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The Best Condenser Microphones For Home Studio Recording (Under $1,000)

by | Microphones | 0 comments

Condenser microphones are considered the kings of mics.

Frank Sinatra used them.

The Beatles used them.

Adele, Bruno Mars, Sia, Norah Jones, Justin Timberlake, Coldplay, Drake, Keith Urban, John Legend, Madonna, Muse, Marvin Gaye, Bruce Springsteen, Metallica, and countless other artists use or have used them.

Condenser mics have the ability to capture more detail with greater warmth and accuracy than just about any other type of microphone.

They are the large mics you always see in pictures of someone singing front of a mic.

Not only do they look cool but are a crucial investment if you want to produce high-quality recordings in a home recording studio.

But if you’re looking to buy a mic, you’ll quickly discover there are so many choices!

To help you narrow down those choices, I’ve chosen and reviewed the 20 best condenser microphones for studio recording that are available today for under $1,000.

Best Microphones Article Navigation

This article is going to divide the mic reviews into 2 sections:

  • The best small diaphragm mics under $500
  • The best large diaphragm mics under $1,000

Microphone Beginner’s Buying Guide

If you’re new to buying microphones or need a refresher, please check out my Beginner’s Guide to Buying Microphones For Your Home Recording Studio.  You’ll learn all about the different types of mics discussed in this article, how mics work, mic polar patterns, when to use them, and much more.

Condenser Mic Overview

Every studio regardless of size needs at least one high-quality condenser mic.

Condenser mics come in all shapes and sizes and are known for their natural, clear, accurate and transparent sound, as well as their flat frequency response with extended highs and lows.

There are two types of condenser mics:

  • Small diaphragm mics are used mostly for instrumental recordings
  • Large diaphragm mics are used for both vocal and instrumental recordings

I personally own three large diaphragm mics – a Neumann U87 AI, a Neumann TLM 103, and an AKG C414-XLII.  I’ve used them for years to record instruments like guitars, mandolins, drums, percussion, etc., as well as vocals.

Combine any good condenser with a high-quality mic preamp and you have the ability to record professional sounding vocals or instruments in your studio!

Condenser mics are popular first choices for:

  • vocals (large diaphragm mics)
  • acoustic piano (large diaphragm mics)
  • recording instruments with fast transients like snare drum or acoustic guitar (small diaphragm mics)
  • drum kit overhead mics (small or large diaphragm mics)
  • orchestral instruments and orchestral recordings (large diaphragm mics)

Phantom Power

One final thing to know about condenser mics is that they require a power source to operate.

While some mics use batteries as the power source, a 48-volt external phantom power supply is a more reliable and efficient method.

Most mixing boards or mic preamps provide phantom power through the mic’s XLR cable, so this is not something to worry about.  But if needed, there are inexpensive phantom power supplies that are available that start around $20.00.

Ok, let’s take a look at the mics!

The Best Small Diaphragm Condenser
Microphones Under $500

Shure SM81-LC

The SM81-LC is a high-quality cardioid “pencil style” condenser mic.   Since the 1970s, it’s been an industry favorite for recording acoustic instruments, especially acoustic guitar, piano, drums, and classical ensembles.   

The SM81-LC is an omnidirectional mic.  Omnidirectional mics have two unique characteristics. 

First, they pick up sound in all directions which makes them ideal for ensemble recordings. 

Second, these mics also have no proximity effect (where sounds get louder and deeper the closer they get to the mic) so they can be used to record very close up without any coloration from the mic.

Plus, the pencil mic design lets the mic get into tight spaces where a larger mic can’t fit.

Engineers love a pair of SM81s for recording choirs, as overhead mics on drum kits, and more.

A pair of SM81s sounds fantastic when recording an acoustic guitar in stereo, getting a rich detailed larger than life sound.

Interestingly, the SDM81 is also the #1 mic used on hi-hats as it imparts a neutral tone when miked up close and can fit in between the drums nicely.

All in all, the SM81 is a mic to own!

