What is the Best Condenser Mic under $300?


The Best condenser microphone

What is a Condenser Microphone?

A condenser microphone uses a small delicate plate which acts as the diaphragm to sense sound waves and convert them to an electrical signal. The diaphragm vibrates as it receives audio and produces a change in electrical charge that corresponds to the audio source.

To operate, a condenser microphone requires an external power source – usually in the form of batteries, or as +48v Phantom power. Many audio interfaces, mixing consoles and dedicated microphone preamps can supply Phantom power.

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What is the difference between a Dynamic Microphone and a Condenser Microphone?

A condenser microphone has a few advantages over a dynamic microphone;

  • The delicate diaphragm provides more sensitivity to high frequencies, resulting in crisper, clearer highs that sound more natural. (That’s why a condenser microphone is usually used for recording vocals and instruments like cymbals and acoustic guitars)
  • The frequency response is usually more consistent across all frequencies
  • They are available in a range of sizes from very small lapels – up to larger diaphragm formats

There are a few disadvantages too

  • They require an external power source to operate – either with their own battery or from a +48V phantom power source
  • The high sensitivity means they may pick up more unwanted background noise (like echoes in your room or outside noises)
  • They are sensitive to humidity and temperature changes
  • They are delicate and reasonably fragile

Whether you’re getting started setting up your studio, or you’re expanding your arsenal of microphones, a good large diaphragm condenser microphone will be versatile enough to record vocals, acoustic guitars and even drums. If you wanted to get started with just one microphone for recording, a good condenser mic is your best choice.

These days, you don’t have to spend thousands on a good microphone either. We’ve selected a few condenser microphones that are made by reputable manufacturers, but yet are very affordable.

Our pick on the best condenser mic under $300 is the Rode NT1000. They are beautifully made and the sound quality is excellent. The Rode NT1000 has an accurate and natural frequency response with warm, deep lows, crisp and natural sounding mid range response and sparkling high frequencies. Read our full review further down the page.

Things to think about when choosing a Condenser Microphone

Value for money

As with any purchase, it is important to weigh your options to know if a certain product is worth its price tag. Do the feature set and the specifications of the microphone match the price you’re paying?

Quality of construction

The quality of a microphone’s construction is important as it can affect the long-term durability of the mic and its ability to withstand the test of time.

Diaphragm Size

Large-diaphragm microphones are often preferred over small-diaphragm ones when recording quiet instruments like vocals and acoustic guitars. Larger diaphragms generally produce a warmer sound – with a nice roundness in the lower frequency range. This results in a rich vibrant sound which is pleasing to the ear. Large diaphragm condenser microphones have a higher sensitivity and this usually results in a lower self noise. 

Sound Pressure Level

The maximum Sound Pressure Level (or SPL) of a microphone refers to the highest level of audio the microphone can pick up before the signal begins to become distorted.

Polar Pattern

The area where a microphone can capture sound is called the ‘Polar Pattern’. While some are designed to pick up audio from the front only (cardioid) others can capture sound from all around (omni directional). Some have an adjustable pickup pattern too, meaning you can set the pattern to suit the project you’re working on.

Frequency Response

Microphones can either have a flat frequency response, tailored frequency response, or adjustable frequency response. The difference between each can help you decide which one fits your requirements. Some microphones have a HPF option (High pass filter), which enables you to roll off lower frequencies from your recorded audio. 

Design Aesthetics

While aesthetics might not be that important for some people, others prefer their equipment to look beautiful as well as sound beautiful!

Our recommendations on the best condenser microphone under $300

For someone who is just starting to build their studio, you don’t need to spend more than $300 on a condenser microphone. There are tons of options to choose from, and they can be overwhelming! Read on below to learn more about our recommendations for the best condenser microphones within a $300 budget.


Rode NT1000 Condenser Microphone Review

Rode is an Australian designer and manufacturer of microphones – and they’ve been producing their beautifully designed professional microphones for over 5 decades now.

Their NT1000 is a super versatile large diaphragm condenser  – capable of recording grand pianos and drum overheads, as well as quieter instruments like acoustic guitars and vocals. This is one of my personal favourites – and I have two of these in my studio and I use them for drum overheads as well as for vocals.

