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Best Condenser Mic

For a long time, if you wanted to be able to record music, you had to either spend tons of money on getting a home rig/ home studio set up (this could cost five thousand dollars on the low end, and that’s with used equipment and cheap rigs) or you had to have access to a real studio or something similar. Having a decent microphone and the ability to use it to record your thoughts, your speaking, or your music, it was something that was beyond the means of the average person.  Today, the best condenser mic is affordable enough that even if you make minimum wage, you can still afford it.

But there are many microphones out there on the market, so how are you to know the best one for your uses? Maybe you want to have a condenser microphone that will allow you to record lyrics for music.  Maybe you’re a YouTuber who is sitting in their house and wishing to be able to use something that can provide a bit more clarity than the built-in microphone on your laptop or the cheap microphone on your gaming headset.  Maybe you’re running your own podcast of some sort.  Whatever you’re looking to get a mic for, we’ve got you covered.

Comparison of the Best Condenser Microphones

Below is a good table to get a feel for the mics that are available and that will be reviewed here today.  It’s a good list of condenser microphone information, so be sure to pay attention to this and get a feel for what might meet your needs.

Without any further talk, here are the best condenser microphones of 2018.

NameOutput JackOther Information
Floureon BM-800 Condenser Studio Recording MicXLR3Requires 48V phantom power supply
MXL 770 Cardioid Condenser MicrophoneXLR3Includes -10dB pad and switchable bass cut
Audio Technica AT2020 Cardioid Condenser Studio MicrophoneXLR3Requires phantom power supply
Blue Snowball iCE Condenser MicrophoneXLR3XLR3 to USB cable included, custom condenser capsule offers clearer audio
Blue Yeti USB MicrophoneUSB3 condenser capsules and plug ‘n play compatible with Mac OS X 10.4.11 or higher or Microsoft Windows XP or more recent, included mute button
Audio-Technica AT2035 Large Diaphragm Studio Condenser MicrophoneXLR3Includes popfilter and 10ft XLR3 cable, switchable 80Hz high-pass filter and 10dB pad
MXL V67G Large Capsule Condenser MicrophoneXLR3Solid state preamp, balanced transformer output
Shure MV88 iOS Digital Stereo Condenser MicrophoneApple Lightning Connector5 preset modes, auto adjusts EQ

This is just a very general look at the reviewed microphones, mind you, but already it should be giving you some information about what may or may not be right for your particular needs. If you already feel you have enough information to go out and make a purchase, congratulations. Otherwise, let’s take a much more specific look at the eight microphones that we reviewed, and see what might be the very best microphone for your uses and the things that you are looking to do with said microphone.

1

Floureon BM-800 Condenser Studio Recording Mic – The Standard Mic

First up is Floureon’s BM-800 condenser studio recording mic.  If you look at it, it brings to mind the microphone that would be central to literally any sort of recording studio these days.  Personally, it makes me think of the ‘can’ that they sang into in the famous film ‘O Brother Where Art Thou’, when the smooth talking three (plus their guitar playing friend who sold his soul to the devil) decided to put down an album as the ‘Soggy Bottom Boys’ for five dollars apiece. 

And it does look (and act) like a very professional piece of equipment.  If you know anything about recording studios, you know that the common thing is for equipment to be equipped with XLR output jacks.  These are jacks with a certain number of large pins inside them, so the XLR3 designation for the output jack of the Floureon, for example, means that there are 3 large pins inside of it.  This provides a lot of clarity to begin with, and it is even better when you consider that you can run it into modern technology now that many organizations are willing to offer things like XLR3 to USB cables, allowing you to easily run the Floureon into a computer.

The only thing  that makes it hard for you to run this microphone into a computer is that it needs to be independently powered, and many computers can’t power this mic via a USB plug.  If you find yourself in such a situation, then you may want to look into getting some sort of phantom power supply.  If you find one that allows you to use a traditional USB cable, more power to you, but if it requires XLR3 in and out, just remember that there are XLR3 to USB conversion cables.

This is definitely one of the best cheap condenser microphones, in general, and the offering from Floureon is no slouch, and at a price that is not nearly as prohibitive as a lot of people would think it was.

PROS
  • Good price
  • XLR3 output
  • Quality clarity of sound
CONS
  • Will need a phantom power supply in many circumstances
2

MXL 770 Cardioid Condenser Microphone – The Bass Model

When you see that kind of condenser microphone in that kind of nice case, you know you’re in for a decent product right from the start.  MXL offers a wide variety of microphones, for the uses of someone looking for a studio mic to someone looking for a mic that they can use to take notes with or to record a podcast that has only four or five followers.   The MXL 770 is more of a studio microphone, obviously, than anything else. 