Hear the SM81-LC in action at the Shure Mic Listening Lab.

Shure SM81-LC

Check price:
AmazonGuitar Center

Shure SM81-LC Specs:

  • Cardioid (unidirectional) pickup pattern
  • 20 Hz – 20 kHz frequency response
  • 0 dB/10 dB lockable attenuator switch
  • Includes swivel adapter, foam windscreen and carrying case
Best Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - Shure SM81-LC

Frequency response chart:
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Best Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - Shure SM81-LC frequency response

Rode NT5 Single Mic or a Matched Pair

The Rode NT5 is Rode’s top small-diaphragm cardioid condenser microphone. It’s known for its warm detailed sound, and its slim “pencil mic” design allows you to record in tight spaces if needed.  

Like the Shure SM81, the NT5 is an excellent choice for recording acoustic instruments like acoustic guitar, piano, drum overheads, cymbals, and live ensembles.   

The main difference is that the SM81 is an omnidirectional mic, while the NT5 only picks up sound in a cardioid pattern.  But an omnidirectional capsule is also available for the NT5.

Acoustically-Matched Pair Available

Also, if you’re looking for two mics for recording in stereo, two NT5s can be purchased as an acoustically matched pair. Two NT5s on acoustic guitar produce very warm and detailed stereo recordings.

All in all, the NT5 offers a ton of value for the price, and is an even better value for a matched pair. Highly recommended!   

NOTE: Rode posts this announcement on its website about purchasing from Amazon in the U.S.:

“Important information about purchasing from the US.

If you see a price that looks too good to be true, it probably is! Beware of counterfeit goods. Check our website to make sure you’re purchasing from an authorized RØDE reseller. For quick reference NO FBA reseller (FULFILLMENT BY AMAZON) on Amazon is authorized.”

On Amazon, make sure you buy from dealers directly, not when it says “Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.  You’ll find other sellers than Amazon under the “New” section (ex: “9 New from $399.00”).

Rode NT5 Single Mic

Check price:
Amazon

Rode NT5 Specs:

  • Cardioid pickup pattern
  • 20 Hz – 20 kHz frequency response
  • Includes mic stand mount, windshield, and custom carrying case
Best Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - Rode NT5

Frequency response chart:
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Best Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - Rode NT5 frequency response chart

Rode NT5 Matched Pair

Check price:
AmazonGuitar Center

Rode NT5 MP Matched Pair Specs:

  • Cardioid pickup pattern
  • 20 Hz – 20 kHz frequency response
  • Includes mic stand mounts, windshields, and custom carrying case
Best Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - Rode NT5 MP

Frequency response chart:
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Best Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - Rode NT5 frequency response chart

An even lower-cost alternative to a pair of NT5s is the Samson C02 pair, which retails for around $100.  Check it out!

AKG C451B

Best Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - Hit records recorded with the AKG C451BThe original AKG C451 became a best-seller not long after it was brought to market in 1969.  It has been a studio standard since the 80s and 90s and has long been a popular on-stage mic as well.

The newer C451B, released in 2001, follows that heritage with a redesigned hand-crafted capsule and low-noise preamp electronics.

The C451B has found many uses in pro studios around the world:

  • It’s an excellent mic for acoustic guitar, adding lots of sparkle, clarity, and depth to a recording.
  • It’s a favorite mic for close-miking loud sound sources, as it can handle sound levels up to 155 dB.
  • A pair of them is many studio engineers’ favorites as overhead mics for drums.
  • Quite a few producers and engineers swear by a pair of these to record grand piano.

AKG C451B

Check price:
Amazon | Guitar Center

AKG C451B Specs:

  • Cardioid pickup pattern
  • A switchable pad (10dB and20dB)
  • 20 Hz – 20 kHz frequency response
  • Includes mic stand adapter, windscreen, and microphone bag
Best Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - AKG C451B

Frequency response chart:
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Best Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - AKG C451B frequency response

Shure Beta 181

The Shure Beta 181 is a very versatile mic that has the advantage of interchangeable polar pattern capsule options.  This is something usually only found on much higher-priced mics like Blue mics.

