5 Best Budget Microphones For Artists – Noisylabs

Microphones have had a big impact on the world.

Think of all the most important speeches in history. Most, if not all, have been delivered via mic. Martin Luther King's famous speech, "I have a dream" was delivered in front of thousands with a mic. Michael Jordan's speech about Kobe Bryant was delivered with a mic. 

The microphone has been one of the best tools for sharing a message. And, a message can be delivered with songs as well. Musicians are artists. They deliver words and paint a picture with what they say. Their medium to share that message is the microphone.

But, not all artists are making money. There are a lot of talented people who are struggling to make ends meet which is why we created this post. This post is about finding the best mics on a budget along with what you need to look for.

Hopefully, any struggling artist will find value in this post whether or not they purchase something. 

Types of recording mics

There are 2 categories of recording microphones:

  • Condenser
  • Dynamic

A condenser mic uses 2 plates for absorbing sound waves. One plate is fixed in position while the other one is more flexible. The combination of plates form a capacitor to absorb the sound waves and turn it into an electrical signal.

Advantages of a condenser mic:

  • Efficient diaphragm 
  • Small
  • Records different frequency ranges 

Dynamic microphones are also known as moving coil or ribbon microphones. Both moving coil/ribbon mics have their own descriptions. But, for now, we'll only describe dynamic mics.

Dynamic mics are labeled dynamic because of what goes inside. You see, dynamic mics convert sound into electrical signals by electromagnetism. And, that is the reason why we have both a moving coil and ribbon microphone. Electromagnetism happens when a conductor moves in magnetic field. 

Advantages of a dynamic mic:

  • Don't require power source
  • Durable
  • Sound quality

Both condenser and dynamic mics have their own advantages. But, it's important to get into more detail. There are sub-categories within dynamic and condenser mics which means every mic isn't the same.

Here's what you need to understand to make sure you know what you're getting.

Why you should understand specs?

Comparing products can get tricky. Thankfully, the microphones we listed aren't crazy expensive. But, we know people still want to compare their options. It's only right that you get to do so to find the best option for yourself.

And to do that, it's important that you know all the details. You can't turn to recommendations because they're manipulated. Endorsements can be bought, and reviews can be biased (including ours).

Doing your best research means seeking out everything, and to do that you need to understand specs.

Specs to understand

Polar patterns

Polar patterns determine the area where the mics pick up. All mics will be able to pick up sound in front of it. Most mics will also be able to pick up sound from the rear. But, there are few which pick up a majority of the sound from the sides.

Frequency response

Frequency response is the way a mic responds to different frequencies. Another way to look at it is audio output being bias. If your mic's frequency response exaggerates low frequencies, then your audio output will have more bass in it.

An ideal frequency response is to be even. Not leaning too heavily on either side is the best situation for a mic. But, it depends on your preferences. Sometimes producers will want to pick up the low frequencies of their environment.

Sensitivity

Sensitivity is how well a mic can convert sound energy to electrical energy.

The more power its audio output gives relative to its sound pressure is a mic's sensitivity. If you whisper into the mic and the audio output is strong, your mic's sensitivity is strong. 

There are advantages to a low sensitivity mic though. Some advantages include recording audio from instruments like drums or guitar. A high sensitive mic is better for room acoustics and recording natural sound. It's up to you to figure out what sensitivity is right for you.

Power Consumption

Knowing power consumption doesn't affect recording quality, but it's more important to know for convenience sakes.

If you're reading this post, there's a good chance you either have a recording setup, or plan on getting one. Knowing how much power your mic lets you know which equipment you should plug where. Having a high-powered mic in the same outlet as another high-powered equipment will cause problems.

4 mic specs to understand

Now that you know what to look for, here are the 5 best budget microphones for artists.

1. Shure SM57-LC Cardioid Dynamic Microphone 

Shure SM57-LC Cardioid Dynamic Microphone

Source: Amazon

These are perfect for recording vocals.

The frequency response is even and its audio pickup radius (polar pattern) covers the area right in front of it. Its pickup pattern cues in on the vocals and even reduces other sounds that aren't related to your voice. 

