Top 7 Condenser Microphones Under $100 – Surprises In The Budget Segment

Condenser microphones are among the core pieces of equipment in any recording studio. Due to their design, it used to be really expensive to get one that works well. These days, things are very different. Not only can you find great condensers for cheap, but they are very capable too. Today we are going to show you some of the best condenser microphones available in the budget segment. As you are about to see, most of them are fairly impressive. Later, we will go into what you can expect from microphones from this segment. Without further ado, let’s get started.

7 Best Condenser Microphones Under $100

ImageMicrophones / RatingSummaryCheck Price
+ - Behringer B-1 Behringer B-1

Total of 4.13/5   4.13 Stars

Extremely versatile and capable option that is great for elaborate studio builds.

+ - Audio-Technica AT2020 Audio-Technica AT2020

Total of 4.05/5   4.05 Stars

A very solid performer that defines the budget segment of the market

+ - MXL V67G MXL V67G

Total of 4.03/5   4.03 Stars

A bold looking model that hides great performance under its flashy exterior.

+ - MXL 990 MXL 990

Total of 3.98/5   3.98 Stars

A consistent and well balanced piece of kit in the budget segment.

+ - Audio-Technica ATR2500 Audio-Technica ATR2500

Total of 3.88/5   3.88 Stars

An awesome portable mic that offers great performance out of the box.

+ - Behringer C-2 Behringer C-2

Total of 4.05/5   4.05 Stars

A set of compact, instrument oriented microphones with an impressive price tag.

+ - Sterling Audio ST51 Sterling Audio ST51

Total of 3.90/5   3.90 Stars

Impressive value for the money choice for those with a tight budget.

Behringer B-1

Behringer B-1

Design:3.9 Stars
Features:3.8 Stars
Performance:3.9 Stars
Value:4.9 Stars

Behringer's B-1 condenser microphone is one of those pleasant surprises you don't expect to find. This model easily reaches way outside its price range. It all starts with a solid build quality and a chassis that even brings some aesthetic quality to the table. Then we have the performance which is really well balanced and versatile. Recording voice and instrument is easy and yields organic-sounding results. The fact that Behringer includes a proper shock mount with this package, deserves an additional brownie point. As a whole, B-1 checks all the right boxes when it comes to affordable and reliable condenser microphones. Getting several of these is enough to establish a legitimate recording studio. It doesn't get much better than that.

Audio-Technica AT2020

Audio-Technica AT2020

Design:3.8 Stars
Features:3.7 Stars
Performance:3.9 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars

Audio-Technica AT2020 represents everything we love about this brand. It is a simple, rugged and most importantly, affordable condenser microphone that packs a lot of heat for the money. With a decent frequency response range paired with flexible SPL rating, AT2020 performs outstandingly with both vocals and instruments. As a matter of fact, recording voice with this thing yields a warm but ultimately transparent result. It does require phantom power considering it comes with a standard XLR connector, so there are some hardware requirements that need to be addressed. Even so, it is extremely hard to find a serious fault with this microphone. It is just so well balanced and capable, which is becoming rare especially in this price range.

MXL V67G

MXL V67G

Design:3.7 Stars
Features:3.7 Stars
Performance:3.8 Stars
Value:4.9 Stars

Budget segment of condenser microphones is often predictable, but there are definitely some wild cards in there too. Wild cards such as MXL V67G. It's a microphone that is anything but subtle. With its golden grilles and dark green chassis, it's every bit a conversation piece and a tool. However, appeal is not skin deep with this one. The performance is there to back up flashy aesthetics. You get that trademark warmth in the mids, which makes the recorded voice sound natural and uniform. With that said, you might find it a bit tricky to use with instruments, but not impossible. Only thing that is missing is a stock mount of some kind, but that's something we can live with.

MXL 990

MXL 990

Design:3.6 Stars
Features:3.6 Stars
Performance:3.8 Stars
Value:4.9 Stars

It's fair to say that MXL dominates the budget segment of the market when it comes to reliable and consistent microphones. One model that really comes across as well rounded is the MXL 990. Stubby by design, this mic is by far one of the most versatile ones you can get on the cheap. MXL covered all of their bases by giving it decent specs and equally decent hardware. It works great with vocals, while recording instruments comes across as rather effortless as well. On top of that, you get a surprise in the box. MXL ships these with a shock mount that actually works. All you have to do is find a pop filter and you're good to go.

Audio-Technica ATR2500

Audio-Technica ATR2500

Design:3.5 Stars
Features:3.6 Stars
Performance:3.7 Stars
Value:4.7 Stars

Recording proper vocals on the go is doesn't require a massive budget. On the contrary, with models such as Audio-Technica's ATR2500, it can be very affordable. This condenser microphone uses a USB port for connectivity, thus allowing you to simply throw it in the bag with your laptop and being ready for action. Raw specs reveal a fairly promising platform that extends past its niche applications. With that said, ATR2500 is best used for recording vocals and podcasting. Recorded sound comes across as clear, defined and fairly free of noise. While this mic isn't fully capable of drowning out ambient noise pollution, it is at a fairly acceptable level. If you need something portable but also capable, this is it.