Users can choose between cardioid, super cardioid, omnidirectional, and bidirectional patterns.

Note: The mic only ships with one capsule that you need to choose when you purchase it. Additional capsules are available for around $250 each.

Unlike the Shure SM81-LC or the AKG C451B which are pencil style mics, the Beta 181 uses a side-address capsule where the sound strikes the capsule from the side, not the front.  This makes it very useful in recording in tight places, especially inside drum kits.

The Beta 181 is frequently used on piano as well as drums, percussion, and guitars.

Hear the Beta 181 in action at the Shure Mic Listening Lab.

Check out this Beta 181 review with sound examples.

Shure Beta 181

Check price:
Amazon | Guitar Center

Shure Beta 181 Specs:

  • Cardioid, super cardioid, omnidirectional, or bidirectional patterns pickup patterns
  • 20 Hz – 20 kHz frequency response
  • Includes mic clip, windscreen, and zippered carrying case
Best Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - Shure Beta 181

Frequency response chart:
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Best Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - Shure Beta 181 frequency response

Blue Microphones Hummingbird

The Hummingbird is a small diaphragm condenser mic with the cool retro look Blue Mics is known for.

With an unusual 180 degree rotating head, the Hummingbird is able to fit into tight places that make it an ideal mike for recording drums and acoustic piano.

The rotating head is also handy for finding the sweet spot when recording instruments like acoustic guitar.  Turning the capsule allows you to easily dial in the sound you want without having to move mic stands and performers around.

Blue Microphones Hummingbird

Check price:
Amazon | Guitar Center

Blue Microphones Hummingbird Specs:

  • Cardioid pickup patterns
  • 20 Hz – 20 kHz frequency response
  • 130 dB max SPL
  • Includes mic clip, windscreen, and hard shell case
Best Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - Blue Microphones Hummingbird

Frequency response chart:
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Best Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - Blue Microphones Hummingbird frequency response

The Best Large Diaphragm Condenser
Microphones Under $1,000

As mentioned earlier, large diaphragm condenser mics shine on both instrumental and vocal recordings.

Neumann TLM 102 & TLM 103

Neumann has been a premier microphone manufacturer for over 80 years, and their mics are found in virtually every recording studio throughout the world.

Many Neumann mics like the classic U47, U67, and U87 mics have been the gold-standard for both instrumental and vocal recording for many decades

While those high-end mics are out of reach for many studio owners, you can still get the famous Neumann sound with their TLM line of mics.

Neumann TLM 102

The TLM 102 is a large diaphragm condenser mic that was the winner of the 2010 TEC Awards and was the MIX Certified Hit, AES in 2009.

The TML 102 is the baby of the TLM series but provides the same classic Neumann sound and features of its bigger siblings at a fraction of the price.

TLM stands for transformerless microphone.  This design replaces the transformer normally found in a microphone with an electrical circuit which provides superior audio quality.

While the TLM102 is at home recording a variety of instruments, I’d say its forte is vocals and speech.  The mic gives vocals a slight 6 kHz boost which provides presence and clarity.

Because it can handle loud SPLs, drums, percussion and wind instruments are ideal instruments to record with the TLM102.

It is available in black or nickel color.

Neumann TLM 102

Check price:
AmazonGuitar Center

Neumann TLM 102 Specs:

  • Cardioid pickup pattern
  • 20 Hz – 20 kHz frequency response
  • 144 dB max SPL
  • Includes a mic stand mount
Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - Neumann TLM 102

Frequency response chart:
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Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - Neumann TLM 102 frequency response

Neumann TLM 103

Best Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - Neumann TLM 103 Hit RecordsThe Neumann TLM103 is the big brother of the TLM102.  Its capsule is derived from the famous Neumann U87 mic that is one of the top mics in the world.

I’ve been a very happy TLM 103 owner for many years. I’ve found it excels on vocals and acoustic guitar but it’s also an excellent close-up mic for winds, strings, percussion and drum overheads.

