Best Condenser Microphones

Review & Comparison, Last Update September 29, 2017
Look here to find out about the best condenser mics for your home studio or simply apartment room to reliably broadcast and record your instrumental music or vocal performance with transcendent acoustic qualities. ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2017
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
Sound Recording Modes
Frequency Response
Sample Rate
Bit Rate
Extras
Warranty
 
PROS
4 polar patterns to choose from for superb sound reception within the required range.
CONS
Some might find it heavy, although the weight adds to the stability.
OUR VERDICT
Blue Yeti Condenser Mic is suitable for many purposes and offers you the wide range of configurable pickup patterns for recording crisp, undistorted and robust audio in order to create a quality artistic content right away.
detailed parameters
Sound Recording Modes
Cardioid, Bidirectional, Omnidirectional, and Stereo modes
Frequency Response
20 Hz - 20 kHz
Sample Rate
48 kHz
Bit Rate
16 bit
Extras
Gain control, Mute button, Zero-latency headphone output, Tilt adjustment
Warranty
2-year warranty
PROS
Included a pop filter for fighting off the blowing air during speech or percussive instrument play.
CONS
The included desktop tripod is somewhat short.
OUR VERDICT
Rode NT-USB is a safe choice for capturing any instrument music and vocal sounds with the high consonant articulation. With it, you can reproduce the audio exactly as it sounded during the recording.
detailed parameters
Sound Recording Modes
Cardioid mode
Frequency Response
20 Hz - 20 kHz
Sample Rate
48 kHz
Bit Rate
16 bit
Extras
Tripod desk stand, Pop shield, Ring mount, On-mic mix control, Compatible with iPad, 3.5mm headphones output
Warranty
1-year + 2-year extended warranty
PROS
A built-in pop filter for improved sound quality and capsule protection.
CONS
A bit unstable due to the large head.
OUR VERDICT
In our opinion, Snowball iCE mic looks pretty hot. We recommend it for casual singing, chatting with friends, doing commentaries during webcasts or podcasting.
detailed parameters
Sound Recording Modes
Cardioid mode
Frequency Response
40 Hz - 18 kHz
Sample Rate
44.1 kHz
Bit Rate
16 bit
Extras
Tripod desk stand, Compatible with Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit
Warranty
2-year warranty
PROS
Included a shockmount and a hard carrying case for storing and transportation.
CONS
No desktop stand.
OUR VERDICT
We also liked the classy design of this MXL 990 Condenser Mic. To our taste, it's an awesome acquisition for a small home studio as it has decent frequency response for delivering a harmonious sound of your voice.
detailed parameters
Sound Recording Modes
Cardioid mode
Frequency Response
30 Hz - 20 kHz
Sample Rate
48 kHz
Bit Rate
16 bit
Extras
FET preamplifier, Stockmount holder, Mic stand adapter, Carrying case
Warranty
1-year warranty
PROS
6-ft" long included USB-to-USB-B cable. Lightweight capsule adds to stability.
CONS
Not particularly good at capturing the high-pitched singing voice and sounds.
OUR VERDICT
AT2020USB boasts the combination of excellent design and modern technologies. It may surprise you with the rich middles and deep bass that make it epic for voiceover artists and commentators with a deep, rich voice.
detailed parameters
Sound Recording Modes
Cardioid mode
Frequency Response
20 Hz - 16 kHz
Sample Rate
44.1 kHz
Bit Rate
16 bit
Extras
Tripod desk stand, Pivoting mount adapter, Threaded adapter, Storage pouch, Low self-noise characteristics.
Warranty
2-year warranty

What is a Condenser Microphone

In simple words, a microphone is an electrical music and sound equipment that can capture sound waves around it for recording or amplifying and further reproduction with the sound speakers. Long story short, the condenser-type mics usually have a slightly upper hand over dynamic mics in terms of frequency response. They have a wider frequency range allowing them to pick up the smallest nuances in your voice or your music instrument's tonality. Therefore, if you need a mic for a home studio, online webcasting or general audio recording, these microphones are exactly what you need.

Looking for more equipment? You can also check out our pick of the best over-ear headphones too. And if you are into game live streaming, we recommend getting a powerful graphics card and an HD webcam so that your videos wouldn't look pixelated or have low resolution.

Blue Yeti

Unlimited Possibilities

The Blue Yeti USB is an exemplary condenser mic aimed at the creation of quality audio content, including interviewing, podcasting, music recording, and literally anything else that can be done with a stationary mic. While most of the stand mics are designed for capturing the sound in a cardioid pattern, the Blue Yeti's 3-capsule array, hidden inside the metal housing, allow capturing the robust sounds in 4 different ways. Namely, you can choose between the cardioid, stereo, omnidirectional, and bidirectional modes for capturing the most robust sound field in different situations. For instance, the bidirectional is more suitable for the interview with 2 people, while the cardioid one would be appropriate for a single commentator or podcaster. As for the control, the mic has 3 knobs for the gain, headphones volume, and pattern selection. The mute button is handily placed on the front side for when you have to quickly shut it off. On the bottom, the housing has a Mini-USB port for the cable, 3.5mm audio out with zero-latency, and a threaded hole for attaching it to the shock mount that can be bought separately.

