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The 6 Absolute Best Condenser Mics Under 200 in 2019

In Guides for Musicians, Guides for Singers, Home Recording Studioby Jake LLeave a Comment

Condenser microphones are the ideal choice for recording vocals in a studio. They have excellent precision when it comes to capturing subtle nuances and can capture sound at a very high quality. There are so many options to choose from, all varying in different price ranges, which can make it tough. Of course, you do get what you pay for, however, there are still great condenser mics that are under 200 for anyone’s home recording studio.

They’re perfect for singers and musicians who are just getting started at recording their own music. You don’t need to go into debt to set up your own home recording studio and to help you out, we’ve put together a list of the absolute best condenser mics under 200 dollars. Each condenser microphone we will discuss is budget-friendly, but high-quality in both sound and design.

However, before we get into that, let’s explain what a condenser microphone is.

What is a Condenser Microphone?

Home Recording Studio. A smaller set-up with a microphone and desk.

Like we’ve already mentioned, Condenser microphones are usually used when recording vocals thanks to their excellent precision at capturing sound. They capture high detail sound but are also sensitive enough to pick up unwanted noises such as breathing and popping.

These type of microphones use a conductive diaphragm which is paired with a metal disk that forms a capacitor. This vibrates with sound pressure and uses capacitance to create the audio signal by causing a change in output voltage.

Condenser mics are known to distort at higher levels of noise due to their higher sensitivity. They also require a power supply (Phantom Power) in order to use them, which is where audio interfaces and preamps come in. There are USB condenser microphones that won’t require Phantom Power, so if you want to save even more money, definitely look into those.

Now let’s get right into our list of the best condenser mics under 200 dollars.

Best Condenser Mics Under 200

1. MXL 770X

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The first condenser microphone on our list is the MXL 770X, a large-diaphragm condenser mic that’s also known as the big brother to the MXL 770. With an upgraded diaphragm, high-quality sound, premium design, and great features, the MXL 770X is an excellent condenser mic that falls under the $200 price range.

Design and Build

You will find that the MXL 770X has a solid build, having a metal body and mesh grill. It definitely feels durable and able to take a few bumps or drops if that ever happens. This condenser microphone comes with a shock mount and metal pop filter that directly attaches to it. It’s really nice owning a metal pop filter as they’re a bit more durable than mesh alternatives. They are also easier to clean, a huge plus since pop filters get pretty nasty after a lot of use.

Sound Quality

The MXL 770X does an excellent job at capturing a well-balanced sound that’s nice and warm. This microphone does a great job at capturing vocals and musical instruments, just don’t expect too much from the high-end. Make sure to keep in mind that the sound this condenser mic produces isn’t as bright as other microphones. There’s nothing wrong with that, it just means that it won’t be the best choice for people who want a brighter sound for their recordings.

Lots of Features

-10dB Switch

There are three adjustable switches on this microphone. One switch is used to cut -10db, a helpful feature when recording louder audio sources such as a drum set.

Low-end Cutoff Switch

If you ever want to cut off the low-end right on the microphone during recording sessions instead of when you’re mixing, you can use this switch. It cuts 6dB at 135hz, which can be helpful when doing voiceover types of recordings and podcasts.

Pick-Up Pattern Switch

Now, this is a feature you don’t often find on many condenser microphones. You can use this switch to change the pickup pattern of the mic. Basically, change the direction that the microphone picks up sound. The MXL 770X has the following three pick-up patterns.

  • Cardioid: This pickup pattern picks up sound primarily from the front of the microphone while slightly picking up sounds from the sides. It will completely reject sounds that are coming from the back. A Cardioid polar pattern is great for focusing the recording on one main sound source.
  • Omni-Directional: If you want to pick up sound equally from all sides of the microphone, this is the pickup pattern you would use. Many have found that this pattern is best used when recording in an environment that has nice acoustics. You’ll be able to capture all of the sounds that surround the mic.
  • Figure-8: This pickup pattern will capture sounds from both the front and the back of the microphone, while at the same time rejecting any sounds at the sides of the mic. A great polar pattern to use when recording duets with another vocalist/singer.

Verdict: Extremely Versatile with a Well Balanced Sound

These features definitely make the MXL 770X a highly versatile condenser microphone. Overall, a very good value, considering all of the useful features that come with it and the well-balanced sound that this microphone is capable of delivering. It’s definitely one of my favorites when looking at condenser mics under 200 dollars.

2. Audio-Technica AT2035 

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Audio-Technica is well-known for their high-quality budget microphones, with the AT2020 being one of their most successful models. They did launch two models after the AT2020, which includes the AT2035 and AT2050. The AT2035 is an excellent condenser microphone that’s under 200 dollars, ranking higher on our list than the popular AT2020.

