7 Best Condenser Microphones Under $200 – Outstanding Value For Your Money


Shopping for a good condenser mic with a budget of $200 is liberating. You are right in the performance band where you get proper sound, but also good features. It is fair to say that some of the best microphones of this type are found right in this category. Today we are going to show you our top picks, which we think are the cream of the crop. We are going to talk about each individual one briefly, while the rest of our guide is going to be dedicated to what you can expect from $200 condenser microphones. Let’s begin.

Top 7 Condenser Microphones Under $200

ImageMicrophones / RatingSummaryCheck Price
+ - AKG P420 AKG P420

Total of 4.28/5  

A workhorse that brings clarity and versatility at a really great price.

+ - Audio-Technica AT2035 Audio-Technica AT2035

Total of 4.22/5  

A worthy successor of a legendary microphone that packs even more versatility.

+ - AKG Perception 220 AKG Perception 220

Total of 4.22/5  

Reliable, robust and sturdy no-nonsense performance in a very reasonably priced package.

+ - Shure SM86 Shure SM86

Total of 4.17/5  

Ultimate versatility of a dynamic package with a classic condenser sound quality.

+ - MXL 9000 MXL 9000

Total of 4.20/5  

A true tube condenser that brings the sweet flavor of analog sound.

+ - Blue Spark Blue Spark

Total of 4.13/5  

An unusual but ultimately effective condenser that has a lot to offer.

+ - Audio-Technica PRO 37 Audio-Technica PRO 37

Total of 4.08/5  

One of the most versatile overhead mics in this particular market segment.

AKG P420

AKG P420

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While AKG doesn't really dwell with the super affordable mics, their budget condensers are some of the best you can find out there. AKG P420 is a perfect example of this. We are looking at a true condenser microphone that brings solid performance and versatile features to the table. Not only do you get three polar patterns, but there is also the -20dB pad and the low frequency roll-off. Out of the box, this microphone offers a very flat and clear performance. All of these things combined make it a suitable choice for recording vocals as well as a variety of instruments. Even the louder ones which require high SPL handling are well within the realm of AKG P420's abilities.

Audio-Technica AT2035

Audio-Technica AT2035

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Audio Technica's AT2020 was an amazing microphone. However, the new version has hit the market and it has proven to be a worthy successor. Where the previous model was a very solid platform for both home and semi professional applications, AT2035 really brought the edge that was necessary. You still get that reliable, solid performance but now you also have the option of using an attenuation pad as well as a high pass filter. Recording vocals is pretty easy, but recording instruments is even easier. With an increased max SPL, you can start experimenting with louder instruments that were previously out of bounds. Overall, Audio Technica AT2035 is the successor that we were waiting for and one that we need.

AKG Perception 220

AKG Perception 220

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If there is one reputable line of condenser microphones, it's AKG's P series. AKG P220 is among the more tamed models, with its no-nonsense approach and reliable performance. It is the type of microphone you would want in a high traffic studio where reliability is every bit as important as performance. AKG used the same chassis you see in other models from this series, meaning it is capable of taking all the abuse you can dish out. Flat in nature, P220 offers great sound quality whether you are recording vocals or instruments. Add to that a -20dB pad and a bass cut off feature, and you have a highly versatile package that consistently delivers. It is a truly awesome workhorse.

Shure SM86

Shure SM86

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When it comes to microphones, Shure's bread and butter have always been dynamic microphones. Considering their vast success in this segment, Shure has decided to bridge the gap between dynamic and condenser, studio and stage use. Shure SM86 is the model that does exactly that. It comes in a very standard, conservative format that we are all used to, but it packs a real condenser capsule with built in shock mount and pop filter. This level of integration might make it seem fragile, but in reality it is the opposite. SM86 is every bit as rugged as more popular Shure models, which means a lot. The best thing about this mic is the fact that it works in all environments.

MXL 9000

MXL 9000

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When it comes to budget condensers mics, MXL is one of those brands that dominates the market in a way. Among their interesting lineup of models, MXL 9000 stands out as a very interesting mic. This interest comes from it being an actual tube microphone, with a tube capsule featuring a single 12AT7 valve inside. Although the max SPL values aren't really that competitive, that tube flavor adds a whole different layer of value to this model. Despite its stock performance being more than decent, the fact that MXL 9000 uses a tube means that you can take things into your own hands should you feel like it. Swap the stock tube for an aftermarket one and explore new sounds.

