When it comes to finding the microphone that will do the best job for you, there are literally hundreds of choices. How can you possibly decide which one is right for you? The trick is to figure out the right balance between price and quality. In this article, I’m going to show you some different microphones that don’t qualify as “cheap” but are still relatively affordable as compared to top-line models. Here is a list of the best vocal recording mic on the market under $200.
To begin with, it’s useful to understand a little bit about the science behind microphones in order to get a feel for what they do. On this site, you can read an article about condenser microphones that also has valuable information about mics in general that will get you up to speed. In that article, one of the most basic distinctions between microphones is the one between dynamic and condenser mics. If you are in a rock band that involves loud music and loud vocals to go with it during live performances, then the dynamic microphone is the one for you. They are very sturdy and can really take a beating and keep working. They are also relatively inexpensive, which is good news if you’re on a tight budget. In addition, they do not require any additional power supply to operate them. Here are a few very solid dynamic mics to check out:
The Shure SM58 is without doubt the standard dynamic mic used in live performance settings. To get it with a cable on Amazon will run you in the vicinity of $110, give or take a few dollars. It’s incredibly rugged and does a great job of picking up sound in front of it and a little from the sides while being much less susceptible to feedback in loud-music settings. It has a frequency response or range tailored for vocals (50Hz-15,000Hz, with brightened midrange and bass roll-off. The overall sensitivity is rated at -54.5 dBV. Of course, you can also get this with an on/off switch for more money.
AKG D5S Professional Dynamic
The AKG D5S Professional Dynamic Stage Vocal Microphone is a direct competitor of the Shure SM58. It’s also retailing on Amazon for about $10 less than the Shure, clocking in at around $100, although that does not include a cable. The “S” in the product name indicates that it has an on/off switch (the regular D5 does not, and is also slightly cheaper because of that). In terms of how the sound is different from the Shure, it does better at both the high and low end, producing a slightly more detailed sound. Frequency range is 70Hz-20,000Hz with sensitivity of -51.7 dBV.
The Sennheiser E835 Dynamic Cardioid Vocal Microphone is another that fits well into this range of dynamic microphones at decent prices. As with the other dynamic mics listed above, you can easily go higher in price on upgraded models, such as the E935. The E835 retails on Amazon for right around $100 without the cable. Frequency range is 70Hz-20,000Hz with sensitivity of -51.4 dBV. The way people compare this one to the others is that it adds body to your sound but with a bit of “congestion” in the lower midrange, as if you have a slight cold.
Condenser microphones, on the other hand, are more fragile, more expensive, and also require an additional power supply to operate, either from a battery or “phantom power” supplied from other audio equipment that the mic is plugged into (mic preamp, mixer, audio interface, etc.). They can be used in live performances, but not in any way that would involve any kind of rough handling. Here are a few that will do wonders for your studio or live ensemble recording needs:
sE Electronics Magneto
The sE Electronics Magneto Condenser Microphone is one of the least expensive but decent-quality condenser mics you’ll find, currently retailing on Amazon for $119. It’s a large-diaphragm mic, which means it’s great at capturing a really wide, diverse range of sounds. Frequency range is 20Hz-20,000Hz with an overall sensitivity of -34dB±3dB. If you’re interested, there’s a limited edition of this one available in what they call purple, but it’s clearly lavender, which might explain why it’s typically on sale for nearly $20 less than the black model. It’s the same mic, though, so if you can live with the color, it’s a great bargain!
The Audio-Technica AT2020 USB Condenser USB Microphone is one I’ve included because it offers the added convenience of plugging it directly into your computer via a USB port, which means it’s ideal for use in a home studio for podcasting and voiceover/narration projects. It’s currently retailing on Amazon for $129 and has gotten very good reviews. Frequency range is 20Hz-16,000Hz with an overall sensitivity of -57dBV.
The Behringer T-47 Tube Condenser Microphone. Available on Amazon for $179.99, this is the most inexpensive real vacuum tube condenser mic you’ll find anywhere. Frequency range is 20Hz-20,000Hz with an overall sensitivity of -40dBV. People who are fans of tube condenser mics say they have a more vintage sound to them because they’re more like the old-time radio mics, meaning they have a rich, warm sound often described as “tube mellow.” You’ll have to decide for yourself, though.
If you’re convinced that the condenser mic is the way to go for your vocal recording needs and you really don’t have the budget to afford the above options, you should check another article on this site about Cheap Condenser Microphones for Less than $100. Between that article and this one, you should be well on your way to selecting the best vocal recording mic that will meet your needs and your budget.