Budget XLR Condenser Microphones Under $100

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  • #31216
    Great ScottGreat Scott
    Moderator

     

    In our recent list of studio microphones, I listed a number of USB condenser microphones and a couple of Dynamic microphones that are used for studio recording: from recording voice-overs to pod-casting, to recording vocals and musical instruments.  In the previous roundup of USB microphones, I touched very briefly on what the difference between a USB microphone and an XLR microphone were, and in an article soon to be posted, I will explain, in a little more detail, what the differences are; how that difference can affect your recordings; and the difference between condenser and dynamic microphones.

    I decided to post the roundup of mics available to you before I launched into all the specifics and audiophile jargon of the differences between the mics, the pros and cons of the different connection types (USB vs XML) and a few other small pieces of information  just to stop you from getting bored with all the technical stuff, and to let you see some of the great studio mics that are available for  under $100.

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    So, what exactly is an XLR microphone?  Well, in brief: an XLR microphone can be used to describe any microphone that utilizes a traditional XLR connection and gets its power through an XLR cable, which is connected to a an external power supply such as an audio interface or a mixing console etc; as opposed to a USB mic which is connected directly to, and derives its power from, your computer. There are some Condenser mics and some dynamic mics which are exclusively  XLR mics; and there are some condenser and dynamic mics that are exclusively USB.  And, just to give you a little more variety, and to confuse you even more, there are a few condenser and a few dynamic mics that have been blessed with both an XLR connector AND a USB connector built in to their cute little metallic bodies.  Meaning: the latter mics can be used to record either in the studio, via an XLR cable, or via a USB cable. Or, when you are on the hoof and away from your studio, you can simply utilize the USB’s plug -and-play capability of your mic directly into your laptop computer and record just about anywhere.  Pretty nifty, huh?  However, in this article, we are looking ONLY at the XLR large diaphragm condenser microphones.  And just so you know what the difference between a large diaphragm condenser microphone and a small diaphragm condenser microphone is (as if their descriptive names didn’t offer a clue):  it’s the difference in the size of their diaphragm.  Amazing!!!!   🙂 Simply put, without going into technical specs, as a rule, large diaphragm condenser microphones produce more clarity and a wider range than small diaphragm condenser microphones, simply due to their size and design.

    So, with all that out of the way, (phew!!!!) let’s now see what’s available in the XLR large diaphragm condenser microphones for use in our studio recordings:

     

    MXL 770 Cardioid Condenser Microphone

    Price:  $75.00

     

     

    Many people prefer its bigger brother, the MXL 990, however,the MXL 770 is still an adequate no frills, nothing-special, studio quality mic.  It has a balanced sound for recording vocals and acoustic instruments, but you will have to make certain the SPL doesn’t go beyond 137db.

    Features:

    – Gold-sputtered, 6-micron, 20-mm low distortion diaphragm
    – Frequency response of 30Hz-20kHz.
    – FET preamp with balanced output
    – Switchable bass cut and -10dB pad
    – Legendary MXL sonic characteristics
    – Comes with shock mount and rugged foam-lined carrying case.

    Please visit manufacturers website below for specs:

    http://www.mxlmics.com/microphones/studio/770/

     

     

    BEHRINGER C-1 Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone

    Price:  $50.00   (3-year warranty)

     

     

    – Professional, large-diaphragm condenser microphone for unsurpassed audio quality.
    – Ideal as main and support microphone for studio and live applications.
    – Cardioid pickup pattern for outstanding sound source separation and feedback rejection.
    – Pressure-gradient transducer with shock-mounted capsule.
    – Ultra-low noise, transformer-less FET input eliminates low-frequency distortion.

    Please visit manufacturers website below for specs:

    http://www.music-group.com/Categories/Behringer/Microphones/Condenser-Microphones/C-1/p/P0226

     

     

    Behringer B-1 Studio Condenser
    (possibly discontinued but still for sale)

    Price:  $100.00

     

     

    Many people often remark on how this microphone’s sonic quality is comparable to the much more expensive premium mics. This is a good mic for small studios or for those just getting into home recording who want a good mic at an affordable price.

