When it comes to purchasing condenser microphones as a beginner, you need to choose the right one for the appropriate use, in this instance the home studio use. You can choose among microphones that are best for recording vocals or certain vocal frequencies, or choose the fitting microphone for the instrument you are about to record.
As a home studio owner that has just started out, you need to focus on the price of the microphone and adjust it to your budget limitations. In our review article, we have include both limited budget microphones, and some more expensive for the people that have a decent amount of money to invest.
For beginners, it is suggested that you search for cheaper microphone solutions for a number of reasons. First of all, you do not need to invest big amounts of money into something that you are not sure that is going to last for a long time, whether that is singing, rapping or recording other artists.
What is more, it is very usual for beginner to have limited budgets available at first. You can purchase a more affordable microphone to begin with, and upgrade to a more expensive later. Most medium or low price microphones that we have tested, are excellent choices and have great functionalities.
Considering studio owners or sound engineers, you should search for the microphone that will be more useful to your current project and customers. For example, if you record more rappers than bands, you need to focus on a microphone with better vocal functionality, whereas if you generally record bands, you can search for a microphone that has the ability to record both vocals and instruments equally well.
Microphone considerations as a beginner
No matter the purpose of your purchase, you need to find the best quality microphone available for your money. You may need to find out whether the microphone of your choice has warm or crispier sound, and whether it focus more on the low ends, treble or high ends.
Price is always an important factor when it comes to buying sound equipment. You need to adjust your search for the right microphone according to your available budget. Aim for an affordable solution that has the appropriate functionalities that will bring the desirable results for your recordings.
You need to make sure that the microphone is perfectly functional for your purposes. Find a microphone that uses XLR ports, which is the usual way to connect with most audio interfaces, and is suitable for studio use. It is preferable to choose a condenser microphone for your studio, as dynamic microphones work better for live performances.
Sometimes microphones are sold as bundles. This means that they are going to include the XLR cables, a stand and a carrying case. On the other hand, other microphones are sold as singles, with no extra features. In the second case, you need to buy them separately so that you can have a completely functional microphone bundle for your vocal or instrument recordings.
Best condenser mic for beginners
1 – Rode NT1A
The similarities of the Rode NT1A to the NT1 are pretty obvious to the naked eye. The main physical difference is the finish, which is satin nickel in contrast to the grey lacquer of the NT1. When you purchase the microphone, it comes with a cardboard box, which makes it look much simpler than the rest of the microphones available in the market.
Furthermore, it comes with a metal shockmount and a zip-up storage pouch, which make a nice addition to the package. The NT1A, is a large-diaphragm condenser microphone, with a cardioid pattern and has a gold one-inch diaphragm, much like the Rode NT1.
One of the new additions for this model, is the circuity and the extended frequency response of the capsule, which makes it much stronger in comparison to the original model. To be exact, this change gives a full coverage of 20Hz to 20kHz to the NT1A, which used to start rolling above 16kHz.
Furthermore, in comparison to most of the other large-diaphragm microphones, the response of this particular model is much flatter. The presence peak is less obvious but broader, and someone can hear a small low-end boost around 120Hz. This cuts some of the mid frequencies to the overall sound of the microphone, which makes the sound more flat and natural compared to other similar microphones.
JFET circuitry is also used to enhance the capsule’s signal, and additional surfacemount components are employed by the circuit board. The gold XLR pins and the heavy locking ring in order to fix the microphone to the shockmount are nice additions also, along with steel grill, which was added to protect the capsule in order to reduce the popping and avoid the RF interference. Keep in mind, that like most of the condenser microphones, the NT1A needs a pop-filter for better recording quality.
2 – Neumann TLM 107
Electronic controls created for pattern selections are one of the key characteristics of the TLM 107, which is a multipattern condenser microphone manufactured to execute every single purpose of the studio environment. To achieve this, the sound of the TLM 107 became flatter and more neutral in comparison to the TLM 103.
This particular model, had its large-diaphragm capsule developed and applied specifically for its own purposes. Its capsule is known to be somewhat unusual for Neumann, because although the company uses most of the times center-terminated large diaphragm designs, they designed and used edge-terminated for the TLM 107.
Another new addition is the joystick control, which this time was put on the backside of the TLM 107. This is considered to be a type of navigation switch, which allows the user to select the pad, pattern and filter. You can determine your selection by the LED backlighting, although it goes off 15 seconds after you release the swift to avoid unnecessary distractions.
Furthermore, you can press the joystick or navigation swift down, toward the XLR jack, and go through five polar patterns, which are: Omni, Figure-8, Wide Cardioid, Cardioid and Hypercardioid. The rear diaphragm of the capsule stays in the circuit for all patterns, which makes the Cardioid mode of the TLM 107 have equal volume of sensitivity, like it happens with the rest of the polar patterns.
