Are you looking into buying the best condenser mic for vocals? Well, you are in luck! My list of best budget condenser microphones is a great place to start learning. I cover the major aspects of each one and try to make it as easy to understand as possible.
Alright, I won’t bore you any longer – let’s get to the list.
1) Behringer B-1
If you’ve read my guide on building a recording studio in your bedroom, you know that this condenser microphone is one of my favorites, if not the most favorite budget condenser mic for vocals – and here is why!
First, it’s one of the best bangs for the buck on the market. This 1″ gold-sputtered dual-diaphragm beginner condenser mic is made for outstanding audio quality recording – you can use it for any application! B-1 works with vocals, drums, instruments, and more!
The cardioid pickup pattern makes sure all unnecessary outside noises are ignored, so your recording stays clean. The budget condenser mic comes with 2 diaphragms – active and passive – one in the front and one in the back. This way the signal microphone receives stays crystal clear because the lower frequencies that bounce off the walls are blocked.
The frequency range of Behringer B-1 condenser mic for vocals is fantastic – it extends from 20Hz to 20kHz. On top of that, it’s equalized to brighten up the vocals to make them sound warm and crisp. B-1 also has a -10dB attenuator to record louder instruments like drums and a low-cut filter to remove all the buzz from the recording.
2) Samson C01U Pro
If you’ve read my list of the best budget dynamic microphones, you’d know that Samson is an authority in the world of budget music gear. Besides quality condenser mics for vocals, they also make mixers, amps, and signal processors. Luckily for us, microphones – condenser and dynamic – have stayed the brand’s top priority. Their budget line of mics is proof of that!
Samson C01U Pro is an amazing condenser mic for vocals, instruments, and percussions. With the wide frequency response of 20Hz to 18kHz, you can’t go wrong with it. The best thing about it is the plug-and-play function. You don’t need to worry about installing drivers, configuring a ton of settings, or anything of this sort of things – plug it into your computer and you are good to go!
This beginner condenser mic features a hypercardioid pickup pattern which makes the microphone less sensitive on the sides and less sensitive from the back. If you want to keep your recording clean of mud and buzz – make sure there is no sound of outside traffic or furnace coming from the back of the microphone.
If you like recording on the go or simply into convenience, you can use the Samson budget condenser microphone with your iPhone, iPad, or camera. If you record podcasts and make YouTube videos – you need this mic. It even comes with a mini tripod stand to make the whole process easier for you.
3) Audio-Technica AT2020
Audio-Technica is one of the biggest and most recognized brands in the music industry. If you’ve read my list about headphones, you’d remember how almost half of it was AT products. How good are they with condenser mics? See for yourself – AT2020 is everything you could’ve asked for.
This budget condenser mic is one of the most popular ones in the world – and for good reasons. First of all, it’s affordable. That’s how you get more and more people talking about your condenser microphones. Secondly, AT2020 delivers outstanding sound quality with its crisp and warm focus on vocals, smooth sound, and noise rejection features.
This condenser mic for vocals and instruments has become popular among YouTubers and streamers a long time ago, and the trend has been followed by beginner music producers shortly after that. It has a USB output, so you don’t need an audio interface and can save yourself some money. Plug-and-play makes your life easier than ever!
With a wide frequency range and cardioid pickup pattern, your recordings will be more detailed, isolated, and less “buzzy.” Don’t worry about your budget condenser microphone picking up outside noises. You can also use your studio headphones to monitor the recording directly, which makes the real-time adjustment a lot easier to do.
4) AKG P120
AKG is a well-known brand of condenser mics to record vocals. They are being used to thousands of music studios around the world. One of the unique features this budget condenser microphone offers is durability. That’s right – this mic is incredibly robust, unlike most condenser microphones.
It’s relatively heavy compared to the rest, but that’s the price you’ll have to pay if you want your affordable microphone to last you longer. If you happen to pick this mic – look into a better stand for it. The more expensive mic stands are heavier and more durable, so you won’t have to worry about knocking it over when pulling on a cable.
P120 offers you a sweet feature of applying two filters to the signal recorded. First one is the roll-off of lower bass frequencies – you’ll have less work to do when mixing. Second is a -20dB signal cutoff – now you can record louder instruments such as snares. For a beginner, that’s more settings than needed!
With an excellent frequency response ranging from 20Hz to 20kHz, the mic captures the sound perfectly and keep all the frequencies in place without rejecting any lower or higher end. AKG P120 is incredibly versatile as well- record vocals, acoustics, drums – anything you want. Finally, besides the budget condenser microphone itself, you are also getting a metal case and shock mount for free.
5) MXL 990
MXL is a big name in the world of the condenser and dynamic mics for beginners. The best part about the company is that microphones are the single product they focus on. Therefore, you can expect high-quality and reliable service – the developers know what they are doing.