I also have a Neumann U87 and sometimes I prefer the sound of the TLM103 to the U87 which costs 4x as much!

All in all, it’s hard to find any fault with this mic.  I think you’ll find it a very welcome addition (or the first of many mics) to your studio.

It’s also available in black or nickel color.

Neumann TLM 103

Check price:
AmazonGuitar Center

TLM 103 Specs:

  • Large diaphragm condenser mic
  • Cardioid pickup pattern
  • 20 Hz – 20 kHz frequency response
  • 144 dB max SPL
  • Includes mic clip, windscreen, and hard shell case
Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - Neumann TLM 103

Frequency response chart:
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Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - Neumann TLM 103 frequency response

AKG C414 XLS | AKG C414 XLII

Best Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - AKG C414 Hit Records

The AKG C414 is a large diaphragm (1”) condenser mic that’s one of the most popular mics in the world. 

Countless hit records have been recorded with the mic on both vocal and instrumental tracks.  Take a look at the Hit Records Box!

The C141 XLS and C414 XLII models are the most recent updates to this venerable line.  The only differences between the two models are:

  • The C414 XLII has a gold grille and a slight boost above 3 kHz. This boost adds some additional brightness and presence which helps cuts through a mix nicely. 
  • The C414 XLS has a silver grille. It has a flat response that is arguably better for “natural” instruments and group vocals.

That said, both models are highly versatile mics that sounds good on just about any sound source: vocals, strings, drums, guitar, percussion, etc.

I’ve personally used my C414-XLII to record vocals, guitars, dulcimer, ukulele and percussion for various TV commercials, music library tracks and movie scores over the years.  It has never failed or let me down.    

I’ve also used two of them to record acoustic grand piano.  The results were smooth, detailed, and accurate – perfect for solo piano compositions.

Both C414 models come with 9 different polar patterns – cardioid, hyper cardioid, figure-8, omni and wide cardioid position – plus 4 intermediate settings.  This versatility allows you to choose the best settings to fit your recording sessions.

Both mics also include three switchable bass filter settings and three pre-attenuation settings.

A final nice touch is an overload warning LED on both models that alerts you to potential distortion on audio peaks.

AKG C414 XLS Microphone

Check price:
AmazonGuitar Center

AKG C414 XLS Specs:

  • 9 polar pickup patterns: cardioid, hyper cardioid, figure-8, omni and wide cardioid position, plus 4 intermediate settings.
  • 20 Hz – 20 kHz frequency response
  • 152 dB max SPL
  • Includes stand mount, shock mount, pop screen, windscreen, and a carrying case
Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - AKG C414 XLS

Frequency response chart:
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Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - AKG C414 XLS frequency response

AKG C414 XLII Microphone

Check price:
AmazonGuitar Center

AKG C414 XLII Specs:

  • 9 polar pickup patterns: cardioid, hyper cardioid, figure-8, omni, and wide cardioid position, plus 4 intermediate settings.
  • 20 Hz – 20 kHz frequency response
  • 152 dB max SPL
  • Includes stand mount, shock mount, pop screen, windscreen, and a carrying case
Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - AKG C414 XLII

Frequency response chart:
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Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - AKG C414 XL-II frequency response

AKG C214

The AKG C214 is a fixed-cardioid version of the C414-XLS.

The truth is, many engineers buy the C414-XLS and never use it except in cardioid mode.

The AKG C214 has the same 1” capsule as the C414-XLS and virtually the same sound quality.

So for most users, the C214 would be a more economical choice since it is less than half the price!

It’s a great mic for day to day recording of vocals, strings, acoustic guitars, drums, and more, plus its 156 dB SPL makes it a good choice for miking loud guitar amps.

AKG C214

Check price:
AmazonGuitar Center

AKG C214 Specs:

  • Cardioid only pickup pattern
  • 20 Hz – 20 kHz frequency response
    -20dB attenuator and 160 Hz bass-cut filter for close-up recording and reduction of proximity effect
  • 156 dB max SPL
  • Includes spider-type shock mount, windscreen, and carrying case
Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - AKG C214

Frequency response chart:
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Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - AKG C214 frequency response chart

NOTE: AKG makes many notable mics, including the C451 B, the C1000S, and the C3000.  All are under $500.  Check them out!