Even instrumental audio will be picked up with this mic. Some examples include different percussion instruments like a drum. You can even afford to drop it here and there. It's known for being durable because consumers have reported using it for years without losing a step.

Based on its design, you can tell there isn't much flash to it, but, this mic gets the job done. Even its power consumption is something to admire. One reason is due to its wired connectivity.

Pros


  • Frequency response
  • Picks up vocals and percussions
  • Durable
  • Power consumption

Cons

  • Polar pattern

2. Shure SM58-LC

Shure SM58-LC

Source: Amazon

The Shure SM58 is another versatile mic. You can use it to record audio and instrumentals. It is considered a dynamic microphone that differentiates itself when filtering sounds. It has a spherical filter that minimizes background noises like popping or wind. Similar to the Shure SM57, the Shure SM58 cues in on the main sound source and keeps background noise away.

Its frequency response is built to handle the full range. This includes low tones and higher tones. This is why you can record audio and instrumentals with no problems. 

It also has great durability. The steel mesh head is a classic design for a microphone, but it has proven golden over time. This doesn't mean you can drop it all over the place though. This just means it'll survive small accidents if they were to happen. 

One downside to this mic is its polar pattern. Another similarity it shares with the mic above is it doesn't pickup from a wide range. But, this is a common tradeoff if your mic can filter out background noise. 

Pros

  • Frequency response
  • Sound filtering
  • Durability
  • Picks up vocals and instrumentals

Cons

  • Polar pattern

3. MXL Mics 770 Cardioid Condenser Microphone 

MXL Mics 770 Cardioid Condenser Microphone

Source: Amazon

Compared to the last two mics, this is also considered a versatile mic for recording. The MXL 770 is a condenser microphone that's great for both vocals and instruments. 

Other similarities include its durability and sensitivity. Assuming you take good care of this mic, you'll have it for a long time. It comes with a Shockmount to ward off mechanical vibrations and it also comes with a carrying case for protection.

Regarding audio, its sensitivity makes it good for picking up vocals. It has warm highs and solid low frequency response. It doesn't lean one way too much, but it tends to favor the treble side a little more.

A downside to this is it's not really cheap. It's cheap for its quality, but it's not the cheapest compared to others on this list. 

Pros


  • Picks up vocals and instrumentals
  • Durable
  • Clear and crisp sound

Cons

  • Favors higher frequencies a little more

4. Audio-Technica AT2035 

Audio-Technica AT2035

Source: Amazon

This mic is great for mid to lower-range frequencies. Now, this doesn't mean it's trash when it comes to higher frequencies, but we would suggest using it for percussion instruments or something in the lower frequency. Users have noticed that there is a small decline in frequency response when it comes to the higher end which is why we advise you to not use it for that.

The polar pattern for this mic is pretty good too. It picks up audio from the back and sides, and it also isolates your desired sound. One of its best qualities is its durability. The Audio-Technica AT2035 comes with a protective pouch and custom shock mount.

As a budget mic, this isn't the cheapest option. But, everything else besides the higher frequency is high quality. Purchasing this mic will definitely help bring your home studio to life.

Pros


  • Polar pattern
  • Low-end frequency
  • Durability

Cons

  • High-end frequency response

5. Behringer C-1 

Behringer C-1

Source: Amazon

Similar to the last 2 mics, this mic has a shock-mount for mechanical vibrations.

One downside to this mic is it picks up a lot of noise in the background. If you're recording area is not dead silent, then it'll pick up audio that you didn't want recorded.

This issue is solvable by either treating your room for acousitcs, or throwing a blanket over your head to make sure room acoustics don't interfere with your audio. 

This mic is a great blend between the first 2 mics on this list, and the last 2 mics we reviewed. This mic blends great pricing with great durability between them. Its frequency response is even through both ranges as well. If you're looking for a mic to start off with, this is a great choice. It can serve as your main mic or support mic depending on what you want to do.

Pros


  • Durability
  • Frequency response

Cons

  • Sound filter

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