Whether you are going to use it for recording vocals, podcasts, or even hosting a streaming channel, having a good condenser microphone is always crucial for the success of your career.
However, it will not take you long down the microphone aisle to realize that not just about any sound recording device will do.
Instead, you will need to factor in a lot of aspects, such as budget, your requirements, and the overall quality of the microphone.
If you are on a tighter budget, take a look at our Best Condenser Mics under $200.
If you are looking for the best condenser mic for your needs, you are in for a treat! In the following article, you will find everything you need to know before picking up your ideal fit. So, without further ado, let us dive in!
Top 5 Condenser Microphones Available on the Market
With all the options that you can find out there, you might be confused about which one is the best for you.
Here is a brief overview of some of the best condenser mics that you might come across. This can make the search process more streamlined, as you optimize your expectations depending on what you want.
Kicking off the list with one of the all-round perfect options if you are serious about the microphone you are getting.
For its price range, the Rode NT1-A is an amazing choice for recording. It has an excellent reputation for being among the quietest microphones in the world. It has a self-noise rating of about 5 decibels only. To give you a better perspective, a quiet area with no wind is about 20 decibels.
This makes it great for vocal recordings as well as playing solo music instruments, such as calm piano and guitar.
The microphone has a beyond perfect cardioid polar pattern with a frequency response range of 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz.
It also has a maximum sound pressure level of 137 decibels, allowing it to deliver exquisite recording quality even for loud rock music.
The mic uses a 3-pin XLR connection and comes with a pop shield, shock mount, and a dust cover.
- ✓ Sublime recording quality
- ✓ One of the quest microphones with almost no hum sound at all
- ✓ Comes with a 10-year warranty
- ✗ Premium price tag
If you are looking for a more affordable alternative that still gives you an excellent recording experience without breaking the bank, consider the MXL 770 XLR condenser mic.
This one comes in the timeless and classy white finish with a design that is both professional looking and aesthetically pleasing!
As for recording quality, the microphone has a frequency response range of 30 Hz to 20,000 Hz. This allows it to pick almost all the audible frequency range that the human ear can pick up.
The MXL 770 comes with flat frequency response. This makes it ideal for superb audio reproduction as well as excellent capturing of various instruments like drums, string instruments as well as pianos.
Although the condenser mic is a small-diaphragm type, it comes with a cardioid polar pattern. This enables it to minimize the off-axis and side audios by smart feedback suppression. Giving you crisp sound on every take.
- ✓ Excellent value for its price
- ✓ The package comes in a durable protective case
- ✓ Classic design
- ✗ The shock mount is not as good as the microphone
If you are all about the durability and longevity of the microphone while giving out decent recording quality, consider this one.
The SM-27 model from Shure Microphones is a solid microphone that suits all purposes and gives a decent sound quality.
The condenser microphone picks up the details of the voices nicely and with low background noise.
All that thanks to its 3-position low-frequency filter. Moreover, it has a neutral and flat frequency response and an excellent cardioid polar pattern.
Both these features allow it to give an identical output without alteration of changes in the quality of the sounds as well as excellent off-axis rejection.
In addition to having one of the best designs, the microphone has a rugged metal construction that will help it live for years to come.
- ✓ Durable construction
- ✓ Great for vocal recordings
- ✓ Superior sound quality
- ✗ Requires phantom power
If you are looking for a large-diaphragm microphone that puts the depth of the sound on a whole new level, consider this condenser microphone from TechZone.
The Stellar X2 mic has a premium capsule that is made of exquisite brass and Japanese mylar. These materials give the microphone an amazing level of sensitivity to pick up huge all the subtle details of a sound for excellent recording experience.
It has a low noise circuit with a noise floor that scores lower than 13 decibels. This allows you to record crisp sound with no distortions or annoying hums in the background.
The microphone uses XLR cable with a cardioid polar pattern and has a frequency range of 20 Hz to 18,000 Hz.
- ✓ An excellent choice for large-diaphragm condenser microphones
- ✓ Low noise floor
- ✓ Carefully picked and optimized parts
- ✗ Not the widest frequency range
Whether you are an absolute beginner, or you are on a tight budget, you can still get a decent condenser microphone to record your vocals and music efficiently.
The Piy Painting Condenser Microphone uses a USB cable, which facilitates the connection of the microphone setup with a quick plug-n-play feature.
Additionally, it comes ready with all the needed accessories for the job. This includes clamps, shock protector, pop shield, and more!
Lastly, being a USB connected device, it will not need a complex phantom power setup to operate.
For all these reasons, it is an excellent choice for a newcomer who is stepping into the world of recording and does not want to get overwhelmed with complicated connections.
- ✓ Ideal for buyers on a tight budget
- ✓ A great choice for beginners
- ✓ Does not require a phantom power
- ✗ Lacks the full potential of an XLR condenser Microphone
What is a Condenser Microphone?