    Features:

    – Tough and sturdy build.
    – Professional 1” gold-sputtered large-diaphragm condenser microphone for unsurpassed audio quality.
    – Ideal as a main or a  support microphone for studio and live applications–perfect for acoustic instruments and overhead mic for drums etc.
    – Cardioid pickup pattern for outstanding sound source separation and feedback rejection. The cardioid polar pattern gives this mic impressive clarity and low-end. For situations requiring less of the lower frequencies, this mic is equipped with a switchable low-frequency roll-off switch, along with a -10 dB input attenuation for improved high SPL handling.
    – Pressure-gradient transducer with shock-mounted gold-sputtered large-diaphragm capsule.

     

     

    Audio-Technica AT2020

    Price:  $99.00

     

     

    This is an extremely popular microphone for recording pod-casts and voice-over as well as vocals and acoustic musical instruments. It has a solid build quality with metal body and is a good all-rounder for miking percussion and wind instruments as well as a number of others.
    It is also very capable of handling louder sound sources. Its handles high SPL better than a lot of other condenser microphones due to its low-mass diaphragm, without compromising much of the low-end. Its smaller 16mm-diameter capsule, results in a subtly brighter sound, which makes it very suitable microphone for female vocals, or as an overhead mic for drum kits, or for close-miked brass, and an array of other instruments. This mic is one of the most reliable, versatile, and most solidly – built mics out there; hence, its popularity.

    – Ideal for project/home-studio applications.
    – High SPL handling and wide dynamic range provide unmatched versatility.
    – Custom-engineered low-mass diaphragm provides extended frequency response and superior transient response.
    – Cardioid polar pattern reduces pickup of sounds from the sides and rear, improving isolation of desired sound source.

    Please visit manufacturers websitebelow for specs:

    http://www.audio-technica.com/cms/wired_mics/a0933a662b5ed0e2/

     

     

    MXL 990 Condenser Microphone

    Price: $99.00

     

     

    This is one of the most versatile condenser microphones in the sub-$100 price range. It is not capable of handling high SPL sources, but it will work perfectly fine in normal studio situations. Good for recording pod-casts, voice-overs, as well as vocals and acoustic musical instruments.

     

    Features:

    – Balanced and uncolored sound reproduction.
    – 3/4″ gold-sputtered diaphragm, making it sound on par with more expensive microphones.
    – Frequency response range of 30Hz-20kHz, allows it to retain good high end and solid lows without compromising mid-range, delivering a nice balanced sound.
    – 130dB maximum SPL. Sensitivity: 15MV/pa Equivalent noise: 20dB (A-weighted) Wired with Mogami cable.
    – Attractive vintage body style with champagne finish.

     

    Please visit manufacturers website below for specs:

    http://www.mxlmics.com/microphones/studio/990-HE/

     

     

    Samson C01 Condensor Microphone

    Price:  $69.00

     

     

    Very popular all-rounder and favorably talked about microphone for its price / performance ration. Good build quality and all-round reliability. Suitable for pod-casts, voice-overs, vocals and acoustic musical instruments. This mic will add a bit more low-end to your recordings, which some people may or may not like; however, that little bit of low-end works quiet well when recording deeper male vocals.

     

    Features:

    – Cardioid Pickup Pattern.
    – Large 19mm Diaphragm.
    – High SPL handling capability of over 140dB.
    – Heavy Gauge Mesh Grill.
    – Gold Plated XLR Connector.
    – LED Indicates 48V Phantom Power.

    Please visit manufacturers website below for specs:

    http://www.samsontech.com/samson/products/microphones/condenser-microphones/c01/

     

     

    AKG Perception P120 Professional Studio Microphone, Sliver

    (Discontinued but still for sale)

    Price: $85.00

    Video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8ZKoxNXlhQ

     

    Good microphone, but it has a smaller diaphragm than its bigger brother, the Perception 220. Despite this, its sound is very similar to its larger sibling in most instances, BUT it lacks detail when picking up the lower frequencies. However, despite that difference, and considering it is around $100 less, many home recording people might not be overly concerned by the difference.

