15 Best Condenser Microphones to Buy in 2022

best condenser microphone

Are you looking to kit out your home studio so you can record top-quality vocals from the comfort of your bedroom? Then you’re going to want to buy the best condenser mic that helps you record sounds as accurately as possible.

Read on to find out why you need one, what they do, and how to choose which one best suits your budget and recording needs in 2022!

Why do I need a good condenser microphone?

For all you budding home producers or vocalists who want an accurate representation of what you voices can do without splashing out for studio time, a decent condenser mic is the best weapon in your arsenal.

Condenser microphones are best for capturing quieter, more detailed sounds, and are more frequently used in a studio setting. If you want to capture louder sounds in a live setting, see our list of best dynamic microphones.

Condenser mic pros and cons

Pros

They can pick up a much wider range of frequencies than dynamic mics, so they can give a much more accurate, detailed sound

They’re much more sensitive, so they can pick up much quieter sounds

They put out a much higher voltage signal, meaning you won’t need to use as much gain to boost it, resulting in a cleaner sound

Cons

They need phantom power to work

They are more delicately built than dynamic mics, so they’re more suited to the studio than the stage

They can’t handle extreme sound pressure levels and will distort if exposed to louder sounds

Best condenser mic for vocals

With no further ado, here are some of the best condenser mics for recording vocals you can find on the market right now, based on their spec and affordability:

Audio Technica AT2020

Audio-Technica AT2020

The AT2020 is one of the best condenser microphones you can find for under £100 – unidirectional, and with ultra-low impedance, this is a current favourite among beginners for quality home recordings.

Pros and Cons:

Flat response with a mid range boost, perfect for recording natural-sounding vocals

Competes with high-end mics without crossing the £100 threshold

No attenuator pad or polar pattern switch, so less versatile than other condensers

Shock mount not included. Standard mount that is included does not reduce noise

Where to Buy?CountryPrice
Amazon UKUK£76Visit Site
Amazon.comUSA$99Visit Site
MXL V67G

MXL V67G

The first thing that’ll catch your eye about the V67G is its retro design, with its stylish green casing and gold grille, but that’s far from all it offers. It’s actually a great condenser, with a mid-range boost designed specifically to bring your vocals forward.

Great for bringing the warmth out of your singing voice

Good build quality for its price range

Not a crisp sounding mic – so struggles to capture the ‘punch’ of drums

Shock mount not included

Where to Buy?CountryPrice
Amazon UKUK£99Visit Site
Amazon.comUSA$119.95Visit Site
Rode NT1-A

Rode NT1-A

The “world’s quietest self-noise condenser” (an impressive 5dB) is also handily available in a home studio starter pack, complete with a shock mount and pop shield.

Great shock mount and pop shield combo for superior clarity

Amazingly low self-noise

Heavier than most microphones on our list – so a sturdy mic stand will be needed

Struggles with plosives without the pop filter

Where to Buy?CountryPrice
Amazon UKUK£193Visit Site
Amazon.comUSA$265Visit Site
Aston Spirit

Aston Spirit

This elegant and innovative design from Aston Microphones can also change between uni-, bi- and omnidirectional polar patterns at the flick of a switch, making it ideal for recording both vocals and instruments. Buy this bundle, and you’ll also receive a state-of-the-art SwiftShield shock-absorbing shock mount.

Very versatile thanks to changeable polar pattern

Delivers a professional-quality sound for vocals, acoustic guitars and percussion

The mesh head can be damaged if severely knocked

Eco-friendly packaging is less durable than a standard case

Where to Buy?CountryPrice
Amazon UKUK£359Visit Site
Amazon.comUSA$469Visit Site
Neumann TLM 102

Neumann TLM 102

This bright-sounding condenser is a smaller and cheaper version of Neumann’s higher-end microphones which can still boast the low self-noise that these manufacturers pride themselves on.

Pros and Cons:

Neumann-quality engineering and sound at a much more affordable price

Smaller, more manageable size

Lower output than other Neumann mics

No additional features

Where to Buy?CountryPrice
Amazon UKUK£499Visit Site
Amazon.comUSA$699Visit Site
Blue Ember

Blue Ember

The Ember from Blue’s surprisingly slender design makes it much easier to position in awkward places, and although it may drop off towards the lower frequencies, the clarity this mic can achieve still makes it a worthy addition to your home studio.