A condenser microphone is a recording device that uses a capacitor, also known as a condenser, to make sound, hence their name.
These capacitors convert the acoustic (sound) energy into electrical energy signals that electronics can pick up.
To put it in the simplest way possible, the condenser parts usually have two plates which are considered the diaphragm in the mic.
This diaphragm is overly sensitive to sound waves around it. It vibrates when a sound wave meets it, which changes the capacity and distance between these two plates.
This change creates the electrical signal that your electronics, such as media players and speakers, can translate back into sounds.
What is a Condenser Mic Best for?
A condenser mic is a special recording device that has a remarkable level of sound sensitivity and fidelity.
This remarkable level of clarity and responsiveness makes it great for picking the sounds playing in front of them perfectly.
They can pick a lot of sounds perfectly, including musical instruments, such as drums, strings, and brass. Additionally, the sensitive diaphragms are great at picking human vocals perfectly as well.
With that said, it is easy to predict what they are best at. Most condenser microphones are usually the ideal choice if you are going to:
- Capture delicate sounds and frequencies, such as studio vocals
- Recording from a far distance from the mic
- Record low acoustics piano and orchestral instruments
- Record acoustic guitar and snares (fast transient instruments)
In general, most condenser mic uses revolve around recording rather than working with live performances. In fact, that is one of the main differences between dynamic and condenser mics.
Dynamic mics are better at higher sounds while ignoring the room ambiance. That is why they are better options if you want to record guitar amps and louder vocals.
Types of Condenser Microphone
Since diaphragms of condenser microphones are the most critical parts of the devices, the types of condenser mics are classified based on them.
Ideally, the market has two types of condenser microphones, small and large-diaphragm microphones.
Here is a brief overview of each one of them, so you can decide which one is more suitable for your needs.
Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphone
Small diaphragm condenser mics are those with a diaphragm smaller than 1 inch. They usually have a single hearing pattern (direction) and they fit in small places.
Since they can be housed in small tubes, they are also known as “pencil mics”. Despite being small, they have a larger frequency range than the large-diaphragm ones.
Combined with their enhanced flat frequency response, these microphones are great at picking up fast transient music and sound details, especially at high frequencies.
This also allows them to handle a higher sound pressure level, which makes them the ideal mic for snare drums and guitars.
Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone
As the name suggests, these ones are those with diaphragms of 1 inch or larger. They are characterized by their bulky size and their ability to pick more accurate sound details than small diaphragm ones.
They’re excellent for sensitivity and pick sound from various directions (multiple polar patterns). That is why they are the microphones of choice for studio recording.
What to Look for in a Condenser Mic
Finding a great microphone for your needs might be a tricky path to take, especially if you do not know how to pick a good one.
In the following section, you will find some of the critical aspects that will guide you towards making the best investment for your needs.
Proximal sensitivity refers to the mic’s ability to sense the distance of the sound source and optimize its sensitivity to maintain the sound at a constant level.
This feature is extremely important if you are doing any professional podcasting, singing, or voicing over.
With this feature, you will make sure that the resulting recording is even no matter how much the user drifted away from the mic.
Most condenser mics are connected using an XLR connector. However, more computer-friendly microphones are produced with a USB connector instead.
Choosing between either of them depends on your needs. If you want to go with the “ease of connection route” the USB one is your way to go.
However, if you do not want to risk losing on some of the essential features of the microphone, the XLR will ensure that you make the most bang for your buck.
Is Phantom Power Necessary for Condenser Microphones?
One thing you are going to commonly hear while looking for a condenser mic is the phantom power.
Phantom power is an external device that independently powers up the condenser microphones, whether they are small or large diaphragms.
This happens because these microphones are extremely powerful that the regular amplifiers that come with them can sometimes be not enough to get the best recording quality.
Most phantom powers are 48-volt, and they are a reliable method to efficiently make the most out of your investment.
You should know that the phantom power does not need any external cables that you might be worried about. Instead, they supply the power through the XLR cable of the mic.
Another good thing that you need to know is that phantom powers are not necessarily expensive. The Neewer 1-Channel 48V Phantom Power Supply is an excellent option that won’t poke a hole in your wallet all the while giving you top-notch performance.
Lastly, you should know that USB condenser microphones do not need any external power sources.
There you have it. A complete guide with everything you need to know before picking the best condenser mic for you.
As you can see, choosing a mic depends on many important factors. But most important, it relies on how you are going to use it.
If you’re looking for the best condenser microphone for all your needs, I recommend Rode NT1-A Condenser Microphone. It has all the recording quality you would need for a superior level of recording clarity and sensitivity.
However, if you’re on a budget, you might consider the more affordable option Piy Painting Cardioid Condenser Microphone Kit.
It gives you decent recording quality as well as ease of use and connection, all for a price that will not cost you an arm and a leg!