15 Best Affordable Studio Mic for Home Studio

15 Best Affordable Studio Mic for Home Studio

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In this article, we’ll discuss 15 common models of affordable studio microphones, which, despite their relatively low price, are considered to be proven “workhorses”, doing an excellent job not only in a home studio, they can be found in almost every big professional studio’s microphone park.

We will also dispel some myths that expensive studio mics always outperform the best cheap microphones, and that to get a great-sounding record, you need to spend a solid budget.

We will cover the types of mics, and which cheap microphone is better to use for your particular recording (or even live performance). We’ll learn the characteristics, for which instrument, and how exactly to set the microphones up, and of course, their price range on the market.

So, keep reading, I believe it’ll be quite informative and useful.

Our selection of the best cheap studio microphones

Here is our selection of the best cheap microphones for your home studio. We’ll discuss each of them in detail in this article:

  1. Rode NT1-A
  2. Shure sm58
  3. Shure sm57
  4. Shure sm7b
  5. Audio-Technica ATM450
  6. Audio-Technica AT4050
  7. Audio-Technica AT2020
  8. AKG P120
  9. SE Electronics sE7
  10. IK Multimedia iRig Mic Studio
  11. Neumann TLM 102
  12. Blue microphones spark
  13. Nady CYM-2 kit
  14. Miktek PM10
  15. Mxl 990

Before going to a music store or placing an online order, we highly recommend reading the main features of each of the mics.

The first thing you should determine is what type of microphone you need. There are 3 main types of microphones:

  • condenser microphones,
  • dynamic microphones,
  • ribbon microphones.

Ribbon and tube microphones, should we go after expensive gear?

15 Best Affordable Studio Mic for Home Studio-photo 1Ribbon mics have quite a high price tag, so we can’t classify them as an affordable solution, as well as most of the tube mics, except maybe the fact that you might know “that guy”, who copies original branded microphones in his garage using original schemes and cheap details and accessories.

To buy a cheap copy is not a recommendation, because the quality of such experiments may cost you quite a budget in a term. Instead, it would be a better decision to choose the best budget microphone from a well-known brand.

Moreover, even if you own an expensive rare type of microphone at your home studio, it doesn’t guarantee you appropriate results, because, to fully reveal all the qualities and possibilities of elite microphones, your preamp, for example, must also be not a cheap one, and the same can be said about other gear in the chain.

Today’s music industry tendencies clearly show that anything is possible and some remarkable recordings were made in bedrooms, using only the best cheap microphones, budget instruments, and other affordable gear setups.

At long last, even a cheap microphone can never hide a true talent or a hit musical idea, and it will always sound great in capable hands. While in turn, even the world’s best gear will never save mediocrity. That’s probably a topic for a separate article, so let’s get back to the best mics for a home studio.

Condenser microphones

A condenser microphone is sometimes also called a “capacitor microphone”, which is a direct reference to its operating principle.

15 Best Affordable Studio Mic for Home Studio-photo 2How a condenser mic works

The condenser capsule consists of movable plates and a metal mesh membrane loaded with a polarized voltage. The sound wave hitting the diaphragm of the microphone causes the diaphragm to oscillate between the two plates. Thus, the distance between the two plates changes along with the frequency of the sound vibration, and the capacitance of the entire system changes accordingly. As a result of the change in electrical capacity, occurs the conversion of sound energy into electrical energy.

Due to its high sensitivity, a condenser microphone has a transparent and natural sound and is often used on TV, radio as well as in recording studios.

Small-diaphragm and large-diaphragm condenser microphones

Condenser mics are usually divided into two categories depending on the diaphragm diameter:

  1. Large-diaphragm condenser mics. The diaphragm is about 1-inch or greater in diameter.
  2. Small-diaphragm condenser mics. The diaphragm is about 1/2 inch or less in diameter.

They also look different. Small diaphragm condenser microphones often are slim and long, looking somewhat like a pencil and the operating point is usually the top, while large diaphragm condenser microphones are often bigger and are usually operating from one marked side.

