If you haven’t already read my informational article on condenser microphones, it might be a good idea to do that before you read this one. The information contained in this article will make a lot more sense to you if you first read What is a Condenser Microphone and do You Need One? In it I explained the difference between condenser and dynamic microphones in terms of when each is most appropriate, and then drilled down into three different types of condenser microphones and when you would want to use each of them. In this article I present my top picks of each type of cheap condenser microphone for less than $100 ,that each represent a great combination of solid technical specifications at an affordable price.
Tube Condenser Microphones
As it turns out, you really can’t get a vacuum tube condenser for less than $100. However, what you can get is the MXL V67G Large Capsule Condenser Microphone. You can find these on Amazon for around $80. Although it is not a tube condenser microphone, it has been specifically formulated to produce that “tube mellow” sound that people look for in a tube microphone. This microphone has well over 100 reviews, and nearly 90% of them are either 4 or 5 stars, so people are definitely getting the results they want from it. If you’re looking for that tube sound without paying tube prices, the MXL V67G offers what you’re looking for at a very affordable price. Technical specs: Frequency range (30Hz – 20kHz); sensitivity (-56dB); impedance (200 ohms).
If you really have your heart set on a real vacuum tube condenser microphone, here are some models you can find on Amazon with their current list prices: Behringer T-47 at $179.99; BadAax T-11A at $182.36; Behringer T-1 at $252.97; MXL V69XM at $264.99; and the Nady TCM-1050 at $279.99. Of course they continue on up in price from there, if you’re interested.
Stereo Condenser Microphones
In this category there are several models that are actually priced under $50, but the reviews of those products are not nearly as good as you want them to be, barely reaching above 3 stars. Luckily, there are several models priced between $50-$100 that do have solid reviews of either 4 or more stars, including the following:
The Sony ECM-DS70P Electret Stereo Condenser Microphone list price changes frequently, but is typically in the range of $50-$75. Of the 119 customer reviews of the product, 87 of them are either 4 or 5 star reviews, making this microphone your best bet in terms of affordability and quality. However, also realize that it is a very small microphone and is particularly geared towards use with portable mini-disc, cassette decks and DAT players. This means it’s a great choice for recording live events on the fly. Technical specs: Frequency range (100Hz – 15kHz); sensitivity (-38dB, ±3.5dB); impedance (1k ohms).
The Azden High-performance (SMX-10) Stereo Condenser Microphone is a seven-inch mic that includes a built-in cable, shock-mount and foam windscreen that runs on a single AAA battery. It is a dual uni-directional, electret-condensor, compact shotgun mic (although you won’t be able to pick up conversations from 30 feet away). This is a great mic often listed for $79.95. Out of 113 customer reviews, 81 of them are either 4 or 5 stars. The general consensus is that for its price, you’re not going to find a better stereo condenser mic than this one! Technical specs: Frequency range (100Hz – 18kHz); sensitivity (-40dB); impedance (1.5k ohms).
Vocal Condenser Microphones
The MXL 770 Cardioid Condenser Microphone is the clear choice when it comes to cheap vocal condenser microphones under $100. I’ve seen it listed under $80. Whatever kind of vocals you need to capture, the MXL 770 is an all-around great microphone for a wide range of applications. It handles bass solidly as well as the upper range. Of the 121 customer reviews as of this writing, a full 95 of them were 5 stars and 23 more were 4 stars. People love this microphone! It does need the 48V of phantom power to operate properly. Technical specs: Frequency range (30Hz – 20kHz); sensitivity (-56dB); impedance (150 ohms).
The CAD GXL2200 Cardioid Condenser Microphone is another great choice for an all-around great vocal microphone. It has internal hi-pass filter and comes with n elastic shock-mount and protective pouch. Note that 48V of phantom power is needed to operate the microphone. Of the 127 customer reviews, 93 of them are either 4 or 5 stars, so this is a very solid microphone among people out there who are using it. Technical specs: Frequency range (30Hz – 20kHz); sensitivity (-36dB); impedance (75 ohms).
As you can easily see, there really are cheap condenser microphones for less than $100 with surprisingly solid technical specifications along with great customer reviews. So what are you waiting for? You could be making great recordings in a matter of days if you order one of these microphones. The combination of price and quality is irresistible!