Recording vocals is not an easy task, especially if you’re someone with high standards for quality. It involves a lot of technical knowledge, skill, and in most cases, pricey gadgets. Finding the right microphone for your needs makes all the difference.
That’s why we’ve brought you the 7 best condenser mics under $500.
What’s attractive about condenser mics? Here are three reasons why they’d be a great addition to your vocal ensemble:
- Higher Output: Condenser mics have a higher input than other mics, meaning that you won’t need a large preamp to get the same output.
- Detailed Vocals: As these mics use a charged plate as well as a thin diaphragm, they reveal more minute details. They’re highly suitable for capturing the nuances of a singer’s voice.
- Frequencies: The frequency of dynamic microphones and another kind of mics usually ranges from 12-15 Hz, which isn’t very high.
If you’re looking for a breathy sound, using condenser mics is the best thing you can do.
That being said, condenser microphones are best suited for people with metallic and husky voices as they have a strong effect on vocal quality. Here's a list of the 7 best large diaphragm condenser mics under $500. Any one of them would be a great choice for our vocalists out there, but we’re getting down into the details to make sure you’re getting the right product for your production and price range.
That being said, condenser microphones are best suited for people with metallic and husky voices as well. Therefore, here's a list of 7 best large diaphragm condenser microphones under $500 that you should consider before deciding to buy one.
The Best Condenser Microphones Under $500
Avantone Pro CV-12
Aston Microphones Spirit
Shure KSM 141
Price not available
Who said that all the best microphones need to be expensive?
The Avantone's CV-12 is the best example of an affordable mic with the most ambient audio output. It has a frequency response of up to 20kHz SPL of 136 dB, and offers an XLR pattern. The capsule is tubular, making it easy to hold. It also comes with shock absorption technology and a spider-like mount.
If you’re a beginner interested in buying a well-rounded mic, this one’s for you.
- Audio Frequency response: 20Hz to 20kHz Max SPL: 136 dB Connectivity: XLRPattern and type Capsule: Tube Pattern: Multi-pattern Type: Mounted Applications: Studio, stage Phantom power required: NoSize and weight Length: 9.5" Width: 1.8" Depth: n/a Weight: 1.8 lb.Included accessories Case: Wooden box Clip: Shockmount Power supply: Yes
- They will meet or surpass the performance and specifications of some much higher priced mics
- The Avantone CV-12 is truly a gorgeous looking and sounding microphone
- The design, character and performance are comparable to some of the finest vintage tube mics of the 1950' & 1960', but at a fraction of the cost
- The rugged CV-12 microphone body and capsule assembly are precision machined of brass
"Though not a looker, however the red bright color attracts attention to the Avantone Audio CV12 very quickly. Though slightly priced higher however its performance and the package justifies its price."
The Aston Spirit switchable microphone is a 1” gold capsule with three obvious patterns.
It is versatile enough to be used for acoustic vocals and instruments as well as combined with circuitry and a balanced transformer.
The Spirit delivers sparkling sounds with high accuracy and stunning transparency, and therefore you don't have to be worried about any harsh tones in your recording.The design of this mic is rich and immaculate, an example of unrivaled engineering and excellent craftsmanship. The mesh head is great protection for the tech inside. It also offers axis rejection, plosive simulation, and has a great shock absorption system on the inside.
- Designed and built in the UK
- Multi pattern Microphone
- Built in Pop filter Built in Pop filter using the latest stainless steel mesh knit technology
- End Caps Direct to stand microphone mounting
- Capsule The Aston Sound Developed by Professional Artists, Engineers and Producers
"A beautiful mic with style and all the makings for smooth recording"
#5: Shure KSM 141
The KSM 141 is the most expensive microphone on the list.
It has a rotating collar, making the transition between the cardioid and omnidirectional patterns easy.
Designed exclusively to be used in studios, the KSM 141s are rugged even for broadcasting and live shows. The microphone is ultra thin, gold plated with a low mass diaphragm and superior response.