MXL 990 has its own authentic look that you won’t usually see. As opposed to being long and slim, it’s short and bulky. MXL 990 budget condenser mic simply has all the components needed in the small base. This makes it one of the best condenser microphones for vocals to travel with!
If you are looking for a mic that will have the richest tone for your vocals – look into getting an MXL – it has one of the best tone settings among budget condenser mics. It captures the vocals and equalizes them to sound the best way possible. Some will prefer a cold response with no EQ at all, but most beginners will benefit from an equalized condenser mic!
After the recording has been processed, you can always EQ the frequencies you want to boost and brighten in your DAW. Don’t forget that you’ll need an audio interface to provide phantom power to MXL 990! It comes with a shock mount and a small case to keep everything intact and secure while traveling.
6) MXL V69M
If the previous MXL budget condenser mic looked impressive – you'd love V69M. You must’ve heard of tube microphones – they were and still are the best condenser microphone types for vocals. The only drawback of tube mics for beginners is the fact that they are not cheap – you pay a premium for the best.
MXL V69M delivers a vintage tube sound, so many singers and rappers strive for when recording. The capsule is gold plated alongside the grill. This doesn’t affect the sound but makes the condenser microphone last longer. V69M is equalized in the midrange to make your vocals mix-ready – without the need for extra EQ. They are crisp and warm – just the way you want them to be.
It’s being used by professional mixing engineers and music producers all around the world – by providing sonic perfection in any environment. The high-end response is crisp, which means MXL V69M condenser mic for vocals is perfect for hip hop and pop. With cardioid pickup pattern, it rejects all the noise from the back and sides and delivers a smooth and clean recording.
V69M comes with a few sweet accessories. It comes with a high-quality and high-isolation shock mount. Combine it with a sturdy stand, and you’ll never have to worry about you mic falling and breaking. It also comes with an aluminum case which will protect your tube condenser microphone when touring or traveling. The most impressive add-on is its own dedicated power supply – they usually cost a decent amount even by themselves.
7) Audio-Technica AT2050
AT2020 looked like a perfect choice for a YouTuber, podcaster, or even a beginner music producer. If you are serious about music production – you should also take a look at Audio-Technica AT2050 premium product line of condenser mics. It features a large diaphragm to capture smooth and natural sound and reject all the unnecessary noises.
AT2050 condenser mic works with three different pickup patterns. You can switch from one to another using a tiny switch on the base of the condenser microphone. The patterns are omni, cardioid, and figure-of-eight. While most producers use a cardioid pickup pattern for the best results, there are some instances when you’ll need the other two in order to get the best sound.
The beautiful effect of so-called “forwardness” in the midrange makes sure both vocals and instruments sound their best and brightest. If you record outside of a studio in a big hallway – use the figure-of-eight pickup pattern to add a little bit of space and ambiance to your recording. Be aware of the noises in the back – don’t let them ruin the mix!
The best thing about this beginner condenser mic is the fact that the built-quality is incredibly high – the microphone is sturdy and robust. It’s a hard goal to achieve when designing condenser mics because of so many sensitive elements, but Audio-Technica did their job well. It comes with a pouch for carrying and a shock mount – you don’t need to buy a lot of accessories with it!
8) Shure PGA81
Shure is a brand of dynamic microphones known for their durability and longevity. Shure SM57 and SM58 are pretty much the industry standards of budget dynamic microphones. Surprisingly, you don’t hear nearly as much about their condenser mics – and you are missing out! Let’s look at Shure PGA81 and see how you can benefit from it.
First of all, this condenser microphone, as opposed to the rest on the list, is made specifically to record instruments. With an impressive frequency response from 40Hz to 18kHZ, PGA81 is a perfect fit for recording acoustic instruments and percussions. It also has a lower sensitivity than a lot of budget condenser mics, to recording loud percussions, for example, won’t damage it.
Another great thing about the condenser mic for instruments is how light it is – it weighs under half a pound! If you ever travel or tour – PGA81 will be your great companion. It has a cardioid pickup pattern, so the unwanted noise from the back and sides will be rejected.
Shure PGA81 instrument condenser mic has an XLR input and needs phantom power to work, so make sure you have an audio interface ready. The best part about it is Shure authentic and incredibly reliable construction – your microphone will last you a lifetime!
9) CAD Audio Equitek E100S
Have you ever heard of CAD Audio? If you haven’t, it’s probably because they dominate the premium and professional microphones industry. Even though they have a few budget condenser mics on the market, they are truly famous for their vintage sound large diaphragm condenser microphones.
One of the best representatives of the premium products of CAD Audio is Equitek E100S – one of the best and most popular supercardioid condenser mics among music producers. Why is it so popular? First of all, E100S delivers a smooth and warm vintage tone and low distortion. The supercardioid pattern makes sure only the desirable are being recorded while all the noise is being rejected.