Design and Build

Just like all of the other Audio-Technica 20 series microphones, the build quality on the AT2035 is amazing, especially considering its price. It has an all-metal construction accompanied with a nice metal grill, all while having a balanced weight. This condenser microphone comes with a shock mount that works well with the microphone. The shock mount is made of high-strength plastic, feeling very sturdy so you won’t have to worry about it breaking.

This mic also comes with a mesh pop filter to help eliminate any plosives during recordings and a 10ft. XLR cable to connect to your audio interface, mixer, or preamp.

Sound Quality

First of all, just like the AT2020, the AT2035 has a fixed cardioid polar pattern, so it picks up sound primarily from the front of the microphone. This improves the isolation of the main sound source you are trying to record. The AT2035 has a large diaphragm, which has low noise and captures a nice natural sound. It offers a good balance between the mids and the highs, slightly compressing the midrange, creating a warm sound with a very smooth high-end.

We found that the microphone does an amazing job at capturing both vocals and musical instruments. It’s also impressive at eliminating the background noise when recording. Overall, the AT2035 captures sound nicely and doesn’t sound overly colored, especially when used on vocals.

Features

PAD and Low Cut Switches

The AT2035 condenser microphone has a PAD switch and a low cut switch. If you’re ever in a very high volume situation, you can use the PAD switch to decrease the output of the microphone. When switched on, it will decrease the sensitivity of the mic to very low frequencies.

Verdict: An Excellent Step Up from the AT2020

Overall, the AT2035 is pretty awesome, considering that it is a condenser mic that falls under 200 dollars. It’s very versatile, working great with both vocals and musical instruments while also doing a good job at capturing less background noise. It’s built to last and is definitely worth checking out!

3. Rode NT-USB (No Phantom Power Required) 

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The Rode NT-USB is a versatile USB condenser microphone that’s perfect for those who want to plug their mics directly into their computers. You won’t have to buy a separate audio interface or mixer with Phantom Power to use this microphone, allowing you to go straight to recording your music. It’s also compatible with Apple iPads, you’ll just need the Apple USB Camera Connection kit, allowing you to work with GarageBand and other audio apps.

Design and Build

Like we’ve already mentioned, this is a USB condenser microphone that you can connect directly to your computer. The build quality of this microphone is really nice. It has a full metal body with a metal grill and an all-black professional design. It also comes with a metal pop filter to help with plosives and a tripod desk stand. We would definitely recommend purchasing a mic stand and a compatible shock mount for this microphone if you plan to use it for vocals.

On the side of the microphone, you’ll find two dials. The top dial changes the amount that you will hear of the sound source while recording, providing you zero-latency monitoring. Below that, you will find the headphone dial to control the volume of your headphones. You can also connect your headphones directly to the headphone jack on the microphone.

Sound Quality

The sound quality of this microphone is pretty good, especially considering that it’s a USB condenser mic. It has a cardioid polar pattern, so it will be picking up sound primarily at the front. This mic has good vocal clarity, producing a clean and neutral sound that will work well with most voices and instruments. You should keep in mind that louder sound sources may cause this condenser mic to clip in your recordings. Just be aware of this, and position yourself accordingly to how loud you’re going to be when recording.

Verdict: Great Condenser Microphone for Beginners

While there are definitely options that provide better sound quality, the Rode NT-USB stands out for being a very good option for beginners. Since it’s a USB condenser mic, people who have little to no experience recording their own music will find it easier to use since they won’t be needing other devices such as audio interfaces, mixers, or preamps. It’s also great for those who don’t have much studio space at home to work with or those who plan to travel with the microphone frequently.

4. AKG P420

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The AKG 420 is a high-quality condenser microphone that offers plenty of useful features, all while coming at an affordable price that’s under 200 dollars.

 Design and Build

This condenser microphone’s design is simple but attractive with a champagne finished grille that is divided into three different segments. The P420 features a side-address design, meaning it will accept sound from an angle that is perpendicular to the mic. It does have an all-metal body with a metal mesh grill, adding to the durability of the microphone.

Sound Quality

The P420 has a dual-diaphragm design, with a 1-inch diaphragm that improves detail and clarity. This also means that this condenser microphone is capable of having more than one polar pattern. For this microphone, you’ll have three different polar patterns to choose from which include cardioid, omnidirectional and figure-eight.

It captures vocals very well, providing your voice with nice warm tones that are clear. You can also record musical instruments with this microphone as it does an excellent job at recording the music while drowning out any unwanted noises. The sound that is captured is extremely flat, having almost no coloration added to the recording.

Multi-Pattern Condenser Microphone

What really makes this condenser mic stand out from all of the other options is its multi-pattern capabilities making it very versatile. Whether you’re focused on recording one person or recording multiple people at once, you’ll be able to have the flexibility needed from this microphone.

