The very first thing to have when you are starting a home studio is a condenser mic. Why choose a condenser mic over dynamic? While dynamic mic might be cheaper compared to a condenser, the latter is more sensitive.
Hence, perfect for capturing vocals and acoustic instrument sounds.
So, in this article, we are going to introduce our choices for the best condenser mics under $500. Yes, you can buy better and more reliable mic even lower than $500.
Yet, finding the best in this price range is very tricky. So, we’re here to assist you and at the end of our review, we give you our best pick.
Here are the best condenser mics under $500 in 2021
Using an industry standard condenser mic is a great advantage when recording at home or in the studio. Rode NT1-A gives you quality recordings, both for vocals and instruments, low self-noise (only 5dBA), high SPL capacity and more.
It’s a dynamic 1-inch cardioid true condenser, which is externally biased.
Its inherent low noise makes it an ideal vocal mic that can also record true tones of guitars and percussion. It’s even recognized as the world’s quietest studio mic with a wide dynamic range. Included in its pack are the pop shield, shock mouth, a 20-inch mic cable, dust cover, and an instructional video.
- No background noise
- Hum or hiss Nice warm and clear sound produced
- Set up is awesome with straightforward controls
- Not well-made
- Materials seem cheap
- Mic and the holder are a bit heavy
- Mic needs to be set up in a very quiet space because it’s very sensitive
Blue 1967 Yeti Pro USB Condenser Microphone
The first in the world of USB microphone with both 24-bit/192 kHz digital recording resolution and analog XLR output, Blue 1967 Yeti Pro USB Condenser Microphone can be the ultimate sound solution for all your needs.
It has three custom condenser capsule with four polar pattern settings — stereo, bidirectional, cardioid and omnidirectional. Includes a reliable analog-to-digital converter chip with a separate analog circuit path that you can use on advanced mixers and preamps.
With its built-in headphone amplifier, you can have zero-latency recording and direct control over the mic’s gain, pattern selection, volume and mute. This condenser mic gives you sound quality and clarity that is four times better than CDs. Great for home and studio recordings.
- Easy to use and to make adjustments
- Produce great sound and well-built
- Yet feature-packed
- Not capable of simultaneous analog and digital process
- Not lightweight
- Consider this when bringing the mic on the road
Apogee MIC PLUS USB Microphone
If you are looking for a studio-grade, professional, yet affordable USB condenser mic, we give you the Apogee MIC PLUS USB Microphone. It’s a great cardioid capsule with 46dB of mic preamp gain and PureDIGITAL connection for pristine sound quality up to 24-bit / 96kHz.
Since it’s USB-powered, you can maximize its connectivity to Mac or Windows PC, including iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch, as well. Record anytime, anywhere and still captures the true tone of your vocals and instruments.
Finally, take advantage of the headphone output with ‘Blend’ feature that helps you achieve zero-latency recordings.
- Easy to use and to connect
- Gives RAW vocal capabilities like those expensive mics
- Produces clear and crisp vocals
- Mic is smaller than other condenser mics
- Not a good choice for studio recording
- Better for high-frequency sounds
Sennheiser MK4 Condenser Microphone
Another reliable studio condenser mic that allows you to make great professional recordings is the Sennheiser MK4 Condenser Microphone. It features a large-diaphragm with 24-carat gold-plating, true condenser design, has full-metal housing and more.
It has inherent low self-noise with high maximum SPL to record outstanding sound quality with fine resolution.
Designed for both stage and studio use, this has 1-inch true condenser capsule from the e 965 high-end vocal mics for optimized recording. The capsule is shock-mounted internally so self-noise won’t interfere with your recordings, be it vocals or instrument sounds.
It’s perfect for interviews and is compatible with laptops and even with iOS devices.
- Captures more details of the sound than any other condenser mic
- Solid build and better craftsmanship
- Has a very attractive finish
- Aesthetics is not that appealing
- Need to stay close to the mic for it to capture even low frequencies
Blue Microphones Bluebird
If you want clarity on the high, smoothness on the mids and richness on the low frequencies, have the Blue Microphones Bluebird. It is a versatile and reliable condenser mic that helps you achieve pristine sound and recordings.
