If you figured you were going to have to cough up a thousand dollars to get a high-quality microphone, think again.
Although there are tons of microphones on the market for thousands of dollars each — all claiming to be the best, most high-quality mic you can buy — there’s no reason you need to spend that much money for a new mic, especially if you’re a musician on a budget.
If you want to make yourself happy (and your wallet too), have no fear — we’ve got you covered on exactly what mics are worth your time and how you should choose a mic based on your preferences.
Without further ado, here are the 13 best cheap microphones for musicians on a budget.
Best for Backing Vocals
The AKG D5 Vocal Dynamic Microphone is one of my favorite mics, hands down. The sound quality is true to your voice, thanks to the super-cardioid polar pattern, and you won’t have to worry about the microphone picking up excess noise. It doesn’t matter how noisy or hectic the stage gets — the mic quality will remain the same.
It’s important to know that due to its proximity effect, you’ll need to make sure you’re not right up against the microphone.
- The AKG D5 is designed especially for backing and lead vocals.
- It’s very durable, so you don’t have to worry about it breaking easily.
- You’ll be able to stand as close to the mic as you want without any feedback interrupting your set.
- Since it’s designed with vocalists in mind, the sound quality is clear and crisp.
- The microphone itself is longer, so it’s more comfortable to hold in that regard.
- Because the microphone is so smooth, it can be challenging to hold on to if your hands get sweaty.
- The low end has a tendency to be a bit muddy.
Best Mic Pair
The Samson C02 Pencil Condenser Microphones are sold as a pair, so stereo milking is not only easy but affordable. These mics can handle a surprising amount of sound pressure levels (SPL) — up to 134 decibels — and as such, can capture sound from cymbals and drums with ease.
The Samson C02 Pencil Condenser Microphones come with a few accessories. The shock-mounted mic clips that are included prove useful, especially when it comes to decreasing the noise that comes from vibration. The windscreens that are also included can lower the amount of wind noise plosives, too.
- These microphones are sold as a stereo pair.
- The shock-mounted mic clips and carrying case prove to be very convenient.
- The external line return (XLR) connectors are gold-plated.
- These mics use a cardioid pick-up pattern, so the pick-up area is right in front of the mic.
- The mics can also easily capture audio from percussion instruments.
- There’s no on or off switch, which can be a bit inconvenient.
- These can also be a little noisy and low volume.
Best for Home Studios
One of the best things about the MXL 990 is the price — it’s nearly unbeatable for the quality of the microphone. If you’re looking for high sound quality and results, the MXL 990 is a good bet. If you have a project or home studio, I’d strongly recommend this microphone. The accessories that the MXL 990 comes with are worth mentioning too, and we’ll elaborate.
On top of that, if you’re a musician or producer who appreciates the look of the early mics from the 20th century, you’ll love the aesthetic that the MXL 990 exudes.
- For even more balanced sound, the MXL 990 includes a FET preamp.
- This mic has a vintage aesthetic with a champagne finish, which is visually appealing.
- It’s also very versatile if you happen to have a podcast, vlog, or something similar.
- The mic comes with a carrying case, a custom shock mount, and a mic stand adapter.
- It’s perfect for those who play acoustic instruments.
- The MXL 990 can be a little confusing when you’re first setting it up.
- It’s more of an entry-level mic, so professional producers and musicians might look elsewhere.
Best All-Purpose Dynamic Mic
Chances are, you’ve probably heard of the manufacturer Shure before, and for good reason. The SM57 hit the market in the 1960s and, since then, has only gotten more impressive with time. In fact, Shure microphones have provided sound projects for the U.S. president since the ’70s.
The Shure SM57-LC is a quality all-purpose microphone for a great price. It has a clean, warm sound that both recording professionals and serious musicians alike can appreciate.
- This option has a clean vocal pick-up and encourages that rich sound musicians love.
- It has wired connectivity.
- The SM57-LC is exceptionally durable, so you don’t have to worry about it breaking.
- You’ll be able to use it for reproduction for instruments like drums, too.
- The frequency response is an impressive 40 to 15,000 hertz.
- It doesn’t come with a mic stand, which is a bit of an inconvenience.
- However, many companies produce “fake” SM57-LCs, so it’s important to make sure yours is actually made by Shure.
Best Small Diaphragm Condenser
This is probably the best small diaphragm condenser on the list. The sound is precise and crisp, but still perfectly balanced. If you’re looking for a particular tonality, you can trust in the sE Electronics SE7.
For a small diaphragm condenser, the SE7 is particularly good with strings, guitar, piano, percussion, and woodwinds.
- The SE7 is designed for both live sound and studio applications.
- Its Class A circuitry is one of the reasons it’s so reliable.
- As far as quality goes, you’ll get smooth high-end sound and spirited low-end sound.
- The SE7 is an excellent, versatile option for musicians.
- It’s generally pretty lightweight, considering some of the other mic options on the market.
- It’s not very helpful if you’re trying to use it to amplify a quieter instrument.
- It’s harder to pick up the sound of the entire set with just an SE7.
