If you’re just here for the top option, check out the Audio-Technica PRO 37 Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphone.
Whether you’re looking to record some high-quality vocals for a track or to create a podcast session, a condenser microphone is an excellent choice.
These condenser microphones are great for high-frequency recordings. They’re sensitive to sound, and they can recreate details with immense accuracy.
So, while there are plenty of condenser mics available, how do you pick the ideal one?
We have a full buyer’s guide below after the reviews of the 8 best condenser mic under 200:
- Audio-Technica PRO 37 Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphone
- Audio-Technica AT2020 Cardioid Condenser Studio XLR Microphone
- MXL Mics 770 Cardioid Condenser Microphone
- Rode M5-MP Matched Pair Cardioid Condenser Microphones
- AKG Pro Audio P420 Dual Capsule Condenser Microphone
- Samson C02 Condenser Microphones
- AKG Perception 220 Professional Studio Microphone
- sE Electronics X1 A Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone
Reviews of the Top 8 Best Condenser Mics under $200
This Audio-Technica mic fits into the $200 segment with its immense features and capabilities.
It’s ideal for professional performance in studios. You can also use it for live sound reinforcement. This is thanks to recording capabilities’ professional quality.
This mic also has a low-mass element that achieves a superb transient response. It increases the responsiveness in capturing minor changes during recording.
Additionally, this metal condenser microphone excels in providing high-SPL applications to its users. Thus, you can turn your volume to the max without any distortion. You can also expect it to produce crystal-clear sounds.
Placing the mic is easy, thanks to the low-profile design. You can adjust the mic and find the right placement during recording.
Also, this mic’s connector uses corrosion-resistant contacts from a gold-plated XLR-type connector. This improves longevity.
This unidirectional mic only weighs 0.6 pounds as well. It makes it lightweight and easy to transport. This is perfect if you’re recording in different places.
You can use this Audio-Technica mic for acoustic guitars, overheads, group vocals and piano recording. It can create excellent versatility for both vocal and instrument recording. This works well with the cardioid polar pattern, isolating the desired sound source’s location.
Note that some users mention this mic picks up a lot of bass frequencies. To counter this, they had to be careful while placing their instruments. Only proper positioning helps achieve an even sound spectrum.
Audio-Technica AT2020 Cardioid Condenser Studio XLR Microphone
Best Cheap Condenser Mic
This Audio-Technica mic is ideal for those new to recording. It’s impressive features allow you to focus on the vocal element of your recording.
As this mic’s noise level is 20db SPL, you can use it for home studios and other personal projects. This high SPL allows the mic to capture sensitive sounds with incredible ease.
It also offers a wide dynamic range. This offers you great recording versatility. You can now capture a great variation of sounds, and clarity will be uniform in the high and low ends.
Also, a custom-engineered large, low-mass diaphragm extends the frequency response. This offers a superior transient response. Ultimately, the condenser microphone captures the smallest changes and allows for greater sound authenticity.
This Audio-Technica mic also has a cardioid polar pattern. This reduces picking up unwanted sounds from the mic’s sides and rear. It also ensures the only sound is from the desired sound source. The background noise is thus kept to a minimum.
Note that an integral 3-pin XLRM-type output connector provides compatibility with a wide range of hardware. You can achieve this without requiring a conversion pin.
While this is a high-quality mic, be aware that some customers mention the low ends can get muddled, creating mixing issues.
MXL Mics 770 Cardioid Condenser Microphone
Best Build Quality
The MXL 770 is a high-quality, versatile condenser microphone. It has a great build quality, with the metal body ensuring a long lifespan.
It’s especially good at recording vocals, pianos, percussion and string instruments. According to user reviews, this is because of the natural mic clarity—it allows for a crystal-clear sound during recording. You can also use this for streaming and podcasting for the exact same reason.
This mic’s tuning is also worth noting, offering a balanced bass response with high-end clarity. Thanks to this feature, the higher frequencies won’t be shrill to the ear in the recordings.
Even the low-frequencies roll-off in the recording to reduce any unwanted rumbles. This ensures absolute clarity and lack of distortion when recording the lower frequencies.
It also includes a low-noise FET preamp. This helps provide a balanced and transformerless output.
Despite the positives, customers are unhappy that this model needs an AC power supply to run. No power cable is available on this sale.
Rode M5-MP Matched Pair Cardioid Condenser Microphones
Best Matched Pair
This Rode M5-MP impresses with its synchronized sensitivity. The matched pair’s design ensures that there’s less than a 1dB sensitivity variation between the two mics. A premium foiled certificate is available to certify this.
These are compact, ½-inch cardioid low noise condenser mics with an excellent frequency response. This enables you to capture the high and low ends with absolute clarity.
