How to Pick the Best Condenser Microphone under 200 –
Detailed Buying Guide
How to pick the best?
This is the age old question that frequently pops up in most of the musician’s mind. Well, there is no definite answer for anyone who asks “Which microphone is the best?” But you can choose microphones as per your requirements by considering its following features:
+ DURABILITY: Best condenser microphone is the one which works perfectly with the fewest technical problems. If all other features are quite same, then go for that one which has simplest setup. Then you just need to plug and play.
+ DIAPHRAGM SIZE: Some microphones are equipped with a large diaphragm specially designed to capture more sound details. Some mics are provided with small diaphragm designed to pick up the higher SPL such as guitar amplifiers, drums …
+ DIRECTIONALITY:All the condenser microphones are provided with different types of directional pattern or polar pattern. For voice over and studio recording purpose a focused directional and cardioid or hyper-cardioid polar pattern would be ideal. Select the one which perfectly suits your needs.
+ PRICE:The best condenser microphone for you does not necessarily be the most expensive one. Everybody has a different perspective, go for that one which is affordable as well as gets the job done.
Top 7 Best Condenser Microphones Under 200 *
1 – AKG P420
The P420 is obviously one of the best condenser microphone manufactured by AKG in this price range. P420 is profoundly suitable for project studio recording and stage application as it has a multi-pattern large diaphragm. This condenser microphone boasts of 155dB maximum SPL and high sensitivity and thus can be used for orchestra recordings, drums, percussion, grand piano, woodwind and brass instruments. It comes with three different polar patterns. Namely, cardioids, figure 8 and omnidirectional which make it ideal for ambient recording and stereo mixing.
P420 delivers a decent transparent and warm sound quality keeping its price in mind. Of course, it must not be compared with premium microphones, but that does not make it any less when it comes to its features. Due to its multi-pattern feature, it is easy to switch between mid-slide and Blumlein recording, which is hard to find in this era of cardioids only microphones.
The bass-cut filter switch isolates the recordings from undesirable wind-noise and other low-frequency disturbances. It is also equipped with a -20dB switchable attenuator pad. Additional accessories include metal carrying case and Spider shock mount.
Prices/Reviews: AKG P420
2 – Shure PGA27-LC
The PGA27 is specially fabricated for covering even higher dynamic range (crystal clear highs and lows). Perfect for vocals and acoustics, PGA27 essentially focuses on clarity and detail in a recording application, be it an amplified source or live sound. The side-address microphone has the cardioid polar pattern and requires phantom power for its condenser cartridge.
Shure is known for its robust industrial design ideal for maintaining excellence in rigorous environment, and this one is no different. The appearance is, self-effacing with a black metallic finish.
SPL versatility is attained by its the -15dB switchable attenuator, and it also has a high-pass filter that enables extra control over undesirable low-end signal. The primary accessory includes elastic suspension shock mount for enhanced stability and padded zipper carrying case for ease of transportation.
Prices/Reviews: Shure PGA27-LC
3 – Rode NT – USB
The NT-USB condenser is a versatile side address microphone best for singing and musical performance recordings, podcasting and voiceovers. This USB condenser microphone is compatible with Windows/Mac computers, iPads, and any other external microphone accepting devices. The zero-latency stereo 3.5 mm headphone jack enables real-time monitoring of microphone input, and even a dial is provided for adjusting, the monitoring level and mixing the microphone input and audio. To filter out harsh plosives, premium pop filters are also equipped.
The USB-connectivity is the stand-out feature of NT-USB amongst its contemporary microphones under this range, making it the best choice for home and personal recording. Be it acoustic recording or VO-auditions recording.
NT-USB is a decent device at this price range. The full package comes with tripod desk stand, ring mount, storage pouch and USB cable.
Prices/Reviews: Rode NT – USB
4 – Audio-Technica AT2020 USB PLUS
A good contender in the USB-connectivity segment, the AT2020’s cardioid pick-up pattern is excellent in off-axis rejection. The sound reproduction is eloquent owing to it’s A/D converter which has a sampling rate of 44.1/48 kHz (16 bit) making it perfect for blending microphone and pre-recorded audio. The headphone jack has volume control facility which ensures smooth monitoring of microphone signal.
Overall: Ideal for home, personal and even for professional (e.g. Radio program), the AT2020 works fine as a compact secondary mixing gear.
Compatible with Windows/Mac and other recording devices, it rejects noise with ease due to its zero-latency feature. A separate pop filter, if bought, will ensure further clarity while recording.
