The Best Cheap Microphones Under $50 - XLR & USB

The Highest Rated Microphones Under $50

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There was a time when "budget" meant "compromised" or "inferior". Mics priced affordably were generally not that good sounding and were full of long-term reliability issues.

These days, many manufacturers either have a higher baseline for research, development and manufacture or trickle down their top tier tech to their more affordable products.

Having great sounding mics within budget is no longer a myth as more of these products make waves inside and outside the audio engineering community.

In this guide we present to you the highest rated microphones that you can buy for under $50; hidden gems that we unearthed through our research and analysis of over 72,100 review and rating sources.

To cater to different needs, we divided the list into two sections - XLR & USB, with XLR being popular for live sound and USB is ideal for home recording.

The Best Cheap Microphones Under $50

Author & Contributors

Raphael PulgarRaphael Pulgar

An audio engineer of nearly 20 years who specializes in rock and metal recordings, he also plays guitar and produces original music for his band and other content creators.

XLR Microphones

The XLR cable is the standard connection used for plugging mics into audio interfaces, mixing consoles and PA systems.

Shure PGA48

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 900+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$34
Shure PGA48-XLR

The Shure PGA48 is part of the company's ALTA series: a line meant to provide their signature legendary vocal mic pedigree at a more affordable price point.

The PGA 48 features a dynamic capsule in a cardioid pattern and a frequency response of 70Hz to 15kHz.

It also inherits Shure's signature build quality and long term durability with solid materials and construction.

Specifications:

  • Type: Dynamic
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 70Hz-15kHz
  • Impedance: 600 ohms
  • Applications: Live vocals, recorded aggressive vocals, podcasts and spoken word

Pros
The PGA48 was noted to have a lot in common with the Shure SM58, including a general similarity of their frequency response. Users have mentioned they prefer the sound of the PGA48 because of its slightly more rolled off treble which, in the SM58, was noted to be slightly sibilant. Roadworthiness and long term durability were cited as consistent pros from many users.

Cons
Some who wanted an SM58 on a budget missed that high end clarity and noted the PGA48's darker tonality not to their taste. Others noted that the PGA48 has a bit more handling noise than the SM58.

Overall
If you're looking for a great affordable alternative to the SM58, the PGA48 is a great, affordable alternative. Those looking for a slightly darker sounding mic than the 58 might find it worth checking out.

Shure SM48 Cardioid Dynamic Microphone

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 2400+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$40
Shure SM48 Cardioid Dynamic Microphone

The Shure SM48 shares a lot of DNA with its more expensive sibling the SM58.

They have the same form factor, build quality and basic sound signature.

Where the differences lie, however, are in the frequency range. The SM48 has a narrower bandwidth with the high frequencies extending to 14kHz vs the SM58 at 15kHz. The low-frequency range has the SM48 roll off the low end earlier at 55kHz vs 50kHz for the SM58.

Specifications:

  • Type: Dynamic
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 55Hz – 14kHz
  • Impedance: 150 ohms
  • Applications: Live vocals, podcasting, streaming.

Pros
Because of the subtly narrower bandwidth, people found that the SM48 to be better with plosives, pops, and proximity effects than the SM58. This makes it very suitable for live use and since the two share very similar frequency responses, live venues, rehearsal spaces, and recording studios can easily afford two SM48 mics for the price of one SM58. The earlier high-frequency roll-off also aids in resisting high pitch feedback for live situations, notably more so than its more expensive sibling.

Cons
Despite the low-frequency roll-off, The SM48 still has the same problem with handling noise as the SM58. Being an old design without internal shock mounts on the capsule, these mics are also prone to handling noise. The earlier roll-off of highs and lows takes away the "air" and "depth" of acoustic guitars and other instruments that need those very high and very low frequencies.

Overall
The SM48 is a great budget alternative to the SM58 from the same company. They share the same ruggedness and overall sound signature with subtle differences in overall range.

Peavey PVi 2 Dynamic Microphone

94
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$50
Peavey PVi 2 Dynamic Microphone

At publication time this was the Highest Rated Handheld Mic Under $50 - for the second year in a row!

There's an obvious trend when it comes to affordable vocal microphones - they all are often based on the iconic Shure SM58.

The Peavey PVi 2 is no exception with its dynamic cardioid design, but it does have a distinct shape and appearance that makes it easy to distinguish.

This particular model has a die-cast steel case and an on-off switch.

Specifications:

  • Type: Dynamic
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: Not Specified
  • Impedance: Not Specified
  • Applications: Live and recorded vocals or speech.