Audio-Technica AT4033/CL

The AT4033/CL is the newer classic edition of the legendary AT4033 mic.  It has been a versatile studio staple for more than 20 years.

Renowned multi-Grammy winning producer Phil Ramone had this to say about the AT4033: “The AT4033 has been a favorite of mine for the last 10 years, and I look forward to the next decade together.”

It is excellent on vocals, guitar amps, drums, acoustic guitar and more, imparting a clean crisp yet warm sound.

Its transformerless design eliminates low-frequency distortion for a clean and accurate signal path.

The AT4033/CL also comes with an exceptional five-year end-user warranty.

Check out the Audio-Technica 40 Series Microphones – Listen for yourself!

Audio-Technica AT4033/CL

Check price:
AmazonGuitar Center

Audio-Technica AT4033/CL Specs:

  • Cardioid only pickup pattern
  • 30 Hz –20 kHz frequency response
    80Hz high-pass filter for low-end roll off
  • 155 dB max SPL
  • Includes custom shock mount, windscreen, and carrying case
Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - Audio-Technica AT4033/CL

Frequency response chart:
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Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - Audio-Technica AT4033/CL frequency response chart

Shure SM27, Shure KSM32, Shure KSM44A

Shure has been a leading mic manufacturer since 1925, and when it comes to high-quality yet affordable microphones they are at the top of the list.

The SM series of mics are professional mics at a very affordable price.

Shure mics such as the famous SM57 and SM58 are studio and stage staples and have been used on countless hit recordings.  Artist such as Jennifer Lopez, Nick Jonas, Phantogram, Miguel and others all use their products onstage or in the studio.

Be sure to check out the Shure Mic Listening Lab to hear all the mics!

Shure SM27

The Shure SM27 is a very rugged and versatile side-address cardioid condenser mic.

It provides a flat frequency response which is perfect for recording piano, vocals, strings, brass, woodwinds and drums/percussion.

It is the least expensive of the three Shure mics here, but it still delivers great sound at an affordable price.

Shure SM27

Check price:
AmazonGuitar Center

Shure SM27 Specs:

  • Cardioid pickup pattern
  • 20 Hz – 20 kHz Hz frequency response
  • 15dB pad
  • 3-position bass roll-off filter
  • 154 dB max SPL
  • Includes rubber suspension shock mount and velveteen storage pouch
Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - Shure SM27

Frequency response chart:
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Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - Shure SM27 frequency response

Shure KSM32

The KSM32 is one of the top side-address large diaphragm condenser mics available today, and it’s an excellent choice for vocals, acoustic instruments, and orchestral instruments.

The KSM32’s transformerless design eliminates low-frequency distortion for a clean and accurate signal path.

Its frequency response has built-in presence peaks at 7 kHz and 10 kHz which help make vocals stand out in a mix.

At 154 dB maximum SPL, it can serve as an excellent mic for guitar cabinets or drums without distortion issues.

The KSM32 is available in champagne and charcoal gray colors.

Shure KSM32

Check price:
AmazonGuitar Center

Shure KSM32 Specs:

  • Cardioid only pickup pattern
  • 30Hz – 20 kHz frequency response
  • 15dB pad
  • 3-position bass roll-off filter
  • 155 dB max SPL
  • Includes shock mount and case
Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - Shure KSM32

Frequency response chart:
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Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - Shure KSM32 frequency response

Shure KSM44A

shure-ksm44a-hitsThe KSM44A is a high-end condenser mic with everything you’d expect from a mic at this price point.  It has found its way into many producers’ and engineers’ mic lockers over the years.

It has cardioid, omni and figure-8 pickup patterns to allow you maximum flexibility in getting the best sound onto tape or your DAW.

An internal pop filter helps screen out unwanted pops when recording vocals.