The Rode NT1000 comes in a beautiful brushed aluminium housing and it just looks and feels like a premium, well-engineered microphone before you even plug it in!

It’s built on a transformerless circuit – resulting in incredibly quiet operation with only 6dBA self-noise. The audio quality is pristine – very crisp and clean – with sparkling high frequencies and warm full mid-range and lows.

It has a cardioid polar pattern, so it will pick up audio primarily from the front.

In the box, the NT1000 ships with a protective pouch and a handy little mic mounting clip. It comes in just over the $300 price point, but it is such a great mic that we just had to include it. Keep an eye out for specials – as you can sometimes pick it up for $299!

Rode NT1000 Product features

  • Frequency Range: 20Hz – 20kHz 
  • Output Impedance 100Ω 
  • Maximum SPL: 140dB
  • Heavy duty brushed aluminum housing with a heat-treated mesh head.
  • Shock mounting for the internal capsule 
  • Large 1” capsule with gold-plated diaphragm
  • Cardioid polar pattern
  • Ultra low noise
  • Weight: 1.49lb (682g)
  • Rode offers a 10 year extended warranty when you register with them!

Customer Reviews and Scores

Rode’s NT 1000 has a great rating on Amazon with many users commending it for excellent audio quality, full bass response, crisp high frequencies and its robust construction.

The only negative review isn’t related to the product itself, but to a shipping issue. 

Check price and buy at Amazon.com


Rode NT1 Condenser Microphone Review

Another fantastic microphone from Rode is the redesigned NT1. If you don’t want to spend quite as much as the NT1000, but still want an excellent sounding, quiet microphone, the NT1 is a great option.

The Rode NT1 has a Cardioid polar pattern which means it picks up audio predominantly from the front, and rejects audio from the rear.

The redesigned NT1 produces a sound reminiscent of classic microphones, while offering very low noise design – with only 4.5dB of self noise. It has a suspended transducer design, which means the moving part of the microphone is mounted using a system to reduce noise from vibration. 

The NT1 comes bundled with a complete kit including a shock mount, pop shield and an XLR mic cable. 

Product features

  • Polar Pattern: Cardiod
  • Diaphram Size: 1” (25mm)
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Max SPL: 132dB
  • Output Impedance: 100 ohms
  • Self Noise Level: 4.5dB
  • Connector: XLR Male
  • Weight: 0.97lbs (440g)
  • Included accessories: Pivoting stand mount, soft microphone pouch.

Customer Reviews 

The Rode NT1 has lots of positive reviews on Amazon, with many people commenting on the build quality and very quiet operation. A couple of people commented that the bundled shock mount was a bit basic, but you can easily replace that with a better quality option. Overall, buyers keep raving about the quality of the audio and the quiet operation.

Check current price and buy at Amazon.com


Audio Technica AT2020 Condenser Microphone Review

Audio Technica is a Japanese company first established in 1962 in Tokyo Japan. They started out as a manufacturer of phono cartridges for record players but over time have added a whole range of audio equipment to their product catalogue including headphones, turntables, mixers and microphones. In the early 1990s Audio-Technica first started building large diaphragm condenser microphones. One of their claims to fame is the supply of microphones for US presidential debates. Audio Technica is well established as a reputable manufacturer of excellent audio equipment and I highly recommend them.

The Audio-Technica AT2020 is a very affordable condenser microphone ideal for home studios or recording live instruments.  

Like many others in the under $300 price range it has a fixed cardioid polar pattern. This means that it will pick up audio only from the front of the transducer and reject audio mostly from the sides and the back. A cardioid pattern improves the isolation of the actual source sound that you wanted to record, while partially rejecting background noises (like computer fans, AC units, or birds chirping!)

The AT2020 can handle an impressive SPL level of 144dB. This means it can be used for recording loud instruments like drums, brass or even guitar amps as well as quieter instruments like vocals and acoustic guitars.

