Condenser mics are the tool of choice when it comes to recording in a studio.
They’ve got the sensitivity to pick up on every little detail you add to any sound you are making, whether that is with your voice or an instrument of your choice.
The trouble with searching for a good condenser microphone is that there are just so many to choose from!
That’s why we have put created this buyer’s guide for you.
Whether you’re a seasoned recorder who’s looking for something a little more upmarket, a newbie who wants to buy their first microphone, or just someone who’s looking to see what their options are right now.
There’ll be something in this guide for you!
For our first microphone up at the stand, we have the Neumann TLM 170 R condenser mic, one of the finest long-running models you can find on the market.
The 170 has been in production for over 30 years!
Neumann has been a trusted manufacturer of high-quality microphones for decades at this point, and the experienced most certainly shows through in the TLM 170 R.
The transformerless model gives an excellent level of audio output that has kept it relevant for decades at this point.
This condenser microphone is perfect for any professional starting out in recording, whether that’s in a studio, for TV or movie, or in front of an audience.
There’s no worry about being heard with this microphone!
Plus, the 5 directional pattern feature of the microphone means that it’ll be able to pick up sound no matter where you’re standing around it.
- 5 Directional Patterns – No direction away from this piece of hardware is out of recording range.
- Great Frequency Response – A great way of reducing the reverberation response from around you whilst you’re using your microphone.
- Massive range of frequencies – With a range of 130 dB, this microphone will be able to pick up just about anything you’re throwing its way, whether that’s vocals or anything instrumental you might have planned up your sleeves
- Reliable model – This model has been a mainstay of recording studios for over 30 years. If it isn’t broken, why try and fix it?
- Flat Cardioid – The affected area of sound is a little flat, meaning a packed room may experience your input a little different depending on where they stand
It’s a very sensitive piece of equipment that can take a while to get used to and adjust for your own needs.
But once you’ve got that nailed down, and you start playing around with it, it’s a microphone that you’ll be able to reliably use anytime.
- Multipattern large diaphragm microphone with 5 polar patterns (omni, wide cardioid, cardioid, hypercardioid, figure-eight)
- Navigation switch with LED illuminated display for polar pattern, PAD and low cut
- Sound characteristics: transparent, natural reproduction of human voice, outstanding transient response
- Balanced sound in all 5 polar pattern settings
- Stand mount included (suspension shockmount not included)
For another trusted name in the microphone business, we have the NT1 from Rode.
They’ve been making musical equipment for over 50 years, so they know a few things about putting together a good microphone.
The NT1 keeps up Rode’s appearances by that measure, as it’s the perfect microphone if you’re looking for a device that is perfect for voices and vocals.
That doesn’t mean it loses out on instrumental sounds though.
This mic will be able to pick up some great sounds from plenty of instruments too. Guitars, whether they’re a six-string model or a 12-string, will sound amazing with the NT1.
Plus, there’s no feedback from this model either.
The amount of sound that the microphone itself makes is tiny, barely even scraping past 4 dBA, a tiny amount when compared to the levels you’ll be recording at.
- Amazing quality of sound – No need to worry about how you sound here. You’ll be crisp and clear no matter what kind of sounds you’re playing with, whether it is a musical instrument or your vocal instrument!
- Sturdy build – Nothing feels cheap or from sub-quality parts. It’s a sturdy, well-made microphone that feels like it’s built to industry standards.
- No background noise from the mic – No need to worry about feedback coming from this microphone!
- Very Reasonably priced – For a piece of kit that does so much, the prices that you can expect to find the NT1 at are very reasonable, especially when compared to other mics on this list. And it comes with its pop shield and shock mount! Great for someone looking for their first condenser microphone.
- No padding – You might find a recording with this microphone has some drawbacks if you’re playing or speaking too close to it. Without any extra padding, a little of that crispness you otherwise get from it is unfortunately lost.
This model is light and portable, great for when you need to be recording on the move, or at different studios whenever you set it up.
If you are recording out in the open though, I would recommend getting a wind-muffler with this model, as that gets picked up pretty easily.
