7 Best Condenser Microphones Under $100 – Surprises In The Budget Segment
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Last Updated: November-23-2018
We didn’t have to change too much on this budget condenser mic chart, although we tweaked a few things to make the content even more helpful. We also removed the older Sterling Audio ST51 and added yet another quality model from MXL – the 770.
Condenser microphones are undoubtedly one of the must-have pieces of equipment in any recording studio today.
Table Of Contents
In today’s article we are highlighting a handful of the best wallet-friendly condenser mics. For so few beans, these entry-level mics are very impressive! Stick around after the chart for a guide on what to look out for when buying your new mic. Let’s get started!
Top 7 Condenser Microphones Under $100
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Total of 4.13/5 [usr 4.13 max='5' ]
Extremely versatile and capable option that is great for elaborate studio builds.
Total of 4.05/5 [usr 4.05 max='5' ]
A very solid performer that defines the budget segment of the market
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A bold looking model that hides great performance under its flashy exterior.
Total of 4.65/5 [usr 4.65 max='5' ]
An elegant condenser mic with a sensational performance.
Total of 4.20/5 [usr 4.20 max='5' ]
A consistent and well balanced piece of kit in the budget segment.
Total of 3.95/5 [usr 3.95 max='5' ]
An awesome portable mic that offers great performance out of the box.
Total of 4.15/5 [usr 4.15 max='5' ]
A set of compact, instrument oriented microphones with an impressive price tag.
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Kicking off our chart is a solid condenser microphone that offers excellent quality and great value at under $100 – but what else did you expect from Behringer?
This side-address mic is small and chunky, built to last and features surprisingly good components, including a large gold-sputtered diaphragm, -10dB switch and a low-frequency roll-off switch. Combined with the specs, this is a strong little mic for both vocal and instrument recording.
As we highlight in the extensive Behringer B-1 review, it comes with some good accessories too, including a heavy-duty suspension mount and a sturdy padded aluminum transport case. A great buy!
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Audio-Technica’s AT2020 represents everything we love about this brand. It’s a simple, rugged and – most importantly for this chart – affordable large-diaphragm condenser microphone that packs a lot of heat for the money.
With a decent frequency response range, paired with a considerable SPL rating, the AT2020 performs very well when recording both vocals and instruments, with surprisingly good transparency – as we highlight in the AT2020’s full review.
For under $100, it is extremely hard to find a serious fault with this microphone and, at this price, it makes a great addition to any studio.
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While the budget condenser microphone market is often quite predictable when it comes to mic design, there are some models that make you sit up and take notice – MXL’s V67G is certainly one of these!
With a stylish dark green chassis and eye-catching golden grille, this unique mic is every bit a conversation piece as it is a solid recording tool.
The features and specs may not be as impressive as some of the others on this list, but the performance on offer still punches above its weight for the price tag. Want more on the MXL V67G? Check out the full breakdown here!
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A new addition to this list, the MXL 770 proves incredibly popular – and it’s no surprise, with a surprisingly professional performance for such a low price.
With a very sturdy all-metal build (not to mention the elegant black and gold aesthetics), this condenser mic is built to last and, as such, proves a very reliable partner for any studio.
Highlighted in the full MXL 770 review, this small-diaphragm mic is great for both vocals and instruments, with a high SPL max, natural sound and a few additional features and accessories that any producer can appreciate.
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You shouldn’t be surprised to see yet another MXL model on this list – the Californian brand really dominates the budget segment of the market when it comes to reliable microphones.
Like its younger brother above, the MXL 990 is an impressive mic that’s found in studios across the world – in fact, it’s one of the most popular recording mics ever, according to MXL.
We can see why – great design, specs and performance are all on offer. The sound quality on vocal recordings is excellent and it comes with some fantastic accessories for the price. Check out the full MXL 990 review for all the info!
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While we have a full page dedicated to USB mics, we felt this chart deserved at least one quality USB condenser mic – coming in the form of the affordable ATR2500 from Audio-Technica.
While it isn’t the optimum option for recording loud instruments, this condenser proves that quality vocal recording on the go doesn’t require a massive budget.