When to use a condenser microphone

As we said before, a condenser microphone has a high sensitivity, so it is thought to be a great sounding option for recording vocals, acoustic guitar, drum overheads, brass instruments, etc., especially when it is important to record parts with a lot of tiny details and wide dynamic range.

Dynamic microphones

A dynamic microphone is a conductor to which a membrane is attached, which, in turn, is placed within a constant magnetic field.

Changes in the air pressure, as a result of the vibration of the sound wave, set the membrane in motion following the frequency and phase. The membrane transmits this movement to the conductor, and the conductor converts it into an electrical signal.

Advantages and disadvantages of dynamic mics

The advantages of dynamic mics are the simplicity and reliability of the design, and the adaptability to work with loud sources, which makes them effective when recording such instruments as electric guitar (meaning guitar amp), bass guitar, drums, etc.

If we are talking about the best budget options, dynamic mics are perfect representatives of this category. On the other hand, some of them have reduced sensitivity to high frequencies, which makes them not suitable for recording all voice timbres.

However, this feature leaves options for experimentation. For example, Shure sm57, the first thing that comes to mind when speaking about a guitar amp recording, is known to have been used as a vocal mic by John Lennon, Red Hot Chilly Peppers, The Killers, and others.

Another feature of such microphones is the relatively slow response to sudden changes in sound pressure. A dynamic microphone, unlike a condenser mic, doesn’t need a phantom power supply.

Is frequency range the key parameter?

The most popular, but at the same time slightly superficial answer to the question: “Which cheap microphone should I choose?” will probably be the one that says: “Get a microphone with the widest frequency range”. This is true only in part. This option could be considered the most versatile, since microphones with a range of 40-50Hz to 15kHz are suitable for most instruments and voices, and microphones with a range of 80Hz to 10kHz are great for speech recording.

However, as we see in practice, creative tasks require a deeper approach. There are quite a few cases when it turned out during the recording session that some cheap microphones appear much more effective than some very expensive microphones.

Each case is unique, and while many of the best cheap microphones are truly versatile, the best option, perhaps, is to test several microphones at your studio. Of course, it is not always possible to rent many microphones at once, but it would be a good idea to visit a studio with a wide microphone park and listen to how different models work.

Best cheap microphones: our choice of condenser mics

Now let’s look at the mics we have chosen as the best cheap option one by one. We’ll give each of them a description and look at their characteristics. We’ll start with condenser ones.

15 Best Affordable Studio Mic for Home Studio-photo 3Rode NT1-A

It is a large-diaphragm condenser microphone, an affordable representative of the famous Australian brand, and is definitely legendary. It is hard to imagine a studio without this good-looking and quality-made microphone.

If you are searching primarily for the best budget vocal microphone, then this mic is worth your attention. Adding warmth and roundness to the sound, it becomes a good choice for recording any acoustic instrument, guitar amp, etc.,

One of the main features of the Rode NT1 is that it has a low level of intrinsic noise, which means also that the mic is great for recording podcasts, streams, etc. It is also worth noting that due to the maximum sound pressure level of 137db., this condenser microphone can be used to record drums or other loud sound sources.

Rode NT1-A characteristics

  • Polar pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency response: 20 – 20,000 Hz
  • Max sound pressure level: 137dB
  • Output impedance: 100 Ohm
  • Dimensions: 190 x 50 x 50 mm
  • Weight: 326 g

Price: $199

15 Best Affordable Studio Mic for Home Studio-photo 4Audio-Technica ATM450

It’s a small-diaphragm condenser microphone with a special side-mounted address shape that allows for a variety of setups for various sound sources.

The microphone has a built-in 10 dB switch and it can help to adjust to the entry level of the signal, reduce the sensitivity of the microphone, and as a result provide more recording opportunities.

This microphone is best suited for high-quality recording of acoustic instruments, acoustic guitars, strings, etc.

