The Best XLR Condenser Microphone Under $100
These are the best condenser mics that use a traditional XLR connection. Condenser microphones require phantom power to operate. They use internal circuitry for the diaphragm to function and send signals. . Most modern preamps, mixing consoles, and USB adapters provide phantom power.
Audio-Technica AT2020 - Best Budget Microphone for Vocals
- Can sound sibilant on some sources
- Sensitive to plosives - pop filter recommended
- Some issues with self-noise
- 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 Audio Technica AT2020. It is Audio-Technica's offering for the lower-priced segment. But it still offers much of Audio-Technica's signature sound, build quality, and reliability.
It has a smaller 16mm-diameter back-electret capsule. This 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. It's good at reproducing the high frequency zing of spruce top acoustics.
The Audio Technica AT2020 is the best budget XLR microphone for singing. It does well with delicate sounding female vocals thanks to its smooth response and great transient handling.
It is a great entry point to the Audio-Technica "sound". It is also a great value microphone for its price, delivering a very usable and professional sound on vocals and instruments. I can attest to this mic's solid build and reliability. These alone make it a top contending best microphone for under 100.
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 Audio Technica AT2020 is one of the best condenser mics on a budget. It's also one of the best xlr mic for streaming. Some bigger Youtube content creators like penguinz0 use it to record their voiceovers.
The Audio Technica AT2020 is also capable of handling many scenarios from vocals to percussion to streaming. It's no fluke that top hits can be made with its high quality sound. Just be sure to get one from a major retailer to ensure you get the real thing!
- 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
|Sound On Sound||Paul White||90/100|
MXL V67G - Best Mic for Voice Over
- Sounds sibilant and too airy - not great for distorted guitars
- Does not come with a shockmount or pop filter
- 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. 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. Its sound quality can be described as warm and smooth low frequencies with 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.
The cardioid pattern helps with focusing the pickup point in front of the mic. This also has added proximity effect which makes voices sound deeper as you get closer to the mic. On some mics, it sounds muddy but on the V67g, the effect has a pleasing "voice of god" radio effect.
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 the sound quality to be too airy. This also means that distorted electric guitars have too much sizzle on the top end. This 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 one of the best condenser mics to start out with. It gives your vocal tracks a vintage tonality and provides polish straight from the raw tracks. This is 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. It's the best voice over microphone you can get at this price. It is also the best microphone for audiobook narration.
The only time I would replace this would be if I get either of the aforementioned AKG or Neumann microphones. That should say enough about how much I love this mic.
- 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
|Gearspace||GL Respect Due||96/100|
MXL 770 Cardioid Condenser Microphone - Best Cheap Condenser Mic All-Rounder
- Max SPL of 137dB makes this not great for the loudest of sources
- Long-term durability issues
- 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 can stand with even the best condenser mics a price bracket or two above it.
It's a large diaphragm condenser microphone that features a 6-micron, 20-mm gold-sputtered element. 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 thanks to its great sound quality and value for money. It is also versatile enough to work well with common instruments and sound sources found in most home recording situations. It can even be used for vocal ensembles, although it would be a stretch to call it the best choir mic.
Its long-term durability can be put into question. They recommend careful handling when moving the mic around or when transporting. Thankfully, it ships with a high quality hard case, so most people shouldn't have a problem with it.
The MXL 770 is one of the best budget condenser mic options that offer great versatility. This mic has consistently appeared in our top rated lists for several years. I highly recommend it, especially for home studio use. Just handle it with a bit of care and you'll be golden.
- 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
The Best USB Condenser Microphones Under $100
These are cheap condenser mics that feature USB connectivity, meant for direct to computer recording. They can draw power and stream captured audio for direct recording.
They 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 - Best Mic Under 100 with Accessories
- A bit too sensitive - off-axis rejection is not this mic's strong suit
- 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. Here's why it's the best mic under 100 with accessories.
The PDMIKT100 is an affordable USB Microphone packaged with a stand, windscreen, shockmount, and pop filter. It is perfect for those that want to get up and running with a cheap mic that can handle vocal recording, voice overs, and streaming. This budget mic is also a good gaming mic.
It 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.
Audio quality wise, I give the PDMIKT100 high points for its clarity and crispness. It's easy for condenser mics at this price to sound brittle or harsh. The PDMIKT100 manages to avoid that problem.
I found the mic a bit too sensitive as it picks up background noises, off-axis rejection is not this mic's strong suit. But this is to be expected from cheap mics. Still, it has all the right attributes to be considered by many as the best budget microphone for pc.
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. It's the best microphone for cheap that comes with everything you need to get started aside from an audio interface.
- 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
|YouTube||Silly Things I Buy||92/100|
- Not the best off-axis sound rejection - can pick up a lot of background noise
- 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. It is 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 great sound quality are beyond its asking price. It's a great recording mic for laptop users.
- 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
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.
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.
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.
The biggest considerations between going for XLR vs USB 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 XLR 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.
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.
- 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.
Diaphragm Size and Sound Pressure Handling
Polar Pattern and Background Noise Reduction
XLR vs USB
So, in the USB mic vs XLR debate, it's down to how mobile you want your setup to be.
iPad USB Power Issues
Budget Condenser Microphone Selection Methodology
The first edition was published in 2015 and the current edition was published on April 27, 2023.
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 2023 edition we gathered over 163,950 relevant review and rating sources and came up with a shortlist of 38 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 out 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
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 include 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.
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.