Best Dynamic Vocal Mic
The Procaster Broadcast Dynamic Vocal Microphone from Rode is a dynamic, high-quality mic that’s designed for vocal performances. With this microphone option, you’ll take advantage of its frequency response — tailored especially for vocalists — as well as its tight polar pattern.
The Procaster also has features in place to ensure your performance goes precisely as planned. For example, the internal pop filter decreases sound that can overload the capsule of the mic and wreak havoc on the audio.
- The Rode Procaster Broadcast Dynamic Vocal Microphone projects high-quality sound, perfect for vocalists.
- The microphone itself is very sturdy, as it’s made off all metal.
- The internal pop-filter minimizes plosive sounds that could ruin your vocal performance.
- It weighs around 2 pounds, so it can be a bit heavy if you’re holding it.
- This mic also doesn’t come with a shock mount or a stand, so you’ll have to purchase that separately.
Most Versatile Mic
The AKG P220 is both affordable and versatile in terms of what you can use it for. You’ll be able to use this microphone in the studio or even live on-stage.
Although many musicians figure they’ll need to spend thousands of dollars on a microphone, the AKG P220 is enough to prove otherwise. For a budget mic, it offers high-quality sound for a high-quality recording experience, especially when recording guitar with a computer simultaneously. Its two main settings — the bass roll-off and being able to cut off the signal at 20 decibels — are both useful in terms of having control over your sound.
- The sound quality that comes from the P220 is impressive enough to blow you away.
- The sound is also generally more warm than other mics, which comes in handy.
- The frequency response is accurate.
- Its two main settings give the musician more control over the sound produced.
- It’s simple enough that even newbies to the music scene can use one successfully,
- It doesn’t come with an XLR cable, so you’ll have to buy that separately.
- The AKG P220 also doesn’t include a mic stand, so you might need to find one of those.
Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Mic
If you’re looking for a decent, large-diaphragm studio condenser mic, the Samson C01 might be the one for you. It’s simple, easy to use, durable, and of course, it sounds great. The C01 works well with a plethora of musicians, from vocalists to guitarists to drummers and cellists.
The only thing to note is that if you plan on using this mic, you’ll need phantom power, so keep that in mind.
- It has a large diaphragm of about 19 millimeters.
- The C01 is ideal for many types of musicians.
- It’s visually appealing with its heavy-gauge mesh grille and clean design.
- This mic comes with a gold-plated XLR connector.
- There’s also a swivel stand mount included with the mic purchase.
- The C01 is on the heavier side, coming in at around 2.5 pounds.
- It’s also pretty large, so it might not be best for live mic setups.
Best Mic for Piano and Handclaps
This microphone is both visually appealing and effective. Due to its design, it tends to remind me of classic ’50s microphones, but the quality is just unmatched. This condenser mic comes with a few accessories — such as a wooden carrying case and custom shock mount — as well as a metal pop filter.
It’s a solid mic as it works well with many frequency sources, like piano, acoustics, vocals, and even handclaps. In fact, if you have any hobbies such as Twitch streaming, vlogging on YouTube, or hosting a podcast via Spotify, this mic would work for those purposes, too.
- The Blue Spark Blackout has a focused, clear sound due to the custom diaphragm cardioid condenser capsule.
- For more clarity, the mic uses a 100-hertz low cut filter.
- You won’t have to worry about distortion either, thanks to the -20-decibel pad.
- The Blue Spark Blackout is also lightweight and easy to handle.
- It’s incredibly versatile if you have other hobbies besides being a musician.
- It usually doesn’t include a power cord, so you’ll have to buy that separately.
- The Blue Spark is pretty small, so if you prefer larger mics, you might choose another option.
Best Dynamic Bass Drum Mic
Although finding a good bass mic can be difficult, Sennheiser makes it a little easier. Its dynamic bass-drum mic is designed to capture clear sound without feedback or unflattering noise. This microphone consistently delivers detailed instrumental music, every time.
Of course, it also helps that Sennheiser offers an impressive 10-year warranty.
- The bass response of this mic is enhanced by its large-diaphragm capsule.
- The e602 II has an integrated stand mount, which works to stabilize high mass housing.
- It’s able to withstand more than 155 decibels SPL.
- This mic also comes with a 10-year warranty — one of the best warranties I’ve seen.
- It’s also very lightweight and easy to use.
- It’s not capable of phantom power, which could be a turn off for some.
- It’s also not recommended to use for banjo or strings, which might be a deal-breaker depending on what music you make.
Most Impressive Ribbon Mic
Ribbon microphones are known for their fantastic side, but unfortunately, they can be on the pricier side. Luckily for you, there’s the MXL R144 — my favorite budget ribbon mic.
If you’re working with acoustic instruments and vocals, you might want to consider this option. The sound is mellow and warm without sounding muddy, perfect for recording music. Because of its high SPL capacity, so you’ll be able to use it successfully with instruments like quality acoustic-electric guitars or horns.
It’s also pretty easy to modify if you’re interested in tinkering.
- The MXL R144 has a classic figure-eight polar pattern that captures room sound and instrumentals.