Pros
With so much positive sentiment about its durability, reliability is the Peavey PVi 2's best trait. Sound quality comes in next, with many users who report being satisfied with its sound. Another common theme in reviews is comparison with more expensive mics, most of which place the PVi 2 in around the same ballpark in terms of overall quality.

Cons
There are a few out-of-the-box issues but thankfully, they are few and far between compared to those who are satisfied with the mic.

Overall
There's a reason why Peavey is known for reliability and durability, and this mic helps them uphold their good reputation.

XLR Value Option

Here we feature a very affordable XLR mic that is also rating well, it's so cheap that you can get three of them for less than $50.

Behringer Ultravoice XM1800S Set of 3 Dynamic Microphones

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 1850+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$39
Behringer Ultravoice XM1800S

The Behringer Ultravoice XM1800S gives you a super-affordable way of adding three mics to your setup.

But it's not just about saving on cost because this bundle features three XM1800S dynamic transducer microphones with a super-cardioid polar pattern, a configuration that's popular for stage use because of its ability to reject background noise.

And for the price, the mics also have surprisingly decent features which include integrated pop filters, an on/off switch, and a frequency response of 80Hz to 15kHz.

Finally, this bundle comes with mic stand adapters and an impact-resistant carrying case for easy transport and storage.

Specifications:

  • Type: Dynamic
  • Polar Pattern: Supercardioid
  • Frequency Response: 80Hz-15KHz
  • Impedance: 600 ohms
  • Applications: Live vocals

Pros
The Behringer XM1800S leads this list in terms of bang per buck by a big margin, so it's not surprising to find that many are pleased with what they got for the money. Reviews are also replete with positive remarks on the mic's build and sound quality. Thanks to its wide market reach, this bundle has been successfully used at various venues and situations, including home karaoke, small stages, places of worship, coffee shops and more.

Cons
Some cautioned that the included carrying case is not as solid as they want it to be. Sound quality also came up short for those who compare them to more expensive mics, but this should be expected given the big price difference.

Overall
Add more mics without having to spend much money with the Behringer Ultravoice XM1800S.

USB Microphones

USB microphones allow for direct connection to your computer and other smart devices. They are convenient for quick capturing of musical ideas and basic recording of vocals and instruments.

Fifine K669 Condenser USB Microphone

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 24850+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$30
Fifine K669 Condenser USB Microphone

Normally, you have to pay top dollar for a condenser mic that plugs directly to USB, but not with the Fifine K669.

It is a true USB condenser mic that you can get cheap, with essential features that make it viable for those who are looking to start their journey towards home recording.

The mic's profile follows the popular condenser mic shape and has a metal exterior for improved structural strength.

Other features include a cardioid polar pattern, and a built-in volume control knob that's conveniently located up front.

Specifications:

  • Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20KHz
  • Power Requirements: 5V USB
  • Applications: Live and recorded vocals, speech, podcasting, voiceovers

Pros
Many of the positive comments describe the Fifine K669 as a great mic for podcasting, voice-over work, and voice chat. Musicians and singers are just as impressed with its headroom and clarity, and more of them are joining the many satisfied reviewers of this mic. Another well-liked feature of the Fifine K669 is its solid build.

Cons
There are a few who are not happy with the included tripod base, which feels flimsy. Some also recommend trying out different positions to find its sweet spot.

Overall
The Fifine K669 will make a great first USB condenser mic for beginners who are on a budget.

Samson Go Mic Portable USB Condenser Microphone

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 4750+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$50
Samson Go Mic Portable USB Condenser Microphone

The Samson Go Mic is designed to handle situations where portable and convenient recording is needed.

It is a condenser mic meant for voice recording, podcasting, voice chat, and more importantly for recording vocals and instruments.

The Go Mic features a switchable polar pattern, packed into a compact form factor that can clip to a laptop and other surfaces, or sit on a desk.

Finally, it has a relatively flat frequency response between 20Hz and 18kHz and comes with a 1/8" headphone output so you can monitor your input with no latency.

Specifications:

  • Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid and Omnidirectional
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-18KHz
  • Resolution: 16-bit, 44.1kHz
  • Applications: Live and recorded vocals, podcasting, voiceovers, field recording

Pros
Professionals that depend on creativity appreciate the Samson Go Mic's balance of portability and sound quality. The list of satisfied users includes songwriters, musicians, public speakers, YouTube content creators, and more. Portability continues to come up positively in reviews, along with its clarity and ability to capture minute details. The ability to switch between cardioid (for close-mic recording) and Omni-directional (for recording multiple instruments or an entire room) makes it a very versatile tool for recording.

Cons
Ironically, some feel that the mic captures too much detail for their liking, specifically background noise. There were a few who cautioned that care is needed when handling the attachment clip.

