Peripherals

Best Cheap Microphone To Buy In 2020

Studio microphones are becoming increasingly popular and surprisingly cheaper with time. They are the basic necessity for composing lyrical songs and instrumental music. They enhance the vocals, cut off all kinds of background noises and provide absolute clarity to the audio.

The same microphones are also used by many YouTubers and social influencers to ensure crisp sound quality for their videos. As an influencer, it is important to make sure that your words are effectively and clearly delivered to your target audience and there is no sound distortion in between.

For this reason, having a high-performance microphone is essential for any studio setup. Whether it’s about doing voice overs/commentary for YouTube videos/streams and making podcasts, or recording music instruments and vocals, it is extremely necessary to invest in a suitable microphone that not only justifies its price but also seamlessly blends in with the studio and perfectly fulfills your requirements.

Therefore, we have compiled a list of five of our favorite all-round microphones out there. However, it is important to note that the most premium microphones usually cost a fortune, and the price is sometimes a bit too high for basic studio setups. For this reason, most of the microphones that we have picked cost less than $200 and yet offer superb quality for the price. That being said, let’s go through this list together.

1. Shure SM-57 Cardioid Dynamic Instrument Microphone

Best Overall

  • Excellent design and build quality
  • Impressive SPL
  • Amazing sound performance and noise cancellation
  • Versatile
  • None

Type: Dynamic | Frequency Response: 40hz-15KHz | Sound Pressure Level: 94dB | Self Noise Level: N/A | Polar Pattern: Cardioid | Connector: 3-pin XLR

Last Update on 2020-08-15 using Amazon Product Advertising API

The first entry to kick start our list is none other than the all-time iconic Shure SM57 Microphone. It is one of the best-selling microphones out there. If you have attended live concerts or watched live music, you might have seen one of these in a musician’s hands at least once.

In terms of design, the Shure SM57 differs from a typical handheld microphone. It is ergonomically well-designed, even though it is actually not meant to be a handheld microphone. Moreover, this mic is especially well-known for its rigorous build quality. It is made out of die-cast steel that feels good to look at or touch. Mind you – even if you drop it multiple times off the stage, it would still stand strong. Hence, it proves to be extra ordinarily durable, and reliability is never an issue with this one.

Moreover, the SM57 is built to handle loud sounds with a sensitivity of 94dB SPL. The number is pretty impressive and the sensitivity is quite decent for most applications. It works amazingly well for live performances. Since it is a dynamic microphone, it gives you the ultimate versatility to be able to record crystal clear voices without a hint of distortion. The cardioid pickup pattern is top-notch; it enables the mic to focus on the main source of sound as well as cutting off ambient noise for absolute clarity.

Another point to consider is that this microphone doesn’t require phantom power, which gives you a bit more versatility and greater ability when it comes to connectivity. However we would suggest you hook it up to a power outlet in order to unleash its full power.

The Shure SM57 is most commonly used for vocals on stage as well as in studios to record music instruments. For example, it works extremely well with acoustic guitars. Being the dynamic type, it also appeals to drummers performing in both live or recorded sessions. Apart from that, the mic can also be used along with other instruments such as brass/saxophones, bass amp, harmonicas, kick and snare drums, and much more.

All in all, the Shure SM57 has some really great recording capabilities. It is highly portable, offers excellent build quality, and delivers clear audio. It is fair to say that it simply outperforms most other dynamic microphones at this price point. Therefore, it is a suitable option for both beginners and professionals alike and earns the top spot in our list.

2. Audio-Technica AT2035 Cardioid Condenser Microphone

Best Sound

  • Offers a high-pass filter
  • Superb SPL handling
  • Produces smooth and natural sound
  • Solid build quality
  • Overwhelming bass

Type: Condenser | Frequency Response: 20Hz-20KHz | Sound Pressure Level: 148dB-158dB | Self Noise Level: 12dB | Polar Pattern: Cardioid | Connector: 3-pin XLR

Last Update on 2020-08-15 using Amazon Product Advertising API

Next up on our list is the AT2035 from Audio Technica, a brand well reputed for producing microphones at a competitive price. The 20 series of Audio Technica is a series of Cardio Condenser microphones. The AT2035 is a large diaphragm condenser mic designed for professional studio use for those on a budget but it can be used for personal home use as well as live performances.

