Whether you’re creating music or content for a podcast or Youtube channel, good audio quality is essential. Luckily, these days there are solutions for tracking vocals or speech to suit any budget. So we’ve selected some of the best budget microphones for home recording to help you find the right tools for the job.
Before we list the best cheap microphones for your home studio, let’s look at the differences between different microphone types. Most bedroom producers will either use a dynamic microphone or a condenser microphone.
Budget Microphones – Dynamic Mics
When recording at home, dynamic mics are often the best choice due to their localized pickup field. This means you can record quite easily in reflective environments or even situations where background noise may be a factor.
You’ll find dynamic mics in the form of handheld stage microphones or large-diaphragm broadcast-style mics. Because you’ll usually record close to the source, a windshield is useful for avoiding plosives and sibilance.
In addition, dynamics are generally high impedance low output devices. This means that an in-line mic preamplifier like the Cloudlifter CL-1 can optimize your input gain running from your audio interface.
The best budget-friendly dynamic microphones are:
- Behringer XM8500
- Rode PodMic
- Shure SM 58
When combined with a windshield and a Mic Booster, the ULTRAVOICE XM8500 gives you a usable recording solution for under $100. It’s an ideal entry-level choice for beginners or if you simply don’t have the budget.
The way the XM8500 is built, it’s certainly not fragile. Also, it comes with a clip and stand adapter, so you can use it handheld, standing, or in a desktop-mounted configuration.
Most home-recorded vocals and speech will need a certain amount of post-production, so it will be easy to make adjustments to any aspect of the mic you aren’t happy with.
More info: Behringer XM8500
The Rode PodMic has been designed for speech intelligibility. So, it goes without saying that it’s an excellent budget choice for home vocal recording.
Built like a tank, the PodMic’s all-metal will withstand virtually anything you can throw at it. Although it might be heavy, it does have an integrated windshield to reduce plosives.
One thing to note is that this has an impedance of 320 ohms, which means the preamps built into the average budget interface won’t be enough to get decent input gain.
More info: Rode PodMic
Shure SM 58
It’s hard to argue with the world’s most popular microphone. The SM58 has been used for podcasts, live performances, and recordings for decades and was even the preferred choice of U2’s Bono in the studio at one stage.
It’s affordable but practically indestructible at the same time and neutral sounding enough for most sources you’ll find in your home studio setup.
Most of the parts are inexpensive and replaceable, and you can add insert the 36A678A Foam Grille for added wind protection or the A58WS external screen.
More info: Shure SM 58
Budget Microphones – Condenser Mics
Large-diaphragm condenser mics are most commonly used in studios because they are suitable for a wide range of voices, and they excel at picking up vocal nuances and the surrounding ambient environment.
However, this is not a great choice in a room that has tiles or glass surfaces, so position the mic adjacent to any curtains or carpets to avoid harsh reflections.
Condensers also shine on vocalists that project their voices into the room. By positioning your pop shield correctly, you can ensure the vocalist remains at the optimum distance from the mic’s diaphragm to avoid the proximity effect.
The best affordable condenser microphones are:
- Audio-Technica AT2020
- AKG P220
The popular AT2020 is a medium-diaphragm condenser with applications that go beyond just vocal recording. You can also use it to track instruments such as acoustic guitars, woodwinds, brass, or percussive instruments like shakers and tambourines.
Its simple design and cardioid-only pickup pattern make it an excellent choice for your first microphone or if you simply need a multipurpose mic for your setup.
If you’re tracking vocals, it’s worth getting the AT8458a shock mount for stability and adding a pop filter to take care of any plosives.
More info: Audio-Technica AT2020
The AKG P220 is a very affordable large-diaphragm condenser, great for home vocal recording. Furthermore, it will also produce good results on acoustic guitars or amp cabinets.
With the -20dB pad and 300 Hz low cut switches, you can quickly optimize the mic for the source you’re working with. There’s only one pickup pattern, which is cardioid, but chances are you won’t be looking for a multipattern mic in this price range.
Although it does ship in a case with its own shock mount, you’ll get the best results on vocals by adding a pop shield to your setup.
More info: AKG P220
Best Budget Microphones – Reader’s Suggestions
Our readers suggested the following affordable microphones in the comments section:
- Sennheiser e 845, suggested by Phil.
- Blue enCORE 200, suggested by Sparella.
- Shure SM57, suggested by @BeguilingOrbit (via Twitter).
What is your favorite studio microphone? Are you looking to upgrade soon? Have you tried any of the microphones listed in this article?
We’re looking forward to hearing your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section below.
Why does the article not mention the Sennheiser e845 as a alternative to the SM58?
The e845 sounds better (more “open”,so less EQing is required) and costs a bit less than the SM58. At least these 2 good reasons should make anyone capable of using their brain prefer the e845.
In case, the budget is a bit bigger, consider the e945 oder e935 for a step further in sound quality.
Shout-out for my trusty ol’ AKG Perception 220 (an earlier generation of the P220, nice bluish-silver color instead of this black). Still working well, even-though it spent many years inactive in storage (i had no time/energy to properly get into home-recording). Looks like both my budget mic & monitors of many years got into both BPB articles haha (albeit 1-gen earlier versions)! :D
I have the AKG Perception 120 and the AKG Perception 420. Both works well for me.
The affordable BLUE Encore 200 is a phantom powered dynamic. With it’s internal circuit plus air mode on a Scarlett interface, I’m able to fake a condenser sound but with the improved noise rejection of a cardioid dynamic. In spaces with little or no acoustic treatment, it works well for this.
Audio-Technica AT2040 is only $20 more. Would it be worth it?
A lot of people are using the Blue Yeti. Does it record vocals well?
When I go to these web sites, they seem to be referring more to broadcasting, podcasts, and You Tubers than music.
A great content creator’s mic does not always equal a great mic for music production.
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i have both, the sm58 and a sm57. the quality of both units for that price is just too good.
I bought an sE V7 vocal mic because I couldn’t afford a Shure SM58 ($150 AU vs. $200 AU). I was so impressed with the V7 that when I needed an instrument mic, I bought the sE V7X even though I could have afforded an SM57. I highly recommend both the sE mics.
So you obviously haven’t checked out 3U Microphones yet, pity. The Teal CM-1 and the Black CM-1 — $164 each including shipping (the Teal is roughly similar to a FET Ela-M 251 and the Black is similar to a U87). Then there’s the more expensive Warbler series. You should.
The “SM” on the Shure 57&58 originally meant “Studio Microphone.” They are exactly the same except for the pop filter ball on the 58.
They both have the advantage of going from the studio to the stage and a good soundman can mike a whole band with just those two and get great results. Almost no vocalist will turn down a 58 onstage when offered and try to find a live Tom Petty video where he’s not singing into a 57. Michael Jackson’s Thriller vocal? A 57 with him in the hall outside the control room.
Used 58s and 57s are almost always under about $75 and you can find new 57s on eBay for rediculous prices.
Well worth having for your studio.