As a studio microphone, it runs off of the same XLR3 jack as so many microphones and other pieces of high-end musical equipment do. This means that, as with so many other microphones on this list that are based around the XLR3 jack, you are going to need to make sure that you have some sort of power source if you’re running it through a computer.  It also means that if you’re looking to run your microphone through your computer, you’ll need to get a XLR3 male and female cable, as well as a XLR3 to USB.  You’re also going to need to get a phantom power source to be able to power this condenser microphone, more likely than not, especially if you are running it through a computer.

What makes the MXL 770 so special?  Well, to begin with, when recording with it (and make no mistake, this is a recording microphone for studio use, not something that you should be taking to live gigs or something similar), you get a lot more clarity out of the high end due to the way it is designed. This means that you’re going to be happy with this mic if you’re recording rock or hip hop, and makes it one of the better condenser microphones for recording rock or hip hop.  It also comes with a FET preamp with balanced output, which is a good thing for recording without having to spend a lot of time and effort in EQ. 

If you’re looking for a good recording mic with a lot of bass, this is the place to look.

PROS
  • XLR3 mic
  • Great for studio recording
  • Has a lot of high-end clarity, as well
CONS
  • Needs phantom power source
3

Audio Technica AT2020 Cardioid Condenser Studio Microphone

If you have never heard of Audio Technica, you’ve not been in the music game for very long, or you’ve not been involved in production before. 

Audio Technica is a Japanese company that has been involved in the world of professional-level microphones and headphones (among other things) for nearly fifty years.  They’re famous, and their quality is unparalleled and beyond reproach.  For example, they are the microphone of choice for the presidential debates in the United States. They’ve been supplying microphones to the Grammy awards for at least the last ten years or so.  They were a pioneer in the market of headset microphones for stage use, producing a set in 1990 and being popular for just such a use.  They’ve also been used in pretty much every Olympic Games as the microphone of choice since 1996, and likely have no competition for the 2020 games.

Their AT2020 mics are a high-end piece of work for a studio recording mic, too. They operate off of an XLR3 jack, as is so common, and that means that if you are looking to get the mic to work, especially with a computer, then you are going to need to make sure that you invest in phantom power to actually power the microphone.

Its custom engineered low-mass diaphragm means that you get extended frequency response and a superior transient response, while the cardioid polar pattern means that you pick up sounds from the front and the rear of the mic, allowing you to isolate the desired sound better.  It provides great clarity as well, and is a great mic for the price.

You really cannot go wrong with this offering, and it is something that you will not regret having bought.

PROS
  • Audio Technica is a well-known company with a long history in the market
  • Their mics are fantastic and well-crafted, and run on XLR3
  • Low-mass diaphragm provides a better sound profile for your recording needs
CONS
  • Still need that phantom power source
4

Blue Snowball iCE Condenser Microphone – The Easy-To-Use Model

This is a cool little microphone, and it comes from a company that is getting a lot of name recognition in the PC-microphone market. 

Blue Microphones began operation in the mid-90s, and since then they have been quickly moving to show that they make a quality product and one that is available at a competitive price point. They are one of the most common microphones that are used for beginners and in home studios, and to be quite honest, it isn’t hard to see why that would be; they’ve made their microphones well, and they have made sure that they are easy to use, and the Blue Snowball is no exception.

The Snowball works off of the usual XLR3 output jack, but because Blue knows its market, they know that you are likely using this microphone to record audio and voice to your computer, and with this knowledge they have decided that they would do well if they included a XLR3 to USB cable with the mic. This means that you can easily hook it into your USB jack.

Oh, and unlike the other microphones reviewed thus far on this list, you are going to find that with the Blue Snowball, you don’t need to spend the money on a phantom power supply to provide the necessary power to your microphone; it was built around the idea that you were likely to use it to record podcasts and the like.

The Snowball also has a custom condenser capsule that is designed to offer clear audio, and to make sure that it only picks up what is in front of it, which is a bit different than many of the other cardioid microphones that we have thus far taken a look at.

So, to summarize this all, if you’re looking for a fantastic microphone for home uses, this is a great place for you to go out and start looking.  It’s a great microphone, it comes with its own stand, it is designed to provide you with good sound clarity even when you’re not in a studio, and best of all, it is literally designed around the idea of being used with a computer.  You really can’t go wrong with this, and it is a great microphone for things like podcasts or video blogging (I refuse to call it vlogging).