Behringer C-2

Behringer C-2

Design:3.7 Stars
Features:3.8 Stars
Performance:3.7 Stars
Value:5 Stars

Behringer's line of budget microphones is probably one of the best you will find on the market. Aside from their conventional models, they offer ones like Behringer C-2, which are designed mostly for recording instruments. What you get for an extremely reasonable price are two compact microphones, each packed with fairly solid hardware. On top of that, Behringer has included their low frequency roll-off as well as -10dB attenuation features in this build. In terms of build quality and durability, these are rock solid. Behringer used solid materials, thus ensuring long lasting life and consistent use. Speaking of which, the performance of C-2 is crustal clear with a comfortable amount of brightness. Overall, these are worth checking out for sure.

Sterling Audio ST51

Sterling Audio ST51

Design:3.6 Stars
Features:3.5 Stars
Performance:3.6 Stars
Value:4.9 Stars

Sterling Audio may not be the first brand you would think of when shopping for microphones, but they definitely have something you should check out. Sterling Audio ST51 is a very well balanced condenser that comes at a more than reasonable price. Its sturdy exterior hides a set of decent hardware components, which are capable of meeting most performance requirements for home studio use. Simple to use, ST51 does a great job at capturing vocals in their natural state, all while adding that mid range warmth most vocalists love. At this point, it's the best option out there for users who are working with a rather unforgiving budget. Or to put it simply, it's the bang for the buck champion.

Are Budget Condenser Microphones Worth It?

Building a home studio on a budget can be tricky, especially if your goal is to record music. Condenser mics are about as basic as it can be in terms of equipment you will need for this job. There is a very widespread misconception that budget condensers are bad or not fit for this application. That is definitely not true. Any single one of the models listed above will serve you well in a home studio environment. Some of them are even suitable of more professional use.

However, these microphones have limitations which come in form of lack of features in most cases. To get those, you might have to look at condensers in the $300 price range and up. We touch upon features in more detail later on. The most important fact is that cheap microphones are perfectly capable to produce decent results. So much so that it is fair to say that the difference between a $100 microphone and a model that costs $500, isn’t that big. With all that said, there are some distinctive features that you will mostly see on budget models. Let’s check talk about them in more detail.

What To Expect From a Cheap Mic

One of the most common attributes of budget condensers is simplicity. This doesn’t only apply to features, but pretty much everything. For starters, the design of most budget mics is pretty basic. Their chassis will be rugged, but lacking in distinctive features. That is mostly a byproduct of the fact that most brands are investing most of their assets and time into making these microphones sound good. Once that is achieved, there is rarely anything left to dedicate to aesthetics.

Simplicity is also often confused with bad build quality. This can’t be further from the truth. Take a look at the models on our list. Almost all of them look as bland as you could imagine, but they also feature quality metal bodies that can take a beating if they have to. Sure, dropping a condenser microphone is always a bad idea, but that goes outside the scope of normal use. Under standard conditions, none of these microphones will give you any trouble because of their build quality.

In terms of actual hardware inside, the median average is a fairly fine tuned diaphragm. You will usually see a hold sputtered Mylar design of some sort, or something fairly similar. XLR connectivity is more or less the standard, with few exceptions such as the Audio-Technica ATR2500 which use USB instead. However, that type of microphone is meant for use under a different set of conditions. All in all, average hardware is simple but effective.

How Good Do Budget Condensers Sound?

Budget condenser microphones can sound very good depending on what you use them for. For the most part, these models will work extremely well for voice recording, which is what most users need in the first place. You will see very little negative coloration and a good dose of mid range warmth. One area where you experience that simplicity of design we have mentioned previously, are polar patterns. With cheap mics, you are mostly limited to polar cardioid pattern, which means that most of these are somewhat directional. With that in mind, noise pollution comes up as an issue that deserves some attention.

Fortunately for us, a good majority of budget condensers are good with dealing with ambient noise. They will generally pick up some of it, but you won’t get a recording that is drowned in noise. It seems that we are well past a point where stuff like that happens even in the budget segment of the market.

Recording Instruments with $100 Condensers

One of the most popular uses for condenser mics, aside from recording voice, is to catch that mellow sound of acoustic instruments. Cheap models can give you that experience, depending on which one you go with. Naturally, max SPL values are very important here, especially if you plan on capturing higher volumes. Most of the models on our list are suitable for this application, some more than others. Ones like Behringer C-2 are great for overhead use with drums and they will cost you way less than $100. It mostly comes down to fine tuning microphone positioning and experimenting with the gear you have. The important thing is that the possibility is there.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, budget condensers are a well worth the money. Most of them will get you way more value than you would expect to get. Building a proper home recording build is made easy these days, with much fewer variables you have to worry about. Performance standards are constantly being pushed to a new limit, which probably applies to cheap microphones the most. Models we have shown you today are by far some of the best you can get for less than $100, and they are just a small portion of what is available out there.


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