Pros and Cons:

Slender build – easier to position in tight spots

Excellent sound quality at a low, low price

Needs to be used with a pop filter

No switches or buttons

Where to Buy?CountryPrice
Amazon UKUK£75Visit Site
Amazon.comUSA$85Visit Site
Shure PGA27

Shure PGA27

This sturdy member of Shure’s esteemed PG ALTA family of condensers also comes with a high-pass filter, which you can switch on to clean up any unwanted bass frequencies, and a -15dB switchable attenuator, which you can use to increase the mic’s maximum SPL from a respectable 130dB to an impressive 145dB to help reduce distortion when recording louder sounds.

Pros and Cons

Can be tailored to your specifications using the attenuator pad and high-pass filter

Well-built, durable design copes well with transportation

Boosted higher frequencies may be too trebly for some voice and instruments

No XLR cable included

Where to Buy?CountryPrice
Amazon UKUK£195Visit Site
Amazon.comUSA$199Visit Site
AKG C214

AKG C214

This robust metal microphone can handle up to 156dB SPL with the attenuator pad engaged, which makes it great for recording guitar amps as well as vocals.

Pros and Cons:

Double-meshed grille for additional protection

Can handle extremely high SPL

Physically heavier microphone

Frequency response flattens at the low end, making this mic unsuitable for recording bass instruments

Where to Buy?CountryPrice
Amazon UKUK£248Visit Site
Amazon.comUSA$329.99Visit Site
AKG P120

AKG P120

AKG’s excellent all-rounder condenser for beginners: decent sensitivity and frequency range, plus it can handle a high SPL, topping out at 150dB when you switch on the attenuation pad – meaning you can use the P120 to record drums and guitar amplifiers as well as vocals.

Pros and Cons:

Very capable mic for its price range

Durable metal body

Loud self-noise

Shock mount not included

Where to Buy?CountryPrice
Amazon UKUK£77Visit Site
Amazon.comUSA$108Visit Site
Audio Technica AT2050

Audio Technica AT2050

Whilst retaining all the best features of the AT2020, this mic sits comfortably at the head of the 20 series table. Additional features include switchable polar patterns, a high pass filter and an attenuation pad – meaning there’s little this condenser can’t do for you in your home studio.

Pros and Cons:

Plenty of switches to tailor the mic to your exact needs

Includes shock mount and storage pouch

Lower sensitivity than other mics in its price range

Heavily built mic – sturdy stand needed

Where to Buy?CountryPrice
Amazon UKUK£199Visit Site
Amazon.comUSA$119.95Visit Site
sE Electronics SE2200

sE Electronics SE2200

Not only does the SE2200 give you even more freedom with a 3-stage attenuation pad to cope with higher SPL levels (0, 10dB and 20dB) and a switchable high pass filter (80 or 160Hz) – but it also comes with sE Electronics’ ‘Isolation Pack’ – a very effective and easy-to-use shock mount and pop shield combination.

Pros and Cons:

3 stages of attenuation, giving you more options when dealing with louder sounds

Includes excellent shock mount/pop shield combo

Low sensitivity, given its price

Recorded vocals have less body

Where to Buy?CountryPrice
Amazon UKUK£200Visit Site
Amazon.comUSA$349.99Visit Site
TechZone Stellar X2

TechZone Stellar X2

Don’t let the simple plastic casing fool you – the Stellar X2’s performance more than makes up to its name, promising a low noise floor and low impedance for a natural sound.

Pros and Cons:

Professional sound quality on a budget

Strong output signal

No attenuation pad or low-cut filter

Plastic body feels lower quality than its metal-bodied peers

Where to Buy?CountryPrice
Amazon UKUK£189Visit Site
Amazon.comUSA$119.99Visit Site
Lewitt LCT 440 PURE

Lewitt LCT 440 PURE

The LCT 440 PURE from Lewitt offers plenty of headroom all the way up to 140dB, a super-low noise floor all the way down to 7dB – and, just to sweeten the deal, it also comes with a very smart magnetic pop filter.