Blue Spark

Blue Spark

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Blue made their breakthrough in the streaming and podcasting segment of the market. However, their models have proven to be more than viable for a more niche studio use. Blue Spark is one of those models, whose appearances are rather deceptive. Where most other brands like to keep things simple, Blue obviously believes that a bit of a shock factor can go a long way. What really matters is that performance is there. We are talking lots of potential when recording vocals, while instruments are fair game as well. With that said, it is no secret that Blue Spark was meant to be used for recording voice. At the end of the day, Spark offers a rather unique tone profile

Audio-Technica PRO 37

Audio-Technica PRO 37

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Audio-Technica's overhead condenser microphones are every bit as good as their standard models. This also applies to the more budget friendly versions on the market. Audio-Technica PRO 37 delivers what is probably the best ratio of price and performance you can find at the moment. Sure, it is not as versatile as a standard condenser, but PRO 37 delivers a very unique experience with plenty of boost. That means you can record even the most subtle acoustic instruments with utmost precision. High SPL values allow for work with more aggressive instruments without worrying about pushing the mic past its limits. The true magic happens when you go ahead and pair two Audio-Technica PRO 37 units for a stereo recording sessions.

What Exactly Does A $200 Condenser Mic Offer?

If you look closely, the $200 category of condensers is a very interesting one. It offers quite a bit more compared to stuff you can get in the $100 segment of the market. On the other hand, more expensive microphones found in the$300 category aren’t that much better. That is why you often see $200 mics being referred to as the sweet spot.

When it comes to concrete benefits of owning a mic from this category, there are several that come to mind. However, the biggest improvement is the diversity you have access to. Condenser mics come in a variety of forms, shapes and flavors. This, and few other individual benefits are something we will address in detail in our next segment.

Diversity

When we say diversity, we are talking about different types of condensers out there. If you look at our list of best models for this category, you will notice that it includes a number of standard side/tip address mics, but also some not so usual models. For example, that Shure SM86 looks like a regular dynamic model designed for stage use. Yet, it is a condenser unit. On a similar note, there are overhead models and other variants included.

That is that type of diversity you won’t see too often if your budget is less than $200. It is only when you look at more expensive microphones that things get better in this regard. Each of these microphones was built to meet the requirements of some sort of niche application. However, most of them are still as versatile as your standard condenser design.

One more interesting format that starts appearing in this price range are tube microphones. Where most modern condensers use transistors, these particular microphones rely on good old vacuum tubes. Tube condensers are generally seen as something that offers a more genuine vocal experience, although they are known to add some coloration to the sound. Cool thing about these is that you can swap out the tube and thus achieve different results.

Features

Features are by far the most important advantage of spending $200 on a microphone. With that said, having decent features doesn’t min any given model will be good or bad, it just means that you can use that particular microphone with more flexibility. There are two main things that need to be mentioned. First one is the built in attenuation pad, usually between -10dB to -20dB, while the other is high or low pass filter.

Attenuation is there to allow you to record instruments whose volume is naturally high. For example, you can record acoustic guitars with just about any condenser microphone out there, but recording brass tends to be trickier. Having built in attenuation allows you to reduce the input volume, and thus eliminate the risk of damaging the mic by pushing it past its SPL capabilities.

Overall Quality

Defining build quality in microphones is usually not a factor worth spending too much time on. Most $100 models will feature great build quality, so you can only expect to see more of the same in this category of the market. With that said, the quality of the hardware used is where things start to get interesting. You will start running into better capsules, more delicate diaphragms and more refined performance curves. It is also worth mentioning that microphones from this segment of the market usually arrive with proper shock mounts and other accessories.

What Kind Of Uses Can $200 Condensers Serve?

At the end of the day, it all comes down to this question. The answer is going to depend on the type of mic you select, but if we were to take the most average model like AKG P420, things get easier. This particular microphone is more than capable of serving in a semi professional studio. Maybe even in a professional one as well. With that said, it is a perfect choice for home recording rigs and similar.

Just because there are microphones out there with astronomical price tags, doesn’t mean that you can’t get the job done on a budget. To be perfectly honest, the difference between the models on our list, and those which are twice as expensive, isn’t that big. Sure, there are subtle and not so subtle improvements in both performance and design, but nothing that is game changing. With all that in mind, it is fair to say that $200 is a great place to get into condensers without suffering performance cuts or other issues.

Conclusion

Building a recording studio on a budget is becoming easier and easier every year. Especially when you focus on the condenser mic part of that story. The models listed above are all the proof and explanation you could need. We have chosen what we think are the absolute best microphones you can get for this kind of money. Even though tastes differ, you will be hard pressed to find something that is significantly better than any of these models. If you’re trying to set up a decent recording studio, you should definitely check out our selection. You won’t be disappointed.


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