A metal body with a ceramic finish gives this condenser microphone a tough exterior and a gorgeous finish. If you want a classy-looking mic to fit into your home studio, check this one out.
These mics also contain the proprietary Rode ceramic coating finish. It provides the devices with a sleek, matte-black finish, further boosting the look and appeal.
The brand also offers great value with some add-ons. The RM5 stand mounts and WS5 windshields are necessary add-ons that you’d otherwise have to buy separately.
However, customers pick on the exaggerated and edgy high-end sounds. This means that the higher frequencies aren’t recorded with incredible accuracy. You’ll need to correct this in the editing department if you’re looking to record at the 20kHz range.
AKG Pro Audio P420 Dual Capsule Condenser Microphone
Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Mic
This mic is ideal for those looking to pick up a new mic on a tight budget. AKG has also produced this high-quality mic, so you don’t have to compromise recording quality.
This is a metal, 1-inch dual, large-diaphragm mic. The large diaphragm allows the condenser microphone to pick up sound with greater clarity.
It also comes with three distinct selectable polar patterns: cardioid, omnidirectional and figure-8. This allows you to take greater control over the recording and create the ideal setting for your needs.
It also includes low-noise electronics and transformers that need a low output to produce a high dynamic range. The result is ensuring you’re in complete control of your sound levels while recording.
Also, a switchable attenuation pad is available for high SPL applications with a maximum range of 155dB SPL. This means you capture the high volume sounds without too much distortion, which is common for mics in this price range.
The fact that the signal-to-noise ratio maxes out at 79dB is a con for many users. This is because the ratio dictates the level of external sounds and background noises that form a part of the recording. These are sounds separate from the main vocals or instruments.
In this case, the ratio offered by this mic is good but not great. This means you can expect to hear some background noises and room audio in your final recording.
Samson C02 Condenser Microphones
Best Backup Mics
This pair of Samson pencil condenser microphones set is lightweight and easy to carry. You can transport these devices from your home to your studio and vice-versa because of this.
Included in this purchase are a case, shock-mounted mic clips, and a gold-plated XLR connector.
In terms of functionality, these mics are sensitive and pick up a lot of detail. This is due to the 30Hz to 20kHz frequency response range and 134dB SPL. These are great numbers for a stick condenser microphone, although other mics have a lower range at 20Hz.
Despite being popular, they don’t have a low-cut switch or an attenuator pad. This means there’s nothing to isolate the mics from the light distortions that come with recording.
AKG Perception 220 Professional Studio Microphone
The P220 has a large diaphragm condenser (LDC) topped off with a die-cast chassis and a matte-black finish. This allows you to utilize the condenser microphone sensitivity for high-quality recording while admiring its looks.
To protect the device, an aluminum case and a sturdy shock mount are included. These help boost the mic’s lifespan, especially if you move from studio to studio. An all-metal finish also protects it from falls and slips.
This is a much cheaper model than the P420, many due to the sole cardioid polar pattern.
Despite this, it has some other impressive features, such as a recessed switch that enables you to activate a -20dB cut during recording. Thanks to this feature, all frequencies below our human audible range won’t be recorded.
It also has a high-pass filter to tap down the low frequencies. This offers greater clarity and depth to the lower frequencies in your final production.
The fact that this mic has a frequency response range of 20Hz to 20kHz and a high SPL of 155dB is impressive, too. This helps users tackle aggressive sounds with greater ease.
User reviews indicate that this mic works better with instruments because of the overall configuration. This is in comparison to the quality of the vocal recordings, and it can be a limiting factor for singers and podcasters.
sE Electronics X1 A Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone
Best Value for Money
The X1, in particular, is an excellent product that’s the only hand-built mic on our list. Hand-built mics have a more authentic sound and are generally preferred by old-school artists.
It has a true capacitor LDC that includes a fixed-cardioid capsule. This ensures the clarity of sounds from in front of the mic.
In terms of the design and exterior, this mic has a matte-black case. It also includes an integrated black steel grille and a full metal chassis. Not only does this give the mic a nice look and feel, but it also boosts the mic’s lifespan.
Expect to also find a swivel microphone clip and a stand adapter with your purchase. This makes it easy to set up and use the mic in your studio. A storage case would be nice for ultimate storage and protection, but this is missing from this product.
Some of this mic’s other top features include the gold-plated XLR connector. It also has a low-cut switch of -20db and 100Hz. This ensures that the low-ends are much improved during recording.
It also has an SPL of 150dB, which does a great job balancing various tones from different instruments and amplifiers. You have greater control over recording at this range and can garner the desired output based on your needs.