Audio-Technica ATM450 characteristics

  • Polar pattern: cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 40 – 20,000 Hz
  • Low-Frequency Roll Off: 80 Hz, 12 dB
  • Max sound pressure level: 152 dB SPL, 162 dB SPL, with 10 dB pad
  • Dynamic Range: 127 dB, 1 kHz
  • Phantom Power: 11-52V DC
  • Weight: 98g
  • Dimensions: 126.9 x 21 x.83
  • Output Connector: Integral 3-pin XLRM-type

Price: $279

15 Best Affordable Studio Mic for Home Studio-photo 5Audio-Technica AT4050

This is a large-diaphragm condenser microphone with switchable polar patterns. It will deal well with a wide range of creative challenges from vocals to the piano, strings, and even drum overheads.

It’s not the cheapest on our list, but still affordable, given the quality of the mic itself and the variety of possibilities it opens up for your studio.

AT4050 characteristics

  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid, Omnidirectional, Figure-of-eight
  • Freq. Response: 20-18,000 Hz
  • Low-Frequency Roll Off: 80 Hz, 12 dB
  • Max Sound Pressure Level: 149 dB SPL, 159 dB SPL, with a 10 dB pad
  • Phantom Power Requirements: 48V DC
  • Weight: 510 g
  • Dimensions: 188.0 mm long, 53.4 mm body diameter
  • Output Connector: Integral 3-pin XLRM-type

Price: $699

15 Best Affordable Studio Mic for Home Studio-photo 6Audio-Technica AT2020

With this mic, you get a high-quality professional-sounding cardioid condenser mic for more than an affordable price.

The device features a sensitive diaphragm that helps bring out details while avoiding unwanted noise.

The microphone stands out in its category and is perfect for recording vocals and acoustic instruments.

Although the microphone is a budget one, it has been used by Billy Eilish, and this, you see, speaks for itself.

AT2020 characteristics

  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Freq. Response: 20 – 20,000 Hz
  • Max Sound Pressure level: 144 dB SP.
  • Phantom Power: 48V DC,
  • Weight: 345g
  • Dimensions: 162.0 mm long,5 2.0 mm body diameter
  • Output Connector: Integral 3-pin XLRM-type

Price: $99

15 Best Affordable Studio Mic for Home Studio-photo 7AKG P120

AKG is one of the top manufacturers whose products have their own unique nature. P120 is another large diaphragm microphone, which meets all the requirements for high-quality home recording.

Vocals or acoustic guitar – either way you get a warm, slightly compressed signal with a gentle high end.

AKG P120 miс is also great for streaming, podcasting, etc.

AKG P120 characteristics

  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Freq. Response: 20Hz-20kHz.
  • Max Sound Pressure Level: 130dB, 150dB w/Pad.
  • Output Impedance: 200 ohms.

Price: $85

15 Best Affordable Studio Mic for Home Studio-photo 8SE Electronics sE7

This is a small-diaphragm condenser mic. This mic’s configuration helps to reproduce the character of the instrument much more naturally, retaining all the richness and saturation.

This microphone truly reveals its potential when working in a stereo pair. Of course, the use of a stereo pair requires certain experience and knowledge of how to properly position them relative to each other, however, an instrument, whether it be a piano, an acoustic guitar, or anything, being recorded in stereo, brings the recording on a completely different level. Especially if, for example, your music has only a guitar and a voice, and your solo instrument needs to take up all the space.

SE7 has an attenuator and switchable low-pass filter on board, and a very low level of inner noise. This all makes sE7 one of the best cheap microphones in the category.

SE Electronics sE7 characteristics

  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Freq. range: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Low-cut filter: 80 Hz, 6 dB/Oct, switchable
  • Attenuation Pad: 20 dB, switchable
  • Powering: 48 Volts
  • Connectivity: 3-pin male XLR connector
  • Dimensions: Diameter: 23mm, Length 120mm
  • Weight: 128 g

Price: $109/ $219 for a pair

15 Best Affordable Studio Mic for Home Studio-photo 9IK Multimedia iRig Mic Studio

In today’s world, more and more artists prefer to have high-quality studio conditions at their fingertips while remaining mobile. Here at Major Mixing, as an online mixing and mastering services company, we often come across sessions recorded on iPhone using GarageBand, for example. And we must admit, many of them are really good. This can be possible, among other things, due to the quality gear, and the large diaphragm condenser mic from IK Multimedia is one of them.

