Condenser microphones are the bread and butter of recording not only vocals but many instruments in the world for musicians of all types. We’ve continued our journey through reviewing more mics than we can count now, and as we pin-point some specific price-specific guides, we came across a common question: what’s the best condenser microphone under $500? We have a great budget-range here to give you some nice power and flexibility when it comes to recording and even streaming vocals and instruments.
The Power of Condenser Microphones
Condenser microphones are commonly found in studios, but with the ever-rising trend of streaming and pocasting, they’re found in many different environments now. They have a louder output but are much more sensitive to loud sounds as opposed to other types of microphones, such as dynamic mics. They capture a large frequency range and have a good transient response; the ability to reproduce the speed of an instrument or voice.
Normally, professional condenser microphones are very expensive, as we do have guides on condenser microphones under $200 or condenser mics under $100 that are a lot more budget-friendly. Today however, $500 hits a mark where we get into some pretty professional models. Let’s jump right in.
The Best Condenser Microphones for Under $500
People call this condenser, “A true legend and the microphone of choice for many professional producers”. This condenser microphone under $500 tends to be very flexible and has a reputation for it’s quality and longevity. Vocals sound very smooth and warm for both gender voices, and it’s also great for capturing some strings or keys in case you need to.
Aside from sound quality, this one has some high-end features in terms of numbers. It has a 1” diaphragm, vintage look and most of all, has a top-class performance. The AKG C214 has a very complex system that helps reduce mechanical noise. Its frequency response ranges between 20 Hz – 20 kHz and its polar pattern is cardioid which is standard for any mic in here. This condenser mic also has a switchable 20 dB attenuation pad and low-cut filter that can be used in sound fields as high as 156 dB SPL. Just an extremely solid and reliable condenser microphone under $500 to start our list off.
Avantone Pro CV-12
This condenser microphone is designed to capture vocals and instruments with enhanced detail, low noise and low distortion and with the warmth and character of the 50’s and 60’s. Tube microphones are a bit of a different spin — they have an actual ‘tube’ in the internal skeleton that processes audio, giving it a different feel and “sound”, albeit subjective to the ear that’s listening.
The Avantone Pro CV-12 is a multi-pattern large-diaphragm tube mic. A rotary switch on the external power supply provides nine selectable pickup patterns: Omni, Cardioid, Figure-8 and Six intermediate patterns — great for those who will be using this aside from just recording tracks, or perhaps want to podcast and stream with multiple people. It also has a low frequency roll off, an 80 Hz HPF filter for minimizing low frequency noise and a pad attenuation switch of -10 dB for minimizing distortion. A beautiful condenser microphone under $500 if you want that old-school tube feel and sound to your recordings.
Another high-quality condenser mic with very good features under $500 is the Lauten LA-220. This professional and versatile microphone has a huge bass response that can be used for up-close vocals and acoustic instruments.
The Lauten LA-220 has a 1-inch pressure gradient true-condenser capsule with cardioid polar pattern and ultra-low noise JFET amplifier. It has a pair of switchable 120 Hz highpass and 12 kHz lowpass filters which is useful to tame any harsh high-end voice as well as rumbling bass from the room and a transformer balanced output.
The Sure SM81 is a high-quality unidirectional condenser microphone used for broadcasting, studio recording and sound reinforcement. This condenser mic has a wide frequency response, low noise characteristics and high output clipping level, low RF susceptibility, flat response curve for accurate sound reproduction and a cardioid polar pattern with maximum rejection.
Its uniform cardioid pickup pattern offers a very good isolation with minimum off-axis coloration and its ultra-smooth response curve ensures accurate sonic reproduction of the sound in front of it. It can be used in wide range of temperatures and humidity conditions. We stuck this one in here because it’s a small-diaphragm condenser microphone, meaning it’s size actually helps with better sound-pressure level and capturing the higher frequencies a lot brighter than normal large-diaphragm.
Warm Audio WA-14
Another favorite pick of ours to be the best condenser microphone for just under $500 is the Warm Audio WA-14. This large diaphragm, versatile condenser microphone has three selectable polar patterns including omnidirectional, cardioid and figure 8. It has two switches in the front, one of those allow you to switch between polar patterns and the other one is a pre-attenuation switch for lowering the input level. This mic has a clean smooth sound that doesn’t sound too bright or hyped.
The Warm Audio WA-14 is engineered with LK-12-B-60V Lens Kondensator all-brass CK 12 style capsule with its smooth and rich high-end sound. It has custom CineMag USA transformer, its frequency range is between 20 Hz – 20 kHz and the self-noise is 115 dB. An all-around solid mic here that’s proven itself for many years.
The Origin is very popular among mic snobs, and it is a high-performance, large diaphragm condenser microphone with a cardioid polar pattern. This mic delivers a natural and detailed sound across a wide variety of sources; hence it is versatile. There are two switches on the mic: a 10 dB pad to prevent distortion and an 80 Hz low-cut filter to cut out that mud.
The Aston Origin captures treble detail without even a trace of harshness. It has shock-resistant, wave-form mesh head with built-in pop filter. The last pick as the best condenser microphone under $500, but certainly not the least!