The Best Condenser Mics Under $100 - XLR & USB - Over 31,000 Rating Sources!

The Highest Rated Condenser Mics Under $100

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Getting quality recordings has never been easier thanks to the rise in popularity of affordable condenser microphones. 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 September 2020 update Brings in new selections like the recently released Rode NT-USB Mini.

Looking for premium mics? Then head over to 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 770 Cardioid Condenser Microphone

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 1650+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$75
MXL 770 Cardioid Condenser Microphone - Vintage White

At publication time this was the Highest Rated Non-USB Condenser Mic Under $100.

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.

Features

  • 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.

Shure PGA181

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 50+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$94
Shure PGA181 Condenser Microphone

The Shure PGA181 is a side-address cardioid condenser microphone designed with versatility in mind.

The design allows the PGA181 to even be used dangling in front of a guitar cabinet: something not usually recommended with top-address microphones like the SM57. It has a max SPL of 138dB which allows it to be used on even the loudest of sound sources.

Features

  • Frequency Response:50Hz-20kHz
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Max SPL: 138 dB
  • Power Requirements: Phantom Power 48V (+/- 4V)
  • Applications: Vocals, Instruments, Percussion, Amplifiers.

Pros

"Desert island microphone" is what forum discussions and reviews hint at when they describe the PGA181. The frequency response is even and clear and versatile enough to work from vocals to orchestral percussion.

Cons

It is a "Jack-of-all-trades, master of none" type microphone according to some reviews. It might also be too heavy for some mic stands as some users said their booms were not able to support the mic properly. This can be remedied by using a good Mic Stand.

Overall

The PGA181 is no stranger to figures of speech being used to describe it. It is a versatile microphone that gets the job done and is a great pick if you're looking for a first mic to get your music production projects rolling.

Audio-Technica AT2020

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 5050+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$99
Audio-Technica AT2020 Cardioid Condenser Microphone

"Often imitated, never duplicated" is an adage that applies to the AT2020.

It is Audio-Technica's offering on the lower-priced segment. Despite this, it still offers much of Audio-Technica's signature sound, build quality and reliability.

Features

  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Max SPL: 144dB
  • Power Requirements: Phantom Power 48V (+/- 4V)
  • Applications: Voiceovers / Vocal recording, Instruments, Podcast / streaming

Pros

Many praise the AT2020 for its smooth response and great transient handling. A few reviews mentioned that not only is it a great entry point to the Audio-Technica "sound", but it is also a great microphone for its price to performance value.

Cons

Numerous complaints about the mic not including a cable or stand extension. Upon research, 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, some people report some static and popping on their units. There are a few who have received fake/damaged microphones. To avoid this, order only from reputable sellers/distributors.

Overall

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!

sE Electronics X1 A Large-diaphragm Condenser Microphone

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 125+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$99
sE Electronics X1 A

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.

Features

  • 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

We think 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.

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.

Samson Go Mic

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 3800+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$50
Samson Go Mic Portable USB Condenser Microphone

The Samson Go Mic is a compact, portable easy-to-use USB condenser mic that is best for on-the-go recordings, voice-over recordings, and instrument recording.

It features a 10mm diaphragm condenser with switchable polar patterns (omni and cardioid).

Features

  • Frequency Response: 80Hz-18kHz (Cardioid), 20Hz-20kHz (Omni)
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid / Omni
  • Max SPL: 121 dB
  • Power Requirements: 5V USB power
  • Device / Operating System compatibility: Windows 10, Mac OS 10.10 or higher with USB 2.0
  • Sampling Rate: 44.1kHz
  • Bit Depth: 16-bit
  • Applications: Vocal and instrument recording, field recording, and Podcasting

Pros

People noted that their main draw to the Samson Go Mic is portability. While the majority of reviews note that they use the Go Mic for video conferencing, others have found that the Go Mic is small enough to take anywhere for rehearsal recordings and impromptu recording sessions.

Cons

44.1kHz resolution was a deal-breaker for a few. Some noted that the mic is sensitive to wind noise and pops. Finding a pop filter that fits the mic to alleviate this problem proved to be a challenge for some.

Overall

If portability is your top priority, the Samson Go Mic is a go-to pick. For on-the-spot recordings, nothing beats it for ease of setup.

Blue Snowball

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 5900+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$70
Blue Snowball USB 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.

Features

  • 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 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 Snowball is a great pick for your first mic.

Samson Meteor Mic

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 4350+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$70
Samson Meteor Mic Desktop Studio Condenser USB Microphone

The Samson Meteor Mic is an all-in-one desktop mic with a rich feature set.

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.

Features

  • 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

Some 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 will either be a good or bad thing depending on your intended application. Get it if you need to capture everything in your space.

Samson C01U Pro

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 950+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$90
Samson C01U Pro Large-diaphragm USB Condenser Microphone

The Samson C01U Pro comes with a large (19mm) internal shock mounted diaphragm condenser and a hypercardioid 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.

It's is housed in a solid die-cast form factor with a heavy gauge mesh grill.

Features

  • 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 is nothing to complicate the recording process, just load up your DAW, 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 the 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.

Rode NT-USB Mini

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 450+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$99

At publication time this was the Highest Rated USB Condenser Mic Under $100.

Not to be confused with the original NT-USB, the Rode NT-USB Mini is Rode's answer to the demand for a studio-quality microphone in a compact, easily transportable format.

Initially designed with podcasters, streamers, and voice over artists in mind, the Rode NT-USB is equally as adept at recording instruments and field recordings.

It also features plug and play functionality and zero-latency monitoring.

Features

  • Frequency Response: 20-20kHz
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Max SPL: 121dB
  • 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: 24-bit
  • Applications: Home Recording, Podcasts, Content Creation, and Streaming

Pros

The NT-USB Mini is hailed as a "do-all" microphone according to several positive reviews. Users that bought the mic initially for specific use like streaming found that they were able to get great quality instrument recordings as well. Some were even inspired to write an album for the first time because the mic sounded so good.

Cons

Some report the unit being damaged out of the box as well as not working at all. This may be due to improper shipping and handling. We highly suggest purchasing only from verified distributors.

Overall

There is not one thing that the NT-USB Mini can't do. Even now, more and more users are finding creative ways of using this little mic. If you want a USB Mic that is capable of handling many different use case scenarios with great results, the NT-USB Mini is an amazing pick.

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 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.

  • 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 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 December of 2015 written by Alexander Briones. The latest edition was published on September 29, 2020 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 2020 update, we gathered over 31,100 relevant review and rating sources and came up with a shortlist of 20 condenser mics. These rating sources 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

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.

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