     

    Features:

    – Rugged all-metal body and robust design withstands tough day-to-day use.
    – Switchable bass-cut filter eliminates rumble or footfall noise.
    – Switchable attenuation pad for high SPL applications up to 150 dB SPL.

     

    Please visit manufacturers website below for specs:

    http://www.akg.com/pro/p/perception120group

     

     

     

    M-Audio Nova Condenser Microphone

    Price: $105.00 (can be found cheaper if you look around)

     

     

    This is a solidly constructed and reliable go-to microphone for many home recording enthusiasts.

     

    Features:

    – 1.1″ diameter evaporated gold diaphragm offers smooth, accurate sound.
    – Cardioid pickup pattern makes it easy to isolate from unwanted studio sounds.
    – Class A solid-state electronics designed for low noise and minimal coloration.
    – Solid brass body and capsule delivers protection and reliability.
    – Complete ready-to-use package. Includes hard mount, soft case, and XLR cable.

     

    Please visit manufacturers website below for specs:

    http://www.m-audio.com/products/view/nova

     

     

     

    MXL V67g Large Capsule Condenser Studio Microphone

    (Discontinued but still for sale)

    Price: $85.00

     

     

     

     

    This microphone has been discontinued; hence its lower price. Its original retail price was just under $300. I purchased this particular just two days ago, and because a friend of mine is also considering the purchase of an XLR condensor mic, I have made the description / part review of this particular mic a little more in depth that the previous mics.  🙂  🙂   🙂

    The V stands for vintage, apparently. The mic comes with no pad or roll-off switches.

    Following is part of a review from https://www.soundonsound.com/sos/nov01/articles/mximics1101.asp

    To gain a meaningful insight into how this mic performed, I compared it with a number of known studio mics, with some interesting results. My first point of reference was the Rode NT1 — though this is officially a more expensive mic, it’s worth noting that its current street price is almost on a par with the MXL…”

    [GS note: The Rode NT1 was apparently more expensive than the MXL V67g in 2001 at time of the SOS review.  Price of the Rode NT1 is now much lower at $249.00 in Jan 2016.]

    Continued…

    “The MXL V67 revealed that the tonality is indeed quite different to the other MXL mics, so unless there’s a lot of magic in that transformer, I have to assume that the capsule is in some way different. The high end is all there, but it seems less splashy and more tightly controlled than on the other mics in the series. The low end also seems very supportive. It isn’t quite a tube-mic sound, but it is warm, comfortable and focused without sounding obviously colored. Comparing this mic with the Rode NT1, I found that the two sounded somewhat similar. The Rode was slightly more colored sounding, but the characteristic warmth and focus were definitely similar. Of course, mics have a habit of sounding different again when used with different singers, so you really need to give your prospective purchase a good try out before finally deciding.”

     

    Features:

    -Striking green paint job, complemented by a gold-plated basket and gold collar. The basket is circular, rather than the more traditional ‘squashed’ shape, and incorporates a dual-layer structure for better wind shielding.

    – Very flat response up to 20kHz.
    – Fixed-cardioid response.
    – Sensitivity is 15mV/Pa, the signal-to-noise ratio is 80dB and the maximum SPL is 130dB, though the recommended uses, after vocals, now include close-miking guitar amplifiers and drum overhead miking.
    – The brass body houses a FET preamp with a balanced transformer output stage.
    – Large 32mm (1.25 inch) pressure gradient condenser capsule.
    – Gold-sputtered, 6 micron density diaphragm.
    – Solid state preamp balanced transformer output.
    – Requires 48v Phantom Power

    Weight: 589.67g / 1.3lb

    Note: The only accessories this mic comes with are:

    – Protective carry pouch.
    – Ring clip / microphone stand clip.

     

    Please visit manufacturers website below for specs:

    http://www.mxlmics.com/microphones/studio/V67g/

     

    #31230
    John (BGD)John (BGD)
    Keymaster

    Bam — another great microphone post! Two posts – one for XLR and one for USB — was a brilliant idea. Because really, someone who already has a nice A/D converter will be only looking for XLR mics, whereas someone looking for a simple plug-and-play setup will probably go with he USB. So much information here! Thanks again for a marvelous post.

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