Audio Technica’s custom engineered low-mass diaphragm means it is very responsive in picking up transient audio – resulting in an impressive frequency response ranging from all the way from 20 Hz up to 20kHz. This provides plenty of headroom so you can record almost any type of audio source.

The quality of the construction and the finish on the AT2020 is very good – resulting in a durable, attractive microphone that will stand the test of time.

Product features

  • Polar Pattern: Cardiod
  • Diaphram Size: 0.63” (16mm)
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Max SPL: 144dB
  • Output Impedance: 100 ohms
  • Self Noise Level: 20dB
  • Signal to noise ratio: 74dB
  • Connector: XLR Male (USB version also available)
  • Weight: 0.76lbs
  • Included accessories: Pivoting stand mount, soft microphone pouch.

Customer Reviews and Scores

At the time of writing, the AT2020 has over 2,000 reviews on Amazon with an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars. The positive reviewers were all impressed with the quality of the audio and the excellent frequency response (picking up lows and highs accurately). Most of the negative reviews were from buyers who didn’t realise the XLR version didn’t have a USB output, or who had a shipping or warranty issue with an Amazon seller. One or two users reported a defective unit – but as long as you buy from a reputable seller, you shouldn’t have any trouble.

Check current price and buy at Amazon.com


Audio Technica AT4040 Condenser Microphone review

The AT4040 is another excellent side-address condenser microphone from Audio Technica. In many ways it’s a big step up from the AT2020 – which is really an entry level microphone for getting started. The AT4040 is a pro-grade condenser microphone used by professionals for live sound, broadcast and studio recordings. 

The AT4040 features a larger 20mm diaphragm (0.8”) and it’s built on a transformerless design which means it is much quieter and has minimal distortion at low frequencies.  The AT4040 does a great job at producing high speed transients, meaning it is excellent for picking up percussion instruments like drums.

The AT4040 delivers a natural, smooth sound with a wide dynamic range – this means it can pick up quiet instruments, as well as handling loud instruments with a very high SPL of up to 145dB. The ultra-thin diaphragm (only 2 micron thick) will pick up whisper-quiet sounds and deliver a beautiful clear high frequency response.

There’s also a built-in 10db pad allowing you to use the mic in even louder settings up to 155dB. The onboard high pass filter switch enables you to roll off everything below 80 Hz – getting rid of unwanted low-end rumble.

Overall the Audio Technica At4040 is a fantastic microphone sneaking in just under $300 so we had to include it in this article!

Product features

  • Polar Pattern: Cardiod
  • Diaphram Size: 0.8” (20mm)
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Max SPL: 145dB (or 155dB with the 10dB input pad)
  • Output Impedance: 100 ohms
  • Self Noise Level: 12dB
  • Signal to noise ratio: 82dB
  • Input Pad: Yes (10dB)
  • High Pass filter: (Yes 80Hz)
  • Connector: XLR Male 
  • Weight: 0.79lbs
  • Included accessories: Shock mount, dust cover, carry case
  • Beautifully made with  nickel-plated brass.

Customer Reviews and Score

The Audio Technica AT4040 has 94 total ratings on Amazon with an average rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars at the time of writing this review.

Reviews mention how despite being able to record loud instruments at close range, the AT4040 successfully reproduces amazingly clear sound without distortion or the hint of being too bright, complex, or busy. Buyers were very happy with the quiet operation and the excellent frequency response.

Read more reviews or buy now on Amazon.


Blue Spark SL Condenser Microphone Review

BLUE Microphones is a Californian based company. They were founded in 1995 by musician Skipper Wise and engineer Mārtiņš Saulespurēns. They initially started out repairing and refurbishing vintage microphones, but soon got into developing their own microphones using some innovative new techniques. One of their innovations was to use a round brass plate in the microphone capsule, the position of this plate could be adjusted, resulting in a variable frequency response for the microphone. This idea has been adopted by many other microphone manufacturers and has become an industry standard.

BLUE microphones were made famous for their ‘Snowball’ USB microphone which they produced in partnership with Apple. It was one of the early USB Condenser microphones and made professional audio recording more accessible for many. Apple stocked and promoted the Snowball microphone in their Apple store – essentially putting BLUE Microphones on the map – the rest is history!