- Includes the RODE AI-1 USB Audio Interface - adds studio-quality input and output capabilities to your computer
- Includes RODE NT1 - 1" diaphragm condenser microphone
- Includes SM6 shock mount, pop-shield, RODE XLR cable, USB-C/A cables, and power - 48V phantom power
- Neutrik combo jack - 3-pole XLR mic input & 1/4” instrument jack
Lewitt is a quality microphone manufacturing company based in Austria, with some of the most premium microphone tools, technology, and hardware at their fingertips.
And this model, the LCT 940, is a part of that cutting edge, able to switch between tube and FET. How many other microphones can claim to have two in one like this?
Are you having trouble figuring out which setting is best for you in a given situation? Not to worry, the remote control unit that comes with this mic.
No matter what polar patterns you need, whether cardioid, broad cardioid, omni, or any of the other nine options at your fingertips, you rest assured that Lewitt’s LCT 940 has something for you!
- Versatile microphone for any occasion – All it takes to switch between its setting is the twist of a switch, and you’re ready to go to town with your performances!
- Great quality of build – Not only is the design of the microphone unique amongst its competitors, but it holds the device together really well too.
- Power supply included – If you’re looking for a microphone that comes with its own battery, the PSU 940 power supply packaged with this microphone will do just nicely for you.
- Great low-cut filter – Those background noises that are ruining your set won’t be a problem with this microphone!
- On the pricier side – This is certainly not the cheapest option that you’ll find for condenser microphones. Still, for a microphone that is supported and built to last, the upfront cost might be the only cost you have to pay for a long time with this kit.
If you’re looking for a microphone that will cover all your bases, it’s hard to go wrong with this model from Lewitt.
Whilst there are definitely cheaper options, the options that this model comes with definitely help cover that cost.
After all, why buy three different microphones for three different purposes, when one can do it all?
- Two in one: a premium large-diaphragm TUBE and FET condenser microphone in one housing
- Continuously variable switching and merging of tube and FET sound via rotating potentiometer
- 9 directional characteristics provide maximum flexibility in a wide variety of applications
- 1-inch externally biased, dual-system capsule with ultra-thin, gold-layered low-mass diaphragms combined with a dual triode tube ensures accurate transient response while providing smooth, warm and airy tube sound
- Superior dynamic range of 128 dB-A (Tube)/135 dB-A (FET) and exceptionally low self-noise of 12 dB-A (Tube)/8 dB-A (FET)
For something on the more budget side of the spectrum, we turn to Aston’s Spirit Microphone.
Although they have only been in the game since 2015, Aston has already shown that they can make great microphones, with the Stealth and the Origin model.
And now, they help bring quality condenser microphones to the masses with the Spirit.
With a low-cut filter to stop those pesky quiet noises, you can’t seem to get rid of, you can be sure the only noise you’ll be hearing is the sound of your own voice or the riff of your guitar.
Say goodbye to those unwanted frequencies!
- Great for voices, great for instrumentals – Whatever instrument you’re using, whether that’s a guitar, a set of drums, a flute, or your own voice, this microphone will be able to pick it up!
- Entry price is a steal – There probably aren’t many other high-quality condenser mics on the market that can do what this does for the same price. Undoubtedly something to consider if you are still testing the waters with buying a condenser microphone.
- Great polar pattern options – the mic body can be switched up between cardioid omni, or figure-8 patterns. A good variety of sound pick-ups for a microphone, especially for something of this mic’s general price range.
- Extras not included – Unfortunately, this microphone does not come with extra parts such as a pop shield or shock mount. You’ll have to find those for yourself.
The lack of a shock mount really made this tricky to set up for recording, as it needs to be directly attached to a stand if you want to set this up properly.
However, the sounds it makes are nice and even, no harshness picked up at all.
If you want to use this mic solely for voice work, such as demo reels to send out, I would say that was a good use of your money and effort.
- Designed and built in the UK
- Multi pattern Microphone
- Built in Pop filter Built in Pop filter using the latest stainless steel mesh knit technology
- End Caps Direct to stand microphone mounting
- Capsule The Aston Sound Developed by Professional Artists, Engineers and Producers
Audio Technica has been in the business of sound equipment for a long time, with over 50 years of experience making microphones under its belt.
With the AT2035, they have attempted to bring studio-level quality to the home.
Bring a great little microphone into your office that can reduce pickup sounds in those zoom meetings, and your recording sessions!