There is no noise applied to all these configuration changes. This means that you can easily avoid thumps or clicks in the microphone’s output signal and you can acquire a cleaner sound as a result. What is more, the switches are electronic and they are silent and extremely slow, by dropping the polarization voltage of the capsule gradually to prevent any additional noise or blurriness.
3 – Rode NT2A
Rode microphones are known for their capability of being the quietest in comparison to most of the other mics available in the market, no matter the price. That being said, the equivalent input noise of the Rode NT2A is 7dbA. That means that the particular mic tends to be quitter for as much as 10Db compared to the rest of the similar microphones.
Another key factor that makes this mic a brilliant choice, is that the signal-to-noise ration of this model which is 87db at 1kHz does not affect negatively the maximum SPL. The maximum SPL of the Rode NT2A is at 147db, without the pads being switched in, and goes up to 157db with the pads switched at 10db.
When the low-cut switches are not engaged, the frequency of the microphone goes below 20Hz and can extend up to 20kHz. In addition to this, the NT2A is also very sensitive, with a dynamic range of 140db that can reach to a maximum output level of +16dbu before it starts clipping. The amazing overall sound of this microphone is the most impressive thing to consider when you are about to purchase it.
Generally, the sound of the Rode NT2A is pretty neutral but not flat, and has a tone with a smooth balance across the spectrum. Its sound can be described as very detailed, mainly at the top ends, without being crispy or particularly strong. The low ends have the depth and stability required to make its sound solid and well balances across all frequencies.
The acquired detail is due to the broad but smooth peak which makes a small but substantial presence, while it keeps the sound subtle and does not allow it to become aggressive more than required. The K2 capsule’s use is essential, because it makes the sound smooth and sweet and helps bring out a more natural broad sound, which we can usually see to the best large-diaphragm microphones in the market.
4 – SE Electronics SE2200A II C
The SE2200A II is a redesign of one of the best seller microphones for SE Electronics. They decided to redesign and put out to the market a newer version of this mic in order to thank the buyer for the success of the previous model, and offer some more features for about the same value of money.
The capsule used in the new version is hand-built and one-inch which is also used in the first model. The new addition is the second centre-terminated diaphragm along with the one that the microphone already had. The diaphragms are place back to back, and a switch is provided in order to choose between cardioid, figure-8 or omnidirectional polar patterns.
Some minor changes were applied to the overall outline of the microphone too. The SE2200A II has a matte-black, rubbery paint finish which help with the metalwork resonances.
The Se2200a II C comes in a cardboard box, which inside has foam for protection reasons. A shockmount with a new design will accompany the purchase of the microphone, only for a limited period of time and it will be finished in black rubber paint. In order to prevent the pop screens to droop, as they tend to do very often, the package will also consist of a mesh pop screen, which will be suitable for the shockmount.
Another change for this mic model is the way the microphone fits into the shockmount. The centre of the shockmount, will receive a plastic collar, which will be dropped and fit in there in order to accept the socket end of the Se2200a II C inside.
As a better lock, and in order to ensure more stability, there was added a thumbscrew at the side of the shockmount. This thumbscrew, presses and deforms slightly the plastic collar and causes everything to sit steadily in place. There are three switches that set the polar pattern and they are placed on the body of the microphone, and have three pad positions for the user to choose.
5 – AKG Pro Audio C214
The AKG Pro Audio C214 Is a large diaphragm condenser microphone that is well respect for its decency considering vocal performance. The mic uses the same capsule as the C414 of the same company, but it is comfortably cheaper and closer to the buyer due to its polarity being Cardioid.
This model was designed and engineered in Austria and particularly in Vienna. It holds all the high quality standards of the AKG as expected and the designs of the microphone itself, the shockmount and the carrying case are all simple, effective and extremely elegant.
The microphone tends to give a sort of brightness and cleaner results when it comes to recording vocals. It also makes enhances the mid-low and low ends, making the voice sound fatter and along with the subtle presence that was mentioned before.
One common characteristic of the mic among users, is its duller and darker tone when it comes to the mid-high frequencies. This makes the sound of the microphone more natural, although sometimes you may need to add some boost in the mid-high frequencies in order to enrich the overall sound, but this fact also depends on the voice of the individual that you record.
The uses of the AKG Pro Audio C214 are endless. You can record both vocals and instruments successfully, even percussions and drum sounds. The reduced price compared to the C414 makes this mic a great and affordable choice for any studio, especially for beginner audio engineers with limited budgets.