.

  • Frequency Response

    Frequency response is usually represented in the form of a chart that describes the manner by which microphone emphasize and de-emphasize frequencies. For condenser mics, 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 fit well with low register sound sources, while trebly instruments and vocals work well with mics that have good high frequency emphasis.

  • 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. Most PA systems have phantom power built-in, but if you'll be working with one that does not 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.

  • Versatility

    Versatile mics allows you to save on 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 .

Best Condenser Microphone Selection Methodology

We examined a 'short-list; of 58 condenser mics which included over 10,400 related reviews and ratings, including the latest ones from actual owners and experts. The Gearank algorithm then churned out resulting scores which represent actual market sentiment. We then used the scores to pick out the best condenser mics in popular price ranges: sub $200, sub $300, sub $500 and sub $1000. For more information about this process see How Gearank Works

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