- Very affordable pricing – You’re looking at a very reasonable price for a good condenser microphone. If you are looking to set up a home studio, whether for singing or for recording voice lines, or a podcast, then this is the equipment you’ll be looking for.
- Great range of extras – You’ll be ready to set up your recording spot with just this purchase, with options such as a shock mount, microphone stand, and a 212 audio pad.
- Crisp sounds all-around – Despite its low price tag, the sound quality this cardioid-pattern microphone generates is truly astonishing. Whilst it is designed for voices, it is also an excellent choice for recording with a guitar or even drums for that matter.
- Limited polar pattern function – Compared to the other microphones we have talked about on this list, many of which have multiple polar patterns available, having just one feels a little limiting.
- Extra’s bump up the cost – That reasonable price tag will quickly mount if you are looking to buy all the optional extras.
- Hot competition – Whilst this is an excellent microphone to purchase as a first-time microphone buyer, the other entry-point microphones available at this level make it somewhat difficult for the AT2035 to stand out amongst other competitors. The generic shape and design of the microphone don’t help it here.
The single noise pattern works well enough for a setup at home that you want to record in.
But I might be hesitant to recommend this mic to anyone who is more experienced with sound equipment, and wants a little more variety in their mic gear.
However, for a person just starting out in recording sounds of any kind, this microphone will serve you well in taking your first steps in this new frontier for you.
- DELIVERS SMOOTH, DETAILED AUDIO - The versatile Audio Technica AT2035 Microphone has a large diaphragm that produces pleasant, natural sound and 12dB low noise.
- OFFERS IMPROVED NOISE ISOLATION - The cardioid polar pattern of the microphone reduces the sound pickup from the rear and sides. You can freely record crystal-clear vocals or instruments.
- HANDLES HIGH SOUND PRESSURE LEVELS WITH EASE - The selectable 10dB attenuation pad enables the mic to handle high SPL signals up to 158dB without overloading.
- COMES WITH MIC POP FILTER - The 2-layer mesh windscreen blocks the air blasted from your mouth and disperses any remaining air pressure. It reduces popping and hisses caused by the plosive sounds.
- INCLUDES - Audio Technica AT2035 Cardioid Condenser Microphone. Mic Shock Mount. 5/8"-27 to 3/8"-16 Threaded Adapter. Protective Pouch. Blucoil Audio Microphone Pop Filter Double Layer Mask Shield for Studio Recording and Broadcasting with Stand Clip Stabilization Arm, Swivel Mount. 2-Pack of Blucoil 20-Foot Balanced XLR Cables - Premium Series 3-Pin Cable for Microphones, Speakers, and Pro Devices (Male-to-Female). Blucoil 5-Pack of Reusable Velcro Cable Ties.
In the last few years, blue has proven itself an exceptional provider for mics when it comes to pretty much any situation, whether that’s for musicians, voice actors, podcasters, streamers, and YouTubers.
The Kiwi might be their most impressive design to date.
Its dual-diaphragm capsule means that the sound coming through is crisp and smooth, without any need for extra padding or shielding to remove the harshness that might otherwise come with that.
- High-quality build – This microphone feels every bit as solid and well put together as you expect from Kiwi’s line of condensed microphones. Plus, it comes in that iconic blue microphone design that really sets it apart from other products on the market.
- Exceptional Polar pattern options – This microphone comes equipped with up to 9 polar patterns options as standard. Whether it’s omnidirectional, figure-of-8, cardioid, and many intermittent modes between them.
- A pricier buy for condenser microphones – Whilst many buyers can attest to its quality being well worth the initial steep price, it is a little hard to recommend this microphone to someone who is just starting out when it comes to buying condenser microphones. This is definitely an end-point to aspire to if you are committed to finding better microphones once you have some experience.
When you compare it to many other big names in the high-end microphone market, nothing is quite the same as a Kiwi Blue model mic.
This produces a beautiful sound when used correctly, with no harshness at all.
I think you’d have to be deliberately making your voice as shrill as possible to even try and pick that up in this piece of equipment.