- A mechanical polar pattern switch for highly consistent cardioid and true omnidirectional polar patterns. Provides flexibility in a wide variety of recording applications
- Ultra-thin, 2.5 micron, 24 karat gold-layered, low mass Mylar diaphragm for superior transient response
- Class A, discrete, transformerless preamplifier for transparency, extremely fast transient response, no crossover distortion, and minimal harmonic and intermodulation distortion
- Premium electronic components, including gold-plated internal and external connectors
- Subsonic filter eliminates low frequency rumble (less than 17 Hz) caused by mechanical vibration
It has a transformer-less preamp with minimal intermodulation and harmonic distortion. The inclusion of subsonic filter enables the removal of frequencies that rumble at 17 Hz and less.
Additional features include the suppression of frequency interference and common mode superior rejection.This mic can also be used with acoustic instruments such as drums, strings, percussion; wind instruments like woodwind and brass; low-frequency instruments like a kick drum, bass, ensembles or orchestral or choral nature, guitar amplifiers, etc.
"If you need a small, portable and practical design condenser microphone with no gimmicks or extra thrills, Shure KSM 141 is an ideal pick."
This tension-specific microphone is advanced and has all the natural sonic characteristics – it’s an amalgamation of the artistic approach and the technical accuracy.
Offering an exceptionally high SPL output, versatility, wide dynamic range of sounds and low mechanical noise, is also has great consistency when it comes to live studio and recording applications as well as digital systems.
The circuitry for lowering noise is transformer-less and also symmetrical, leading to clean output even when combined with the instrumental sounds. Affordable at the forefront, they are designed to keep external polarization in mind.
- Technically advanced large diaphragm tensioned specifically to provide smooth, natural sonic characteristics
- Externally polarized (DC bias) true condenser design, Exceptionally low noise, wide dynamic range and high SPL capability for greatest versatility
- Transformerless circuitry virtually eliminates low frequency distortion and provides superior correlation of high speed transients
- Precision machined, nickel plated brass, acoustic element baffle provides enhanced element stability and optimal sensitivity
- State of the art surface mount electronics ensure compliance with A T's stringent consistency and reliability standards
The acoustic elements, baffle enhancement, nickel brass, and surface mount together elevates the reliability of this mic.
"We're big fans of Audio Technica brands, be it headphones or microphone. Audio Technica AT4040 with its no non-sense design and rigid build with great performance, its no-brainer going for the AT4040."
#3: Rode Broadcaster
The Rode Broadcaster is designed to give the ultimate performance for broadcasting.
The tailored quality response with emphasized and rich proximity effect makes it stand out on the market and maybe that's the reason they’re being used in radio stations all over the world.
These are best suited for usage in television and films. They contain an internal filter designed to reduce the plosive sounds usually responsible for audio distortion.
- HF2 1 inch capsule with gold plated diaphragm
- On-Air indicator LED
- Ultra low noise; Voice tailored low-cut feature
- Internal pop filter to reduce plosives
In addition, it has a switchable 75Hz filter available to prevent air interference or outside noise getting in. This mic offers the 'On-Air' feature on the body, which can be activated by the 'Channel On/Mute' feature when attached to the consoles.
Straight from the Australia, it comes with the option of a 10 year warranty.
"Rode Broadcaster is a popular for a longer and an excellent choice among radio broadcasters and podcasters."
The C214 large-diaphragm condenser microphone is a brilliant, cost-effective choice if you're into the AKG family.
With the same functionality as the popular C414, this mic is a 1” capsule with integrated suspension. It contains an attenuator that can absorb up to 20 dB of mechanical noises and it produces recordings of SPL 156 dB.
This device, like others on our list, features a switchable filter.
- Sonic character of the C414 XLII for beautifully detailed recording of lead vocals and solo instruments
- Outstanding dynamic range and ultralow noise for close-up recording of high-output sources of up to 156dB SPL
- Switchable 20dB attenuator and bass-cut filter for close-up recording and reduction of proximity effect
- Integrated suspension to reduce mechanical noise and vibration from stage
- Roadworthy design all-metal die-cast body with shock- and scratch-resistant finish
Because of the low cut filter the Audio C214 can be used on stage even for close-up vocals and with instruments like high brass, guitar amps, drum overheads, etc.
The double mesh of this microphone reduces resonance, and if you're looking for sonic accuracy, this one is the best buy. It is neatly designed with scratch resistant technology, an XLR type gold plated output, and a metal grille.The C214 as a package comes with a windscreen, a spider shock mount, and a carrying case.