Their flagship microphones are the Bottle Rocket series – which are respected and loved by many professional recording engineers. These days they have an excellent range of microphones dedicated for podcasting as well as their pro-audio microphone line up.

The BLUE Spark SL is a classic-looking condenser microphone in the market. It’s capsule is housed in a module on the top of a slender tube – somehow it looks both vintage and space-age! To complete its look and vibe, it ships in a beautiful wooden storage box. The Spark is available in a red and silver color palette as well as the mean-looking ‘blackout’ all black color scheme!

It doesn’t just look good, it also sounds amazing with a smooth warm low end response, accurate mid range and sparkling high frequency definition.

Many of the components in the Spark SL are based on the same state of the art technology used in their high-end microphones including the 0.9” gold plated capsule and the phantom powered pre-amplifer.

The BLUE Spark SL has a 20dB pad and a 100Hz HPF switch – making this a very versatile microphone. You can use it for recording a dynamic vocalist with levels all over the place, a roaring guitar amp, horns and even drums.

Product features

  • Polar Pattern: Cardiod
  • Diaphram Size: 0.9” (23mm)
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Max SPL: 136dB 
  • Output Impedance: 50 ohms
  • Self Noise Level: 16.4dB
  • Signal to noise ratio: 73dB-A
  • Input Pad: Yes (20dB)
  • High Pass filter: (Yes 100Hz)
  • Connector: XLR Male 
  • Weight: 11.85 oz / 336 g (It’s one of the lightest we looked at)
  • Included accessories: Shock mount, Wooden storage box
  • Powered by: 48V Phantom power

Customer Reviews and Score

Unlike most of the products on our list, the Blue Spark SL has only a handful of reviews on Amazon, however it is rated at an average of 4.4 out of 5 stars.

One noteworthy review of the Blue Spark SL is interesting. The customer mentions how the mic produces sound as crisp as a quesadilla! We’re guessing they’re referring to the crisp high frequency response!

The thing to look out for though is the durability of the materials. A couple of customer reviews mention switches snapping off easily and mounts going loose.

If you are looking for an edgy-looking microphone with great quality sound, then the Blue Spark SL is a good option.

Check current price and buy at Amazon.com


Aston Microphones Origin – Condenser Microphone

Aston Microphones are a British company and they have a unique point of difference that their microphones are all manufactured in the UK. They make a point of stating that they don’t rely heavily on OEM componentry that is mass-manufactured in China, but design and built most of the elements within their own manufacturing plant. This means they are able to keep a close eye on the quality control.

The Aston Origin is a striking looking microphone and it’s audio quality is open and transparent – accurately capturing the original audio source without coloring the sound unnaturally. The high frequencies are clear and crisp without any harshness and the low frequencies are round and warm.

Aston’s more traditional style of hands-on manufacturing means each capsule is hand picked and matched to the circuitry – a level of care not found in more mass-produced brands.

The Aston Origin has a few unique design features too. It comes with a built in pop filter made out of an interesting integration of mesh knit technology and stainless steel – helping eliminate the unwanted explosive ‘p’ and ‘b’ consonant sounds. The stainless mesh head also provides physical protection for the microphone capsule too – being stainless steel it won’t rust and it can be removed and washed.

There’s also a mic stand mount built in, removing the need for a separate mic clip.

Because the chassis is hand made, every Aston Origin microphone has a slightly different finish, giving them a unique personality and character that you don’t get in other mass-produced brands.

  • The microphone has built-in end caps too, that gives it a unique direct-to-stand mounting capacity.
  • The Aston Origin features the brand’s signature impressive wave-form mesh head to protect the microphone itself effectively.
  • You can call the Aston Origin a bespoke product since each microphone is created with a custom finish.