One of this mic’s strengths is tackling bass sounds, especially recording bass instruments and high-powered kick drums. This is thanks to the HPF switch and attenuator.
This feature also combines with sE Electronics’ proprietary reflexion filter. It allows you to create a make-shift recording booth in untreated rooms. Therefore, you can record in any space without having to spend a fortune on treating the area.
Be aware of the high-end quality. It doesn’t seem to tackle the higher frequencies with the same clarity as the lower ends. There’s a slight shrillness and distortion at the highest frequencies, according to some users.
How to Pick the Best Condenser Mics
When you’re looking to select a new condenser microphone for your studio or home (studio), focus on these following vital features:
A mic’s polar pattern of a mic is the region or pattern around the mic that receives and processes sounds. This is also known as the directionality of a mic.
Most condenser mics belong to one of two categories: omnidirectional and unidirectional.
An omnidirectional mic picks up sounds from multiple directions simultaneously. A unidirectional model can only pick up sounds from a singular direction.
The polar pattern that’s considered to be the best and most widely used is cardioid. This belongs to the unidirectional pattern and can pick up sounds in a heart-shaped pattern.
What makes it extremely effective is the fact that it only picks up sounds from the front of the mic—zero-degree angle. There’s no sensitivity to sound from behind the mic—180-degree angle. There’s also reduced sensitivity from the sides—90 and 270-degree angles. This makes it highly effective in producing top-quality sounds when recording vocals.
The human ear only picks up sounds within the range of 20Hz to 20kHz. Due to this, most microphones also have an audible range that falls within this bracket. Some products, such as the MXL Mics 770 Cardioid Condenser Microphone, have a frequency range of 30Hz to 20kHz. This means that it won’t be able to relay signals between the 20Hz to 30Hz range.
To better understand the frequency range implications, brands rely on a frequency curve chart to depict a mic’s utility.
When you look at a product’s specs, you’ll find either:
- Flat frequency curve: ideal for recording orchestras and acoustic sounds.
- Shaped frequency curve: useful for recording pure vocals.
Pick up the mic you need after analyzing the frequency response. Once you do that, you can understand which category best suits your needs.
Sound Pressure Level (SPL)
Sound pressure level is the upper limit of a condenser microphone. This is the level at which a mic can reproduce sounds without creating distortion.
This is especially useful when you’re recording various instruments simultaneously. It allows you to correctly position the mic to the rest of the instruments.
A mic’s diaphragm is one of its most important components and is directly related to the mic’s sensitivity.
The general rule of thumb here says that the bigger the mic’s diaphragm, the more sound it’ll cleanly capture.
This is because these mics are more sensitive when compared to mics with smaller diaphragms.
In terms of understanding the mic’s durability, you need to examine two elements—the material and the mechanical toughness.
Most quality mics under $200 feature some combination of mylar and metal. This is good enough to help sustain the mic’s lifespan for a considerable period.
A final feature worth considering when picking up a condenser microphone would be the accessories provided by the brand. You should at least hope to get a high-pressure sound wave filter to help boost your chosen product’s performance. These appear as high-pass filters and bass-cut filters.
Expect a lot of brands to throw in carry cases, windshields and stand mounts. These protect your mic and ensure that they’re easy to use in your studio or take on the road.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Is a Condenser Mic the Best?
Condenser microphones are the best because they have a very low mass. This allows the microphone’s large diaphragm to follow sound waves with greater accuracy. Thanks to this and the diaphragm’s general size, these products have a much greater sensitivity and output.
Can I Use a Condenser Microphone Live?
Yes, you can use a condenser microphone live. These mics are generally used for studio recording sessions. However, many artists use these mics in live performances. The only factor that you need to consider before doing this is the arrangement of the performers. You should focus on mic positioning and the amount/type of performers.
Does a Condenser Mic Make You Sound Better?
Yes, a condenser mic makes you sound better. They recreate sounds with remarkable accuracy. This can be a double-edged sword as it can highlight great and poor quality vocals with equal accuracy. Thus, the performer’s/artist’s quality will dictate the type of sound captured by the mic.
Condensing Your Options
When hunting for a condenser mic, ensure you factor in all the features we’ve covered. To start with, grab the correct polar pattern while considering the frequency response range.
Condenser mics with all polar patterns and a frequency range of 20Hz to 20kHz are the best.
It’s hard to beat the quality and price of the Audio-Technica PRO 37 Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphone. The unidirectional pattern captures sounds only in front of the mic. It also cuts out any surrounding and environmental noise.
Besides, it has an excellent low-response range and build quality. This allows you to take on a wide range of genres with confidence. You can also expect a long lifespan from this product.