Pros and Cons:

Professional sound quality for instruments as well as vocals

Very high-quality pop shield

No storage box or case included

No low-cut filter

Where to Buy?CountryPrice
Amazon UKUK£215Visit Site
Amazon.comUSA$269Visit Site
Sennheiser MK4

Sennheiser MK4 

With full metal housing and a diaphragm plated in 24-carat gold, this is a condenser that’s built to last. The versatile MK4 keeps its cool up to 140dB SPL, so keep it handy if you want to record some guitar parts as well as vocals.

Pros and Cons: 

Superior build quality

High voltage output

Approaching expensive territory for home recording mics

Higher self-noise than cheaper mics on our list

Where to Buy?CountryPrice
Amazon UKUK£326Visit Site
Amazon.comUSA$299Visit Site
Warm Audio WA-14

Warm Audio WA-14

This great all-rounder from the aptly named Warm Audio allows you to switch between three polar patterns (uni-, bi-, and omni) and three attenuation pads (0dB, -10dB, and -20dB) – plus, the WA-14 sports a very sleek, retro design that’ll give your home studio an extra touch of class!

Pros and Cons:

Plenty of switchable options to tailor this mic to your precise needs

Smooth, professional sound quality

Lower output level than less expensive mics on this list

Bulkier, less sleek design

Where to Buy?CountryPrice
Amazon UKUK£369Visit Site
Amazon.comUSA$398Visit Site

What are condenser microphones?

All microphones are ‘transducers’, the name given to a device that converts one form of energy to another – a process known as ‘transduction’. In this case, a microphone turns soundwaves into electrical signals which can then be recorded, amplified, or manipulated in other ways.

A condenser microphone is made up of three main parts:

  • the diaphragm, an extremely thin piece of material
  • the backplate, a piece of metal charged with electricity
  • the diaphragm case, which houses the other parts

Condenser microphones use a ‘capacitor’, a device which stores electrical charge, and for this reason, the backplate needs to be connected to its own power source – usually referred to as ‘phantom power’ – which is usually supplied by your mixer or audio interface. Once connected to a phantom power source, a charge is created between the backplate and the diaphragm.

When soundwaves hit the diaphragm, this changes the size of the gap between the diaphragm and the backplate, which in turn changes the amount of charge, or ‘capacitance’, between them.

Because the diaphragm is so extremely thin, it doesn’t take much energy to move it, so condenser mics can pick up sounds both at quieter volumes, and from a wider range of frequencies – but this also means they distort when exposed to louder volumes, and can also pick up unwanted background noise, such as feedback.

Also, because condenser microphones are so very sensitive, they need to be suspended from specially designed stands to avoid picking up vibrations.

How do I know which condenser mic to buy?

This depends a lot on what you want to use your new mic for. Condenser mics come in many shapes and sizes – some, with larger diaphragms above about 0.75 inches, are perfect for capturing the richness of singing voices, spoken-word performances and bass instruments, while others, with smaller diaphragms under about 0.5 inches, are perfect for capturing the brightness of instruments like pianos, acoustic guitars and cymbals.

There are a few other specifications you need to keep an eye out for when shopping for microphones. They can seem a little complicated at first glance, so we’ve broken down the most important ones for you:

Frequency response

This tells you how well your microphone responds to certain frequencies, from the rumbling lows through to the piercing highs. The range of frequencies the average human ear can hear is generally agreed to be between 20 and 20,000 Hertz (usually written as 20Hz-20kHz), and most condenser microphones meet or even exceed this range.

For a condenser microphone that’s more suited to recording vocals, you’ll want a frequency response that’s described as more ‘coloured’ or ‘shaped’ than it is ‘flat’. A flat response is equally sensitive to all frequencies, but a microphone that is more sensitive to upper-mid range frequencies will bring out the best in your voice – plus, a mic that is less sensitive to lower frequencies is less affected by room noise and ‘proximity effect’, which is a build-up of bass caused by placing the mic very close to the source of sound.