Being compatible with iPhones, iPads, and other your favorite devices, this mic sounds perfect for music demos, podcasts, streams, and deals with any sphere of audio production.

IK Multimedia iRig Mic Studio characteristics

  • Polar Pattern: cardioid
  • Interface Type: USB digital microphone, built-in low-noise high-definition preamp
  • Freq. Response: 20Hz – 20kHz, -3dB
  • Max Sound Pressure Level: 133dB
  • Resolution & Sample Rate: 24-bit up to 48kHz recording
  • Connector Type: standard Micro-USB
  • Headphone Output: 3,5mm/1/8” jack
  • Controls: Built-in gain and headphone volume controls

Price: $100

15 Best Affordable Studio Mic for Home Studio-photo 10Neumann TLM 102

Neumann is considered to be a Mercedes Benz among microphones and a source of pride for any studio. Neumann microphone prices are out of the budget range, of course, but are there any compromises when it comes to capturing the subtlest nuances of your vocals? The answer is: “Yes, they are!”. The TLM 102 gives you all the benefits of Neumann at an affordable price.

A distinctive feature of the microphone is the accurate underlining of 8-12kHz, which is very typical for a human voice. But in general, it provides one of the most accurate sound pickups for sure, and it certainly speaks about the class of the mic.

Neumann TLM 102 is the best budget Neumann mic available today.

Neumann TLM 102 characteristics

  • Directional pattern: Cardioid condenser
  • Freq. range: 20 Hz … 20 kHz
  • Maximum SPL: 144 dB
  • Matching connector: XLR3F
  • Weight: approx. 210 g
  • Diameter: 52 mm
  • Length: 116 mm

Price: $729

15 Best Affordable Studio Mic for Home Studio-photo 11Blue microphones spark

Many experienced musicians argue that it doesn’t matter what an instrument looks like, what matters is how it sounds. Of course, the visual component is not so important when it comes to audio information, and even more so, when speaking about budget microphones. But, this statement clearly does not apply to the blue spark mic, it looks amazing.

If in terms of its characteristics and capabilities it is at least at the level of the AT2020 or AKG P120, then its retro-flavored design will certainly not leave anyone indifferent.

As a vocal mic, it produces a well-balanced low-end with a sufficient presence. Using the microphone for other instruments: guitars, piano, winds, overheads, and even percussion also shows good results.

The microphone has a tone switch that expands the already versatile possibilities. This one has a character.

Blue microphones spark characteristics

  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Freq. Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Max Sound Pressure Level: 136 dB SPL
  • Power Requirement: +48V DC Phantom Power
  • Weight: 336g
  • Dimensions: 220.5mm x 45mm

Price: $199,99

15 Best Affordable Studio Mic for Home Studio-photo 12Nady CYM-2 kit

This small-diaphragm mic is quite underrated, in our opinion, in the category of best cheap microphones. Here we are talking about studio-quality stereo pair mics.

The direct purpose of the mic is to pick up overheads and percussion, cabinets, and everything where you need to capture the ambiance and room.

Nady CYM-2 kit characteristics

  • Polar Patterns: Cardioid
  • Freq. Response: 50-18kHz
  • Sensitivity: -45dB +/- 3dB
  • Output impedance: 200ohm
  • S/N ratio: Over 60dB
  • Max SPL: (1% THD @1kHz)
  • Power Requirement: +48VDC phantom power

Price: $99,99

15 Best Affordable Studio Mic for Home Studio-photo 13Mxl 990

It’s a popular choice of beginner musicians as well as podcasters, streamers, voiceover pros., etc. Being a strong middle-class device at an affordable price, Mxl 990 is definitely worth the money.

Made with high quality, producing a low level of noise, Mxl 990 can be positioned as a vocal mic and as a drum mic.

This device has all benefits of a condenser mic. It produces clean and transparent sound, slightly accenting high-end frequencies.