Prices/Reviews: Audio-Technica AT2020 USB PLUS
5 – Audio-Technica AT2035
The second product with a different configuration that Audio-Technica offers in this range, AT2035 extends its usability to a professional studio and live performance, apart from home and project applications. 80Hz high pass filter and -10db switchable pad ease out handling of high sound pressure, and its consistency is ensured by high-performance configuration and rugged design. The noise filter is unquestionable due to its side address feature.
A good bet for professionals who are seeking a decent pickup the sensitivity and clear highs and lows in this price range.
Superior SPL handling and wider dynamic range are its plus-points. Furthermore, it comes with a durable custom shock mount and protective pouch.
Prices/Reviews: Audio-Technica AT2035
6 – AKG Perception 220
It is another excellent product from AKG, boasting of its six decades of microphone engineering. The perception 220 is a large diaphragm condenser microphone ideal for lead vocals, brass instruments and acoustic guitar. Superior bass cut filter with switchable attenuation pad deftly handles loud sound sources with pressure levels up to 155dB SPL eliminating all rumble and footfall noise. The robust and rugged all metal body makes it worthy for adverse on-stage use.
Professionals using it have labeled “highly recommended” for its use in studio sessions where all instruments are isolated. Even for drums, perception 220 works wonder in picking up cymbals and toms if used as overhead mic.
The spider type shock mount and an aluminum carrying case complement the rugged appearance, apart from providing safety. It is one of the best in this price range, keeping in mind its application-environment constraints.
Prices/Reviews: AKG Perception 220
7 – Blue Yeti USB Microphone
Blue Yeti surprises all with the facilities it has to offer in this price range, and this blackout edition is their special one. Unlike all other contemporary USB microphones, it comes with four pattern modes ( an extra mode namely “stereo mode”, which captures realistic sound images from left and right channels too! Useful for choirs and acoustic guitars.) Yeti boasts of creating studio quality recordings at any ambience be it on roads, mountains or simple living rooms.
Innovative design, easy setup, and compatibility with any external device (Windows/Mac, etc.) a.re decent reasons to choose this product. Noise cancellations (-100dB switchable, Max SPL 120dB) are easy to customize, and the build is nice and durable. Overall, it can be deemed as best buy at this price range.
Best feature ought to be the tri-capsule array which is the reason for obtaining studio-like recording in any situation. Plus, zero latency headphone with mute buttons and volume control make it the ultimate choice for any recordings e.g. vocals, music, voiceovers, interviews, podcasting, field recording, conferencing and much more.
Prices/Reviews: Blue Yeti USB Microphone
Tips For Buying
|AKG P420||Multipattern mode.|
155dB SPL-meaning high sensitivity.
One microphone for all (can capture diverse range of sound with utmost clarity)
|Shure PGA27||Large Diaphragm contributes to its wider dynamic range.|
High pass filter makes it extremely noise free.
Rugged and robust build ensures its durability and extreme use.
|Rode NT||Extremely useful for amateur musicians or vocalists owing to its usage diversity.|
Noise filters are a treat to handle.
It has on-board mix control.
|AT2020||Fully computerized control.|
The build is almost like studio-mics and not cheap plastic USB mics.
The sound quality is better than all other contemporaries in its range.
|Maximum frequency range is a bit low (16 kHz).|
|AT2035||More of a specialized microphone for budding professionals.|
Crystal clear studio sound quality.
Superior noise handling feature makes it feasible for home recording also.
|Heaviness/bulky can be considered as a disadvantage.|
|AKG Perception 220||Extremely good for acoustics and other professional studio work.|
Sound quality is a good bet in this price range.
Real good frequency response and crispiness.
|Limited function is its biggest disadvantage.|
|Blue Yeti||Gives four different patterns. Something which is not found in top-end studio microphones even.|
Tri-capsule array is another feature which is unique and adds a feather to its crown
Supremely versatile in its range of utility.
In a nutshell, these are some of the condenser microphones under $200 which can be considered as the best buy. A buyer’s guide would be to carefully assess his/her need and condition before selecting any one of these. Don’t go for the most expensive of all these with the prejudice that it will be the best or with the cheapest of all just to save your wallet. Each of these products, of course, was designed and manufactured keeping in mind a specific usage condition and ambience. It’s up to the buyer to completely understand his/her criteria and then choose the one which will be the best fit.
* price based on the date the article is published