Best condenser microphone

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A condenser microphone requires power to be sent through the microphone cable to work properly. If you’re having trouble recording, make sure your condenser microphone is getting the power it needs.

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Which condenser microphones are best?

Before the internet, microphones were mostly considered devices used by musicians, DJs, and radio personalities. Times have changed. Whether you’re a musician, a YouTuber, or you have a podcast, if you create audio content of any type, the most important tool in your arsenal is a top-quality condenser microphone.

Condenser microphones allow you to accurately capture your performance, whether spoken or sung. Our favorite, Shure’s BETA 87A Supercardioid Handheld Condenser Microphone, is a remarkable instrument designed to capture all the nuances of a vocal performance. If you’d like to learn more about this as well as other high-quality condenser microphones, keep reading.

What to know before you buy a condenser microphone

Polar patterns

Basically, how a microphone “hears” is called its polar pattern. There are a number of different patterns, but the three you want to focus on are omnidirectional, cardioid, and bidirectional.

  • Omnidirectional: This type of microphone records everything — sounds that originate from in front of, behind, and even on the sides of the microphone.
  • Cardioid: This is the type of microphone you want for most situations, as it focuses solely on the sounds that originate in front of the microphone. If there are extraneous sounds coming from other areas, this microphone does not pick them up.
  • Bidirectional: This microphone focuses on the sounds coming from in front of and behind the microphone. You might use this type at a lecture, as one side picks up the speaker and the other picks up questions from the audience.

What to look for in a quality condenser microphone

There are many other tech features and specs that can make purchasing a microphone overwhelming. If you focus on just a few key areas, you can quickly find the best model for you.

Plug-and-play

If you are using your condenser microphone with a computer, opt for a USB model that just plugs in and is recognized without the need for additional hardware or software.

Monitoring

All computer recording has a latency issue — it takes time for the computer to process the audio signal, and the delay can make it impossible to record a live track in time with a previously recorded audio track. The easiest way to hear in real time is to get a microphone that includes a headphone jack.

Mix

The best condenser microphones (for computers) have a built-in mix knob that allows you to adjust the balance between live and prerecorded audio.

Stand

A durable shock-absorbing stand is greatly appreciated in almost any recording situation.

How much you can expect to spend on a condenser microphone

A condenser microphone that can be worn on a lapel is available for under $20. If you’d like to get into podcasting, you can likely find the condenser microphone you need for between $40-$100. If you want to go high-end, home-studio use, you could easily spend up to $250. Professional condenser microphones, on the other hand, can cost over $1,000.

Condenser microphone FAQ

Q. Why would I want a condenser microphone?

A. A condenser microphone is designed to capture the subtle nuances of sound over a wide frequency range, so it’s typically used in a more intimate environment such as a recording studio.

Q. Why wouldn’t I want to use a condenser microphone?

A. A good rule of thumb is to not use a condenser mic on anything you need to record that is loud and close, such as a guitar amp, loud vocals, or a live rock band. All of those situations would be better served with a dynamic microphone.

What are the best condenser microphones to buy?

Top condenser microphone

Shure’s BETA 87A Supercardioid Handheld Condenser Microphone

Shure’s BETA 87A Supercardioid Handheld Condenser Microphone

Our take: A top-quality condenser microphone best suited for a vocalist.

What we like: This model features a built-in pop filter to reduce some of the undesirable elements of a vocal performance. The wide dynamic range and smooth frequency response along with the supercardioid polar pattern combine to make this an exceptional microphone.

What we dislike: This microphone is designed for musicians and requires an adapter or an audio interface to work with a computer.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top condenser microphone for the money

Blue’s Yeti Silver Edition USB Microphone

Blue’s Yeti Silver Edition USB Microphone

Our take: An affordable, highly versatile condenser microphone that can be adapted to a wide variety of situations.

What we like: This microphone allows you to switch between four different polar patterns to quickly fine-tune the device to your specific needs. The zero-latency headphone monitoring is greatly appreciated and the plug-and-play feature makes it easy to get the microphone up and running.

What we dislike: Although this microphone performs well, it feels a little flimsy to some users.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Audio-Technica’s Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone

Audio-Technica’s Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone

Our take: A solid USB condenser microphone that comes with a cable, pouch, and stand.

What we like: The microphone has a built-in headphone jack so you can monitor the recording signal with no latency. The mix control allows you to blend prerecorded audio with your live signal. The plug-and-play feature makes the microphone detectable by either a Mac or Windows system without the need for special drivers.

What we dislike: The care and quality that went into manufacturing the microphone are not as evident in the build quality of the stand.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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