Being the successor of the Audio Technica AT2020, it has had quite a few upgrades with ofcourse a higher price point. Well, the higher price point is actually worth it as the AT2035 comes with a switchable 80Hz high-pass filter which reduces low-end frequencies and is helpful when recording vocals. Moreover, it comes with a -10db switch pad and also has higher SPL (Sound Pressure Level) handling.

It boasts the cardioid polar pattern that provides impressive sound isolation and reduces sound pickup from other than the desired source. The large diaphragm produces smooth and natural sound with low noises which is useful in recording vocals. The build quality of the mic is sturdy and it comes with a shock mount which adds to the durability of the mic.

The performance of the mic is outstanding just like a studio grade condenser mic as it offers great details and low noise. I was able to record and stream in a noisy room without the mic picking up any background noise. It offers a frequency response of 20Hz-20KHz and a sensitivity of -33dB. The notable feature is the self-noise level of the microphone which is only 12dB that is amazing compared to 16dB which is considered more than enough for most studio work.

Moreover, it features a signal to noise ratio of 82dB and has impressive SPL (Sound Pressure Level) handling with up to 148dB tolerable sound levels and up to 158dB with the 10dB pad. However, the bass is too overpowering which might not be suitable for everyone. To power up all the goodness, a phantom power of 11-52v DC is required which is a requirement for most condenser microphones as well.

All in all, the AT2035 is an exceptional product with superb build quality and impressive performance, however, it might be expensive for some, especially those on a very tight budget but it delivers the punch and offers great value for your money.

3. MXL 990

Ultimate Budget Pick

  • Very cheap
  • Decent build quality
  • Commendable performance
  • Relatively low sound pressure level
  • A bit higher self noise level for studio purposes

Type: Condenser | Frequency Response: 30Hz-20KHz | Sound Pressure Level: 130dB | Self Noise Level: 20dB | Polar Pattern: Cardioid | Connector: 3-pin XLR

Last Update on 2020-08-15 using Amazon Product Advertising API

The MXL 990 earns the third spot on our list, being the cheapest entry level microphone on the list with some amazing performance. A large diaphragm condenser microphone with a cardioid polar pattern at such a cheap price point is for sure a steal.

It has a simple yet classy design with a champagne finish and a vintage body style. The build quality is quite impressive as it features an all metal body. A 6 micron gold-sputtered large diaphragm is fitted into a capsule and MXL have used their FET preamp which MXL claims to be ‘consistent and reliable’.

The MXL 990 is one of the best available for recording vocals at an affordable price as it offers a pleasing experience with incredible bass performance, silky, sweet highs and solid mids.

In terms of specifications, it provides a frequency response of 30Hz-20KHz and a 15mV/pa sensitivity. The self noise level is 20dB, a tad higher than the ideal 16dB and the signal-to-noise ratio is 80dB which is sufficient for a studio microphone. The maximum SPL (Sound Pressure Level) is comparatively lower to other condenser microphones in this list rated at 130dB, however, it is still good enough.

It does not offer any extra features like a high-pass filter or a pad for extra SPL handling but it is easily overlooked by the price of the microphone. Lastly, to power up all this you require 48V phantom power, which is mostly the requirement of any condenser mic.

Moving on to real life performance, it works great with vocals due to its mid-range warmth and low self noise. Moreover, it adds a full and rich tone to your vocals without adding distortion or coloration to your voice. Pairing it up with a pop-filter produced some amazing results. Surprisingly, it works well with acoustic instruments as well such as guitar, violins or harps as well, however, due to its relatively low SPL it is not the ideal choice for recording drums or amps.

To sum up, the MXL 990 is the optimal option for a budget condenser microphone that does the job without offering any fancy features considering its exceptional cost effective performance.

4. Blue Microphones Spark

Jack Of All Traits

  • Exceptional build quality
  • Unique and attractive design
  • Superior sound quality and noise cancellation
  • Poor included pop-filter
  • Requires a strong stand due to bulkiness

Type: Condenser | Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz | Sound Pressure Level: 120dB | Self Noise Level: 16dB | Polar Pattern: Cardioid | Connector: 3-pin XLR

Last Update on 2020-08-15 using Amazon Product Advertising API

The next entry on our list is the Blue Microphones Spark. This mic is perhaps one of most powerful entry-level microphones out there with outstanding capabilities and intelligible build quality.