A good response for a condenser mic for vocals is generally agreed to be between 80Hz and 15kHz, though if you want to use your mic to record anything lower, like a bass drum, or higher, like a xylophone, then you’ll want a mic that can pick up a wider range.

Polar pattern

This gives you the area around your microphone that it can pick up sound from, or ‘hear’, which in turn lets you know where it should be positioned. Typically speaking, if you want to record solo vocals, look for a unidirectional microphone – this means that the microphone is designed to pick up sound from one direction, rather than two (‘bidirectional’) or all-around (‘omnidirectional’).

There are many different terms used within the industry that basically mean the same as unidirectional, a common one being ‘cardioid’ – which comes from the heart-shaped pattern of the area around the microphone that it can hear. This means that the microphone can hear what’s in front of it, and doesn’t pick up what’s behind it.

Most of the microphones on our list are unidirectional, but some offer different settings, allowing you to switch between polar patterns. This will be extremely useful if you want to use your condenser mic to record a choir, for which you can make use of the omnidirectional setting by positioning your vocalists around the microphone.

Electrical output

This covers how well your microphone converts soundwaves into an electrical signal when used with your other devices, or what the output is relative to the input. We’ve broken this down into audio sensitivity, dynamic range, impedance, and connection type.

Audio sensitivity

A microphone’s sensitivity is measured by how much voltage it puts out when exposed to a certain sound level – so a more sensitive mic will put out a higher voltage than a less sensitive mic when they’re both exposed to the same sound level. If you’re recording a quiet or distant sound and you’re using a less sensitive mic, you’ll have to turn up the level on your audio interface, which can create unwanted noise.

Sensitivity is measured in either millivolts (mV) or in voltage decibels (dBV). Because the signals will usually be under 1 volt, the decibel figure will be a negative number – so a higher number closer to zero means the mic is more sensitive.

As a standard, a microphone’s sensitivity will have been tested at a sound pressure level of 94 decibels (94dB SPL), which is equal to 1 Pascal (Pa). This means that when you’re checking out a microphone’s specs, you might find it written as either millivolts (mV/Pa) or dBV/Pa – but as long as your condenser’s sensitivity falls between either 8 and 32 mV/Pa or -42 and -30 dbV/Pa, you should be fine!

Dynamic range

The dynamic range of your condenser is calculated by taking its ‘self-noise’ away from its ‘maximum SPL’.

The highest sound pressure level (SPL) your condenser can handle will usually be a lot higher than anything you’ll want to record at home. Most condensers these days can handle over 140dB – for reference, it’s generally agreed that a normal conversation can be as loud as 60dB, whereas an average rock band can get closer to 110dB.

The condenser’s circuitry generates a low level of sound, which is known as ‘self-noise’ – so the lower the dB of self-noise your condenser mic produces, the less hiss (also known as ‘sibilance’) you’re likely to get.

Impedance

In microphone terms, impedance is the measure of how much the electrical parts of your mic resist the flow of electricity, and it is measured in ohms (?). A lower impedance means there’ll be less interference, such as buzzing or humming, to your signal, even if you’re using a very long cable between your mic and your audio interface.

All microphones should give their output impedance in their specifications. Less than 600? is considered low, and more than 10,000? is considered high. If you use a mic with high output impedance, you’ll lose signal even with a shorter lead.

It’s also important to note that you need to connect your condenser to a mixer or audio interface with a higher input impedance (usually 10x the output impedance), or some signal will be lost.

Connection type

One final thing for you to look out for when purchasing your condenser microphone is the type of connection it uses. The most common types on the market at the moment are XLR and USB – so make sure you’ve checked which connection type your condenser has.

We’re looking mostly at condensers that use an XLR connection here, as this cable design does a much better job of getting rid of any unwanted signal interference – but USB connections have their own advantages, such as being far more convenient to use.

Looking for the best vocal microphones in the industry?

At Vocalist, we’ve put together a collection of gear reviews to help you find the best vocal mic for your needs. Whether you’re looking for the best condenser mic, dynamic mic or the best microphone for home recording, you’ll find something that suits your needs.