It comes with an attenuator and a high-pass switches to record various vocals and instruments. Note that it needs a phantom power supply as well. Luckily, most audio interfaces already have one. You can expect the best performance from Equitek E100S because it’s been designed and built in the United States. If you ever happen to have an issue – the customer service is fantastic!
One of my personal favorites is the case. Unlike budget condenser microphones that come with a metal case, Equitek E100S in a wood grain cherry case! It has a ton of padding and protection and looks beautiful – CAD Audio went above and beyond here! The professional and sturdy shock mount is also included. It’s an all-in-one bundle that will fit in every music studio setup!
10) Neumann U 87 Ai
Neumann is not quite the brand of budget microphones. They are actually quite the opposite – the top-of-the-line condenser and dynamic mics if you will. It isn’t the perfect fit for the list but rather something to compare the budget condenser microphones for vocals above to. U 87 Ai has been sitting in the best music studios in the world for over 3 decades – you don’t have to worry about how reputable it is.
It features insane pressure-gradient transducers with double membrane capsule, and three patterns of recording, as opposed to just the cardioid pattern. You can’t even compare the sound and built quality of Neumann to any other brand – it’s the best. The only dealbreaker to 99% of producers is the price tag – and I don’t blame them.
This premium line condenser mic offers you the best sound quality and a cold response that so many producers love – equalize your lyrics and make them sound the way you want them to. If you record at home, you’ll have to be very careful. The last thing you want for your expensive condenser microphone is to fall and hit the hardwood floor or a leg of your metal mic stand.
If you ever make it in the music production world – you have to invest in U 87 Ai. It’s not the best bang for the buck microphone on the market, but it’s the best. And who wouldn’t want the best microphone to be a part of their music studio setup?
Things To Consider When Buying a Budget Condenser Mic For Vocals
There are a few things to look at when picking a condenser microphone – let's go over them quickly!
Are you on a budget?
Most people won’t be able to drop a $1000+ on a condenser microphone in the beginning. Even if you have this kind of money – don’t waste them at the beginning. You’ll need them in the future for plugins, promotions, and other stuff.
Your best bet is learning all the ins-and-outs of the music industry and recording with a cheap mic. After you upgrade in a year or so – you’ll indeed be able to see the value of a better and more professional mic.
How much experience do you have in music production?
I won’t get into the small details as the list is meant more for people who are just starting. Even simple microphones-related terms such as “large diaphragm,” “pressure-gradient transducer,” “cardioid pickup pattern” can be confusing at the beginning.
If you’ve already figured that a condenser mic is the type of microphone you are looking for – don’t worry about the experience. Like any other skill, “getting your hands dirty” instead of reading always delivers better results. My list of best budget condenser microphones for vocals is a great start!
What pickup pattern do you need?
Budget condenser microphones come with different pickup patterns. Omnidirectional pattern is great for bands and choruses in well-treated rooms, while cardioid is perfect for a home studio setup. If you record percussions – investing into a shotgun mic may be your best bet.
As you can see, choosing on your condenser mic pickup pattern depends on what and where you’ll be recording!
What frequency response do you need?
Most of the condenser mics have a very wide frequency response, as opposed to dynamic. So the frequency response isn’t something to be too concerned about. Unless you are recording a particular instrument, almost any budget condenser mic will give you a sufficient response.
Does your mic need phantom power?
Most condenser microphones need a power supply to charge the metal plate inside. Otherwise, they wouldn’t work. If you are building a music studio and plan on recording instruments and vocals, make sure to get an audio interface that has a phantom power switch. Check the microphone specs to see whether it needs a power supply or not – it’s that easy!
What’s cardioid pickup pattern?
When you hear “cardioid” – think “heart-shaped.” This is like the rule of thumb. The mic rejects sounds coming from the back and partially rejects the ones from the sides, so the recording is less muddy.
It’s almost like a semi-circle in most cases! This particular pattern is great for vocals, as it maintains a certain level of isolating when recording, so there is less noise. The drawback would be the drop of sensitivity to higher frequencies once the sound waves move further off-axis. However, this shouldn’t be an issue for a beginner – worry about it after a couple of years!
There are tens if not hundreds of budget condenser microphones for vocals out there. It’s possible that there are some new brands that I haven’t even heard of making excellent quality condenser microphones for beginners for even cheaper than the ones on the list.
The beginner condenser microphones I’ve reviewed here are the ones I am confident in. They’ve proven to be the best and most reliable in the industry for years if not decades! Buying a condenser mic for beginners may not be easy, but it’s worth all the time spent on blogs like mine, forums, and YouTube.
Don’t overthink it, do a little research, and you are all set! Hopefully, my list helped you to learn a thing or two about mics and maybe even pick the one that fits your music studio setup!
Last update on 2021-01-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API