The Samson C01 is actually the first condenser microphone I ever bought before upgrading to a RØDE NT1. This mic has a very clear signal for its price. That does not mean that it has a completely noiseless signal but it is among the best for sub $100.
The tonal color from the mic is bright with an openness that sounds natural. The high frequencies sound airy and the lower frequencies taper off admirably.
This mic has a solid build with a 19mm cardioid capsule and a gold-sputtered diaphragm. The externals are pleasantly finished. It comes with an LED indicator to show phantom power and the cardioid direction.
This is the most diverse and easy to use microphone in our top picks. It is plug-and-play in a number of different devices. It is MFi certified meaning it is perfect for use with portable Apple products such as an iPhone. It also has lightning cable support. This mic will work with Android devices and PC too.
It comes with an aluminum stand that can sit on a desk. It also mounts easily to a tripod for use on the go. There is a headphone jack so you are able to monitor your sound directly. This is an important feature for a microphone that is so versatile as your settings will change a lot.
It has inbuilt presets that switch between 3 different modes. These modes are flat, vocals, and instruments. This is perfect for quick changes in recording sources. This microphone also applies automatic gain, eq, compression, and limiting. This feature could prove bothersome for getting a custom sound. However, you have complete control over these parameters in the Shure Motiv app.
*The price of this microphone fluctuates and can be slightly over $100 sometimes.
Shure is probably the biggest name in microphones. The Shure SM-58 is the industry standard for live vocals. Many of their small-diaphragm condensers are also among the top instrument microphones. They bring some of that prestige to this versatile boundary microphone.
It is perfect for conferencing, presentations, and recording small groups. This type of microphone a viable option if you plan to record a whole room’s worth of sound with one microphone. It works set on a table or fixed to a wall and does a great job even at a reasonable distance.
This mic comes with RF shielding. This protects the signal from interference by wireless devices.
Blue is a company that builds microphones specifically for use with your computer. The iCE is a USB microphone for streaming, casting, and recording vocals. You have probably seen these mics in video streams in the past. They are reliable, sound great, and are well priced.
These mics are less suitable for recording instruments. This is due to their USB connection and a small built-in stand. However, this is not their intended use.
Their design is for desktop use and is perfect for capturing vocal input. You can get crystal clear audio for your skype calls, facetime, or voiceovers. This mic has switchable polar patterns meaning that it is very versatile. It can record single users or be set up to record a wider area.
These microphones have the bonus of looking great. They also have a sturdy and reliable build.
This microphone really looks the part and could be an option for an entry-level user. It is solid and sounds okay considering its low cost.
There are plenty of reasons to love this mic but its most noticeable feature is its price point. It costs just a quarter of some others in our top picks.
This microphone does not live up to the other microphones in our picks though. The signal noise is higher and you will notice more clipping and less dynamic control. There also aren’t any standout features. However, If you need something really cheap this will do the job until you can afford to spend a little more.
The sub $100 price range for this type of microphone can be a mixed bag. There is some absolute rubbish out there. That doesn’t mean you can find a quality microphone at this price point.
You can get a range of connections and hardware within different condenser microphones. For home studio use, one thing to look out for is a large diaphragm. Having this allows the microphone to have less noise in its signal path. This is important for streaming or podcasting. It also helps to capture all the sound while recording music. Microphones in this price range generally have larger diaphragms than cheaper mics. They are also similar or the same in this regard to more expensive microphones.
Condenser mics cover a wide range of microphone types. For this article, we will be focusing on multi-purpose studio mics. There are small-diaphragm condenser microphones that serve specific sound recording purposes. These kinds of microphones are less relevant for general use and will be excluded from our top picks.
You might need a mic that is compatible with USB so you can use the mic with your phone or tablet. USB connections also make it easier to connect to your laptop as you won’t have to use an interface. This keeps the overall cost down by not having to buy extra equipment.
XLR options are better for recording singing or instruments. This is because a longer cable allows you to position the microphone better. To connect to a PC with an XLR mic you must use an interface. Connecting through an interface allows more control over your recording. It does so by having parameters you can control such as gain and eq. These microphones draw power from the interface.
The interface will need to provide something called phantom power to accommodate this. Make sure your interface has this capability before making your decision. It is usually a smaller button on the box. It may also read as +48v. This is the same thing with a different name.
This is the way in which the microphone collects sound. There are two types of polar patterns and both have their uses.
As you may guess from the name, an omnidirectional microphone picks up sound from every direction. This is beneficial for some applications but not so great under other circumstances. For example, this polar pattern is perfect for podcasting with several people. It should pick up everyone’s voice in the room. It is less desirable for recording music as individual tracks. This is because this polar pattern will capture unwanted noise. It can be useful for recording small groups of acoustic instruments at once.
This polar pattern picks up its signal in a heart shape in front of the microphone. A cardioid microphone is a better choice for isolating vocals or other sources. They are also a better choice for streaming as a single user. For group recordings, several cardioid mics could also replace a single omnidirectional one. This is how they record radio shows. Each user has their own microphone.