Listen to the KSM44A in action at the Shure Mic Listening Lab.

Shure KSM44A

Check price:
AmazonGuitar Center

Shure KSM44A Specs:

  • Approx. price: $999
  • Cardioid, omni and figure-8 pickup pattern
  • 20 Hz – 20 kHz frequency response
    15 dB pad
  • 3-position bass roll-off filter
  • 131 dB max SPL
  • Includes shock mount, stand mount, mic pouch and carrying case
Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - Shure KSM44A

Frequency response chart:
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Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - Shure KSM44A frequency response

Rode NTK, Rode NT1-A, Rode NT-2000

Rode makes a lot of large diaphragm condenser mics that are highly sought after by professional and project studios around the world. 

Their NT line consists of these mics:

  • NT-SF1 360 ° surround sound mic,
  • NTR ribbon mic
  • NT5 ½” compact condenser mic
  • NT55 multi-pattern ½” condenser mic
  • NT3 ¾” condenser mic
  • NTK tube condenser mic
  • NT1 and NT1-A 1” condenser mic
  • NT2-A multi-pattern condenser mic
  • NT1000 condenser mic
  • NT2000 variable condenser mic
  • NTG2, NTG3 and NTG8 shotgun mics
  • NTG4+ directional condenser mic
  • NT-USB USB mic
  • NT6 ½” compact condenser mic
  • NT4 X/Y stereo mic

I’m going to review 3 of their most popular large diaphragm mics here, the Rode NTK, Rode NT1-A, and the Rode NT-2000. The small-diaphragm NT5 was reviewed earlier.

NOTE: Rode posts this announcement on its website about purchasing from Amazon in the U.S.:

“Important information about purchasing from the US.

If you see a price that looks too good to be true, it probably is! Beware of counterfeit goods. Check our website to make sure you’re purchasing from an authorized RØDE reseller. For quick reference NO FBA reseller (FULFILLMENT BY AMAZON) on Amazon is authorized.”

On Amazon, make sure you buy from dealers directly, not when it says “Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.  You’ll find other sellers than Amazon under the “New” section (ex: “9 New from $399.00”).

Rode NTK

Best Microphones For Recording Vocals - Rode NTK

The Rode NTK is a tube condenser mic that features a large 1” capsule with a gold-plated diaphragm.  It delivers a warm detailed sound comparable to mics costing twice as much!

If you’re looking for that smooth classic sound heard on many hits from the 60s, 70s, and 80s, this is your mic!

Rode has taken today’s technology and paired it with classic tube circuitry.  The result is that the NTK combines the best of old-school tube warmth with a clean transparent sound, wide dynamic range, and low noise. 

The NTK is perfect for recording vocals, acoustic instruments, drum overheads, guitar amps, and piano.

All Rode mics come with an extended 10-year warranty (following online registration).

Hear the NTK in action here on vocals, guitars, piano, and more:
Rode Soundbooth
Rode Soundcloud

Rode NTK

Check price:
AmazonGuitar Center

Rode NTK Specs:

  • Cardioid pickup pattern
  • 20 Hz – 20 kHz frequency response
  • 158 dB max SPL
  • Includes power supply, 30-foot cable, stand adapter and case
Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - Rode NTK

Frequency response chart:
Click image for larger popup

Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - Rode NTK frequency response

Rode NT1-A

Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - Hit Records recorded with the Rode NT1-AThe Rode NT1-A is a professional quality mic at a value price.  It delivers a clear warm sound, extended dynamic range, and high SPL capability usually found in much more expensive microphones.

It a complete redesign of the now classic original NT-1.  The original won an EM Editors’ Choice Award in 2004, as well as an award for the world’s quietest studio condenser microphone, with only 5 dB of self-noise!

The NT1-A excels at recording vocals, guitar, and percussion.