- Nine-pattern condenser-cardioid, omnidirectional, figure-8 with variable settings in between
- Class A discrete amplifier circuit
- Blue's famous hand-built B6 large-diaphragm capsule
- Modern tone with a smooth extended top end with nine different pattern selections for tremendous versatility
- Hand-tuned and tested
Absolute titans of the technology industry, Sony is well known for providing a massive range of microphones, varying in price range, sound, and all sorts of levels of quality.
When people started looking to them for high-quality studio mics, their answer was the C-100, a microphone that can stand up to the rigors of any sort of recording, whether that’s just pure voice work, or instrumentation too.
Like many other high-quality microphones, the C-100 has a dual capsule setup that allows for brilliant sound quality, however, what Sony has done with this particular model is something special.
- Dual-capsule deluxe – This microphone has a sound setup very similar to many of Neumann’s highest quality microphones, Sony has taken some excellent lessons from their competitors.
- Great bandwidth options – From 20Hz, all the way up to 50Hz, there is an amazing range of sound available for this microphone, able to reproduce pretty much everything it picks up
- Several polar pattern options built-in – With figure 8, omnidirectional, and cardioid available in this model, you have a great range of options when it comes to how you want your gear to listen in yon what you’re saying playing.
- Sound range affected by surrounding equipment – The range that this microphone can reach is somewhat reduced by the cable and inputs that you may use. Low-quality jacks, or even high-quality long-distance jacks, have an effect on the sounds it produces. It seems that a lot of gear just isn’t equipped for the amazing range that this microphone provides.
- Excellent Sound Quality: Two-way microphone capsule structure realizes both broad high range and resonant mid-low range and gives great vocal presence. Excellent Sound Quality: Two-way microphone capsule structure realizes both broad high range and resonant mid-low range and gives great vocal presence.
- Noise Elimination Construction: Two-part metallic body structure succeeded from C-800G microphone prevents acoustic vibration resulting in low noise and clear sound.
- Wide Frequency Response: The C-100 microphone has a broad frequency response (20 Hz to 50kHz) and provides superb sound reproduction quality for High-Resolution Audio.
- Switchable Polar Patterns: The C-100 microphone features switchable uni-directional, omni-directional and Figure-8 ploar patterns for various recording applications.
- Pad Switch: A -10dB pad switch provides added headroom and minimizes distortion caused by transient peaks.
There is some exceptional gain to this microphone. It takes very little time to actually set up and tune to my needs whenever I use it. And of course, the sound quality is something to marvel at.
The sheer range is actually something that cannot be heard by humans approaching ultrasound territory.
I suppose you could always put on a show for any critters nearby who can hear it!
Tube VS FET Mic
You may have heard the terms ‘tube’ and ‘FET’ when it comes to how a microphone is advertised.
The main difference to keep in mind with these terms is that they mainly just different ways to describe impedance converters.
Which is a technical way of explaining how a microphone control the flow of its audio signal, an important detail when it comes to optimizing the kinds of sounds your microphone is making.
Tube microphones tend to require an outside power source to help manage their converters, usually through a vacuum tube system that usually creates a warmer sound, but is somewhat fragile and a bit pricier.
FET’s meanwhile, or ‘Field-Effect Transistors’, tend to generate a little less noise in themselves.
Whilst also being able to take a little more punishment, but create a colder sound’ where whatever sounds it hears a picked more realistically, with any imperfections along with it.
Some high-end microphones come with options that allow you to switch between either mode, depending on what your current needs are.
However, for the moment at least, this is only found in the most premium models.
If your ideal price range isn’t in the thousands, you may want to consider looking for a FED microphone.
If you have the budget, and you want a richer sound, then you might want to consider a tube mic.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is A Condenser Mic Good For?
Condenser mics are great for recording in studios.
They usually have a greater workable frequency than dynamic microphones, and have generally greater sound quality to them than a dynamic mic.
However, it is worth keeping in mind that dynamic mics are largely much more durable than condensed mics.
Which is why they are used in non-studio environment, such as on stage, and why condenser mics almost always stay in the studio.
So, there you have it. 7 of some of the best condenser microphones that you’ll find on the market today.
There are obviously many more that we couldn’t cover, but we felt that these covered a wide variety of needs that you might run into when you’re looking to purchase.
Especially if you’re relatively inexperienced when it comes to this particular market.
We hope you found this buyer’s guide to microphones helpful for starting your search.