We’ll start off with the unique yet iconic design of the Spark. It features the same ‘lollipop’ design, a feature common in most Blue mics. It comes in a blazing orange color, which gives it a fiery look. It weighs around 566 grams, and features a well-thought design using minimal loose parts and flimsy screws.

Moreover, the microphone is manufactured using Class-A discrete components that offer superb build quality. In addition, it ships with a metal pop filter, shock mount and a recording guide, all inside a polished wooden box – talk about presentation!

The Spark features a premium cardioid condenser capsule that houses a four-micron-thick diaphragm. The capsule helps in delivering top sound quality and effectively cuts out potential background noises. The diaphragm is pretty efficient and highly responsive in all kinds of recording situations, especially for recording vocals. Moreover, it also features a versatile 100Hz high-pass filter and a -20dB pad.

There is another notable feature included in the Spark, known as Focus Control, which basically adds further clarity and detail to the sound, and it is a handy feature if you want to record lead vocals for rock-and-roll or pop music.

In terms of performance, the Spark is a highly versatile microphone, and you can use it for recording anything from drum overheads, strings, piano tunes, vocal dialogues – you name it. The recorded sound is of amazing clarity which makes your recordings highly professional. There are no signs of distortion, and the ambient noise cancellation is pretty flawless.

One drawback is that the pop filter included in the package is not very effective, so you will have to buy a third-party one. Not only that, you will also have to buy a sturdy stand, as this microphone is quite heavy weighing around a hefty 566g.

Overall, it is a pretty solid bargain and has a pretty decent price to performance ratio. If you are looking for an all-rounder microphone and if you are willing to spend a few more bucks for better quality, then the Blue Microphones Spark are truly worth the investment.

5. AKG Pro Audio P420 Dual Capsule Condenser Microphone

Most Versatile

  • Pleasant design
  • High pass filter switch with a -20dB pad
  • Relatively expensive
  • Noise level not impressive
  • Lower sensitivity when switched to omnidirectional or figure 8

Type: Condenser | Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz | Sound Pressure Level: 135dB-155dB | Self Noise Level: 15dB | Polar Pattern: Cardioid, Omnidirectional, Figure-8 | Connector: 3-pin XLR

Last Update on 2020-08-15 using Amazon Product Advertising API

This list would have been incomplete without the AKG P420 microphone. Although the P420 comes in the higher end of the affordable microphone range, it packs a bundle of features that help to justify the price. It features an attractive design with a champagne-finished grille and a fully metallic body.

First of all, the AKG P420 is a dual condenser microphone with three different polar patterns: cardioid, omnidirectional, and figure 8. This allows the mic to pick up sounds from different directions. However, both omnidirectional and figure 8 modes have a comparatively lower sensitivity.

The cardioid pattern is used to point toward a single sound source, and the sensitivity is highest at one particular part of the mic. Omnidirectional means that the mic will pick up all sounds near it in a circle; it is especially useful if you have several singers recording a single track.

Figure-8 allows the mic to capture sounds coming from two opposite directions, while cutting off sounds at the side. This feature is useful when it comes to studio recordings, where for example, two singers can face each other while in close harmony as well.

Apart from the polar pattern switch, the AKG P420 also features a -20dB pad switch which is used for capturing high sound pressure levels, as well as a high pass filter switch used for rumble reduction.

The P420 is, no doubt, a great microphone for recording vocals, acoustic guitars, pianos and even brass or saxophones. It picks up lower frequencies and makes them sound crisp and clear. For this reason, the P420 is also a great tool for recording brass instruments and even cellos. Moreover, it comes with an attenuation pad and bass roll off, meaning you can use this microphone for pretty much anything.

It must be considered that the AKG P420 is an entry level microphone best suited for home applications or basic studio setups. The 15 dB-A noise level is not all that impressive if you want to use it for professional applications. Nonetheless, at this price point the P420 offers a lot of value and performs decently in all kinds of applications. In other words, it is extremely versatile and therefore it appeals to most amateurs and even some professionals.

Mark Smith

Mark Smith is a hard working student with a great passion for writing. He likes to express his deep interest in tech gadgets and latest PC hardware through valuable writeups.

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