It’s a large-diaphragm studio condenser mic with a high-pass filter and -20dB pad which can record nearly everything with clarity, including vocals, guitars, piano and percussion.
Enjoy the versatility of this hand-tuned capsule with large-diaphragm cardioid polar pattern to capture the full, open and true tone of each instrument and vocals. This type of condenser mic is perfect for home studio recordings on USB audio interfaces and other musical devices.
- Great for quick and easy voiceovers
- For recording loud vocals and music instruments
- May catch too much background noise
- Not good for recording quieter vocals and sounds
AKG C214 Professional Condenser Microphone
Intelligently designed for recording of lead vocals and solo instruments, the AKG C214 Professional Condenser Microphone has premium features from the high-end C414 family.
It comes with 1-inch dual capsule cardioid condenser with an integrated suspension to minimize mechanical noise and vibrations when performing on stage.
It’s made with an all-metal die-cast body that has scratch- and shock-proof finish with a gold-plated XLR output.
Thanks to its 20dB attenuator and bass-cut filter, you’ll be able to record up close, as if proximity is of no effect. It can be used in sound fields as high as 156dB SLP so you can use it for very loud applications like drums, guitar amps, and high-output brass.
It comes with double mesh and all-metal construction that protects the capsule and ensures high RF immunity. Hence, you can record and perform without any interference and unavoidable mechanical noise.
- It’s sturdy to use and reliable for onstage performances
- Ideal for recording vocals
- Both singing and speaking
- Great on guitars
- Both acoustic and electric
- Might be a bit bright and sharp
- Especially the ‘S’ sound
- Rear shielding is too loose
- Not recommended for bigger and louder crowd as it does pick up ambient sound
Shure SM7B Cardioid Dynamic Microphone
Still falls below $500, Shure packs great features and capabilities on its affordable Shure SM7B Cardioid Dynamic Microphone. Shure is one of the trusted brands when it comes to condenser mics and you can expect the same amazing features from its top-grade mics.
Popular on radio and TV, this classic cardioid capsule gives the maximum rejection and minimum coloration of off-axis sounds to record vocals and instruments with great efficiency.
The SM7B dynamic microphone has flat, wide-range frequency response to capture the natural sound of vocals and instruments. Features enhanced rejection of electromagnetic hum from computers and other devices in the studio, neon lights and other sources of electronic signals.
These signals might interfere with the ideal recording environment.
It has enhanced bracket design for more stability, A7WS windscreen for close talks and internal ‘air suspension’ shock isolation for eliminating mechanical noise transmission.
- Produces professional
- Crisp and clean recordings
- Built to last with top-notch quality
- Should be a little consistent with the sound quality
- Internal shock mount is unreliable
- Captures some vibrations and doesn’t reject ambient noise
A professional and tested condenser mic with all the controls on-board, plus a low-price point, is what Rode NT2A is all about. It has three-position pick-up patterns, pad and high-pass filter switches that you can easily access at the body of the mic.
One of its noticeable features is the frequency and transient response, which complements the modern recording techniques in today’s generation.
The Rode NT2A is versatile, which allows you to preserve the silky smooth character of your recordings like the legendary mics of the 50s and 60s. It has ultra-low self-noise, a large-diaphragm condenser mic under $500 that has internal capsule shock mounting. Moreover, included in the package is the SM6 shock mount, dust cover, cable and exclusive NT2-A recording techniques DVD with John Merchant.
- Has extra features like high-pass filter and on-body multi-polar pattern setting
- Great flat response and solid built
- Exquisite sound quality
- Great for vocals
- Especially female
- Doesn’t come with a hard case to store the mic as you go
- Might be a bit noisy on hot days and environment
Electro-Voice RE-20 Cardioid Microphone
Electro-Voice RE-20 Cardioid Microphone is another great condenser mic under $500. It’s a professional dynamic cardioid mic that offers the greatest rejection at 180-degrees off-axis to the rear, allowing only the true tone of vocals and instruments.
It’s capable of recording and reproducing high sound pressure levels without any distortions and overload, which is true in phantom-powered condensers.
With its integral blast and wind filter, you can record well with quality even when singers can ‘close talk’ to the mic without worrying of the “P-pops” and excessive sibilance.