Mxl 990 characteristics

  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid pattern
  • Freq. Response:30 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Sensitivity:15mV/Pa
  • Power Requirements: Phantom Power 48V
  • Size: 60mm x 130mm
  • Weight: 544.3g

Price: $159.99

Best cheap microphones: our choice of dynamic mics

Now let’s look at a few dynamic mics that we believe will work the best for you.

15 Best Affordable Studio Mic for Home Studio-photo 14Shure sm58

It is the world’s most widely used dynamic vocal microphone for live performances, studios, podcasts, and more.

If you see that someone is singing or making a speech, then most likely he is holding a Shure sm58. It doesn’t matter if it’s a pop idol or a beginner.

This dynamic cardioid mic has an unmistakable shape that arguably epitomizes the word ‘microphone’. Undoubtedly, one of the best cheap microphones.

Shure sm58 characteristics

  • Frequency Response: 50Hz-15kHz.
  • Max SPL: 94dB SPL.
  • Output Impedance: 150 ohms.
  • Sensitivity: -54.5 dBV / Pa (1.88 mV)
  • Connector: XLR.

Price: $99

15 Best Affordable Studio Mic for Home Studio-photo 15Shure sm57

Another legendary Shure microphone. If you ask a guitarist what kind of mic they use on their amp, the most common answer is, of course, Shure sm57. The same can be said about recording the snare drum.

Despite the advantages that include a contoured frequency response for an exclusive vocal pickup, it is still much more common to use this microphone for recording instruments in a studio or for picking up the sound of a live performance.

Along with the previous representative of the Shure family, this microphone belongs to the category of the best cheap microphones.

Shure sm57 characteristics

  • Frequency Response: 40 Hz – 15 kHz.
  • Max SPL: 160 dB SPL.
  • Output Impedance: 150 ohms.
  • Sensitivity: -54.5 dBV / Pa (1.88 mV)
  • Connector: XLR.

Price: $99

15 Best Affordable Studio Mic for Home Studio-photo 16Shure sm7b

It is impossible not to mention this exceptional dynamic mic on our list. This is a versatile choice when it comes to recording a voice. Thanks to its dual-band switchable passive EQ, Shure sm7b handles both male baritone and high female soprano equally well and brings a “broadcast” atmosphere to the sound.

Given the high SPL, the Shure sm7b can be used to record a kick drum or a well-swept guitar or bass cab.

Shure sm7b characteristics

  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid pattern
  • Frequency Response:50Hz-20kHz
  • Output Impedance:150 ohms
  • Sensitivity:-59 dBV/Pa
  • Low Cut Filter: Bass Roll off
  • Connector: XLR
  • Dimensions: 190 x 63mm

Price: 399$

15 Best Affordable Studio Mic for Home Studio-photo 17Miktek PM10

Any drummer knows what it takes to assemble a good drum kit. But it’s even more difficult to get a quality drum record. There are many factors at play here, and to properly capture the sound of your drums, you need to have a special room and of course, a set of microphones. Miktek PM10 is a cheap mic, designed exactly for this purpose. Alone or in a set, this mic is perfect for snare and toms.

Miktek PM10 characteristics

  • Polar Pattern: Unidirectional super-cardioid
  • Freq. Response: 50Hz-16kHz
  • Max Sound Pressure Level: 150dB
  • Sensitivity: -54dBV/Pa
  • Connector: XLR
  • Dimensions: 139 x 41 x 41mm.

Price: 199$

As you see, there is no single rule for choosing a mic. The main thing you need to understand when picking a mic, is whether to use a dynamic vocal mic or a condenser one and to make sure it has a low level of extraneous noise.

In general, each of the discussed microphones sounds great in its own way and can deal with numerous creative tasks. All of these best cheap microphones are of the same sound quality give or take.

Of course, if you want to take your music to a professional level or even higher, you will absolutely benefit from collaboration with masters in different areas of audio production. You can find this help at majormixing.com, our professional mixing and mastering studio. If you want to compete in the music world today, we will guide you from the very beginning until you receive a ready-to-release professional audio product. We’ll help you boost your career quickly bringing your songs to the industry quality level, contact us.

Thanks for reading, we hope this article was helpful and informative!