PROS
  • Comes with its very own stand
  • Comes with a USB cable
  • Is designed around working with a PC
CONS
  • Not the highest quality of microphones, but it is a good starter mic for anyone recording from their dining room table
5

Blue Yeti USB Microphone – The New Professional Model

Yes, Blue Microphones make two appearances on this list.  I know that some people don’t like that, but honestly, they make fantastic microphones, and they deserved at least two spots, if not more.

The Yeti has a very interesting honor that no other microphone can claim.  The Yeti made by Blue Microphones is the very first THX certified microphone, and it may well be the best USB dynamic microphone on this list. That’s impressive for literally any microphone, to be sure, but it is even more impressive when you are looking at the fact that this is a USB microphone that is priced to be appropriate for people who are basically using it for podcasting and the like.

There are a couple of things that I like about this microphone, and the first big one is that there is a dedicated mute button on the front of the thing.  I know, that doesn’t seem like a big deal, but if you’re trying to record in your home (for whatever reason and whatever product you’re looking to record for), there are few things more handy than being able to quickly mute the microphone if, say, the police drive by your house with their sirens blaring or something like that.

Next up, there’s the fact that this device is designed around the idea of being a USB device, and that means that, as with most USB devices, it is designed to be Plug ‘n Play, and that means that you can simply plug it into the computer and run it without having to do anything else.  Of course, in order for this functionality to work, your personal computer has to be running either Mac OS X 10.4.11 or higher or Windows XP or more recent, because anything older simply doesn’t have that Plug ‘n Play functionality.

Overall, if you’re looking for an easy to use microphone that will also give you amazing clarity of sound, there are few microphones out there that can compare with the Blue Yeti.  Also, the name is a lot of fun, and it is unsurpassed when it comes to the sound quality.

PROS
  • Plug n Play compatibility
  • Runs off a USB cable
  • Easy to use and with great sound quality
CONS
  • No negatives to this thing at all
6

Audio – Technica AT2035 Large Diaphragm Studio Condenser Microphone – The Contender

If you’ve been buying electronics long enough, you begin to get a feel for what bundles are and are not a good value.  There are many great bundles that are available out there on  the internet in general, but there are also a few that are just an excuse to add products to your sale that you don’t need and probably won’t want (for example, bundles for something that is not a long-term piece of equipment, but that also feel the need to add on a two or four year warranty.  That’s not a deal, that’s a ripoff). This bundle is one of those instances where you find that the bundle actually adds value, providing both a pop filter and a 10ft long XLR3 cable, which helps get you that much closer to being able to use the sound.

Now, of course, as with any microphone that is run off of the XLR3 jacks, you are going to need to provide it more power than you are likely to have if you are using a computer to record to in your home studio.  Again, this means that you should be picking up a phantom power source, as well as a XLR3 to USB cable. 

This model, as with the AT2020, has a 80Hz high-pass filter and a 10dB pad, and its cardioid design helps with the isolation of the sound that you want, not the sound that you don’t.  When you get this model, you still get the same Audio-Technica quality, and you still get to have a microphone that produces sound with great clarity that you have come to expect from this business.

PROS
  • Fantastic quality, as you would expect from Audio-Technica
  • Comes with two great pieces already in this bundle
  • Cardioid design helps to ensure you have control over what you’re picking up with the microphone, eliminating unneeded and unwanted sounds
CONS
  • Still requires phantom power in order to operate
7

MXL V67G Large Capsule Condenser Microphone – The Old-School Model

That is a cool looking microphone, is it not?  I know, I know, it matters more how it works than how it looks, but that is still an awesome looking microphone.

Anyhow, this is the second entry from MXL that made it onto the list, and to be honest, it’s another quality offering.  I will tell you right off the bat that, as with so very many other microphones on this list, it will run off of the XLR3 jack, and that means that you must take steps in order to be able to actually power it.  If you’re going to run this microphone to your personal computer, it is likely that you will still need to buy some sort of phantom power source in order to make sure that it has the power it needs in order to be able to operate. 

One of the things that a lot of people appear to enjoy about this microphone is the solid state preamp built into the mic.  For those who don’t know, this is basically a way of controlling the sound that the microphone produces before it ever gets to the actual amplifier or recording device that you may be using (there’s some cool condenser mic information for you).  This allows for great clarity and greater volume.