Overall
If portability scores high on your priorities, the Samson Go Mic definitely lives up to its name for on-the-go recording situations.

Blue Snowball iCE Condenser Cardioid Microphone

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 28300+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$50
Blue Snowball iCE Condenser Cardioid Microphone

At publication time this was the Highest Rated USB Mic Under $50.

The Blue Snowball iCE is a desktop microphone with a distinct looking ball-like profile and as easy to use as a generic computer mic.

The improved frequency response (40Hz to 18kHz) ups the quality by a good margin compared to built-in / generic computer mics.

It has a condenser transducer with a cardioid polar pattern that quiets down some of the background noise, ideal for vocal recordings but can also be used with instruments when properly positioned.

Specifications:

  • Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 40Hz-18KHz
  • Resolution: 16 bit, 44.1 kHz
  • Applications: Live and recorded vocals, podcasting, voiceovers

Pros
Overall market sentiment towards the Blue Snowball iCE is very positive, with many praising it for straightforward functionality, portability, and sound quality. A lot of users also love the ball-like shape and its durability. It is mostly used for voice chat, podcasting, and the like, but more and more vocalists and musicians have taken a liking to it as well.

Cons
Some users find that the sound to be thin, but this may be due to proximity/positioning issues. Speaking of positioning, some users recommend mounting it on a mic stand to get better results as leaving it on your table while recording or streaming might pick up keyboard noise while you type. Having the mic closer to your mouth also thickens up the sound and makes your voice easier to mix.

Overall
Here is another reasonably portable and good quality USB condenser mic for those who prefer a different look.

Things to Consider When Buying Budget Microphones

Here are some tips that can help you in picking the mic that will work best for you. If you're looking for more information, you can check out our article that explains The Different Types Of Mics And Their Uses.

Transducer Type

In the sub $50 price range, the most popular mics are those with either a Dynamic or Condenser transducer. Dynamic mics are popularly used in live performance, because of their intrinsically higher SPL (Sound Pressure Level) handling, and reliability. They also tend to color the sound in ways that many vocalists prefer.

On the other hand, Condenser mics are mostly used in recording, because of their increased sound sensitivity. The downside of this increased sensitivity is being prone to clipping (sound breaking up when too loud) and background noise.

Polar Pattern

Most of the mics in this list come with cardioid or super-cardioid polar patterns, which is not surprising, given that these mics are meant for front vocal use. Some mics offer switchable polar patterns, specifically the option to switch to an Omni-directional pattern, which allows for a wider reception area - ideal for capturing multiple singers, instruments, and other sound sources.

XLR or USB

We've divided our recommended list into XLR and USB mics to help you know which ones are the best in their category. XLR is the standard connection used with pro audio gear, while USB mics allow for direct recording to your computer without the need for an audio interface or recording console.

Placement and Position

When setting up your mic, it is best to try different positions to find the one with the best results. This is a big topic on its own so we'll focus on a few tips that are essential for those who are just starting. When using handheld mics, the most common position to mike vocals is around 3" from the mouth, but this will vary depending on the style of the singer. Condenser mics are a bit more sensitive so they don't require singers to perform as close. Room acoustics also play an important role if you want quiet and professional sounding recordings.

Cheap Mic Selection Methodology

The first edition was published in 2018 and the current edition was published on September 16, 2021.

Since there are many different microphones in the sub $50 price range, we decided to stick to those that work well for music - be it for the human voice or guitars and other instruments. We ended up with an initial list of 14 mics, with over 72,700 review and rating sources analyzed, including the most recent up to September of 2021. All these data were fed into the Gearank Algorithm to produce our rating scores out of 100 which we used to narrow down the list to just the best XLR and USB microphones in the price range. For more information about our methods see How Gearank Works.

About the Author and Contributors

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

Lead Author & Researcher

Raphael PulgarRaphael Pulgar

An audio engineer of nearly 20 years who specializes in rock and metal recordings, he also plays guitar and produces original music for his band and other content creators.

Aside from endlessly window shopping and watching hours of gear reviews for leisure, he enjoys playing competitive FPS games, MMORPGs and caring for his 5 cats. He is primarily influenced by guitarists like Kurt Ballou and Paul Gilbert. His favorite pieces of gear are his Ibanez RG550RFR, Orange Brent Hinds Terror amplifier and EQD Acapulco Gold fuzz.

Contributors

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

Media

Main/Top Image: Created by Gearank.com using photographs of the Shure PGA48 and Blue Snowball iCE.

The individual product images were sourced from their respective manufacturers' websites, promotional materials or supporting documentation.

Comments

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Who proofreads these articles? Buckwheat? cmon folks.

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