As we highlight in the full ATR2500 review, this side-address model is quite basic in its design but performs very well, delivering clear audio with good transparency for a budget mic. Highly recommended for podcasting on the move!
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Fancy two for the price of one? Of course you do! This pair of small diaphragm condenser mics are built with stereo recording in mind – and do the job very well as it turns out.
With a sleek, compact and all-round sturdy diecast metal build, the C-2 set offers a simple but effective solution to recording instruments (vocals are doable, but not ideal).
In addition to solid components, Behringer has included a low-frequency roll-off switch as well as a -10dB attenuation button for good versatility. There’s more on the impressive Behringer C-2 in the complete review.
Are Budget Condenser Microphones Worth It?
Building a home studio on a budget can be tricky, especially if your goal is to record music and vocals. When it comes to recording, condenser mics are essential to get the job done. As the chart above has demonstrated, you can indeed pick up a good condenser mic for less than $100.
But are budget mics really that good? Or do you have to stretch your budget to, say, the $300 price range? It all depends on what features you need (more on this later on), but for the majority of home studios and beginners, affordable condenser mics are perfectly capable of producing decent results.
With that said, let’s take a look at some of the things you should consider when you shop for a cheap condenser mic.
One of the most common attributes of budget condenser mics is simplicity in both design and features. The design of most budget mics is pretty basic, which isn’t a bad thing – at the end of the day, you’d prefer a manufacturer to spend their limited budget on producing a durable, functional mic as opposed to something that looks great but falls apart the moment you open the box!
Having said that, most of the budget mics on our list look decent too. They may lack distinctive features, but they are often sleek and uncluttered with simple color schemes. Providing the mic has a quality metal body (avoid plastic where possible), you know it will be able to take a bit of a beating. Under standard studio conditions, none of the mics we feature will give you any trouble because of their build quality.
Next, look at what comes under the hood. When it comes to the diaphragms, you will usually find small in this price range, although large-diaphragm models are certainly available. Many of these will feature a gold-sputtered Mylar design – or something fairly similar – which is the standard at this price range. XLR connectivity is more or less standard too, with few exceptions (such as USB connectivity). Remember your audio interface will need phantom power if this is the case.
As for other features, they vary from brand to brand. Some will offer things like attenuation switches and buttons to make signals smaller and cut certain frequencies, although this is only the case with some mics – it’s not expected in this budget range. Others will come with accessories including cases, mic stand mounts, and shock mounts.
How Good Do Budget Condensers Sound?
While they will struggle when pitted against a higher-end mic, budget condenser microphones can sound surprisingly good, depending on what you use them for. For the most part, affordable models will work very well for voice recording, which is what most users will need one for in the first place.
Whatever the brand, the mic should deliver very little negative coloration and a good dose of midrange warmth, even though they probably won’t make you sound like Taylor Swift, Kanye West or whatever singer you admire (hey, we aren’t mind readers)!
One area where the simplicity of design is apparent is the mic’s polar patterns. With a budget mic, you are often limited to a fixed cardioid polar pattern, which means that most of these mics are directional and will isolate the desired sound. You usually have to stretch your budget into the under $500 range to end up with flexibility in your pattern choice.
Noise pollution is another issue that deserves some attention. Fortunately, the majority of budget condensers are good at dealing with ambient noise. Of course, they will pick up some of it, but you won’t get a recording that is drowned in unwanted noise – thankfully, those days are gone!
Recording Instruments with Budget Condenser Mics
Vocal recordings aside, one of the most popular uses for condenser microphones is to capture instruments. There is no reason you cannot use a cheap microphone to record instruments such as acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, piano and drums, although max SPL levels are very important here – especially if you plan on capturing higher volumes. Most of the models we have featured will be sufficient for this application, although some are better than others (check their individual reviews for more on this).
The Final Word
At the end of the day, buying a budget condenser microphone is no longer a need to settle for something substandard. Sure, they may not deliver the best sound quality out there, and the features they offer may be a little limited, but you will be surprised at what an affordable mic can achieve these days.
We hope the models we have highlighted today help inspire you ahead of a purchase. Make sure to read some reviews and watch some videos of the mics on your shortlist, before adding a new mic to your home studio.