If you’re looking for a microphone for hip-hop or rock, this is another great selection that you may want to consider choosing.

PROS
  • XLR3 outlet
  • Solid state preamp to provide better sound
  • Easy to use and high-quality design
CONS
  • Requires phantom power to operate
8

Shure MV88 iOS Digital Stereo Condenser Microphone – The Portable Apple Solution

Now, to be clear, the whole thing here isn’t a microphone, but rather the bit on top is a microphone.  I have never heard of Shure, but I have been told that they make other microphones and that these microphones are generally well received from those who purchase such things.

A lot of people want to have a microphone that they can use on the go, and most of the time, that means that you are going to need to be looking into something like the Snowball up above, something that you could easily carry around with you and set up with a laptop or something.  But there is a simpler way that you can go about getting a mobile microphone setup, and the Shure MV88 is it.

Now, to be clear, it works only with iOS phones and iPads, and even then, it will only work with the ones that are new enough to incorporate the lightning connector that is a proprietary Apple design.  That being said, that is pretty much all of them made in the last couple of years, so not a problem there.

So, what does it do?  Well, you plug it into your iPhone or iPad, and you use it to record to any of the recording programs that are available on iTunes these days. One big downside is that you have to hold your phone or pad upside down, because it goes into the jack that is located at the bottom of the telephone. 

Now, it comes with five preset modes, allowing you to decide what kind of recording you’re looking to do.  If you’re trying to record the lyrics for a song, or you’re trying to record a podcast, you can change the preset mode to suit your needs. It also auto-adjusts the EQ, and I cannot say enough that this is a great thing for you and for your microphone needs, because it removes so much hassle.

I’m not trying to say that this is the microphone on the list that will deliver the best sound quality or anything like that, but if you need a mic on the go, this is definitely something that you should be looking into.

PROS
  • Lightning connector
  • Complete mobility
  • Shockingly good quality for a mobile microphone that hooks into the charge jack of an iPad or iPod
CONS
  • The microphone quality is about what you would expect

Best Condenser Mic - Buyer's Guide

No matter what you are looking to use your microphone for, you need to have a bit of information to help you to make your decision, and that’s what this guide is here to provide.  I’m sure that you have questions, so let’s dive right on in.

What Is A Condenser Mic?

A condenser microphone is basically a microphone that uses capacitors (once called condensers) to generate sound. The diaphragm acts as one plate of a capacitator, and when it is vibrated by someone speaking on it, this changes the distance between the plates, which is basically what ends up generating the sound. 

There are two ways to extract audio sound from the transducer in a condenser mic.  The first is DC based, and the second is RF or HF (radio frequency or high frequency) mics. 

For your purchasing decision, the only thing that you need to know is that condenser mics are the current mic of choice for everything from music to laboratory testing concerning sound.  They can produce great quality of sound regularly.

Which Is Better, XLR3 or USB?

XLR and USB are two common methods for hooking up a mic to something.  In general, you’ll use the USB to hook it into a computer of some sort, and the XLR3 can be used to run a line to pretty much any production equipment and a lot of the higher end recording equipment. 

Which is better, then, depends entirely on your needs.  If you’re hooking into a sound board and running your own radio studio or something, or you’re hooking into a sound board in a studio where you are recording, then you will be happy with XLR3.  If you’re running this in your house, maybe doing a podcast or YouTube broadcast from a table or your office or something like that, then you will find that if you can run the mic with just a USB cable, you’ll be much better off.  A caution, if I may; if you’re running a mic that has an XLR jack, you will find that you need to power it, even if you’re running it to a computer, and most computers aren’t up to it, so you will need to buy a phantom power supply.

Conclusion


If you are looking for a great microphone for your personal use, you will find that one of these eight will be more than adequate for your needs, and that literally all of them are well within your price range for gear.  That doesn’t mean that they are all equal, however, and I would like to point out a few that I feel deserve some distinction.

First off, the only truly mobile solution is the Shure MV88 condenser microphone.  It hooks into your iPod or iPad or iPhone at the charging port, and you can take it literally anywhere with no need for complex setup upon arrival.

Next, the microphone that is best for the home produce running a podcast or YouTube channel (or the streaming gamer).  That honor goes to the Blue Yeti USB Microphone, which is just a great microphone in general for those who are looking to work from their personal computer and don’t want a lot of difficult to work with gear.

Finally, the best microphone is the AT2035 from Audio Technica.  Just trust me on this one, it provides the best quality of mics reviewed.

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