Product features

  • Polar Pattern: Cardiod
  • Diaphram Size: 1” (25.4mm)
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Sensitivity at 1kHz into 1kohm: 23.7mV/Pa
  • Maximum SPL for THD 0.5%: 127dB
  • Self Noise Level: 18dB-A weighted
  • Signal to noise ratio: 76dB-A
  • Input Pad: Yes (10dB)
  • High Pass (Low-cut) filter: (Yes 800Hz)
  • Connector: XLR Male 
  • Weight: 0.99lbs
  • Included accessories: None – it’s all by itself!
  • Powered by: 48V Phantom power

Customer Reviews and Scores

Rated with an average of 4.7 out of 5 stars, the Aston Origin is a popular choice across the sound recording industry.

The biggest positive review among customers who bought this product is the satisfaction they get from being able to buy a great performing microphone that isn’t too expensive but still beautifully designed.

A few users reported receiving defective units, but the after-sales service experience was good and they received replacements. As long as you purchase from a reputable source you shouldn’t have any problems.

We highly recommend the Aston Origin primarily due to the value for money you can get if you do decide to purchase it.

Check current price and buy at Amazon.com


Sennheiser MK4 Condenser Microphone Review

Of course, this list can’t be complete without a little something from Sennheiser. The Sennheiser MK4 is the professional audio brand’s midrange condenser microphone – well suited for vocals and acoustic guitars as well as overheads or room mics on drums.

Product Features

  • The MK4’s diaphragm is luxuriously plated with 24-carat gold!
  • The overall design makes it optimal for use in both project studios and stages.
  • Its capsule is internally shock-mounted, reducing the chances of structure-borne noise.

Customer Reviews and Scores

The Sennheiser MK 4 is still is rated an average of 4.6 out of 5 stars. Not bad!

A ton of reviews from happy customers mention how the MK 4 price does not justify its quality. Users say the microphone’s quality output makes it feel that it costs more than it does!

One critical review, however, comments on how the mic’s sensitivity doesn’t work well with him, further noting how one would need to have a treated room to maximize the mic’s potential. This is to be expected with any condenser microphone – the user may be better off with a dynamic microphone for his application.

If brand name matters to you, then the Sennheiser MK 4 is the first mid-range mic you can get at an amazing price.

Check price and buy at Amazon.com


Behringer B2 Pro Condenser Microphone Review

Behringer is another brand that is a mainstay in the audio industry – known for their affordable products – that actually do the job very well! The Behringer B2 Pro is a very affordable microphone with a switchable polar pattern – making it versatile for a number of applications.

As with other microphones in the same price range, it is suited for use with acoustics, vocals, and drum overheads.

Product Features

  • The polar patterns of the Behringer B2 Pro can be adjusted! This is the only mic in this price range that we looked at offering this.
  • A nickel-plated brass body makes it super durable and generally tough.
  • It comes with an aluminum foam-padded carrying case.
  • There is a switchable attenuator that works to capture high-frequency and volume signals without getting any distortion.

Customer Reviews and Score

Rated with an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars, the Behringer B2 Pro is a definite crowd-pleaser.

While there’s a ton of great reviews for the B2 Pro, major points go to build quality. Customers mention how tough they are built!

A few users, though, were a little unimpressed by the B2 Pro being too sensitive, and absorbing more sound from the environment. While it’s a bad thing for some people, it’s circumstantial and can be a great feature for other users.

It’s not as quiet as other microphones that we looked at and a few users commented on this too.

The Behringer B2 Pro is, overall, a great quality microphone that’s pretty easy to recommend especially since it’s built as tough as nails.

Check current price and buy at Amazon.com


Frequently Asked Questions

Is a condenser mic better for vocals?

Yes. Because a condenser microphone is very sensitive, it responds to the high frequencies and details in the human voice very well – producing beautiful detailed recordings.

Which is better – a dynamic or condenser microphone?

It generally depends on what you’re using a microphone for! If you are to record louder sounds, then dynamic is the way to go. Condenser mics, on the other hand, work better on vocals and acoustics.

What are the pros and cons of a condenser microphone?

Back to sensitivity, the best thing about condenser microphones is the high level of crisp and accurate detail they can absorb and reproduce. For the same reason, the high sensitivity can also mean they can capture too many details than necessary for other purposes.

Conclusion

To sum up this post, condenser microphones are a great option for musicians and producers who focus on acoustics and vocal recording. They can be a bit fragile, but they are a great investment.

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