  • Cardioid: This pickup pattern picks up sound primarily from the front of the microphone while slightly picking up sounds from the sides. It will completely reject sounds that are coming from the back. A Cardioid polar pattern is great for focusing the recording on one main sound source.
  • Omni-Directional: If you want to pick up sound equally from all sides of the microphone, this is the pickup pattern you would use. Many have found that this pattern is best used when recording in an environment that has nice acoustics. You’ll be able to capture all of the sounds that surround the mic.
  • Figure-8: This pickup pattern will capture sounds from both the front and the back of the microphone, while at the same time rejecting any sounds at the sides of the mic. A great polar pattern to use when recording duets with another vocalist/singer.

Verdict: Great for Multiple Recording Situations

Overall, the AKG P420 is a versatile condenser microphone that’s great for capturing vocals and instruments. You can use this mic in a variety of different recording situations since you can utilize multiple polar-patterns with it. Definitely worth its price tag and more.

5. Audio-Technica AT2020 

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Another microphone from Audio-Technica, the AT2020 makes it onto our list, being one of the most affordable condenser mics under 200 dollars.  Do keep in mind that you will still need a source of Phantom Power to use the AT2020. It’s a great entry-level condenser microphone for music, that has a budget-friendly price tag.

Build and Design

The build quality on this microphone feels great, having an all-metal body that’s rugged in design. It definitely feels like it was built to last a long time. It was also nice to see that the microphone is clearly labeled to show which side is the back, ensuring that you’re projecting towards the correct side of the mic.

Make sure to keep in mind that this mic does not come with a pop filter or microphone cables, so you’re going to need to purchase those separately.

Sound Quality

This microphone has a Cardioid Polar pattern so it will primarily be capturing sound from the front side of the mic. The AT2020 sounds rich and warm, especially towards the bottom of the midrange. This is a particular sound that many vocalists are looking for. It also doesn’t change or alter your voice in a way that is noticeable.

This condenser microphone does just as good at recording instruments. For example, recording acoustic instruments such as acoustic guitars and ukuleles sound very natural and detailed when recorded with this microphone.

Verdict: Affordable Doesn’t Always Mean Bad

Even though the AT2020 comes at a lower price compared to the other condenser mics under 200 that we’ve already discussed, we must say that we are certainly impressed by what this microphone has to offer. While its design is nothing too special, the quality of sound that this microphone can produce makes it a great choice for anyone looking to get started recording their own music.

USB Version

If you don’t want to buy an audio interface or preamp to use this microphone with your computer, we definitely recommend you check out the Audio-Technica AT2020 USB version. It’s a little more expensive, however, you won’t have to deal with other devices. Just plug it straight into your computer and start recording.

6. MXL 990 + 991 (Most Affordable)

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Last, but certainly not least, the MXL 990 makes it onto our list, coming with the MXL 991 all in one package. It’s a great deal for anyone looking to save money on their condenser microphone purchase.

Design and Build

The MXL 990 has some nice weight to it. It has an all-metal construction and a metal grill, overall a solid build. This microphone has a vintage body style with a nice champagne finish helps it stand out from the rest. While it is cheaper in price, it definitely still looks and feels like a professional condenser microphone.

Sound Quality

We are certainly impressed by the sound quality of the MXL 990, as it delivers nice, clear audio with great detail that is close or equal to the sound source. It has a fixed Cardioid pickup pattern, great for focusing on the main sound source you’re recording.

The MXL 990 has a smooth high end and a tight solid bass that works well at capturing crisp vocals. It also does a good job at recording acoustic instruments, delivering a clean sound. We also noticed that this condenser mic does a good job at reducing background noise while you record.

Extra Microphone (The MXL 991)

Like we’ve already mentioned, this package also comes with the MXL 991 condenser microphone. It’s a great mic that was designed to record musical instruments such as your guitar or even drums. The MXL 991 also has a fixed cardioid pickup pattern and is easy to use and set-up.

If you’re a singer/musician, this pair of microphones would be great for you as you can have the MXL 990 focus on your vocals while having the MXL 991 focused on recording your musical instrument. Just make sure to have an audio interface that can connect to more than one microphone.

Verdict: An Awesome Value!

Overall, this is an amazing deal that any singer or musician should consider. The fact that it comes with two condenser mics(MXL 990 and 991) while still having such a budget-friendly price tag under 200 dollars makes this the perfect entry-level microphone set. It’s still a microphone that professionals can appreciate, but we definitely recommend it to anyone who’s just getting started.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are still high-quality professional condenser mics that are under 200 dollars. Hopefully, our list has helped you figure out what type of microphone you’re looking for. Make sure to keep in mind that for most of these options, you’ll need a Phantom Power source, which you can get from an audio interface, mixer, or preamp. Best of luck and for all the newcomers, welcome to the world of recording your own music.

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