"If you plan to travel with your condenser mic on a regular basis and need one with a rigid body, AKG C214 is an ideal choice."
As a 1” diaphragm mic with three pick up patterns, Figure 8, Cardioid and Omni, filter switches and a PAD located on the body, the NT2A is coming in hot as our #1 pick for best condenser mic under $500.
The heart of the microphone contains an HF1 dual diaphragm that modulates the transducer to complement the modern techniques of vocals and recording.
- Large 1 inch HF1 gold sputtered capsule
- Three position variable polar pattern: Omni, Cardioid & Figure 8; all controlled on the mic
- Three position variable high-pass filter: Flat, 40 Hz or 80 Hz
- Three position variable pad: 0dB, -5dB or -10dB
However, the best part about this mic is that it still has the antique character of its predecessors. The filter switches have three modes including flat, 40Hz, and 80Hz. If you’re looking for high frequency, this is the mic for you – it offers up to 20kHz starting at 20Hz. The impedance is around 200 Ohms with a maximum SPL output of 157 dB.The mic only weighs around 860 gms and is comfortable to carry.
"A premium design with plenty of useful throw-in along with a bang-for-your-buck performance, Rode NT2A is the best condenser mic you can buy right now under $500."
3 Reasons why you need a Condenser Mic
1. Higher Output: Most of the microphones intake voltage as an input to work. Therefore, one has to send a power of 48V phantom from the preamp to the microphone.
This voltage gets used to charge the metal plate which on being moved by the waves, generates a current in the form of an audio signal.
The point here is that the condenser microphones give high input than the other mics and you don't need huge gain from the preamp to use them as well.
2. Detailed Vocals: As we are using the charged plate along with a thin diaphragm, these mics can give more minute details than the conventional mics.
They are highly suitable for capturing the nuances of singer especially when you're a ballad of the songwriter and the singer.
3. Frequencies: The frequency of dynamic microphones and another kind of microphones usually ranges from 12-15 Hz which is not very high.
If you want a breathy sound with a lot of air to enhance the song, using the condenser microphones is the best thing you can do.
What accessories do I need to buy with the Condenser Mic?
As said earlier, Condenser Mics are best used for vocals, and if your soundcard has only line inputs, you will need to buy few accessories.
- Preamp: A preamp to get the signal from your mic into the DAW is to be bought. As the preamp has a line output, helps in the enhancement of the flexibility.
Even when you have a default preamp coming along with your large diaphragm condenser mic; it is recommended to get a preamp for the upgraded features.
Also, most microphones usually need an XLR input which constantly supplies a phantom power of 48V and therefore, you need the preamp to do this. There are plenty alternatives available in the market.
- Shockmount: As you will have unwanted and mechanical noises around you; it is recommended to use a pop shield to protect the mic from any plosive sounds.
It's also worthy if you are buying a mic with shock mount as it will reduce the mechanical noise transmission.
- Headphones: Well, buying headphones is not mandatory but is very much preferred if you want an exquisite vocal recording output.
You have to hear the sounds that are playing back from the computer and buying good quality headphones will enable you to do that by reducing the sound that gets leaked into the mic usually.
- Acoustics: Acoustics play a huge contributing role in the voice recording experiment. Most domestic rooms filter the vocals giving you the undesirable way.
Therefore, if you want to capture the dry sound without any reflections, it is recommended to use reflection filters, acoustic tiles or other absorbing materials to reduce the sound reflections.
- Mic Stand: It doesn't take robot science to realize that a good microphone stand enhances the vocal recording output. Mic stands are one of the best investments that you can make if you're into rigs or studio recordings.
By buying a stand, you can use it for bedroom recording, on stage, for podcasting and also at extreme heights and angles. Therefore, a semi-decent stand is a necessity if you’re going to record the vocals significantly. The type of Mic Stands include:
❏ Tripod Stands
❏ Tripod Boom Stands
❏ Low Profile Stands
❏ Round Base Stands
❏ Desktop Stands
❏ Overhead Stands
We’ve given you an idea of how a condenser mic could add to your studio when it comes to vocal recording, and listed quite a few different options all under $500. Now it’s up to you to decide which one is going to suit your needs.