Review of Blue Yeti USB Condenser Microphone

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


Blue Yeti
Blue Yeti
 

Rode NT-USB

Versatile Mic for Any Conditions

Sydney-based RODE company takes one of the top positions among the manufacture of microphones for all purposes. The Rode NT-USB Condenser Microphone is a great solution for artists who want the finest mic for the consistent instrument or vocal recording. We liked the fact that the mic comes with a pop-filter that we recommend using almost all the time to fight off the rapid air puffs that usually occur when we pronounce letters "B" or "P". 

The 20" USB cable is included for hooking it up to the computer. Speaking about compatibility, it doesn't require any driver installation. Therefore, it works right out of the box with both Mac and Windows computers. Also, you can use it with any modern programs for sound capturing and editing like Rode Rec, GarageBand, and others. We've found out that 6" is an optimal distance from your mouth for the generic voice recording, and overall, we were pleased with the robustness of the recorded audio. For this reason, we would clearly recommend this Rode Condenser Microphone for voiceover and music artists who want to experience all the key benefits of the professional equipment at a way more affordable price.

Review of Rode NT-USB Condenser Microphone

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


Rode NT-USB
Rode NT-USB
 

Blue Snowball iCE

Crystal Clear iCE

The ball-shaped design of the Blue Snowball iCE Condenser Microphone is actually not the only thing that attracts attention to it. Just don't forget that the Blue is the name of the company while the mic is available in either black or white color. This one has a single capsule that has a cardioid polar pattern. Although it might not look like a piece of the high-end studio equipment, the ball may surprise you with the decent audio quality. It also has a built-in pop filter hidden behind the black grill. Thus, it is still a viable option for the music composing or practicing. That way, you can track your progression or share your work with your friends by livestreaming or uploading the videos on YouTube. This model is USB-powered and comes with a 6-ft. cord for connecting it to the computer. That way, you can have fun holding it in your hand like an oversized lollipop while moving around the computer and singing all your favorite Disney songs. On a serious note, the Snowball iCE does not require any special software and works well on both Windows and Mac OS. In our opinion, the Snowball Ice by Blue is a trendy-looking microphone that can offer more than can offer its balanced characteristics to obtain crystal clear audio right in your bedroom or office room.

Review of Blue Snowball iCE Condenser Microphone

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


Blue Snowball iCE
Blue Snowball iCE
 

MXL 990

Equip Your Own Studio

The MXL 990 mic comes at a comparatively low price, though it doesn't look cheap. Quite the contrary, it has a rather classy design, especially, when the shock mount is attached. The mic, shock mount, and the stand mount come in a hard plastic case with the foamed insides. Note, that it's shipped without an XLR cable and needs phantom power at 48 V. Thus, make sure your mixer or preamp can provide it. As for hooking it up to the computer, you will need an XLR-to-USB audio interface.

The captured sound quality may vary, depending on other equipment that you have. Still, the MXL 990 is pretty sensitive and can capture the finest acoustic details while you are using it for the record. It has an extra-quiet inherent self-noise, while its large membrane can also pick up some unwanted noises from the background, so make sure you use it in a sound proof room, especially in an apartment. Anyhow, the mic delivers fluid treble, solid middles, and sturdy sub-bass frequencies. Feel free to use it for vocals, speech or instruments.

Review of MXL 990 Condenser Microphone with Shockmount

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


MXL 990
MXL 990
 

Audio-Technica AT2020USB

Studio Sound in Your Room

Basically, the Audio-Technica AT2020USB is a total copy of the AT2020 condenser mic with the only exception that it has a type B USB port in the bottom instead of the XLR-out. This allows you to plug it directly into the USB port on your computer via the included 10 ft. long cable. As usual, you don't need any additional drivers for this - just plug and play. What's more, it comes with a small tripod stand for placing it on your desk. The mic features a lightweight diaphragm that effectively picks up the sound in 20-16,000 Hz frequency range. Therefore, the highs are a bit mellow, so it might not work well for the singing in the upper vocal range. However, everything else is very impressive, especially, when you add the price to the picture. The deep bass and clear, sensitive medium frequencies make it great for podcasting, voiceover, and any speech recording in general. It can be even used outdoors with varying degrees of success, though we still advise getting a pop filter for it to obtain the best results and clearest sound quality. Lastly, it has a classy, professional-grade design that will look great if you want to have a serious look while recording a song or a conversation on video.

Review of Audio-Technica AT2020USB Condenser Microphone

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


Audio-Technica AT2020USB
Audio-Technica AT2020USB
 

Sources:

1. Joe Shambro Condenser vs. Dynamic Microphones, About. September 26, 2016.

2. Studio Microphone Buying Guide, Sweetwater.

3. The Beginner’s Guide to Recording Studio Microphones, E-Home Recording Studio.

4. Sean The Best Microphone for Recording Rap Vocals, The Wire Realm. September 13, 2016.

5. Alan Henry How to Choose the Best Microphone for Your PC, Lifehacker. March 24, 2014.

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