Rode NT1-A

Check price:
AmazonGuitar Center

Rode NT1-A Specs:

  • Cardioid pickup pattern
  • 20 Hz – 20 kHz frequency response
  • Includes shock mount, stand mount, mic pouch and carrying case
Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - Rode NT1-A

Frequency response chart:
Click image for larger popup

Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - Rode NTK frequency response

Rode NT-2000

The Rode NT-2000 stands out not only for its world-class sound but for its continuously variable polar pattern.

You can change it from omni to cardioid to figure-8, which is something rarely seen on other mics.

It also features a continuously variable pad and high-pass filter.

It’s no wonder that this flexibility combined with its stellar sound won it the EM Editors’ Choice Award in 2005.

The NT-2000 features extremely low self-noise (7 dB), plus a transformerless design that delivers clear detailed results with wide dynamic range.

Hear the NT-2000 in action here on acoustic guitar, piano, and bass:
Rode Soundbooth
Rode Soundcloud

Rode NT-2000

Check price:
Amazon

Rode NT-2000 Specs:

  • Cardioid pickup pattern
  • 20 Hz – 20 kHz frequency response
  • 147 dB max SPL
  • Includes SM2 shock mount and RC1 carrying case
Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - Rode NT-2000

Frequency response chart:
Click image for larger popup

Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - Rode NT-2000 frequency response

Blue Microphones Baby Bottle And Blueberry

Blue Microphones makes a wide range of cool and distinctive looking mics at a variety of price points.  Blue mics are especially popular with home studio owners as they deliver exceptional sound quality at an affordable price.

I’ve chosen two of their best-selling mics, presented here with the lower-priced model first.

Blue Microphones Baby Bottle

The Baby Bottle is a Class-A solid-state condenser mic that delivers the classic Blue sound at a very affordable price point.  Its design is based off their high-end mics that cost almost 10x more!

With a hand-built capsule and transformerless design, this mic delivers accurate recordings with little coloration of the sound.

Studio owners love the Baby Bottle for creating vocal recordings with a warm detailed midrange.

Its deep bass response and low noise are perfect for capturing electric and acoustic guitars, drum overheads, percussion, piano, horns, strings and more.

Blue Microphones Baby Bottle

Check price:
Amazon | Guitar Center

Blue Microphones Baby Bottle Specs:

  • Cardioid pickup pattern
  • 20 Hz – 20 kHz frequency response
  • 138 dB max SPL
  • Includes a shock mount, custom pop filter, and a wood storage box
Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - Blue Mics Baby Bottle

Frequency response chart:
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Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - Blue Mics Baby Bottle frequency response

Blue Microphones Blueberry

The Blueberry is a higher-end condenser mic that is designed to help vocals and instruments stand out in a mix.

It delivers tight mids and lows and a silky top end which are perfect for recording vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, drums, strings, and woodwinds.

Mix Magazine had this to say in a review:

“The Blueberry provided an un-hyped sound that was quite natural, with an uncolored off-axis response.   It is an excellent all-around studio mic whose natural reproduction, clean output and versatility make it a good choice either as a first large-diaphragm mic for the novice or as an addition to a well-stocked mic locker.”

Ocean Way Engineer Billy Bush on the Blueberry Mic

Blue Microphones Blueberry

Check price:
AmazonGuitar Center

Blue Microphones Blueberry Specs:

  • Cardioid pickup pattern
  • 20 Hz – 20 kHz frequency response
  • 140 dB max SPL
  • Includes a shock mount and a cherry wood case
Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - Blue Mics Blueberry

Frequency response chart:
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Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones - Blue Mics Blueberry frequency response

Conclusion

The 20 best small and large condenser mics that I’ve reviewed are the cream of the crop; they’re all mics that are proven to deliver fantastic sounding recordings for owners all over the world.  And they all retail for under $1,000.

You really can’t go wrong with any of them!

Remember, there are no “perfect” mics – each mic will sound different depending on the vocalist or instrumentalist, recording studio, mic preamp and other studio gear.

So to get started, choose a mic on this list that fits your budget and your intended recording uses.  If it works for pro studios, it should work for you too!

One final thing: Don’t forget a pop filter and high-quality mic preamp to get the best sound from your new mic!

 

 

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