The filter also shock-mount mic internally to reduce the transfer of vibrations from external sources. It has great steel housing with an effective humbucking coil to ensure the mic’s resistance to magnetically induce noise and external hums.
- Used for professional sound recordings and radio broadcasting
- Fairly-priced cardioid mic that produces amazing sound
- Fantastic mic meets all expectations]
- Set up is quite a challenge
- A little on the expensive side
Avantone Pro CV-12
You don’t need to spend thousands if you want to get premium and first-class sound and vocal recordings. All you need is the Avantone Pro CV-12. This large-diaphragm condenser is reliable to capture rich, smooth and colorful vocals and recordings.
It’s a versatile condenser mic with nine selectable polar patterns which helps you adjust to the ever-changing demands in the recording industry. With a low price point and the accessories it’s bundled with — wooden box, metal road case, shock mount — you’re sure to take on any challenges in your career.
- Has great build quality
- Shock mount is excellent and reliable
- Provides the best value for your money
- Thumbscrew in the shock mount is too tight
- Needs a lubricant to loosen it a bit
- Some complained that power supply produces noticeable noise
HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST CONDENSER MICS UNDER $500
Having to select one from the ocean of microphones in the market is daunting. But, if you know your preferences and the purpose of why you are buying it, your choices can be narrowed down. Below are some things you need to examine in a condenser mic, especially for the $500 price point and below.
Build and Design — Condenser mics are usually sleek, small and beautiful. However, don’t be fooled by their design, be wise to check on their craftsmanship quality, too. On the other hand, don’t just pick up any mic without considering its design and look, especially if you are using it for broadcast or live performances.
Polar patterns — Polar pattern shows where the mic is picking up signals. Basically, there are three polar patterns according to e-Home Recording studio including cardioid (picks up front and disregards rear), omnidirectional (records every signal around the mic) and bi-directional (picks up front and rear).
A condenser mic can have one, two or more polar pattern setting, which can be changed via controls or knobs.
Proximity Effect — If you use common house use microphones, you’ll notice that as you speak closer to the mic, your voice gets deeper and louder. Hip-hop and rap artists take advantage of this phenomenon to get that deep and rich tone they want to have.
The Music Kitchen says that cardioid mics have this advantage, but some mics also use a high-pass filter to be able to allow low frequencies ranging from 75 Hz or 80 Hz to pass through.
Consistency — Some brands have their products made overseas to cut costs, thereby, lesser quality for them to offer their mic at a lower price. So, don’t just trust the brand, check for reviews and do your homework — research. While we give you some initial kick to get started, it’s up to you to use this buying guide and review to your advantage.
Before spending a few hundred dollars on your next microphone, it’s best to know what your criteria are. While we have already given you a few tips above, this YouTube video expounds and gives more tips. For a more intelligent choice, watch the video now.
Why You Should Invest On a Good Condenser Mic?
If you’ve been reading our blog for quite some time, then you know that we don’t believe in price tags. Just because something is expensive, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the best gear out there.
So why would we convince you to invest in a good condenser microphones under $500 when you can get a really good one for under $100?
The answer is simple: these condenser microphones are great for those who need it. As a professional, your needs would vary from someone who just started with recording. It has nothing to do with quality, but rather the features included in the apparatus.
If you are serious about recording and if you work with it on a daily basis, you might want to get something a bit more advanced. A higher-priced condenser can give you a bigger palette – more possibilities for sound customization.
But again, this would totally depend on what your needs are. Before purchasing, think about what you would like to achieve with your mic and your studio.
What is the best condenser mic under $500?
As you noticed, Rode NT1-A and Rode NT2A Anniversary mics are included in the list mainly because they are both great and affordable.
Quick Answer: If we are to choose one, what excels in terms of features is the Rode NT2A Anniversary Condenser Microphone, and it’s our choice for the best condenser mic under $500. It has noticeable features not found in other condenser mics in this price range..
However, in terms of versatility, another product in this list, Avantone Pro CV-12, is also a great one. It features nine polar patterns for various applications. So, which is which?
Our final choice for the best condenser mic under $500 is the Rode NT2A Anniversary. It’s versatile, with ultra-low self-noise and feature-packed, giving you a complete and reliable condenser mic.