- It’s a compact, lightweight mic that’s easy to hold and set up.
- It also has a high SPL capacity.
- The MXL R144 has a frequency range of 20 hertz to -17 hertz.
- It also comes with a microfiber cleaning cloth and a shock mount.
- This microphone isn’t useful in a live setting since it picks up sound in the front and back.
- It’s also not durable at all, so if you drop it, chances are it’ll be damaged.
- It’s not a good choice for group vocals.
Best Overall Condenser Mic
The Audio-Technica AT2020 is a well-respected, quality microphone that’s perfect for a project or home studio purposes. It’s a versatile choice thanks to its wide dynamic range and high SPL handling. Due to its low-mass diaphragm, you’ll have more frequency response and improved transient response.
Because of its cardioid polar pattern, the pick-up sounds from the back and the sides are significantly reduced, meaning you have more control over the sound you want.
- The AT2020 has a low-mass diaphragm allowing for more frequency response.
- The mic itself has a beautiful finish and a sleek design.
- You’ll get more of the sound you want.
- The audio comes through bright and rich, with a clear tone.
- It has a lovely weight to it at a little over a pound, so it’s not too heavy and not too light.
- This mic doesn’t come with an XLR cable or a stand, so you’ll have to purchase those yourself.
- It’s not a USB mic, so it won’t be a great option if you want to use it with a PC.
- The Audio-Technica isn’t built for noisy, live performances.
If you know anything about Shure microphones, you know they’re known for being incredibly sturdy and high-quality. Because of this, Shure is a very popular company, and chances are, you’ve seen a Shure mic before, be it at a concert or a religious service.
The bass roll-off also helps control both proximity effect and brightened midrange to perfect the vocal sound quality.
- The SM58-LC is ideal for vocals.
- It has a bass roll-off that improves the overall sound quality of your recording session.
- This microphone is durable, so it’s great if there’s a chance the mic will be dropped.
- Its built-in wind and pop filter are useful, so you won’t have to worry about diluted sound.
- The tone is clear and sharp, so there’s no chance your voice will sound muddied.
- This microphone isn’t wireless, which could be a turn off for some musicians.
- The sound could be louder.
- It also doesn’t have an on or off switch.
What Are the Most Common Types of Microphones?
When considering buying a new microphone, it can be helpful to take a look at the three most common types of mics: condenser, dynamic, and ribbon mics.
Condenser mics are often used in a recording studio since they have a pretty high sensitivity and a more extensive frequency range. You can consider these mics as a sort of middle ground between dynamic and ribbon mics. They require a power source, like batteries or phantom power, and can pick up sound from a distance. However, one of the primary downsides to condenser mics is that they’re usually pricier than dynamic mics.
On the other hand, dynamic mics are typically more affordable. They’re also generally more durable, too, which makes them a popular choice for musicians who perform live. They also don’t need a separate power source, which comes in handy. The downfall of the dynamic mic lies in its sound accuracy — this mic isn’t as responsive or accurate as other types of mics. It’s also important to keep in mind that the source of the sound — the vocalist, for example — must be very close to the microphone.
Lastly, ribbon mics are the oldest microphone type. These have a wide range of frequencies. Some musicians and producers consider ribbon mics to be the most “authentic” or realistic type of microphone, but there are a few downsides. These mics are very delicate because of their parts, and because of this, they are pretty easy to break. They’re also more expensive.
How to Choose the Best Cheap Microphone for You
There are tons of mics available on the market, which can seem a bit overwhelming. Here are a few aspects of mics to keep in mind when you’re browsing.
It’s a no-brainer that you’d want your new microphone to last as long as possible. That’s why it’s essential to consider the durability of mics when you’re choosing which one would work best for you.
For example, if you’re a musician who travels and there’s a change your new mic could be rolling around in the back of the van, you’ll want to make sure it’ll survive getting banged up a bit. Since ribbon mics are so delicate, they might not be the right choice for someone who tends to drop the mic often.
Different types of mics have different sound outputs. Depending on your own personal brand as a musician, you might choose one type of mic over another. If you’re a vocalist, you don’t want a mic that’s not made for reproducing vocals.
Also, watch the proximity effect — if the lower register sounds out of whack when you get too close to the mic, that’s probably not what you want.
As I briefly mentioned in the above section, the type of microphone you want depends on your individual goals as a musician. What kind of sound are you looking for? Does it bug you when a mic needs an external power source? Are you familiar with phantom power?
All of these questions are important things to ask yourself when deciding on a type of microphone.
All in all, the Blue Spark Blackout is by far my favorite cheap microphone for musicians who are on a budget. It’s unbeatable in terms of sound quality, overall visual aesthetic, and versatility.
Whatever microphone you choose to purchase, remember that a good mic doesn’t have to cost you thousands of dollars. There are plenty of available mics for much less that’ll get the job done, no problem.
James is an ex-writer for Music Grotto who focused the majority of his writing on the musical skill development content on the publication. His 20+ year career as a singing and vocal coach provided insightful content for the website, and his continued thirst for development in guitar and piano playing helped create some excellent skill development content for the publication.